View Full Version : Any tips for someone learning Japanese?

05-27-2008, 05:06 PM
In a couple of days I am going to start learning Japanese on my own! Anyone want to give me some tips or some suggestions? It will be most helpful :p Thanks in Advance!

05-27-2008, 05:17 PM
Well I don't know that much bout learning Jap.....But i dont know. But it's just like learning spanish and khmer, < cambodian language...

Heard that thinking like a foreigner is da best way, it helps u think like them and they seem to learn our language a lot faster then we do on their languages... Well thats wat i hear...its ok but i know 3 dif langauges, im being taught french now, well hopes it helps.
But i can speak very well n most i hav a very strange asian hispanic black accent....welll that's me.... hope i help.

05-27-2008, 05:37 PM
Well at least I think this is helpful

Japanese has 5 basic vowels. They are romanized as 'a', 'i', 'u', 'e' and 'o'.

The vowels are pronounced like the 'a' in "awful", the 'e' in "bet", the 'o' in "fork", the 'i' as ee, and the 'u' as oo in "boot"

If the vowels are written in a combination, it could be pronounced differently. For example if an 'i' is after an 'a', "ai" would then it would be pronounced like the word "eye" in English.

And if the 'u' is after an 'o' like in "sou", then it would be pronounced as soh

The letter 'g' is always pronounced as the 'g' in "gone", never as the 'g' in "ginger"

The 's' is always hissed as in "so", never voiced as in "shadow"

The Japanese 'f' is not made by blowing air through the two front teeth against the bottom lip, rather it is made by lightly blowing air between your lips as if you were beginning to whistle.

The Japanese 'r' is never pronounced as the American 'r'. It is pronounced somewhat like the English 'd'. Instead it is made by lightly flicking the tongue off the gums behind the upper teeth.

And that's all I know

05-27-2008, 06:07 PM
Thanks those are some great tips!

05-27-2008, 06:28 PM

05-27-2008, 06:29 PM
If the vowels are written in a combination, it could be pronounced differently. For example if an 'i' is after an 'a', "ai" would then it would be pronounced like the word "eye" in English.It's actually much simpler than that. Technically when they're written in combination like that you pronounce each vowel sound separately. "ai" for example is "ah-ee" which when said quickly enough sounds like "eye". I've read some books that say they aren't pronounced individually, but it's really clear that they are if someone Japanese ever talks really slow (like enunciating something)
"ou" of course is an exception, it is pronounced as 2 separate os. But "oo" is as well.

The 's' is always hissed as in "so", never voiced as in "shadow" What about si/shi? the "si" combination is always pronounced "shi" but usually people romanize it as "shi" so that's nothing to worry about until you start learning hiragana/katakana.

The Japanese 'r' is never pronounced as the American 'r'. It is pronounced somewhat like the English 'd'. Instead it is made by lightly flicking the tongue off the gums behind the upper teeth."d"? Do you mean "l"? I guess the mouth position is the same as "d" but it doesn't sound anything like it. The Japanese r is like a... is it called a soft r in Spanish? (I haven't taken Spanish in almost 10 years) It's like a short, rolling r. (Of course if you're not familiar with Spanish, that doesn't help, but the easiest way is to hear someone say it)

Sorry, IchigoKiss, I don't want it to seem like I'm nitpicking but I thought I'd add a bit to what you said.

05-27-2008, 06:38 PM
It's ok ^.^
I'm not so sure myself even XD
I'll learn from my mistakes

05-27-2008, 06:58 PM
It is a good thing I already know some Spanish. I won't have to learn those rolling Rs again and yes it is called a soft R in Spanish.

05-27-2008, 08:43 PM
not quite like the spanish 'r.' It was also my mistake before but you can't deny that they are very similar. it's something between 'l' and 'd.' I haven't yet mastered it but I'm trying my best.

Teaching yourself Japanese is hard. Right now, I can't give any good suggestions coz i'm still finding out ways to learn it easier myself.
At the very least, I can tell you that I learn much from watching Japanese shows. It's easy to catch the words they are saying since almost every words are pronounced just as they are spelled.
However, it's only a supplement. It's not a good place to learn grammar and subtitles don't often give the exact translation of what you hear. Sometimes, I don't even pay attention to the subtitles. In some parts, I get confused but well, in the end it will give you certain benefits.

06-12-2008, 10:45 PM
when studying japanese, it helped me to listen to someone talking the language, to help with tones. don't just study from the books, or else you're tone will sound foreign.

when learning hiragana and katakana, they are fun sayings i made up to help me remember. like for か (ka) i would say that it is a "ka-up (cup) with a straw)

also, it would help to get like an e-mail buddy, it'll make learning the language a lot more fun.

hope this helped~ good luck learning japanese!

06-12-2008, 10:57 PM
On pronunciation:

"F" is pronounced closer to "H". It's a very soft "F". I can't really explain it in text, but until you get it right, it's safest to pronounce it like "H".

"R" is pronounced like "L". It's safest to just do it that way until you learn properly.

Watch the skips and long vowels. Remember that "Shite" and "Shitte" are 2 completely different words, yet sound almost identical except for the skip.

The grammar, I found, in Japanese, is quite easy. You only have 1 main verb conjugation regardless of the subject (unlike most Latin languages like English and French, Japanese doesn't really have a subject-verb agreement thing going on). However, when you become more advanced, you will have to make the verb agree with the situation, which can be even more difficult than subject-verb.

Good luck!

06-13-2008, 05:57 AM
I think the best way to pick up the pronunciation is to first study the phonology of your own language, then see which parts match up with Japanese. The IPA (International phonetic alphabet) organises phones based on lip, teeth, tongue movements etc. For Japanese you can match most of the sounds to an English phones quite well, but there's a few odd changes, such as "R" which is possibly the most difficult because i's an "approximant". An English "T/D" is called an 'alveolar plosive', meaning your tongue touches your alveolar (the roof of your jaw structure), and a plosive sounds means it's a short sound where you stop breathing. "R" on the other hand is just an "alveolar approximant", because it's really quite difficult to describe accurately. When you pronounce an English "R" you might find you compress your lips slightly, and it could therefore be a "labial-alveolar approximant". In Japanese, you should try and eliminate this lip movement and stick to the "alveolar approximant". You need to roll your tongue a bit more to produce the sound right, but you don't want to completely shift your tongue down as with "L", which is a "lateral alveolar approximant." Infact, a Japanese "r" can barely touch your alveolar, but try pronouncing an english "L" without touching it and you'll be in stitches with the sound you make. I'd avoid thinking of it like "L" as Ertai suggests for this reason.

The syllable "fu" in Japanese is as like Ertai says though, close to "hu". The reason is "F" in English is a libial-dental sound (your bottom lip touches teeth). "H" is a glottal sound which means it comes from your throat. a Japanese "fu" is still a glottal sound, but you might pronounce it better by rounding your lips a little or applying a voice. For all the sounds though, just practice makes perfect.

"N" and germinate consonants are the more complex sounds to make, becuase there's not a specific sound for them, the way they're pronounced depends on the rest of the word.

Tips I'd give for learning: Repetition. Try learning to read/write kana for a start because there's no big task there, just repeating it say once a day (try writing it without looking things up). You'll gradually learn them and it'll point out the kana you have trouble with. Keep practicing your grammar most of all because there's so much to keep up with. If you wanna build up some basic vocabulary, grab a stack of Post-It notes, write the Japanese words on them and stick them all over object around your house. You'll struggle to forget the word for "fridge" after seeing it so often.

06-17-2008, 02:46 AM
there are quite many sites that offers free japanese lessons just look for it on google search >_<

06-17-2008, 02:47 PM

The only way to learn Japanese is to be willing to put in tons of hours of study... To do it on your own you probably have to have tons of discipline...

Having someone-especially a native speaker-you can talk to is extremely helpful.

Now, with regards to the difficulty of the language, learning the basics so that you can have a simple conversation is not necessarily any harder than any other language (although it's quite different), and the insane difficulty of the language comes at higher levels (for instance if you want to read a newspaper)

Anyway, good luck. ;)

06-23-2008, 06:02 AM
There seems to be quite the complicated conversation going on about those 'r's. :P

If I were you... just listen to an anime, TV show, music, whatever, and listen to how it's pronounced there. And don't freak out too much about getting it perfect either - as long as you're roughly saying it right, you'll be understood. You might sound foreign but hey, you are foreign. And everyone loves a foreign accent. ;D

Lady Subaru92
06-23-2008, 12:50 PM
I myself just went to BooksAMillion yesterday and got some cds on learning Japanese..I put them on my IPOD..it's gonna be hard because I know next school year I have to learn Spanish(I have no desire to learn it but it's required)..I'm just gonna listen to the audio and try to get familiar with it as much as possible. I have to because I'm gonna be going to college to study in foreign languages:)

07-10-2008, 06:01 AM
I know that the biggest difficulty with mastering things like Japanese Grammar and Vocabulary. Learning pronunciation is also a tricky issue. Rocket Japanese solves these issues effectively with audio courses and software. There are interactive games that make learning vocabulary a breeze.



07-10-2008, 12:04 PM
START RIGHT NOW!Hiragana all day and night.Wear a headband with the red sun on it.SASHISUSESO THAT LANGUGE!

07-12-2008, 11:57 PM
=_= wtf is japanese?;D

07-13-2008, 04:21 AM
Since I have taught myself Japanese and I am actually quite fluent in the language, I have some great tips and suggestions for you.

1. Learn and practice pronunciation and do not rush it. Once you learn how to pronounce vowels (which will not be hard for you as Japanese vowels sound the same as Spanish vowels) and consonants (this includes "y" as "y" is never a vowel in Japanese), say them out loud and repeat them. Consonants can be a little difficult to master. Most people have a hard time with "r". Like Sparkie said, "r" in Japanese is not pronounced the same way as an "l" in English (they only sound alike). If you learn it this way, it will screw up your Japanese:rolleyes:. The Japanese "r" is pronounced like "dd" in English, with your tip of your tongue flicking the ridge behind your upper teeth. To help you hear the sound, say the name "Eddie" out loud fast, very short and light. It will sound like the Japanese word "eri".

2. Once you know your basic pronunciation, learn the Japanese syllabary (what some people call the Japanese alphabet). It starts with the vowels (a,i,u,e,o) and moves on to consonant-vowel combinations like ka,ki,ku,ke,ko,... sa,shi (there is no "si" sound in Japanese:rolleyes:),su,se,so.....and so on. This will help you learn how to pronounce Japanese words properly. For example, the capital of Japan is pronounced "To-kyo" NOT "To-ki-o" (actually Tokyo is pronounced Tō-kyō with the "o"'s being long:p). To do twice the learning, try learning hiragana and katakana at the same time. In fact, use the charts to learn the syllabary:D!! Write down the syllables to help you memorize them. This will also help you with your Japanese handwriting (if you learn stroke order) and even reading in Japanese!

3. Learn the grammar but again, take it slow. At this point, Spanish will not help you, except with helping you learn concepts. The sentence structure is different. Japanese is "SOV" or "Subject-Object-Verb". For example, "Sam ate apples" in English would be "Sam apples ate" in Japanese. Keep this in mind as you learn the grammar because Japanese can get difficult. Again, don't cut corners when learning this as you can screw up your Japanese. The Japanese language does have subject-verb agreement but for a different reason than in English. Verbs must match the subject based on the politeness level of the sentence (change your verbs based on who you are talking to; a peer, a superior, etc). In fact, its more common and natural for a person to drop the subject from a sentence if it is obvious or if it has been stated before (this is why Japanese conversations can be a little confusing). Since subjects are not needed all the time, Japanese sentences can have only one word in them and still be complete!!

4. Get as much exposure as you can to help with pronunciation and grammer. Watch anime in Japanese. Read books on the Japanese language (ones with CD's if possible). Read manga in Japanese if you can (in fact, there is a book that I own called Japanese: the Manga Way that uses panels from actual manga to teach grammar). Use language programs and CD's.

Stay dedicated. Learning Japanese can be hard for some but be patient and take it slow so you can understand the language. Good luck and happy studying!!:D

07-13-2008, 11:28 AM
when learning to write japanese. start with Hirigana. then Katakana, then Kanji.

07-15-2008, 04:48 AM
I am learning Japanese on my own right now. To work on pronounciation, I sing with japanese music. They say it helps if you sing karaoke. You can use the animelyrics on here and youtube or use any cds that you have. Also, use the books with a cd. For me, I use Japanese for dummies. It helps quite a bit. Hope that helps a little.
Ja matta-See you later

07-15-2008, 05:08 AM
Wolfgirl90 - how long have you been learning for? I don't think I've ever spoken to anyone who taught themself.

08-02-2008, 04:36 PM
Really there are some great resources online... one would be genkijapan.net they have a video with hiragana/katakana on it which is in song to help you learn. It's not how I learnt but I think a quite effective way of learning. I had classes at highschool. My teacher was Japanese. But I forgot a lot, I just recently started classes again. Speaking with a native is a big bonus. Try Japan-Guide.com and look for someone needing a language exchange.

08-06-2008, 03:15 PM
u definitly shouldnt waste ur time learning from anime or text books.
alot of my frds ask me to teach them some Japanese...

And when i ask to hear what they know already, trust me it isent a pretty sound. even if u can spell the word correctly in romaji or even understand when u hear it... if ur pronounciation sucks, dont bother. cuz Japanese ppl like myself wont* hesitate to correct u.

And im American Born, so i grew up just like them. the only real Japanese influenences was my dad. So im not bragging, cuz i had no breaks either.
and yet, im fluent in Japanese, with a pitch perfect accent. u would never think i was American born, i sound too native. but then when i speak english i also sound real American-ish, i mean like reeeeal American-ish using 'dude' and everything.

So my point is, ur best bet is to either go to Japan for a while like a few years. OR* find a fluent Japanese person, speak jap and socialize with them on the regular basis.

seriously DONT place ur faith in books or anime, definintly not anime. lols
it will only help u to 'know' not 'speak'

pronounciation.... is the key. well atleast the first one. lols