Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Where to start?

So where did I start?

I started where I thought I should start and that was to get myself a text book and enroll on a beginner’s course.

This was fine to give me a feel for the language but a solitary two hour class a week with very little study outside of the classroom meant there was more chance of me becoming a sumo wrestler than a fluent Japanese speaker within the next millennia.

I then recently made the decision that I wanted to learn this language…no…I mean….LEARN. To be able to read, write, listen, comprehend and speak to a fluent level.

After much searching/time wasting on the web, I noticed a particular book kept cropping up and that was Dr James Heisig’s ‘Remembering the Kanji’.

It was interesting to read that the biggest obstacle to learning Japanese for westerners is actually learning the 2046 kanji needed to be able to read something as simple as a newspaper in Japanese. And this book could help you learn the essential kanji within three months.

From there I stumbled across an inspiring website called ‘All Japanese All The Time’ which detailed how it is possible to reach a fluent level in just 18 months by truly immersing yourself in the language. In this instance, by consuming Japanese media such as, anime, manga, music, TV and podcasts on a daily basis.

Which brings me to where I am now, taking my first few steps on the road to creating my very own little Japanese immersed bubble.

I have now been learning the kanji using the Heisig method for the last three weeks and I have already clocked up just over 345 kanji.

To review what I have learnt I have been using a website called ‘Reviewing the Kanji’. If you are not familiar with SRSs it works like a stack of flashcards. You gradually add flashcards to your pile as you learn them and you then review them randomly. Simple!

So, is this the only way to start to learn Japanese, absolutely not, but it is a method which makes sense to me, and if it makes sense to you, it could be right for you also.

Question: When learning Japanese (or any other language) where would you recommend starting? What worked/works for you?


Anonymous said...

Hey i'm doing Heisig too! I'm on 1450, so I have a few on you, but I promise it gets hard then easy and then hard then easy. So keep persistent.

Kerubin said...


Congratulations on reaching 1450 - not far for you to go now.

I understand what you mean by it working in cycles. I'm just approaching 400 and I have only just started to see real progress.