By now I’ve hopefully given you the motivation, and now I’ve given you the tools. This article will mostly be focused on utilizing the tools that I introduced in the last “Learn Japanese” article, except this will be be heavily based on learning vocab. If you haven’t had a chance to see what those are, check them out here. Don’t worry about kanji, I will explain why you don’t need to study it in more detail in the next article.
So how are we going to go about learning Japanese vocabulary? We will use our tools of choice, as well as a few more tools that I haven’t introduced yet but will in this article, and the insane amount of idol content available to us idol fans. But before I give you step-by-step instruction on what to do, let me expand on what kind of mindset you should have when doing this.
The thing with vocabulary is that it’s measurable and practical. Measurable not because you can figure out how many words you know but rather when you read or hear a certain word, you know whether or not you understand the meaning of the word (how many times does it occur to you that you know at least 23,000 words in English?). Practical because it can be immediately useable and it creates the language we know in order to communicate with others. Like I said, the amount of words you know or any average person knows within their own language is at least 20,000 words – that’s a pretty big number. Compare that to yourself and the 2009 version of me, the amount words you know assuming you’ve been watching Japanese entertainment for quite awhile is maybe around 50 – 100 words or less. In other words, THIS WILL TAKE A LONG TIME. SO AT ANY POINT DURING THIS LONG JOURNEY, DON’T GIVE UP.
I spent lots of my own time figuring out and deducing how people like Danny Choo, Khatzumoto from AJATT, or Hikosaemon learned Japanese. They’ve obviously been doing something right as they can clearly demonstrate their abilities with ease. At the same time, I read about Stephen Krashen’s Input Hypothesis as well as Antimoon’s articles and worked out how to make those ideas practical to my own learning. The idea of the “Learn Japanese” series is to pretty much lay it all out to make it easier for you, therefore speeding up the learning process. Trust me, it’s definitely not going to be easy but the result will be so immensely rewarding in so many ways that its worth taking the time for this so keep going at it. (Manatsu no) Sounds good?
The shows that you will want to learn from are preferably going to be any Japanese TV variety show that has テロップ in them. This is basically all Japanese variety shows or variety shows where you can get your hands on .srt Japanese subtitle files. Many of you know what テロップ is; it is the colorful subtitles that highlights what people say in all Japanese TV shows. The rest I will explain through videos depending on what OS you run because it’s easier that way. However, I recommend that even if you’re not a Mac user, or if you’re not a Windows user or whatever, do take the time to watch all of the videos because some software that appear in a certain video may not appear in another video. The reason is because my PC desktop obviously has much more space for me to work with compared with my 2010 Macbook Air so I might be a bit limited on what I can do on my MacBook Air in comparison to my PC desktop. I don’t have an Android device so I can’t tell you what you should do on an Android device but I have an Ipod touch so I made a video about that.
Caution: Videos may be up to 40~60 minutes long
For Windows or click here to download video
For Mac or click here to download video
For Mobile Devices or click here to download video
One thing that I forgot to explain in the Windows video is that you have learn how to write kanji. I stress a lot that you don’t need to study kanji, and you still don’t. However you still need to know how to write kanji. You don’t have to know how to write a kanji from memory but at least when given any kanji, you should be able to guess the correct stroke order just by looking at it. This is accomplished once you know how to write a certain amount of kanji as certain patterns are just reused again in other kanji. Pretty awesome right?
The reason why you should know how to write kanji at least by looking at them is to increase the efficiency of the Windows IME pad or the Chinese handwriting tool provided in the Mac OS systems. This is so you don’t have to feel frustrated trying to “draw” them out every single time. Speaking of which, since I don’t use any Android devices I’m not sure if Android devices support a similar method so I leave it up to all the Android users out there to let us know if Android devices do support something similar.
To learn how to write kanji, what I recommend doing is going to the link below which apparently shows the 100 most commonly used kanji on the internet. Your homework is to start out with a few kanji in the link, write them out until your hand cramps, then slowly keep adding more kanji to learn how to write each day or each week or whatever it is you want to do. Do this as you’re picking up words from your preferred entertainment medium.
To learn the correct stroke order for each kanji, all you have to do is run each kanji through Tagaini Jisho, then copy the stroke animation for each kanji exactly. It doesn’t matter if your handwriting looks terrible; just keep on practicing. You will thank me later when you start ninjaing through words on TV shows as you’re using the IME pad or the Chinese handwriting for Mac systems. However, one thing I want you to keep in mind is that, in lieu of not studying all the 常用漢字 formally, if a word has a kanji you’ve never seen before, capture it, then learn it. See how I’ve turned learning Japanese vocabulary into Pokémon? What good timing (Pokemon X and Y just came out). That should help alleviate the grind of learning Japanese vocabulary a little bit.
I can pretty much end my “Learn Japanese” series here because I’ve given you all the necessary tools and advice for you to start learning Japanese on your own. However, there are some other things I’d still like to discuss so I will continue writing. What will determine whether or not you become better at Japanese from this point is how much time and motivation you put in so work hard. Study consistently. If you burn out, go ahead and take a break – just make sure you get back on track. And lastly, if you can’t take it anymore, then give up. The sooner you end the pain, the more merciful it will be for yourself and you’ll be able to go back to whatever it was you were doing before learning Japanese. The biggest obstacle during your journey will not be your lack of Japanese vocabulary, lack of speaking ability, writing ability, listening ability or your overall proficiency (or lack of), it will be yourself. Good luck AKBros and may Lady Acchan be with you. With that said, thanks for reading and see you next time!
I accidentally dumped Kato Rena in my Mobile device video after the camcorder stopped rolling (I’m so sorry Kato Rena! lol). Gonna give you the situation in a nutshell, the question, the answers and lets see if you mess up like I did.