Before I go on, I would like to make it clear that everything I will be talking about is anecdotal and from my own experiences. I don’t have the intention on teaching in detail, but I will be providing resources I’ve found and continue to find that I use. If you want to learn Japanese, you can find tons of material on how to start out online with a quick Google search.
The Very Beginning
I began to learn Japanese around this time last year, a little bit after Helvetica was created. I got my inspiration to learn Japanese through my love of manga and anime, along with the thought that it could be useful with my major of Computer Science. Really, I just used that as an excuse to justify why I was learning it to my family. In high school, I was actually pretty good at learning Spanish. This was when I really found my knack for languages and decided what general direction I wanted to take my life. At this point, I thought to myself “hey, it might be hard as fuck, but why not?”. And thus, my grandiose journey through learning Japanese began.
I started off where most people do; learning how to read and write.
With a quick google search, I found there is a TON of resources out there to teach you how to read and write. There’s so many different things you can do it’s kind of overwhelming. I ended up just downloading a couple of apps onto my iPhone at the time and just passively studied the readings of hiragana and katakana until I could recite the reading. I quickly found that, for myself at least, I can’t retain a whole lot of information by using flashcards alone, so I tried finding resources to help me read. I did find one resource, which is this. It’s a collection of sheets much like you may have seen or used in kindergarten to practice writing characters over and over again. I sat down each day for around a week and did one page a piece. Even then, I couldn’t remember which character is which (probably because I did it way too fast to actually retain). My search for a better way to memorize the kana continued.
I eventually found a collection of YouTube videos going through every single character of the kana (hira and kata). You can find that playlist here. This was the man who basically taught me how to read and write the kana. He teaches the kana using the book Remembering the Kana by James Heisig. For myself, I have a lot of trouble learning from textbooks because I don’t retain a lot of information purely from reading, but being taught the reading and association of a kana to a mnemonic verbally worked effortlessly for myself. I watched about one half to an entire video a night for about one and a half weeks and constantly quizzed myself on what I knew. I did this by keeping a running list or key of what I knew which I used to check if I was right or wrong when I wrote out everything I knew up to that point. It looked something like this:
I continued to quiz myself for about a month and practiced reading just random things until it became second nature and that’s all there really is to it. It’s just like learning how to read when you’re a toddler.
In the next post, I’m fairly certain I’ll delve into what to do next which is to learn grammar, but since it’s a busy time of the year for me at school, it might be another 2 weeks to a month seeing how long it takes me to sit down and write one of these out.
I thank you all of those for reading and hope you find some help with learning a little Japanese whether you’re just beginning or have been having trouble getting off the ground in the past. I am no expert, but I do know how difficult it is to really get yourself going with something as big as learning a language for personal gain or just for fun.
Thank you all for the support!
-Pale the Webmaster