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My Quest To Learn Japanese

So another one of my impulses was to learn Japanese. I was tempted to look for a local community college course but was suggested instead to try Duolingo. So far I have just begun. I think in conjunction I will write down the symbols in my notebook being I learn from writing. Have any of you used Duolingo or what resources have you used to learn a foreign language? I will post my updates on here for this quest.

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I tried learning from some mobile app and I learned only the bear basic of the types of writing, gave up after some health issues but I wouldn’t recommend it, wish I had better resources to recommend but I wish you the best of luck :+1:

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Duolingo is better than nothing I guess, but IMO a good textbook is much better than Duolingo.

I took an Intro to Japanese course for one of my uni GEs last semester and yeah it’s a lot better with a teacher, but if you’re self learning I would just go and practice out of a textbook/workbook before relying on duolingo.

Duolingo is kinda random when it comes to the order of stuff you learn in. A textbook does a good job of explaining definitions and grammar.

I use Genki and recommend it as well. You can find many ebooks as well as the CD’s .mp3s online if you search around. If you really can’t find it, PM me and I’ll help you out.



So I do like physical books. I found these, looks like the whole set.

Are these what you would recommend? What is the flow of the book like?

If they are perhaps I could do duolingo over lunch each day or something just to keep fresh and do these on a Tuesday or something?

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Yep, that’s the whole set of textbook + workbook for 1 and 2. If you don’t mind paying for books, you could definitely go that route too.

Duolingo’s definitely a bit more convenient when you’re out and about and want to slowly learn japanese. Duolingo has a lot of Kanji, but Genki tries to teach you pronunciation first and then its related Kanji later. However, reading the textbook and then doing the corresponding workbook pages is extremely effective when it came to learning Japanese for me.

The book starts with Hiragana and Katakana since those are the most fundamental things you need to know. There’s some romanji(english pronunciations) in the beginning, but after a few chapters they disappear and that’s when you hopefully can read Kana at a reasonable pace.

Each chapter has an example of conversation and grammar with some dialogue. There’s a vocab section right after. It’s a bit too much to explain, but if you grab an ebook version you can easily preview it and take a look.


Thanks for the summary, I think that gives me a good enough picture. I will probably order those soon. The reviews look good so far.

I will have to post any updates and progress of me getting through them.

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For example, here’s a small snippet chapter 1. It gives a good explanation of the most basic sentence pattern of japanese.

Mobile learning apps like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone like to use what I’ll call the “guessing” method, which is when they simply throw you a bunch of words and ask you to match it to something related. It’s a different way of learning, but my friend who was learning off of Rosetta Stone could therefore understand more kanji than I could, but couldn’t really piece together a sentence that well. I personally value knowing the underlying grammar a bit more than simply understanding what’s being written, so therefore I prefer Genki.

Friend no longer has access to Rosetta Stone now and also says he’d take Genki over Duolingo.

Good luck with your studies!


Thanks, I will look forward to making progress. I just ordered the books. I will keep posting on here of what I end up doing for studying and progress I have made.

Interesting thing is I don’t remember much about English grammar but I remember the grammar from computer science so my brain is going to try and create some isomorphism with that lol.

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For vocab, flashcards are literally the best thing you could use (see here, here, here, here, and here). You’ll want Anki. Maybe search for a pre-made deck like a JLPT N5 or something. There’s also decks geared towards word prevalence in newspapers (or visual novels).
For grammar, try Tae Kim.

This tbh onii-fam.

Also, emacs has Japanese built-in and makes it exceptionally easy to type as it goes by romaji phonetics:


I will have to read over all those links. I read the book “Refactor Your Wetware” that went over learning. If I marry those links and that book then I might have a good system for doing this.

lol it all comes together

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Looks like the books are arriving next week. I just finished up to a good stopping place on a red and black tree I was making in Scala. I need to decide what days I will devote towards the Japanese study. I would like to avoid doing it and programming on the same day. I would like days where I do one or the other or practice piano. I take Piano lessons on Mondays. So I think Monday makes sense for piano and the day before I go to the lesson to get ready for the lesson so I get the most out of it. So I think Monday and Sunday for piano. Tuesday can be Japanese and Wednesday and Thursday can be programming/computer science/moonlight project time. Friday and Sat I like to leave to just relaxing.

Gonna try this schedule and see if it works or if I am making the progress I want. At some point I will have scuba diving lessons so perhaps I will need to find a say to steal more time?

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anime with subtitles taught me more spoken Japanese then my Japanese classes. j101 taught me more written. once you have the basics like sentence structure, particles, ect you need to fill out your vocab and listening to it spoken by native speakers helped me the most. so much more is in language then just the letters on the page.


I am not a very good oral learner so not sure what subtitles will do for me. It’s worth an experiment though. I will incorporate that into part of what do do tuesday.

The text books I ordered arrived today. I will see how far I get tomorrow.

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Just to way in on Duolingo: My wife was born in Kasachstan, so her family is speaking mostly russian. They are able to communicate in german, but prefere russian. I thought it might be nice to learn some bits to integrate with them.
Duolingo makes it really easy if all you care about is being able to speak the language, which is all i wanted.
I might have a natural talent for language, but her family said my pronounciation was really good. I got up to simple sentences. In the end, i gave up because of a lack of time. It’s really time intensive and since we only see each other once or twice a year the benefit is meh.

Though i have to say that talking to native speakers helped a LOT in correcting some mistakes duolingo just can’t pick up on.

So yeah, I liked the app because i could just do a lesson or two in breaks at work. I’d personally add some Videos/Films in that language to get a feel for how the language flows and is used. Just to get used to the sound.
After that, i’d personally try to find native speakers. There are people all over the world that use skype or similar to talk to each other. So, find a japanese that’s trying to learn english and talk to each other. That helps a LOT.


So I found a new way to study the Hiragana. I have all the base symbols down on cards with their romanji and pronunciation on the back. I start with four cards with the symbols face up. I go through all the cards on the table and quiz myself to see if I know how to say each symbol. Then if I make a mistake I start over. If I get them all right I flip them over and see if I can draw the symbol when I can see the romanji. Same thing where if I am wrong I start over. Finally if I get them all right I add an extra card and do it all over again with an additional card.

Everyone is different. What got me to have Hiragana seared into my brain- its forever learned now no matter how little I use it, where these cards that had the Hiragana in bold black, and in light grey a picture would be integrated into it.

Example, the Hiragana for “Mu”- in bold black was the Hiragana for Mu, in light grey built on top of that/integrated into it a picture of a cow. Ki, a picture of a house or car key by integrating light grey into the bold black.

Fuggin amazing. Decades later with little to no exposure I can still read and write Hiragana.