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Marc Abrams
11-20-2007, 08:33 AM
Am looking to get a CD/DVD language learning system for Japanese and would like to know what other people would recommend to use or not use.

Marc Abrams

David Orange
11-20-2007, 09:11 AM
Am looking to get a CD/DVD language learning system for Japanese and would like to know what other people would recommend to use or not use.

Marc Abrams

I recommend books:

Read Japanese Today, by Len Walsh

A Practical Guide to Japanese Signs, (Parts 1 and 2) by Tae Moriyama

A Guide to Reading and Writing Japanese, by Florence Sakade

Japanese for Busy People, produced by AJALT

Japanese for the Martial Arts, by Alexander D.C. Kask (a friend)

Kanji Cards (Vol. 1-4) by Alexander Kask

The most immediately accessible are "Read Japanese Today" and "Practical Guide to Japanese Signs", which show the original images from which kanji were developed and show how they combine to provide meaning in daily life. They also give good guides to pronunciation.

I just wish I had had Alex Kask's Kanji Cards when I was learning. I had to make my own cards.

Another book that helped was one on common kanji-compounds used in newspapers.

Best of luck!

David

Marc Abrams
11-20-2007, 11:39 AM
David:

What about to learn to speak Japanese?

Marc Abrams

David Orange
11-20-2007, 01:06 PM
David:

What about to learn to speak Japanese?

Marc Abrams

Japanese for Busy People is good and you can get tapes to go with it.

But maybe the best book, if a bit stuffy, is Beginning Japanese, by Eleanor Harz Jorden and Hamako Ito Chaplin. It's a two-part book.

A lot of what I referenced did involve reading, but the important thing is that those books build vocabulary (with pronunciation) in context, while Japanese for Busy People can give you the basics of sentence structure. After you get that basic grammar, vocabulary is what you need. And relating the vocabulary to the kanji is a strong way to build that vocabulary. Also, the books that show how kanji began with a drawing of a tree, for instance, then stylized and squared off that image to the modern idiogram really builds memory.

Hope that helps.

After I followed the steps described above, I went and lived in Japan for five years, had a marriage to a Japanese woman, divorce from a Japanese woman and now marriage to a different Japanese woman. It's a long, long process....

Best of luck.

David

Bronson
11-20-2007, 02:02 PM
While it wasn't Japanese a friend of mine was very impressed with the Pimsleur course for Danish. Our local public library carries most of the Pimsleur audio courses.

Bronson

Perry Bell
11-20-2007, 11:36 PM
Hi
I have a cd called " LETS LEARN JAPANESE" by nodtronics if you look them up on the net you might find them, or I might be able to send you a copy

Regs

Perry

Pierre Kewcharoen
11-21-2007, 07:28 AM
I learned from watching alot of japanese drama :D

ramenboy
11-21-2007, 12:57 PM
i've used the pimsleur series. works great.

heard good things about 'rosetta stone' i think its calle, but i've never tried that

good luck

aikispike
11-22-2007, 10:45 AM
I tried the "move to Japan, marry a Japanese woman, live there a long time" system. It has been very successful.

Spike

John Matsushima
11-23-2007, 06:42 AM
I started out with Japanese for Busy People. The book is arranged very well with tons of exercises. There is also a workbook to go along with the text. You can also get CD's and videos to go along with it. The Rosetta Stone is not worth the money, so I don't recommend it. If your focus is speaking, make sure you find someone to practice with. There are sites on the internet that offer tutors for "web chat". Gambatte!

p.s. I'm also on the "marry a Japanese woman and live in Japan system". Works great!

wideawakedreamer
11-23-2007, 08:05 PM
Date a Japanese. Supplement this with books and cds. Watch a lot of anime.

David Orange
11-23-2007, 08:47 PM
I tried the "move to Japan, marry a Japanese woman, live there a long time" system. It has been very successful.

I actually got a lot of experience by befriending a local family that owned a restaurant that my sensei said was "real old-style Japanese" and he was about as old-time as you could get. These people were so amused by my efforts at Japanese language that they frequently invited me over and fed me just so that I would converse with their guests, who got a big kick out of talking with me. Of course, the drinks never stopped flowing, so I had to learn on a deep level and found it very effective.

In the case of my first wife, she always criticized my Japanese language although pretty much everyone else I met seemed to think I was doing pretty well. I lived in the dojo for two years and was head teacher at my English school, in which capacity I used to emcee certain events and make public presentations in Japanese on behalf of the school. In other words, I was pretty successful with it. I did all my own shopping without assistance and learned to get around on my own, which some non-Japanese would not do. I knew one guy who "befriended" a Japanese woman and always got her to take him places and help him shop so that he wouldn't have to deal with the language.

One thing about being married to a Japanese woman, where language is concerned, is that you get an insider's view of "family Japanese," which is the basis of Japanese thinking--the way a Japanese mother speaks to her children. It puts a different light on the language that you can't easily get any other way....of course, that was not an easy way to learn....

In the case of my second wife, I met her at my local university (here in Alabama), where she was studying computer science. I wasn't sure if she was Chinese, Japanese, Korean or what, but I thought her accent in English sounded Japanese, so I asked and she confirmed and we started speaking Japanese for about half an hour outside the Engineering building and I got her phone number. That was six years ago and we now have a three-year-old son. My wife speaks only Japanese to him and I speak about 75% Japanese with him. I'm trying to speak more English with him since he's starting to read and he's in a daycare where, of course, everything is in English.

On that subject, I've been working with him from a book on colors and shapes and words. It shows a frog on one page and a ball on the next page, then the frog on top of the ball.

I point to the frog and say "What's that?"

He says "Frog!"

I point to the ball and say "What's that?"

He says "Ball! (he used to say "boru" and still does when he's speaking Japanese, but he's starting to differentiate the pronunciations).

I point to the picture of the frog on top of the ball and say "Where's the frog?"

He says, "It's right there!"

Early on, he noticed the difference between caucasians and asians and when he met an asian, he would say "Konnichiwa!" but when he met a caucasian, he naturally said "Hello!"

David

Shany
11-24-2007, 02:01 AM
I've learned/Still sometimes learning with japanesepod101.com
awesome podcasts! (there is free trial podcasts / membership)

Marc Abrams
11-24-2007, 09:16 AM
Everybody's advice has been very helpful. My wife is not so sure about me marrying a Japanese woman though :D

Marc Abrams

David Orange
11-24-2007, 09:49 AM
Everybody's advice has been very helpful. My wife is not so sure about me marrying a Japanese woman though :D

That would be an obstacle, all right....maybe if you emphasize the excellent cooking.....

David

Marc Abrams
11-24-2007, 02:28 PM
David:

I have been working on her for years, telling her the advantages of the Harem system! When she does not want to deal with me, send in a replacement:) She could have the other women cook and clean for her as well!

Alas, I keep trying.

Marc Abrams

David Orange
11-24-2007, 08:28 PM
David:

I have been working on her for years, telling her the advantages of the Harem system! When she does not want to deal with me, send in a replacement:) She could have the other women cook and clean for her as well!

Alas, I keep trying.

I have come to the conclusion that they would all go on strike at once! One is all I can deal with!!!

Best to you.

David

Cady Goldfield
11-27-2007, 10:56 PM
Marc,
If you want to get a head-first intro and have 10 days to spare, you could try the very effective "immersion" method taught by Dr. John Rassias at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

He has what's called an Accelerated Language Program every summer where you live in a dorm for 10 days and aren't allowed to speak any English, only the language you're learning. Of course, beginners start with a lot of gestures and grunts before getting some vocabulary. ;) Intensive daily classes are taught using a lot of physical drama and rapid-fire response that doesn't allow you time to cogitate. Having to "deliver" on the spot speeds up the brain's wiring of the language skills.

A lot of business people sign up, but also just folks with general interest in learning another language.
My brother has taught in the program for over 25 years (he was a student of Rassias's) and says that after 10 days of complete immersion, students gain decent conversational skills and basic grasp of grammar that are easy to build on once you get home.

They've offered Japanese in the past, so if you're interested you might enquire whether they're doing it again next summer.

Marc Abrams
11-28-2007, 08:19 AM
Cady:

Long Time, No Hear! It's good to see a post from you again. Thank you for that advice. I am going to Japan in April and will have to resort to some brief, intensive experience around the NYC area, along with some CD instructional. Much less expensive approach than taking on another wife :D

Marc

MM
11-28-2007, 10:10 AM
I've learned/Still sometimes learning with japanesepod101.com
awesome podcasts! (there is free trial podcasts / membership)

Yes, I liked that website, too. I burned the mp3 to an audio CD and listened to them in the car.

MM
11-28-2007, 10:12 AM
David:

I have been working on her for years, telling her the advantages of the Harem system! When she does not want to deal with me, send in a replacement:) She could have the other women cook and clean for her as well!

Alas, I keep trying.

Marc Abrams

LOL! I tried that route, too. It didn't work. If you figure out the right way to do that, you'd be a very rich man. ;)

Cady Goldfield
11-28-2007, 10:51 AM
Marc,
I guess you'll just have to wing it. The CDs should help, but different aspects of language learning -- listening-comprehension, speaking, reading comprehension, writing -- all use different parts of the brain and require that you have to listen-comprehend by hearing others speak, and also to speak without having a lot of time to string together what you're going to say. In an intensive setting, you are forced to do those things, so you get brain-wired faster than by just conventional means of textbook/CD and repetitive phrases -- the typical public school approach.

My own method was to get a Japanese boyfriend. :D

Marc Abrams
11-28-2007, 11:08 AM
Cady:

My wife would much prefer that I would desire a Japanese wife (wife #2 of course- Harem style) than a Japanese boyfriend! I will leave the boyfriend thing in your able hands! ;)

Cady Goldfield
11-28-2007, 02:50 PM
Yeah, I guess what's sauce for the goose isn't always sauce for the gander. ;)

You'll have to make do with audio tapes, CDs and regular runs to the sushi bar for a chance to yak in Japanese (though nowadays most sushi chefs seem to be Korean or Indonesian).

Walker
11-29-2007, 12:45 AM
Not sure what your goals are, but let me put a word in for actual schoolhouse learning. There are a lot of promises out there in the world, but just like in the dojo, a real breathing sensei kicks your ass -- tapes don't.

BTW - the dojo really does seem like a quiet happy place compared to Japanese class.

Josh Reyer
11-29-2007, 06:20 AM
I agree with Doug.

I myself majored in it, and after graduation made use of the best system: making the rent and groceries dependent on it, as one ex-pat has put it. But of course that system isn't for everyone. So take a class - you'll benefit from the structure. Look around for Japanese conversation groups or some kind of language exchange. There are many ways to study a language, but only one way to learn it - ya gotta use it. And in the case of languages, if you don't use it, you lose it...fast. So find opportunities to speak it as much as possible, and expose yourself to at least a little bit, everyday.

Gernot Hassenpflug
12-04-2007, 07:21 PM
My thoughts on this are obviously my own, but here goes:

Assumptions: Listening (training the ears), speaking (pronounciation), reading and writing (kanji and syllabaries) need to be worked on. The former two are fairly linked, the latter distinct and do not require knowing any Japanese spoken language at all. They are, however, closely tied to that further critical part of language training: understanding of Japanese culture, which determines how, why, and when things are said/written/responded to.

Speaking/listening: I would definitely advise getting the Pimsleur courses for Japanese; if you cannot afford that, try Rosetta Stone. Pimsleur works on training the ears and responses. Rosetta stone is less focussed on conversation, but more widely spread across several sensory boundaries.

I estimate that the speaking/listening will go very quickly, since Japanese as a spoken grammar is extremely simple compared to most European languages. The complexity is almost wholly owing to the culture, and in some respect to the difficulty in expressing precise nuances: the language as well as the culture are information-poor, thus context and experience are everything.

I would not recommend Japanese media or movies.

Writing/reading: There is in my not so humble opinion only one route for educated adults: the "Remembering the Kanji" series by James W. Heisig. If you can get the latest editions of Volumes 1 and 2, and really work through them, you can get to the point of basic literacy within one calendar year (I can tell you that it took me 7 months for Volume 1, working at it from 6-8 hours per day *after* classes and lab time, and 5 months for Volume 2, at a much slower pace).

Grammar/reference: I recommend the two Japan Times volumes entitled dictionaries of basic and intermediate Japanese grammar, in their latest editions. If you need to show some baseline Japanese skills, the lowest rung is the "ikkyu" level Japanese test for foreigners, and apart from having to prepare for this test in earnest by working through previous exam questions, the dictionaries will prepare you for anything grammar-wise.

Vocabulary: Here you are on your own. The Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone series will build up basic level conversational Japanese vocabulary, but for any more than that you need to read and otherwise interact with topics that interest you. I would not recommend trying to read popular magazines, that is way too hard, and Japanese newspapers are an embarrassment, but niche-items like manga (business-related, perhaps, or historical), webpages (not 2ch though!), and possibly by this stage NHK radio and TV (news, educational) might be a good idea. And of course that staple: emailing friends.

Hope that helps,
Gernot

Josh Reyer
12-05-2007, 03:19 AM
If you can get the latest editions of Volumes 1 and 2, and really work through them, you can get to the point of basic literacy within one calendar year (I can tell you that it took me 7 months for Volume 1, working at it from 6-8 hours per day *after* classes and lab time, and 5 months for Volume 2, at a much slower pace).

How do you define "basic literacy"?

Gernot Hassenpflug
12-06-2007, 08:16 AM
How do you define "basic literacy"?For the benefit of those only academically interested (those really interested would get to work on it), Basic literacy is defined as knowledge of the Ministry of Education kanji learnt in school, which number around 2100. This means you can read books vetted by the ministry, i.e., with more difficult kanji largely absent, or at least their readings given. From the rest of my post people would see what limitations that entails. Heisig's books do give one the enormous benefit of being able to look up any word without having to know what it means either in Chinese or in Japanese, nor how the Japanese chose to pronounce the word in case the kanji is used for a Japanese word. I sense you may have had something else in mind though, seeing as you state you majored in Japanese.

Josh Reyer
12-07-2007, 09:09 AM
I sense you may have had something else in mind though, seeing as you state you majored in Japanese.

Indeed. I define "basic literacy" as being able to read and understand, say, a 5th or 6th grade text, possibly even as low as 4th grade. Even after finishing Remembering the Kanji, one won't be able to do that. I think the system is very good for a) providing mnemonics to help learn how to write characters, and b) associating kanji with English keywords (and I think the former is far more useful than the latter). But since it doesn't deal with words, either with single kanji or with compounds, it doesn't really aid the learning in truly reading and understanding a Japanese text. Kanji are roughly as semantic as English spelling is phonetic -- IOW, in a kinda-sorta way. My personal belief is that kanji are best learned in their natural context as words, rather than in isolation as in RTK. A lot of times, when you learn a word you look at the kanji and say, "Of course!" But if you just look at the kanji by themselves without knowing the meaning of the word, the kanji can lead you astray.

Gernot Hassenpflug
12-11-2007, 08:01 PM
Indeed. I define "basic literacy" as being able to read and understand, say, a 5th or 6th grade text, possibly even as low as 4th grade. Even after finishing Remembering the Kanji, one won't be able to do that.

I see what you mean, but I think you misunderstood what I wrote. I don't want others reading this to get the idea that these books are less useful than they really are. Your view on how to learn kanji is the norm, but I want to push people to find a better system with more thought put into it. I did not write that by learning the kanji you will not how to read. I did write a fair bit about what references to use for the various parts of learning that are required for literacy. And I don't agree that for an adult basic literacy should be defined at 5th grade, that is just not good enough. I am specifically concerned with adult learners, as is Heisig. After going through his books you will most certainly be able to read the vast majority of the kanji in all government-sponsored textbooks and newspapers, and look up based on their Chinese reading in Japan. You can do this even if you have no need to speak or listen to Japanese. The system is independent of the Japanese language. How you integrate that knowledge with actual Japanese is the subject of the other portions of my post. After all, the writing is only a medium, the understanding of the content requires cultural understanding (also language-independent) and knowledge of grammar and vocabulary.