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Hmm... for speaking and listening, it took me a year, I only spent a little time per week though, and it was more of a hobby to learn.
For reading and writing, it took me a month to memorize the hiragana and kana. As for kanji, i didn't really need to learn much since i know chinese anyway and a lot of the words are the same. Since is read slightly differently, I just have to look at a dictionary. In total a year and a little. Also mean while, I liked to go to Japan for holidays so it sorta helps.
Around 1-1.5 year. Me start getting to the RAW alone is too subtle, since I've been translating ever since I remember all the kanas and know zero kanji (not EXACTLY 0, but I'm not sure how many I already know by then...I didn't count, nor even bother to take note of it), though at first it's English+little of Japanese to my native language, so I actually can't specifically pinpoint down when I start shifting from little of Japanese to completely translating from Japanese. .-.
Well I did Japanese when I was little (kana+basic kanji) so I can read manga even now (5 years later ) But my mum speaks Japanese at home so I have a really good listening sense. And I'm also doing Japanese at school for an elective and after almost 2 terms we have done the kana and some basic kanji, so I'm pretty sure that after the full two years I'll be much better at kanji :P
So to the raws: well I wasn't into manga until last year but I've been reading japanese books for years before manga is just much easier because of the furigana 8)
During 2009, I thought I would learn Japanese and be a translator. The journey was tough, learning hiragana and katakana was easy, but learning Kanji is damn hard. I kinda learnt the Kanji for more than 2 1/2 years and I'm fluent with some 500 kanji which is enough to translate a furigana manga. (with some help, obviously.)
And I don't think translating is very easy, it needs lot of patience and experience. I'm not telling it's impossible though.
I honestly think reading manga is one thing, while translating is something entirely different, requiring a different skill set altogether. Raghu is right in saying that it requires a lot of patience and experience. Learning Japanese is the first step, reading raw manga the next, and then translating yet another big step above that. I've been translating for nearly 2 years and it still isn't easy I can read a manga chapter in 5 minutes but it could take me 5 times that amount of time to translate that same chapter.
Anyway, I can't really pinpoint the point in my Japanese learning career where I was able to read and understand manga, but I would say it was about two years in. Maybe later, since I didn't receive formal training until three years into learning. It's certainly empowering to be able to read manga now :3!
I'm totally doing it wrong, and it probably shows in my work. ^^ I've only had two years of formal Japanese learning, with like six years of listening to fansubbed anime to keep my hand in, so to speak. I'm trying to translate now, but I'd like to think I'm muddling through at least mostly correctly.
That said, it takes me a long long time to translate a chapter, and I have a very hard time with certain things, such as geographical references, puns, or colloquialisms, and I'm just very lucky I haven't had to deal with regional dialects yet.
I use a half dozen different Japanese resources like a set of cobbled-together crutches. A particle dictionary, the online Denshi Jisho, the Manga Helpers dictionary, an online verb conjugator, a little book of Japanese proverbs, a Kodansha kanji dictionary, and sometimes even plain Google or Wikipedia searches. So I would say, it's okay for me to stick to trying to translate action manga, but anything more serious or cerebral I will have a very hard time with.
Well, I'm capable of reading raws with a heavy dependency on a dictionary, but if you read a word and have to look it up often enough, you start learning it off by heart without boring yourself.
Anyways, based on my experience and those moments that I've facepalmed because I realized that I should've known something earlier, here's a basic outline (in other words, an optional recommendation) of how to learn japanese (if you plan to learn vocab from raws and cannot attend a formal japanese tutorial).
1. Start by learning how to read phonetically, learn hiragana and katakana and make sure to memorize them.
Hiragana is by far, more useful for reading japanese, so I recommend learning it first.
RealKana, repetitive writing, and whatever other "study" techniques you find work best
2. Read up on basic grammar and make sure you know the basic particles は, か, と, に. Also read up on the numbers, and learn to count to 20. Don't pressure yourself with dates, as they are not as important as knowing how to read in the first place.
The particles roughly translate into "about [prior object]", "?", "and/but", and "around [prior time or location]". Please note that these are the conjunctions in english that I have found to work most often in what japanese I have read. I have found that the particles are easiest to remember if you associate them with an english conjunction that is used in a similar way.
Useful resource(s): "Japanese in Mangaland" by Marc Bernabe and it's workbooks if you can find it
3. Once you understand the basics of grammar and a few particles, STUDY CONJUGATIONS!
I've lost track of how many times I've facepalmed myself for not knowing a conjugation. These also happen to be very important for accurate translations, as these can mean the difference between saying "I didn't mean it that way," or "I meant what I said."
4. Now that you know enough to pick apart basic sentences, and hopefully have collected a small vocabulary along the way, you may start increasing your vocabulary and perfecting your grammar by going through a raw scan with a good dictionary.
Make an effort to start recognizing kanji if you want to have a hope of reading more mature manga or having a conversation in spoken japanese.
Practice, Repetitive Writing, Mnemonics, Wakan, an offline dictionary with many useful features. Also, feel free to use any resources that you have found, as you may not learn the same way as I do.
I hope that this outline can help you learn without making the mistakes I have.
Also, make sure to find time for basic japanese greetings, such as "お早う御座います"(ohayou gozaimasu), into your learning, as they are as customary in japan as "Good morning" is in English. When you start to read a raw to learn the vocabulary, it is a great idea to start learning numbers and dates more in depth right around that time.
Please understand that I'm not telling you to neglect anything, I am just offering a good way to focus your learning so that you learn a little bit of everything. The reasoning behind learning a bit of everything is so that you learn the most useful and important information, the foundation, before you start to learn the information that is used rarely. By doing this, it ensures that you can read a sentence, and if you don't know a word or kanji, it is easy to look it up or pick up on it's usage as you go along, rather than knowing the word, but puzzling over the rest of the sentence.
Last edited by Aarowaim; October 23, 2011 at 02:08 AM.
So yeah agree with Saladesu. Reading and tl-ing are pretty different, tl-ing is definitely slower.
Regarding tips... The uni textbook uses Genki I&II, I just did all the textbook and workbook exercises over the holidays so I'd say get Genki and work on them. There're 23 lessons and if you work fast 1 lesson should take 3 days including vocab memorization. Also watching anime and listening to the JP they speak should help with learning new vocab and grammar.
Last edited by JinHea; October 16, 2011 at 09:14 PM.
i downloaded an android app caled ja sensei and i am doing fine with hiragana(i started today) but i got a problem english isn't my first language but spanish and i am suffering reading the explanation of http://www.guidetojapanese.org any help wil be much appreciated and a fiend girl i know learnet it in half a year... what a freak!!!
I was watching anime for years and reading the occasional translated manga when i decided to take a Japanese class in highschool. I can honestly say that didn't teach me much other than just memorizing hiragana and katakana as well some words and a few kanji, I was still hopeless when I tried playing even a full hiragana game like pokemon. A few years later (last year) I started taking Japanese classes in university as electives and right now I am on my 4th semester and I can easily understand animes with no subtitles now. My main problem is kanji witch I only need to know around 225 for my classes at the moment which is not nearly enough to understand a manga full of kanji. I have recently been studying kanji on my own time and reading manga like Doraemon with the help of various resources for the kanji or vocab I have not learned yet. Last week I actually translated an episode of anime for fun and it turned out to be quite accurate because when listening I don't need kanji.
So how long did it take for me to be able to read Raw manga? If the manga has furigana it took me around 2 and a half years (with 1 year of no studying in the middle) to be able to be able to, and I still can't read Raw's that don't use furigana unless I spend a lot of time with translators to find the pronunciations of a lot of the kanji. (Hopefully I will be able to get it within the next half a year since I understand sentence structure quite well and know a lot of vocabulary)
Writing + Grammar takes approximately 2 weeks and about 2 more weeks of practice minimum. Vocabulary takes at least 2 months of practice to understand the basics and requires a tremendous effort to master in less than 2 years. It is possible in less than a year, provided you are entirely focused on learning and practice, practice, practice.
Basically, 3 months for mastering the basics and the rest is up to you. I will say that the more time you spend with real Japanese, the faster you approach fluency.
I would say 2 years is about right. I didn't even bother until I finished 4 college courses worth of work. There were a few students that would attempt to read a manga or two in the first 2 classes, but I can't say how successful you could be doing that. Without knowing sentence structure, your kind of just wasting your time. I would suggest progressing with your lessons until you can modify a noun with a verb. That's probably the earliest you can start reading in the RAW.
I'm also a beginner at Japanese and as the others mentioned earlier, I'm one of those people who can't go through a raw manga without a dictionary in my hand. Memorising kana and kanji is actually very easy for me, since I managed to memorise all the kana in 2 weeks and 200 kanji in a month, but what always catches me off is the grammar. Nearly everybody here says you should be more concentrated on learning vocab, but honestly (in my opinion), it's grammar that kills - especially when you get really long sentences with like 5 subordinate clauses etc.
Yeah, I would agree with you. Grammar should be your top priority until you finish your intermediate lessons. You can always look up words, but grammar is something you should know well enough going into it.
If you have trouble with grammar, look into getting a copy of "A dictionary of basic Japanese grammar" by Seiichi Makino and Michio Tsutsui. That's probably the most useful book you can have on your shelf. The book calls itself "basic" but it covers just about everything you need. The 2 books after the first one are not really useful for very much. I would consider them anecdotes and not "intermediate" or "advanced" grammar.