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Nov 26, 2010

Overview of the Journey

There is a new overview post! 
Learning Japanese by Living Japanese: An Overview

These are the basic steps to learning Japanese by Living Japanese.

  1. Learn the kana (hiragana and katakana) – Enjoy Japanese media
  2. Learn the kanji – Enjoy Japanese media
  3. Build vocabulary – Enjoy Japanese media
  4. Enjoy Japanese media

You should notice a trend in the steps of the  learning process - enjoying Japanese media is crucial. Everyone has some sort of reason for studying Japanese and the most important thing is to do whatever it is you want to do - in Japanese. If you like cooking, then start looking up recipes in Japanese. If you like watching TV, then start watching Japanese TV. If you like reading, then start reading Japanese manga or novels or magazines. Whatever it is you like to do, do it in Japanese. Rather than go at the process like its a chore and get burnt out of it in two weeks, treat it like playtime – you do whatever fun thing you want to do. Studying Japanese doesn't have to be work!

Some people may be put off by this idea. If you're just playing video games or listening to music in Japanese, then what are you actually learning? Well, you're learning a lot more than you'd think. In each phase, simply enjoying Japanese will help to reinforce the things you have learned and present you with new things to acquire. In the beginning, there will be a lot of new things to acquire, and it may seem overwhelming, but as you continue down the path (enjoying every step of the way) you'll begin to notice that you reach for your dictionary less and less often.

A final thing to note is that these steps are not set in stone with clearly defined borders. In each step there will be crossover. When learning the kana and beginning to enjoy Japanese media, you will no doubt build your vocabulary and perhaps learn some kanji. In the kanji phase you will once again be building your vocabulary while enjoying Japanese. And even in the vocabulary phase you will probably continue to learn more kanji that don't appear as often. So don't worry so much about the steps, as they're really just a guideline.

You may be thinking, “But he forgot about grammar!” Well, no I didn't. A lot of grammar “rules” are really just patterns assigned after the fact, whereas the real grammar is more intuitive and learned by seeing and hearing real Japanese. So for learning grammar the best thing is to (can you guess what I am about to say?) - enjoy Japanese media. Some basic grammar rules are really helpful in the beginning though, especially with particles, so I've linked some Japanese grammar articles at the bottom.. But like I said, don't stress out about it too much.

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  1. Ah, this is so helpful. You make learning Japanese sound like something that can be fun. As you say, it should be fun.

    Also, I noticed that no one has followed you yet. It just goes to show how obsolete that old /jp/ blog list is. Pretty much no one checks it.

    Anyway, good luck in everything!

  2. I am a native Japanese. So impressive!