Learning Japanese


As a kid in school we were given the choices of elective subjects to study.  I chose Japanese language and have had a love for Japan ever since.

Fast forward to adulthood and I’ve sadly forgotten most of what I learned as a kid, although I suspect now most of it was basic learning taught by someone out of a handbook.  I still have a huge love of Japan and have started again to try and teach myself Japanese.

This is not the first time i’ve tried to learn another language, but crazy me always seems to pick the hardest ones.  I went to Chinese lessons for over a year to try and converse natively with my wife and after all that time I know some words and very basic phrases but not nearly enough to be useful.

Japanese, along side Chinese Mandarin/Cantonese, Korean and Arabic is considered a level 5 language, one of the hardest for an English speaker to learn so my poor mushy brain is in for a real challenge.

I am pretty good with the Hiragana “alphabet”, and getting better with Katakana and about 0.1% of Kanji is pressed into my brain.  Yes Japanese is built on 3 script styles with Hiragana being standard alphabet, Katakana where many of the characters look alike and is used a lot for foreign words and Kanji is based off Chinese symbols which there are millions of and are quite difficult to learn.  There are some tricks to a basic understanding but I will leave this until later in my learning given I think most of it is just going to be repetitive exposure to try and fuse them into memory and my poor brain is a bit soft now-a-days.

The struggle for me to begin with is it is recommended by the experts to learn a language much like a child would and then evolve your learning over time.  This would be far easier if I had a native speaker who could force me to use the language but I am reliant on online content and media exposure to try and teach myself.  I am trying to not be lazy about it and in the end would like to be able to speak and understand a casual conversation or at least be able to watch media without the need of assistance.  I know writing is beautiful but in the age of technology it’s probably unlikely i’d be doing a lot of actual writing.  I don’t even write much in english anymore with most of my usage of it being typed.

I recently read a good article called The Shallowness of Google Translate.  It puts into perspective of how far off we are of true artificial intelligence being about to truly translate between languages or even dialects.  I would strongly recommend trying to learn to speak like a native rather than use words and phrases from Google translate or similar.  I think it is important to be able to understand what you’re saying and not just rattle of some phrase you picked up somewhere.  This is also true with media consumption such as anime.  Not all anime is created equal and while some anime is moderately consistent with everyday conversations and topics other anime is full of content that would rarely be used by a native speaker and could even be considered highly rude and offensive to some if you were speaking like that.

At any rate I am trying to avoid any of the apps that let you converse with native speakers for the moment, I really am not at a level where I feel comfortable doing so and would likely just end up demotivating myself out of disappointment.  I am pottering along learning new words and practicing the 3 scripts to try and become more proficient at reading and hopefully I will eventually reach a point I can be more confident.

One issue I have is poor hearing and sometimes mis-hear spoken words which messes with my learning.

Anyway if you’re Japanese or speak Japanese and would like to make a new friend and have the patience to put up with someone who is still trying to get a clue please reach out.  I’d love to make some new friends.




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Posted in Anime, General Interest, General Interest: Misc.