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what is a great way to learn to speak Japanese and form sentences

i know google translate will not help so i need some basic vocabulary and how a Japanese speaker would put together a sentence.
in english we state things in an order.
EX: he (subject) likes(verb) hippos(noun).
but how would a Japanese speaker put together this sentence?
also i noticed things like watashi (wa)
how do i use these things and how do i know when to use them.
right now learning to write something before i speak it is pointless for how i learn.

my learning process right now is to learn all of these letters in Hiragana and katakana 1st then look at kanji and make some sort of connection between them when i don't really know what to use them for and move to vocabulary, which when tested on in this program is in kanji, katakana, and hiragana
so i think i need a change in lesson plan

Can anyone please help i'm willing to put forth effort to learn i just seem to be at a struggle right now considering i have no set in stone plan.
posted by Shijima

Comments 4

  • shirokitsune
    Well if you are starting from scratch and don't mind getting a textbook I would recommend the Genki series. It has all the grammar you need as a beginner. Also maybe pick up the dictionary for basic Japanese grammar. These are great tools for learning how to form sentences. As you stated learning the kana (katakana/hirigana) is a must. I would on the other hand start learning vocabulary using kana before I even attempt to learn kanji. There are over 3000 kanji in use for everyday life with 2100+ approved for publications. If you first learn the vocab you can slowly and more effectively build your kanji recognition. I have to run to teach an English class here in Japan now but if you have any other questions just leave them here.
  • Shijima
    so what would be a good lesson plan?
    1. learn katakana
    2. learn hiragana
    3. learn kanji and vocab together?
    what do you think i would like to teach myself as they would teach a child to speak and write
  • shirokitsune
    Here is the deal about that. Children learn most of their vocabulary though listening and not reading. They then expand on it though reading. First they learn the kana and then move to kanji. I asked the school I work for and the break down for elementray school students is like this.
    1st: 80 kanji
    2nd: 160 kanji
    3rd: 200 kanji
    4th: 200 kanji
    5th: 185 kanji
    6th: 181 kanji

    For a total of 1006 kanji learned in the first 6 years of school. If it takes natives 6 years to understand that many and they already know the vocabulary you can expect it to take quite some time to learn. Although everybody learns at their own pace. I would suject learning vocabulary and once you are comfortable with it in its kana form then slowly learn them in their kanji form. It will take time but in the long run you wont forget what they mean.
  • SushiFace
    I can only offer how I'm learning Japanese.

    1. Start learning Hiragana and Katakana.
    2. Get a good textbook for learning with. This will help you with sentences and how they should be formed.
    3. If you wish to learn Kanji, I suggest learning it vocabulary wise rather than lists.

    Shirokitsune has noted the graded kanji, and this is a great start for making sure you cover all the basic kanji you will commonly see. You can get all sorts of vocabulary lists all over the internet- such as JLPT level vocab, topics related vocab such as colours, animals, verbs, etc. Anki may also help lots with this, and there are plenty of decks others have made that you can download.

    4. I would also say that if you are hoping to talk in Japanese, remember to practice this! Perhaps record your voice, or get used to mimicking audio and phrases. You may also have to get brave and attempt to speak with people using Japanese.

    Speaking also means building listening skills, so listening to podcasts, youtube videos, animes, dramas, tv shows and lessons will be very useful. At first this will be scary and frustrating until you have built a foundation with a textbook and more vocabulary.

    If reading is important to you, then kanji study will be a big factor, but there are online resources for helping with translations, and there are various "easy reading" websites and Japanese stories for kids that can be accessable for intermediate learners.

    Do not be scared about Kanji. Only about 2100 kanji is for daily use (Jouyou Kanji). There are plenty of resources to make learning Kanji easier, and it will take time.

    Luckily, a site like this helps with learning vocabulary and kanji A LOT.