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June 10th, 2013

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After a (long) period of inactivity I would like to announce that I will once again begin more posts and updates. We are launching into the summer period and, although I will be working full-time now, I should have more free time to pursue my studies in Japanese. So far I have Hiragana and some grammar under control now, so next up will be mastering some more grammar and Katakana, before taking on the gauntlet of Kanji. You can then look forward to some brand-new content, so keep your eyes peeled.

I have also made some minor modifications to the site. These are mostly stylistic changes and support, and shouldn’t affect usability.

Free Guide to Learning Japanese

Tae Kim's Guide to Learning JapaneseOver the Summer I had the chance to play with an iPad as part of my Job. Naturally, I decided to have a look for some great resources that I could use that fit within my budget, which was, of course, free. I happened to download a handful of free applications that could be useful, however none of them seemed professionally put together, or lived up to my expectations. That was until I found “Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese”.

iOS App

It is a great, textbook-like Application that is split into a number of different sections covering everything that a beginner would need to learn. Due to only having it to play with for a very short amount of time, I wasn’t able to get past the second section, but it seems very extensive indeed.  It starts off with Hiragana, before moving onto basic sentence structure. This was something I loved, as even though I was still working towards simply being able to read what I have found I could read sentences, if still extremely slowly. (more…)

Japanese Study Organisation

Well, it has been a while now, hasn’t it! That isn’t a good thing. It seems as though the thing that I had dreaded has happened. I’ve got busy and distracted. Over this time, I’ve barely touched any Japanese. I have seemed to lost my drive. This calls for some fairly drastic re-organisation. In fact, it just calls for me implementing some organisation. Now to tackle my first problem, the timing. (more…)

Katakana Memorisation – Days 24-30

Once you’ve got over the mammoth challenge of learning Hiragana and all of the rules associated with it, you’d expect Katakana to progress just as easily, and quickly. At least, that’s what I thought. As it turns out, I’m finding this harder than getting through the Hiragana. Sure, you can apply a lot of rules that you use in Hiragana directly to Katakana, such as the Modified and Voiced Syllables, but it’s still a lot of memorisation. I think this is what I’m finding most difficult, it is a very monotonous, repetitive task, and due to this it’s sometimes difficult to motivate yourself.

The best thing to remember at the moment is that I’ve already done this once, and it’s a highly achievable task. It just needs that little bit extra effort. With that small amount of effort you will reap a very valuable reward on the journey to learning Japanese. This is a foundation that is required if you want to be able to read and write properly.

I just can’t wait until I’m done with this section. Getting stuck into some of the Grammar and Vocabulary will be a relief to me. The repetition of memorisation is becoming monotonous very quickly. I am, however, now running ever so slightly behind where I wanted to be at the end of July. I wanted to be finished with the all of the Kana by around about now, so I need to do some more work to catch up.

I do still have my trusty method that I’ve now become quite accustomed to. I’ve been filling my pad with pages and pages of Hiragana and Katakana, as well as using Genius to help my quick recognition of characters. I’ve developed another file to use with Genius, this one has all of the basic Katakana characters ready for you to use.

Hopefully by my next post I will be ready with some fun grammar. Now that’s really saying something. Just last year I don’t think I would have included fun and grammar in the same sentence without a negative thrown in there somewhere!

You can find my “Basic Katakana” Genius file here.

Are you trying to learn Katakana? Feel free to leave a comment below and tell us how you’re getting on with it!

Day 18 – 24 Update

It has been almost a week since my last update, but now that I’m home things should become a little more regular again. I have been making a good amount of progress with my Katakana. I find that some of the characters are fairly similar to their Hiragana counterparts, but most characters are different. I’ve reached the halfway point of learning all of the Katakana characters, and I’m finding it easier to learn these faster due to the system I put in place to learn Hiragana.

Frankly I’ve been finding it a little difficult to put up with the constant memorisation of characters. I can’t wait to start on some vocabulary and grammar. Then I should be able to see the results of all of the work that I’m putting in at the moment. I strongly believe that learning all of the characters now will help me in the long run though. Not being able to form anything constructive yet is fairly frustrating, but I hope that I can get through this section soon and get onto something a little more interesting both for me, and for you, the reader.

Japanese for Busy People – Kana Workbook Review pt. 1

Japanese for Busy People - Kana WorkbookI have just completed the first section, the Hiragana section, of the Japanese for Busy People – Kana Workbook, so I thought that I’d give it a review. The Katakana section will be reviewed when I finish it, although it largely follows the same format. I found this book at a bookstore in London whilst browsing the Japanese language section, and from what they had to offer I thought that this would be a good place to start. It covers both Hiragana and Katakana, although it seems fairly short at first glance. To say that this is a particularly long, or in depth view of learning Hiragana or Katakana would be somewhat misguided, after all, this is targeted at busy people who may not have much time to learn the finer details. (more…)

Japanese Update Days 14-17

It’s been a few days since my last Japanese update and sadly I don’t have too much to share at the moment. I’ve continued learning Hiragana, and I feel as though I’ve got to the point where I can recognise Hiragana fairly well. So I feel that this is a good time to start with learning Katakana. I’m not going to lie, I’m finding this bit difficult. I keep learning more, but although I can now recognise some characters, but forming sentences seems miles away still. I feel that I will be slightly more encouraged when I start learning some grammar and have Katakana under control.

I’m going to continue using Genius for memorising Katakana, but I think that I’ll probably make two files, one with both Katakana and Hiragana, and one with just Katakana. I think that this will help me, as I think it’s going to get a little difficult becoming confused with the two at first. Hopefully it won’t be this long until my next update. Getting access to internet is a little difficult for me at the moment, so hopefully I’ll get another post up in the next few days.

Day 12/Day 13 Update & Modified Syllables

So here I am, writing this post from on board a ferry. Today I am covering modified syllables, and I should have a lot of time to cover them today, as I have quite a car journey ahead of me. I have bought all of my Japanese resources with me, and I have hopes of getting a lot of studying done over the next week and a bit.

In Japanese modified syllables are a combination of two characters that create a sound that is similar to the two characters given. For example, by adding き (ki) and a small version of や (ya) you get きゃ (kya). This is applicable for a range of different characters. This was somewhat news to me, I hadn’t realised that there were different sounds that you could get by combining characters. This explains why I would get easily confused when trying to figure out what was written in Japanese before I started this process.

I’ve decided that I’m going to continue the process that I’ve been using so far of of using Genius and the Japanese for Busy People Kana Workbook. Like I said earlier, I was going to upload more Genius files for people to use, I’ve created one solely for modified syllables.

As the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect”.

Feel free to download the Modified Syllables Genius File.

Find my other Genius files here.

Understanding Japanese Honorifics

The way you address people in Japan is very important and complex, and understanding Japanese Honorifics properly is something that needs to be done before you start conversational Japanese. There are different types that you will use in different situations with different people, and using something that is too familiar will create a bad impression. The best idea is to always start conservative, and keep using that until you are specifically told otherwise. Below are the different honorifics and the situations that you should use it in. (more…)

Day 10/Day 11 Update

Time for another Japanese progress update! I’m finding that Genius is one of the most useful resources that I have found so far. It’s helping me to memorize characters much more effectively than my first idea of writing them over and over again.

One of the aspects of learning a language is that you should learn about the culture of the country the language belongs to. For example you could learn all of the Japanese that you can, but if you don’t learn about Honorifics, then you may find yourself slightly out of depth. So any chance to absorb any information you can about the country that your language comes from you should take it.

Ittenbari's Shoyu Ramen - London

Shoyu Ramen from Ittenbari in London

When I found myself in London with a friend we happened upon a very nice Japanese Restaurant called Ittenbari. Outside there was a sign saying that they had the best Ramen in London, and I think that they were right. I had their Shoyu Ramen and my friend had the Shio Ramen. Good times were had by all, especially when I could pick out and read the Hiragana on their menu.