I’m not on vacation any more!

It’s time to learn Japanese!

I’ve been in Japan for a little over 6 months and I like the country a lot. It feels like I’m in another world, a much different feeling I get from traveling to other countries. My main barrier is that I don’t speak the language and that makes it difficult to do simple things like make dinner plans, learn about current events in the area, or even get the help I might need when shopping. I’d say I know about 50 words at one given time (sometimes I learn new ones but forget others) and that helps, but it’s not good enough. My sentences are basic too. People are probably tired of me asking if they’re good, the weather is nice, and I’ll have a draft a beer.

I picked up a book of some basic vocabulary the last time I was at Costco, and an Australian friend gave me a Hiragana book as a gift which I’ve tried out and then became lazy. The books that helped me the most are Pict-o-Graphix and Let’s learn Hiragana.

My goal is to learn Hiragana in about 3 months, so I’ve set a goal of August 1st. And I plan on studying vocabulary as much as I study Hiragana. I know I can do this if I hit the books every day.

Update (April 14): After the comments and encouragement you guys left I’ve learned about a new book, new methods, and some new websites so I’ve decided to update my goal. I’ve been very motivated and went to a 90-minute Japanese conversation lesson on Saturday. The teacher was speaking Japanese and using Hiragana and Katakana to explain things which tells me I need to speed things up! So I’ve set a new goal of learning Hiragana in 3 weeks like claytonian mentioned, which is May 2nd. Then I’ll focus on Katakana.

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19 thoughts on “I’m not on vacation any more!

  1. If you can find a copy, I highly recommend “Kana Pict-o-Graphix” by Michael Rowley if you’re just starting to learn hiragana and katakana. I was able to learn to read them in just a week or two using mnemonic devices of that book and retain the knowledge for much longer than I expected. Good luck either way!

  2. JYankee – Thanks! I appreciate it.

    Brandon – I’m heading to a bookstore today to check out some English magazines. I’m going to look for the book you suggested. Thanks for the advice!

  3. I’m moving to Japan with my husband in June. I wanted to suggest japanesepod101.com. I have found it extremely helpful.

  4. Brandon – That book “Kana Pict-o-Graphix” by Michael Rowley is pretty sweet! I spent 850 Yen on that yesterday. Looks like it’s going to help a lot. And it’s small so I can take it anywhere.

    mike – I like free, and that’s a great quiz tool that looks really helpful. I appreciate it.

    Jessica – Thanks! I’m going to go through these books I have and then after a week or so I’ll give their free trial a test run.

  5. When I was in Japan, I learned hirigana and katakana through the Kumon method. I liked it a lot.

  6. When I learnt thai (or any other language really) it was like that….i’d learn basic sentence but then would forget another sentence…

    Languages don’t come easy but I love ’em anyways!

  7. miss aunt – Thanks for sharing how you succeeded in learning Japanese. That’s great!

    Sascha – Hopefully it looks more difficult than it really is. We shall see… we… shall… see…

    Nomadic Matt – I have that ‘forgetful’ problem here. I’ll pick up some new words or phrases but forget one. It’s felt like I only have so much room for storage. Then there’s those phrases that you know by heart which aren’t useful all the time, for example ‘Happy New Year’. What’s up with that?

    claytonian – Awe yeah! 3 weeks is the new goal. I had no idea how long this would take when I started on Friday, but now that it’s Monday I know 15 Hiragana characters pretty well. I think I’ll be able tackle it in 3 weeks like you suggested. I’m going to update this post now.

  8. Try Shin Nihongo No Kiso. I used it while preparing for my Japan trip. I have some more books which I will tell you about in some time.

  9. Oh man, that’s funny! I have the exact same Japanese book that you have in your picture above! I have the white Japan book! It’s pretty good, many useful sentences in it!

  10. Pushan – Thanks for the tip!

    Mike – Crazy! I like how the book says to take it where ever you go and point to the pictures when talking to people.

    Kali – Ah yes, thanks for bringing that up, I’ve heard of it but forgot all about it. $130 for the Japanese set seems reasonable. I’m going to check it out and see if others have used it. I went to a Japanese conversational lesson last Saturday which was pretty cool.

  11. Back in the day, an hour a day with ‘Japanese For Busy People’ and a strong cup of coffee used to work for me. Right before the JLPT, I even resorted to cigarette burns on the forearm.

  12. Jamaipanese – Nice, glad to hear it. I hope it works out well for you. I just purchased “Minna no Nihongo I…. Translation and Grammatical Notes” which has Kana + English for learning some stuff. So far it looks good and the store had many different languages besides English for this book.

    billywest – Haha, cigarette burns sound painful. I’ll have to check out Japanese For Busy People.

  13. Japanese is a difficult language to learn but it can be a very fun experience. I first became interested in learning Japanese after I started watching some Japanese Anime and I looked everywhere on the internet to try to learn the language but all the information I found was very confusing to me. Hiragana? Katakana? Kanji? Whats is that I ask myself as I learned. It was a very slow process for me but I somehow managed to learn a little. Anyways. Here are two things that I found to be very helpful after so much searching. First, Pimsleurs Japanese Lessons are audio files and they helped me to say words like a native, although I must say that the price for the lessons are very expensive and that I only finished about 14 lessons before I went to something I found to be better. (if your living in japan, i don’t think this audio lessons will be that helpful) I then found this website call yesjapan.com The cool thing about it was that I could go at my own pace and study when ever I wanted. The only downside was that it wasn’t a free service but for a guy like me living nowhere near a place where I could take Japanese lessons it was the thing for me. All I want to say is that this website is very well made and is worth checking out and who knows you might like it.

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