Japanese for the Absolute Beginner

Whether you’re planning a trip to Japan and you want to get a working grasp of the language, or you’re just studying it and not intending to travel, our lessons will teach you in an intuitive an intelligent manner, focusing primarily on grammar and sentence structure so as to give you a command of the language and to be able to think with it, as opposed to robotically learning phrases with no understanding of what you’re memorizing.

Why learn Japanese?

There are a multitude of reasons one might decide to learn Japanese, whether it is to understand Japanese Anime Cartoons, or get a Japanese boyfriend/girlfriend, or because you plan to visit, or maybe to communicate with a Japanese family member. Whatever it is, the important thing is that you have some kind of purpose. Make no doubt this is the most important aspect of learning and rightly so, as this is the first lesson in our course.

Who is it for?

Our lessons are for absolute beginners who have no experience what so ever learning Japanese. However students who are already beginners can profit from our lessons, as one can always stand some brushing up of the basics. Our lessons are also for those who want to learn Japanese in a professional and thorough manner; people who are not satisfied at just memorizing phrases or leaving unresolved confusions hanging in the air.

Our Method

We leave no stone unturned, nothing un-answered or swept under the rug in our lessons. Our method is professional and precise, but more importantly it is ‘gradient’, meaning the levels difficulty build upon each other one by one, gradually increasing in difficulty.

End Goal of Our Lessons

Our lessons will not at all make you fluent or even proficient in Japanese. They will however give you a solid introduction to the language, a foundation from which you can then build a proficiency and higher skill.

Lesson 1 – Purpose
Lesson 2 – Understanding English
Lesson 3 – Understanding Japanese
Lesson 4 – Your first Japanese Sentence
Lesson 5 – Nouns & The Alphabet
Lesson 6 – Adjectives
Lesson 7 – Verb ‘to be’
Lesson 8 – Japanese Verbs
Lesson 9 – Conjugating Japanese Verbs - Past, Negative and Polite
Lesson 10 – Putting it all together
Lesson 11 – Verb Conjugation Table
Lesson 12 – Conditional (how to say if)
Lesson 13 – Potential (how to say 'can')

Learning Japanese – A Successful Approach

There is no one single method used in learning a foreign language, you’ll find yourself engaging a variety of different methods. For example just by using Rosetta Stone you will not learn Japanese. Or just by chatting with people on Skype, or just by watching anime and listening to Jpop.

We have developed an approach which uses a number of different mediums, and it doesn’t have to cost you $500 either. Our approach is low cost, here they are:

  • Step One: read and study our 13 Japanese Lessons to give you an introduction to the language and a concept of the sentence structure and basic grammar
  • Step Two: go to www.livemocha.com and make an account. Here you will find Japanese lessons, as well as a whole social network of people around the world helping each other to learn languages. Make friends with some Japanese people, help their English and ask them to help your Japanese. Become friends and then talk with them using your computer’s mic on skype. This is VERY important in developing your speaking ability. If you are studying Japanese and are not in Japan then your speaking ability has to be assisted by talking with natives, and that’s where skype comes in. It will also help you in your listening skills.
  • Step Three: Read and study the book Japanese: Step by Step (http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Step-Second-Edition/dp/007171362X/ ) This book will be your guide for getting a SOLID foundation for the language and sentence structure so you can THINK with Japanese and not just memorize. This is your key book.
  • Step Four: After reading through the above book once, you’re ready for your next book: Japanese Verbs & Essentials of Grammar, Third Edition. (http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Essentials-Grammar-Edition-Demystified/dp/0071713638/ ) This book takes you in deeper and is more of a reference and example index of grammar. It is EXTREMELY useful but should be read AFTER Japanese step by step, because this book is very short on explanation. You’ll get your explanations in Japanese step by step. The Japanese Verb is the KEY of learning Japanese, so with a good understanding of both of these books you arrive at an intermediate level. Also make sure that while you are studying these two books that you CONTINUE to make friends on livemocha and have conversations and write emails in Japanese! Practice is ESSENTIAL in your learning of this language. If you only study theory you will not succeed. You must balance theory and practical.
  • Step Five: Katakana, Hiragana and Kanji. The way to learn Hiragana and Katakana is SIMPLE. Just Download a chart of all the characters and start drilling! Just write, write, write. Start with Hiragana first, then once you are confident, do Katakana.

Hiragana Chart:

Katakana Chart:

  • Step Six: In conjunction with your drilling you should also play some online flash card games to help you memorize:

Katakana Flash Game:

  • Step Seven: Once you are finished getting familiar with Hiragana and Katakana its time to take on Kanji. You will need two books. One: A drill book, and Two: A book which explains the meaning of all the symbols so that you’re not just memorizing, you’re actually seeing the concept for yourself when you look at a kanji.

Drill book:

Concept book:

  • Step Eight: sign up at www.iknow.jp for a free one month trial. This is an online interactive program, and from here you can learn the 6,000 word core of the Japanese language, step by step. The program is phenomenal. After your trial is up it is $10 a month if you want to continue, it is highly recommended that you do. This program will give you the vocabulary you need, and its audio visuals will make doing so easy. The audio is very high quality.

The following steps will bring you to a strong intermediate level of Japanese; provided that you keep practicing, and restudy the books, not just read them once. Also you don’t have to do all 6,000 words of the iknow program to be intermediate. Just doing the first 1,000-2,000 will put you there.

At this point you will find much benefit from watching Japanese shows and listening to Japanese music, as you will start to understand what they are saying; it is an excellent drill for you.

At lower levels watching shows and listening to music is good for picking out phrases and improving listening skills. It is a good thing to do and you should be doing this during you're ENTIRE study of Japanese. Listening skills are very important. But don’t expect to LEARN much from listening to and watching shows and music until you’ve reached the intermediate level. As there is much grammar and colloquialisms, slang etc to learn before you could watch a show and get what's going on.

The most important thing to remember in your journey of learning Japanese is not to expect instant gratification, to always give yourself the time to develop and improve. You don’t learn Japanese over night, it will take you several years until you feel like you’ve got somewhere, that day WILL come, you just have to not let up and keep your eyes on the prize.

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