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The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

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default The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Her Cheshire Smile on 16/04/13, 04:34 am





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So I decided to learn Japanese... again. For the nth time. Why? Because (a) I plan on taking up Asian Studies next year in college and I figured learning a language would be helpful in the long run and I really could try learning Mandarin first but (b) frankly, the Chinese don't have otome game that I'm aware of.

Now, why am I relaying my nonsense to the public? Well, mainly because it's my habit to look for resources to get myself ready and then get bored as all heck when I've acquired said resources so I figured that, in case I ditch this idea again, I could share whatever resources I find with other people and encourage them to learn regardless of whether I did.

What you must remember is that self-study is hard. I'm telling you this based from experience and because my online friend who's helping me with studying started out by pointing that out. You must be willing to exert quite a lot of time into learning. You must also not delude yourself into thinking you'll be able to understand after a month of learning, no, you must remember that the Japanese language has a buttload of characters we are not familiar with. They don't have just 28 letters or anything. Moving on.

The important stuff:


  • The Japanese language uses three sets of characters: kanji, hiragana, and katakana. Many people suggest learning hiragana first. Many people actually went and learned hiragana first. Hiragana is used for inflicted word endings, for helper words, and for words that don't have a kanji counterpart or an outdated kanji. Katakana is usually for loanwords from languages aside from Chinese, for sound effects, or for words that the writer wants to emphasize. To know which is which between hiragana and katakana, remember that the hiragana characters are more curvy while katakana has more straight lines and hard corners. Kanji, on the other hand, are ideographs. They represent meaning instead of sound. Each character has a set of sounds associated with it but the characters are used for their meaning, not their sound.
  • Which script you use when you learn to write all these, however, is pretty much just which you prefer since the Japanese language isn't strict with it.

  • Hiragana and katakana have 46 basic characters each. These characters can still be modified by the addition of a diacritical mark which changes the consonant sound they make, so 30 more to each. Plus the 2000 or so kanji characters.
With the nitty-gritty disclaimer and stuff aside, if you're still willing to learn, here are some free online resources for learning:
Teach Yourself Japanese. It's a very in-depth website. It has a good introduction to Japanese and also sound files so that you can hear the correct pronunciation of words.
Japanese Lessons with Sound Files
Language Guide
A flash card program my friend fixed up for me. If you want to use it, I'll PM you directions. His directions, I, personally, don't understand this thing.
Guide to Japanese
English - Japanese Dictionary
Hiragana42
Real Kana
Gakuu (slightly free)
Japanese Please!
JapanesePod101

Anyway, that's all I have for now. If I made a mistake somewhere or if you know a site that would be useful, PM me and I'll add it on here. smile
Spoiler:
I reserve absolute credit of all my Japanese knowledge to my nerdfighter friend. Trust him, trust him.


Last edited by Her Cheshire Smile on 16/04/13, 09:16 am; edited 3 times in total

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Kopin on 16/04/13, 05:32 am

Haha, I'm trying again too. Which is sort of why I've been so, uhm, absent. :D; I dunno, I just felt bad for not being able to be more helpful around here. And I mean, I've known I wanted to learn Japanese since I was 14 but when I was asked why I responded with, "I dunno. I just want to?" an' peoples were tellin' me that wasn't a good enough reason so I always gave up. D: But but, given that I still want to learn it, I think it's something I might be genuinely interested in. Chess! Le's do dis! o:<

Edit: I'm using Textfugu. It's not free but it does list a bunch of free resources, and not so free resources, on the tofugu website.

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by rene05 on 16/04/13, 07:40 am

I self-study Japanese by myself...and I know it's difficult...non of my friends are interested in Japanese...and leaving in a Multi-Language country..there;s no foreign Language subject in school...so I have no one to practice with...there's no perfect textbook...but I use "Minna No Nihongo".... but the best is to memorise Hiragana first.... Hiragana is easy to memorise...but...Katakana...( I still can't remember.....arGhhh....) Kanji....(there is on and kun pronunciation....unlike Chinese they only have one pronunciation..that's where I get stuck...)

For dictionary....I used Midori app on my iPhone...I love this app...because it can bookmark the words..it even have Kanji parts that divided by the JLPT level....

Ok...mind you...that most textbook use "keigo" means Polite form...but if you watch Anime...they seldom speak with "Keigo form"...one of my Japanese friend...ask me to watch Japanese Drama instead of Anime..if I really want to learn and pick up Japanese....

LOL... actually I kind of getting lazy to learn Japanese...until I pick up Otome Games... I play slowly...because of my constant searching the words meaning... but to my surprise.... I learn hell lot of vocabulary... so when someone say I play Otome games because I want to improve my Japanese...don't laugh at them....because...it really does improve my Japanese...

I also used this guide...for my grammar part....it has a lot of example...
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Ok.....let's gambatte.....

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Her Cheshire Smile on 16/04/13, 01:48 pm

@Kopin: Oh hey, thanks for the site. I'm not using TextFugu, no, I don't have money, the resource review on Tofugu, however, was pretty useful.

@rene05: Thanks for the website. smile I personally prefer the big-wall-of-text that is "Teach Yourself Japanese" because it gives tidbits about history too but this site's pretty useful too.

Was it "gambatte" or "ganbatte"? I've heard it only on anime.
Ganbatte, us and my poor brain cells!

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Blue_Sargent on 16/04/13, 07:01 pm

Her Cheshire Smile wrote:Was it "gambatte" or "ganbatte"? I've heard it only on anime.
Ganbatte, us and my poor brain cells!

It's ganbatte ---> from ganbaru
頑張る 【がんばる】

Guide to Japanese <- this is where I started learning grammar :D Lately I've been using
Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar by Seiichi Makino and Michio Tsutsui

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by rene05 on 16/04/13, 07:26 pm

Blue_Sargent wrote:
Her Cheshire Smile wrote:Was it "gambatte" or "ganbatte"? I've heard it only on anime.
Ganbatte, us and my poor brain cells!

It's ganbatte ---> from ganbaru
頑張る 【がんばる】

Guide to Japanese <- this is where I started learning grammar :D Lately I've been using
Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar by Seiichi Makino and Michio Tsutsui

Yupz...but you listen carefully it pronounce more like "Gambatte"... LOL so it's ok to use either ganbatte or gambatte... wow...Advance...? I'm just a beginner... *sigh*

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Topaztan on 17/04/13, 05:04 am

Blue_Sargent wrote:
It's ganbatte ---> from ganbaru
頑張る 【がんばる】

Guide to Japanese <- this is where I started learning grammar :D Lately I've been using
Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar by Seiichi Makino and Michio Tsutsui


てform verb conjugation is such a pain. Simplifying it, it's basically how you make a Japanese verb into present continuous, or adding "-ing" I wish you all good luck with it!

Oh, I have some useful resources. I'll go link gathering, and remember anyone is welcome at the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] thread~.

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Her Cheshire Smile on 17/04/13, 02:50 pm

Why do I feel like there's such a long road ahead? Ehe.
Anyway, I'm almooooost through memorizing... hiragana. I've reached the ya/yo part and that's the farthest I've gotten ever~

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Topaztan on 17/04/13, 10:56 pm

Ehehehe, there is a long road ahead. But if you ever go to Japan knowing your hiragana makes such a huge difference from random people who travel there and don't know any.

.... And then katakana and even a little kanji and you have such a head start over anyone how just speaks Japanese. I think knowing how to speak Japaanese fairly well without learning the "alphabet" is kind of dumb.

Once you finish learning your hiragana it will probably be better to practice them without starting katakana right away, because some are really similar and it can be confusing. :3

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by BlueMist on 18/04/13, 12:39 am

I'm also teaching myself Japanese. It's just too bad that none of my friends what or are intrested to learn and help me. Neutral

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Post by Finnista on 18/04/13, 08:18 pm

Ah i am on the same road too. Currently re-learning Japanese after years of hiatus :/.. I used to take Japanese class back when i was 14 but after a few lessons i drop out. simply because I was pretty much a lazy bum and didnt have enough motivation to continue studying. After years of passive learning,I decided its time to upgrade my Japanese so yeah.. currently im self-learning and memorizing hiragana

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Her Cheshire Smile on 19/04/13, 04:59 am

Finnista wrote:Ah i am on the same road too. Currently re-learning Japanese after years of hiatus :/.. I used to take Japanese class back when i was 14 but after a few lessons i drop out. simply because I was pretty much a lazy bum and didnt have enough motivation to continue studying. After years of passive learning,I decided its time to upgrade my Japanese so yeah.. currently im self-learning and memorizing hiragana


Huzzah, lazy bums who try to be productive from time to time. Don't worry, we'll get this... eventually. XD

After finishing memorizing hiragana, would it be better to dive into katakana or learn a few words first?

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Saefiya on 19/04/13, 05:27 am

Her Cheshire Smile wrote:

Huzzah, lazy bums who try to be productive from time to time. Don't worry, we'll get this... eventually. XD

After finishing memorizing hiragana, would it be better to dive into katakana or learn a few words first?

I'd say learn a few words first. That way, you get a better grasp on the way words are pronounced and spelled, and then katakana would come easier. At least, that's what I found was easier for me. I feel if I learned one right after the other, I would get hiragana mixed up with my katakana and that's not so helpful when putting words together.

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Topaztan on 19/04/13, 02:28 pm

Saefiya wrote:
Her Cheshire Smile wrote:
Huzzah, lazy bums who try to be productive from time to time. Don't worry, we'll get this... eventually. XD
After finishing memorizing hiragana, would it be better to dive into katakana or learn a few words first?
I'd say learn a few words first. That way, you get a better grasp on the way words are pronounced and spelled, and then katakana would come easier. At least, that's what I found was easier for me. I feel if I learned one right after the other, I would get hiragana mixed up with my katakana and that's not so helpful when putting words together.
Yes, learn some words first. That's how I did it and it helped me not confuse katakana with hiragana. You can learn a whole lot by just using hiragana.

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Saitoforever13 on 24/04/13, 09:46 am

Her Cheshire Smile wrote:





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So I decided to learn Japanese... again. For the nth time. Why? Because (a) I plan on taking up Asian Studies next year in college and I figured learning a language would be helpful in the long run and I really could try learning Mandarin first but (b) frankly, the Chinese don't have otome game that I'm aware of.

Now, why am I relaying my nonsense to the public? Well, mainly because it's my habit to look for resources to get myself ready and then get bored as all heck when I've acquired said resources so I figured that, in case I ditch this idea again, I could share whatever resources I find with other people and encourage them to learn regardless of whether I did.

What you must remember is that self-study is hard. I'm telling you this based from experience and because my online friend who's helping me with studying started out by pointing that out. You must be willing to exert quite a lot of time into learning. You must also not delude yourself into thinking you'll be able to understand after a month of learning, no, you must remember that the Japanese language has a buttload of characters we are not familiar with. They don't have just 28 letters or anything. Moving on.

The important stuff:


  • The Japanese language uses three sets of characters: kanji, hiragana, and katakana. Many people suggest learning hiragana first. Many people actually went and learned hiragana first. Hiragana is used for inflicted word endings, for helper words, and for words that don't have a kanji counterpart or an outdated kanji. Katakana is usually for loanwords from languages aside from Chinese, for sound effects, or for words that the writer wants to emphasize. To know which is which between hiragana and katakana, remember that the hiragana characters are more curvy while katakana has more straight lines and hard corners. Kanji, on the other hand, are ideographs. They represent meaning instead of sound. Each character has a set of sounds associated with it but the characters are used for their meaning, not their sound.
  • Which script you use when you learn to write all these, however, is pretty much just which you prefer since the Japanese language isn't strict with it.

  • Hiragana and katakana have 46 basic characters each. These characters can still be modified by the addition of a diacritical mark which changes the consonant sound they make, so 30 more to each. Plus the 2000 or so kanji characters.
With the nitty-gritty disclaimer and stuff aside, if you're still willing to learn, here are some free online resources for learning:
Teach Yourself Japanese. It's a very in-depth website. It has a good introduction to Japanese and also sound files so that you can hear the correct pronunciation of words.
Japanese Lessons with Sound Files
Language Guide
A flash card program my friend fixed up for me. If you want to use it, I'll PM you directions. His directions, I, personally, don't understand this thing.
Guide to Japanese
English - Japanese Dictionary
Hiragana42
Real Kana
Gakuu (slightly free)
Japanese Please!
JapanesePod101

Anyway, that's all I have for now. If I made a mistake somewhere or if you know a site that would be useful, PM me and I'll add it on here. :)
Spoiler:
I reserve absolute credit of all my Japanese knowledge to my nerdfighter friend. Trust him, trust him.

thank you. I've been trying to find a way to learn it but I've been lazy. Maybe I can get these down, lol

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Her Cheshire Smile on 27/04/13, 12:09 pm

Topaztan wrote:
Yes, learn some words first. That's how I did it and it helped me not confuse katakana with hiragana. You can learn a whole lot by just using hiragana.


I have no idea what words I should start learning. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] Can you, perchance, give some examples that would be useful in conversation?
Saitoforever13 wrote:thank you. I've been trying to find a way to learn it but I've been lazy. Maybe I can get these down, lol

がんばって. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

I've just finished memorizing hiragana and I'm sort of able to read it well now.
It gets easier, I hope.
Also, I'm glad I could help.

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by Topaztan on 02/05/13, 12:31 pm

Her Cheshire Smile wrote:
I have no idea what words I should start learning. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] Can you, perchance, give some examples that would be useful in conversation?

LATE RESPONSE IS LATE. ;A; Um... I'm not actually sure, maybe common Japanese phrases and greetings, or Japanese words. >A> Wow... It's been a long time and I don't actually know what would be good for practice. Sorry I'm not much help. orz

Maybe things like "hajimemashite", "dozo yoroshiku", "oname wa ____ desu", LOL. That's probably too basic I'm sorry. STUDY THIS.

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Post by Blue_Star on 08/05/13, 01:56 am

I'm also self studying Japanese, and I haven't gotten very far. ^^' I probably could be a lot farther now if I actually put more work into the language. Ah... motivation.

By far my most effective tool in learning is the Japanese in Mangaland series; it's great for learning the grammar to the language, though it is certainly not perfect. Still, I remember the most from that book series of all the resources I've tried.

A useful tool for Firefox users is the Rikaichan plug-in thing. It's awesome, but I always forget to turn it on. XD

Some android apps that I find useful are Obenkyo and JED; Obenkyo's great for learning how to write kanji and kana, and JED's a dictionary that has a lot more entries than my physical Japanese-English dictionary. And it's free. XD

Hope these help you guys; those tools certainly help me learn the basics of Japanese. :D

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Post by Verdelish on 08/05/13, 07:06 am

Speaking as someone who's done the self-study thing for a few years now, it's definitely good to have structure, and my ideal structure is the JLPT levels. Not that you have to take the JLPT, of course, but it's helpful when it comes to pacing.

This site is one of my favorites. If you scroll down to the bottom you'll find the section for JLPT N5, which is beginner stage. It links to the main N5 vocabulary list and provides audio files to go with it in case you want to brush up on your listening or pronunciation. Plenty of hiragana and some katakana loanwords as well. ^^

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Post by Xyryhll on 14/05/13, 07:11 pm

I tried self studying four years ago and it was going well. I used a self help phrase book and I have an uncle who lived in Japan for awhile so I guess I got better cause of that. But after a four year break (I hate college Crying ) I can't recall that much.

Thanks for the helpful links :D I'll try to learn the language again so I'm not stuck with just "ohayo" and "konban wa" :p

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Post by hiko27 on 23/08/13, 09:51 am

Ugh, the struggle with self-studying Japanese.

Been studying for a year or so and well, it's still kinda hard but I can manage an otome game at most (I STILL HAVEN'T FINISHED GLASS HEART PRINCESS). The way I do it though is I translate the hardcore stuff aka a novel. I'm translating the Hyouka/Kotenbu novels with a few friends and jesus, was that stuff hard. But it helps me with the grammar like noun modifiers and getting used to the particles and stuff. And also getting pissed off at who the hell are they talking about.

But aside from that, when school starts for me, I'll most likely bring out my kanji flash card app on my iPhone on the way to my classes (takes me an hour to get from home to class and from one community college to the other) plus I review all the kanji I read from the day before in addition to 10 new ones. I tend to organize them into 10's, which helps. I also try to memorize the kunyomi and onyomi.

Somebody mentioned somewhere above to review kanji by JLPT and I'd suggest that too. It's organized into what kanjis are common to the uncommon ones used in Japan.

And another thing my two Japanese friends suggested (One migrated here to the US from Japan and another was born here to a Japanese mother and is re-studying it) to better memorize kanji is to buy those workbooks that kids use. I haven't bought one yet but it helps with recognizing the kanji (since you're writing it) and you can most likely look up the thing in an online dictionary.

And for grammar? I used Tae Kim's guide. It's sometimes confusing, with his examples but it helps.

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default Re: The Road to Self-Studying Japanese

Post by ranimanga on 21/01/14, 01:20 am

Um if you don't mind I'd like to share a good website for learning languages. It is called http://www.memrise.com/
I am taking a Japanese language course. It is free and the courses are made by other members. You can also make courses too.


Last edited by ranimanga on 21/01/14, 01:23 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : link looked weird)

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Post by icingcandies on 01/06/16, 02:08 pm

This whole thread is awesome! You guys are so helpful! ><  Love it! like

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Post by fallendeity on 28/07/16, 11:31 am

Now I am even more motivated to learn Japanese. Thank you everyone for these helpful tips.

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Post by Marye on 08/10/16, 06:47 pm

If you're planning on learning Japanese, I'd recommend learning the particles first(granted that you've already learned the Hiragana and Katakana script), then the verbs, then gradually add up on vocabulary. I think the hardest part is the verb conjugation and of course, Kanji(this thing never ends mou~ ). 

This link might help with Particles:


For kanji, I recommend learning it with references to their origin, usually they're from pictures or symbols of something, there's a seemingly good app on apple, it's called "Kanji Draw" with the rainbow circle icon(but I'm not sure how good it is since I haven't tried it as well  Bert sweating ) the preview is good though:


Lastly, for self-study, I think a handy Dictionary does the trick! For Japanese language studies, I tend to use Tangorin.com for web, Imiwa for apple products and then JED for Android. Some of these dictionaries also include some grammar pattern so they're really convenient.

Also, a kanji finder helps for those characters that's hard to read, thus, it's also advisable to learn how the stroking for Kanji as these are the basis as to how these programs work.

Good Luck! Japanese is a really fulfilling language to learn especially if one has the passion for it  like

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