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March 07, 2006

Japanese for Everyone Learning Tips

For the last year I've been using Japanese for Everyone as my primary textbook for learning Japanese. Overall it's a good book and a great value for your money, but it's certainly challenging. Here is my method for handling a lesson in the book.

1. Start with the lesson's vocabulary. Memorizing lists of vocabulary words is not glamorous, but it sure makes life more pleasant to recognize words when they're used in the Dialogues or exercises after you've already met them. The Dialogues at the beginning of the lesson seem to work especially hard to include new vocabulary. You'll save yourself a lot of time and confusion if you learn the new words first.

2. While working on the vocabulary, listen to the Dialogues. Wow. This one really makes a world of difference. You can read the vocabulary words yourself and memorize what you think they sound like, and you may even be right. However, there's nothing like hearing them in context, especially when that context is the Dialogues you're about to study. As you work through the lesson keep listening to the Dialogues, every day, several times per day. Before you know it, you'll be hearing bits of it in your head at random times.

3. When you have the vocabulary, work through the Dialogues. See what I mean? When you already know all the new words in the Dialogue, the battle is half won. Work your way through the Dialogues and do your best to figure out what each sentence means. DO NOT CHECK THE TRANSLATION.

4. Skim the lesson's Function sections to get a feel for the new grammar. Each Dialogue is going to contain new grammar which may really confuse you at first. Take a quick look at the Functions to get a feel for that new grammar, then

5. Read the Dialogues again. Now you have the words and a feel for the new grammar. You should be able to understand the Dialogues without too much effort. If you're still having trouble, now you can take a look at the translation.

6. Keep ahead on the vocabulary. Write down every single word on index cards and carry them around with you. When you're stuck in line at the store, or walking around at the office, or at any other spare moment, learn a new word or two.

7. Work through the Functions and exercises. Now it's time to grind that new grammar into your head. Read through the explanations until you understand them, until you can explain them to your cat. Get help if you need it (from a person or a book), but don't give up until you've mastered each new point of grammar. You'll need them all.

8. Memorize the Dialogues. If you've been listening to the Dialogues every day, this shouldn't be too difficult. In fact, it may only take a little effort to stitch together all the phrases and sentences in your head.

9. Wrap up with the comprehension exercises. Now that you've memorized all the vocabulary and worked through all the exercises, you should be able to handle the comprehension exercises.

10. Don't rush. When I first started Japanese for Everyone I wanted to learn it all and quickly, so I rushed through the lessons without spending enough time on memorizing new vocabulary and grammar. By the time I hit lesson 6, I couldn't keep up with myself and had to start over.

Don't waste time by making the same mistake. Festina lente: you'll make quicker progress if you take the time to build a good foundation.

Permalink | Posted by Joe at March 7, 2006 01:50 PM


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