Japanese – Week 1

I grossly underestimated how hard it’s going to be to learn Japanese. Every time I thought I knew why people said Japanese was difficult and was ready to persevere regardless, I found yet another reason why Japanese is going to be insane. However, I will stay determined. I really want to learn Japanese. I’m not learning it because it’s a requirement for graduation or to look good on college applications, and it’s not necessarily a skill I will ever put on job applications; learning Japanese is something that I want to do for myself.

So, how did I study this week?

On Friday and Saturday, hubby and I “studied” by listening to as much Japanese as possible. We watched Hellsing Ultimate for a while and called it studyingbut we also listened to a beginning Japanese podcast. I also watched a lot of YouTube videos of people talking about what tools worked best for them. Although we had purchased books to help us learn kanji, looking at them was overwhelming, so those got put to the side. I figured it would be easier to learn hiragana and katakana first, then start tackling kanji once I had some basics down.

Throughout the week, I listened to the Japanese podcast more and also started using some of the apps I downloaded, with mixed success. Some of the apps I don’t think I will be able to get anything out of for several weeks or even months. I had been warned against relying on Duolingo by a friend who actually studied Japanese in school, but I felt like that app was one of the few that actually started from the ground up. Memrise has been pretty similar to Duolingo so far, so I’ve been trying to use that one more than Duolingo (though I really have no idea if one is better than the other).

Write It! Japanese has been the most beginner friendly of the writing apps I’ve tried. Someone recommended KanjiSenpai on YouTube, but even I know that the app should be called kanji sensei instead of kanji senpai, so that makes me doubt its credibility a little bit. Kanji Study was a bit over my head, so I’m hoping in a few weeks to give that one another try.

One of the things I don’t understand is why most teaching resources still list sayonara as goodbye and rarely talk about the context of when you would use that particular goodbye. They also teach kon’nichiwa as hello when it means good afternoon. This is why I have been relying fairly heavily on YouTube videos of native Japanese speakers explaining Japanese to English speakers instead of using a textbook or app to learn the words. However, sometimes I wonder about their credibility as well. For instance, I watched a video where a guy really struggled to say “no” in Japanese. I understand that people there are much more polite, but to not have a word for it seems really odd. I’m not sure what the character(s) would be for it, but the apps have told me that iie means no.

Probably the most helpful resource I found about Japanese in general was the introduction to one of the books on kanji. Learning about the roots of Japanese and how kanji are structured was very helpful and made the rest of the book look less overwhelming.

Before I go too crazy with learning kanji, or even practicing the different types of brush strokes at all, I would like to invest in a set of brush pens or even a Buddha board. (Okay, maybe I have just wanted a Buddha board for a long time and could never justify it. I know it really wouldn’t be that helpful for learning Japanese.)

My goal for next week is to make my studies less disjointed. Instead of trying a new thing every day and getting stuck, I just want to find something that works and stick with it. I also want to take more notes than I did this week.

Matane!

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