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Learning Japanese from zero by listening: 2021 Log

Posted: Wed Jan 01, 2020 4:42 am
by golyplot
Hello everyone and happy New Year! Next year (i.e. tomorrow), I have set myself the goal of learning Japanese.

I have previously studied a number of Romance and Germanic languages, but it seems that Japanese will be much, much harder than anything that came before (apart from ASL, which is hard for different reasons and which I eventually gave up in frustration). My usual strategy is to use Duolingo to get the basics and start watching TL TV as soon as possible (usually within only a couple weeks of starting, thanks to the similarities of the easy European languages to English and other languages I've previously studied). However, Japanese will obviously require trying something different.

From what I've read, the Duolingo Japanese course is garbage, so I plan to use Lingodeer and Wanikani instead. I've never tried them before, but they seem to be pretty commonly recommended among Japanese learners. I expect that it will also take me much longer than usual to get comfortable watching TV in Japanese. Of course, I am for now optimistic, but I expect to be rapidly humbled once I actually start.

As far as language goals, my goal is to get to an intermediate level of listening comprehension in Japanese, i.e. be able to watch TV in Japanese and understand the majority of it. Which doesn't mean that I won't work on reading or speaking skills, just that I will not judge my success by those metrics.

I decided to start a log to hopefully provide hope and encouragement to prospective Japanese learners, especially those focused on listening skills like me, though it may instead turn out to be a cautionary tale. At any rate, see you on the other side!

Milestone status updates:
Three month update
Four month update
Six month update
Seven month update
Eight month update
Nine month update
Ten month update
Eleven month update
One year update

Re: Japanese listening from nothing: 2020 Log

Posted: Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:18 am
by ロータス
Do you know about All Japanese All The Time and Mass Immersion Approach? Will you be doing any listening on the side besides those two apps?

Re: Japanese listening from nothing: 2020 Log

Posted: Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:22 am
by golyplot
ロータス wrote:Will you be doing any listening on the side besides those two apps?


Well, at the very least, I plan to listen to Japanese music while eating breakfast and supper every day. Based on past experience, I don't think background listening like that helps, especially at the early stages, but I figure it can't hurt either. Maybe it will help me unconsciously internalize the phonology or something.

As far as deliberate learning practice goes, I'm sure I'll experiment with all sorts of things and see what I like. I won't watch TV in Japanese unless it's at least a little bit entertaining, so it depends a lot on how long it takes until I get to the point where I can understand at least a little bit of it, enough to make it worthwhile.

Re: Japanese listening from nothing: 2020 Log

Posted: Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:36 am
by ロータス
golyplot wrote:I won't watch TV in Japanese unless it's at least a little bit entertaining, so it depends a lot on how long it takes until I get to the point where I can understand at least a little bit of it, enough to make it worthwhile.


Do you skip listening while looking at English subs and just work on your listening skills? You haven't mention 'anime' so I assume you would like your media to be just TV and maybe Youtube? For JP TV, only really know about Terrace House and some cooking show on Netflix + a lot youtube channels.

頑張って! がんばって!

Re: Japanese listening from nothing: 2020 Log

Posted: Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:14 pm
by devilyoudont
Here are two anime series which may be suitable for beginners (or maybe not, your mileage may vary)
Chi's Sweet Home
Polar Bear Cafe

Episodes of Chi's Sweet Home are less than 5 minutes long.

Japanese Pod 101 has a good series called Nihongo Dojo, but this is a paid resource. There are often ways to get full access for a $1, but you have to remember to 1) download absolutely everything you want before you get hit with the absurd monthly charge 2) cancel before that charge happens.

Anything marked as a netflix original will have on netflix will have closed captioning in Japanese due to the ADA.

You can find Japanese TV Shows and Movies from Netflix Here: https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/100385

Animelon is another website which allows a wide variety of subtitle options (Japanese and English subs at the same time, Hiragana-only subs, no subs, whatever)

I'll be following along, good luck.

Re: Japanese listening from nothing: 2020 Log

Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2020 3:23 pm
by golyplot
Update: I didn't have much time yesterday due to holiday traveling, but I did at least start Lingodeer and Wanikani. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to use the former. I read through the Alphabet stuff and then did the Nationality lesson a couple times. I wish they had a lesson to specifically teach the hiragana and katakana. With the Nationality lesson, the questions are initially very easy, since there's only four words in the lesson, but then they throw in questions where you have to spell everything out yourself, requiring a lot of tedious trial and error, at least at first.

Re: Japanese listening from nothing: 2020 Log

Posted: Sat Jan 04, 2020 2:48 am
by golyplot
I've mostly spent the past two days learning Hiragana with this guide. Once I've mastered the hiragana and katakana, I plan to give Lingodeer another try. It's a shame Lingodeer doesn't really have anything to teach you the the syllaberies themselves, especially with how the lesson questions are frustratingly tedious if you don't already know them.


On the Wanikani side, I finally reached my first Kanji lesson tonight. There was a weird bug where it wouldn't accept my answer when asked for the reading of the ENTER kanji, no matter how many times I tried, despite the fact that my answer was identical to the "correct answer". The only way I managed to get past that question was by copy-pasting the "correct answer" from the help section back into the answer box. Hopefully, that won't happen again, because if it does, Wanikani will be near useless.

Edit: I pasted my answer (にゆう) and the "correct" answer (にゅう) into the dev console and mapped it to unicode code points to try to debug their stupid question. It turns out my answer was using the regular YU while the correct answer is expecting small YU. My mistake had been to just type in each hiragana one by one (NIYUU) when you're apparently supposed to type NYUU instead to get the small YU. It would have been nice if they explained that anywhere. Oh well, at least I figured it out now.

Edit 2: It turns out that Wanikani does in fact have a page on this very topic. I wish I had seen that first instead of having to figure it out the hard way.

Re: Japanese listening from nothing: 2020 Log

Posted: Sat Jan 04, 2020 4:28 pm
by dampingwire
golyplot wrote:Edit 2: It turns out that Wanikani does in fact have a page on this very topic. I wish I had seen that first instead of having to figure it out the hard way.


Although after that effort you won't forget it :-)

Re: Japanese listening from nothing: 2020 Log

Posted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:17 pm
by golyplot
I decided to celebrate my hard work last night by watching the first episode of Sword Art Online (with English subtitles). Obviously, I can't understand any Japanese yet, but it was still cool to be able to recognize "watashi" in the dialog a couple times.

I also tried Lingodeer again, now that I have all the kana under my belt. It's a lot nicer when you don't have to guess so much about the kana. Unfortunately, it turns out that the only free lesson is the one I already did. It seems strange that they would only have one free lesson. That's not enough to see if you actually like the site or not.

Re: Japanese listening from nothing: 2020 Log

Posted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 6:29 pm
by Arnaud
golyplot wrote:I also tried Lingodeer again, now that I have all the kana under my belt. It's a lot nicer when you don't have to guess so much about the kana. Unfortunately, it turns out that the only free lesson is the one I already did. It seems strange that they would only have one free lesson. That's not enough to see if you actually like the site or not.
That's rather strange because I can access all the lessons of J1 for free (Jap/French). I'm an old user, so perhaps I have some (unknown from me) privileges. I'm currently doing "books" after the "yes & no" lesson.