So you want to learn Japanese?
Quit while you can.
How Japanese works
Japanese does not have an alphabet. In English and many other languages, you have an alphabet (a, b, c...) and each letter represents a sound. Instead, you have syllables, two syllabaries (Hiragana and Katakana) and a logography, Kanji.Hiragana (ひらがな)
is the syllabary used most commonly in Japanese. It complements Kanji (食 itself means "meal" but 食べる, "taberu", means "to eat") and has a grammatical use. 私のペン (watashi no pen, "My pen"). Here の (no) is a possessive particle.
You should learn Hiragana before anything else. The order is "a, i, u, e, o", not "a, e, i, o, u", so learn correctly.Katakana (カタカナ)
is used mainly for loan words. レストラン (resutoran), restaurant, for example. Once you start learning Kanji you will notice that some Kanji are similar to Katakana and even Hiragana. That's because these syllabaries derive from Kanji. 力 (りょうく, ryouku, "strength") turned into カ. You should learn this after you know your Hiragana.Kanji (漢字)
are the characters that came from the Chinese (Kanji literally means "Chinese characters"). Each character represents an idea like the kanji I wrote above and the majority has at least two readings, the Chinese and the Japanese one. If you intend on writing the kanji as you learn them, as I recommend you to, you should write them as close as possible to the original "drawing" and with the strokes in the correct order. Yes, these characters have a specific way of writing. It generally is from the top to bottom, left to right. Usually. I recommend you to use [url=jisho.org]jisho.org[/url] when trying to find the stroke order of the kanji. It's quite easy once you understand it and you won't even think about stroke order any more when learning new kanji.
I'm not the best person to talk about grammar, as I don't even know the grammar of my own language, so I'll refer to http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/complete
, available for free in PDF and on Google Play and on the App Store, and the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, available on
The Pirate Bay www.amazon.co.uk/dp/4789004546/
Tae Kim's grammar
: grammarReal Kana
: useful for learning Hiragana and KatakanaAnki
: you'll love it and never want to leave it. Like you could leave it, anyway. A flashcard program. You can download https://ankiweb.net/
with Kanji. I recommend this one
or Japanese Core 2000 if you want a more vocabulary oriented approach.
Genki (available on
The Pirate Bay
Amazon): Pretty neat textbook with kanji, vocabulary, grammar and exercises.Lang-8
: writing practice. You write in Japanese, other people correct you and you correct other people in languages you master.Nyaa
: the The Pirate Bay equivalent of everything that is related to Japanese media. For raw material, you probably need to write in Japanese.Google IME
: write in Japanese in your computer. For Windows and Mac.
iBus: for Linux users. http://www.localizingjapan.com/blog/2012/05/29/japanese-input-on-ubuntu-linux-12-04-lts-precise-pangolin/
if you use (K/L/X)Ubuntu. If you use other distributions, https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/IBus
: if Anki is now your lover, jisho is your mistress. A dictionary.Weblio
: a dictionary and E-J/J-E translator. It's great.Rikaisama
: for browsing and learning at the same time.
I recommend Yotsuba&
and its reading pack
which has anki decks (I told you you could never leave it). Probably the first thing you should read once you know a decent amount of kanji.
This is a work in progress. If you have any suggestions, leave a reply. If it's not free or not available for free online (like WaniKani), don't bother. This is a poor man's guide.DO NOT USE ROMAJI
, the romanization of the Japanese characters. It only hinders your learning experience. Once you know hiragana and katakana, you won't need any romanization.