Question About learning Japanese

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mikusingularity
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I was looking forward to being formally educated in Japanese in my senior year (2017-2018) at college, because I want to actually know the language instead of using Google Translate. Taking a course would actually motivate me to learn it more, compared to going on a website.

I used to know someone who was lucky enough to take Japanese in high school, but Spanish and French were my only options at mine (I took the latter).

I could have taken it in the Fall 2016 semester but it would have required me to travel a very long distance across campus in the 15-minute period between classes.

I also want to take a rocket propulsion class next semester. Unfortunately, there is only one class on rocket propulsion, which is only available in Fall, and conflicts with the only Japanese class (also only available in Fall). Therefore, I have to sacrifice one for the other, and I would rather take rocket propulsion instead of airbreathing propulsion.

Maybe it's for the better, isn't Japanese one of the harder languages to learn? But where's a good place to learn it since I can't learn it formally anymore?
 
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Urwumpe

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Maybe it's for the better, isn't Japanese one of the harder languages to learn? But where's a good place to learn it since I can't learn it formally anymore?

I would say, the best place to learn it is in Japan... All theory is important, but in the end, you learn most of the language by living it.
 

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I'm not the kind of person who wants to move to Japan, I just want to go vacation there someday.
 

Urwumpe

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I'm not the kind of person who wants to move to Japan, I just want to go vacation there someday.

That is OK - I never meant more. I learned way more Danish in the 13 days in Denmark, than in the 10 days I had for preparation.
 

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The Hatsunese language is the same as Japanese but in a parallel universe.
 
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FlyingSinger

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Immersion obviously is best but isn't always possible. I studied Japanese formally in the early 1980's when I lived in Pasadena, CA. Community college was free for all CA residents back then and I took an evening class at Pasadena City College (I was already working for the predecessor of the company I still work for, at that time as a developer for our first software product, an optical design and simulation tool). For two of my four semesters, my Jpnse. 1 teacher offered independent study when there were too few signups for the full class. I also found a visiting Japanese student at PCC who traded Japanese conversation practice for help with her English (her engineer husband was on an exchange program working at JPL). I never lived in Japan but have spent 1-4 weeks there on business every year since 1983. Being able to converse in Japanese makes those business trips a lot more fun even though my reading level is something like third grade.

Depending on where you are, you could probably find a Japanese student to coach you, though that's not the same structure that you get in a real class, and if you're carrying a full credit load, you may not have the time or energy. But if you find the right person, basic Japanese conversation practice with a native speaker could be a good start. Conversation and grammar are really not that hard, though the writing system is complex and requires a lot of memorization. It's harder than French but grammar-wise, Russian was harder for me (unfortunately I've lost most of my college Russian - college was a long time ago). If you have iPhone or iPad, the "Human Japanese" apps are great interactive apps for learning basics (kana, pronunciation, basic vocabulary and grammar, etc.)

Good luck!

Update: Human Japanese is also available for Android and Windows: http://www.humanjapanese.com/home
ALSO if you have an iOS device and any interest in Japanese, the free app Imiwa is the best Japanese dictionary ever (it includes German, French, and Russian translations too, though J-E is biggest with 170,000 words and thousands of example sentences). Developed by a French guy, natürlich. :) Midori is also great. Not free but much smaller memory footprint. Both are offline dictionaries, no web connection needed once installed.
 
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PhantomCruiser

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Something many of us sailors learned, USMC also. If you are going to learn any Japanese, learn it from someone the same gender as you are. Japanese culture is quite different, many words and phrases are gender specific. If a male speaks a female phrase, he might very probably be treated as if he were female. Sorry to bring this up, but there it is.
As a WestPac sailor, Japan was one of the strangest places I've been; both friendly and hostile at the same time. Of course this was 20+ years ago, I imagine Japanese youth might not act like the oldsters, but I don't know.

It's a very reserved culture, or at least it was when I was there. A very proud culture too, and rightfully so. Beautiful architecture, and trains that actually run on time! It was nice to visit, but I'll always be a gai-jin.
 
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Nikogori

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I learned English mostly through textbooks and websites... and Battlestar Galactica Blu-ray box.

I believe memorizing words and expressions is most important. It is tedious and requires lots of time but it will pay.

Japanese culture is quite different, many words and phrases are gender specific.

can confirm. Sometimes it is very difficult to translate what female character says in English books into Japanese. You have to choose how she speaks when it is not appropriate.
 

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It looks like a Japanese class with a non-conflicting time slot was added today. So it looks like I can do both now.
 
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