What is the best way to learn Japanese?

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#1 by weter
2019-01-29 at 11:07
I don't need to be able to write or speak Japanese. I just want to learn Japanese to read VNs. I also learned English just by sitting with a translator and a dictionary reading VNs, when I started reading I literally did not understand anything, but now I read and understand very well (but I do not write sentences very well), it took about 1-1.5 years.

But what is the best way to learn or translate Japanese sentences? I do not understand where the word begins and where it ends and how is the best way to write or pull words from VNs in general? (Translation of pictures or drawing Japanese letters in Google translate a terrible idea)

(I searched here on the forum, but I’m not good at searching)
#2 by mqvisionary
2019-01-29 at 11:14
for a basic understanding of japanese, get genki books. For text extraction: link
#3 by ᔕᕼᖇOOᗰᒪOᖇᗪ
2019-01-29 at 17:21
Well you can always start by learning katakana and hiragana. I dedicated a weekend to that back in the day. I had it down after 16h effective time. Of course you gotta keep using it after that to let it sink in and settle.
In any case, I'd suggest meeting up with a professional private tutor. Take a few lessons, let them gauge you and then consult with them on how to best proceed.
#4 by surferdude
2019-01-29 at 17:30
Watch tons and tons of anime. It worked for me. Takes time, though.
#5 by tomtheerogeman
2019-01-29 at 18:00
I learned how to read Japanese the same way you learned how to read English. I studied genki 1 and genki 2 for almost a year while trying to read in Japanese. I also downloaded anki on my phone, downloaded some vocabulary and grammer decks and studied them while I was outside and had time to pull out my phone. I did all this while reading at home with the help of texthookers and yomi-chan. I've been doing this almost every day for 2 years now and I can read most VNs without any assistance. I'm probably at JLPT N2 reading level at this point, according to the vocabulary decks I've studied. Never had a teacher or anything.
#6 by ramaladni
2019-01-29 at 18:53
#7 by nihilloligasan
2019-02-01 at 22:31
duolingo has japanese available now, so you can start with that
#8 by lunaterra
2019-02-01 at 22:33
Duolingo is terrible for Japanese, don't use it. It doesn't bother teaching you anything and just expects you to already know stuff.
#9 by spidey01
2019-02-03 at 17:55
One thing I have found useful is imabiLast modified on 2019-02-03 at 17:55
#10 by weter
2019-02-07 at 20:26
Thank you very much for the answers.
I tried what you all recommended and what I found on other pages.

#3 The problem is that in my city there are no good Japanese tutors, and online tutors is extremely expensive for me.
#4 Well, I think this option will be quite difficult for me.
#7 I tried it half a year ago and quit, it was extremely incomprehensible to me. It is better to read Genki.

#2/#5 I think Genki will give me good basic knowledge.
#9 After reviewing several pages I think there is more unnecessary information than in Genki for me. I’ll read Genki for now, but I think Imabi will come in handy too.

What did I do during this time (some useless information about my achievements):
The first days I tried to set up 'Visual Novel Reader', it was torture but I did it (who knew that the official site has been down for a couple of years and you need to look for all the components yourself). Having tried it just with a dictionary and translator without any knowledge, it was... incomprehensible even the wrong word, something worse D: So it is better to start with some basic knowledge. I started with katakana and hiragana (with digraphs & diacritics) and learned it in about 5 hours (feel lucky). Remembered about 300 kanji already (but did not remember how they sound, but only what they look like). Read and remember the first 30 pages of Genki (not counting the introduction). Now opening the same sentences, I understand ~1 word from each text block :D I thought Japanese is much more complicated and incomprehensible although this is only the beginning.
It all takes 4-5 hours a day. I hope within a month, at least I will start to understand the meaning of VN with a dictionary and translator

Once again thank you all for the help

Btw, if anyone can advise which is the best online/offline Japanese-English sentence translator?
#11 by harp
2019-02-07 at 22:25
Sounds sorta good I guess, regarding the achievements. Now I come bearing bad and good news. link
This is basically a better version of VNR, and it can hook more. One of my friends uses it quite extensively, and it seems quite good.
Reception online seems pretty good, and Artikash is really active.

I'm quite certain #2 was joking. I think he does that a lot? He's a good guy, nonetheless.

Best of luck.Last modified on 2019-02-07 at 22:25
#12 by kametec
2019-02-16 at 22:42
I don't think we'll ever see the "best" way to learn Japanese, because what works for one person may not work for another.

But I'd say that regularity is the name of the game. Whatever method you decide to try, stick with it and keep doing your drills or reviews or whatever regularly. It is going to take time before you get noticeable results, but if you endure the demotivating part where you don't understand anything outside textbooks, you've won.

For me, learning grammar first and then applying knowledge of it in figuring meaning of written text worked the best. That and vocabulary drills on the side. I tried reading vns several times during my learning. It was only after I've gotten solid grasp of grammar and vocabulary before I managed to keep reading long enough to actually finish a route. In the beginning I would spend hours trying to lookup things I didn't understand. And needing hours to decipher just a couple of lines got boring fast. Knowing grammar and vocab allows me to figure meaning fast enough to keep me entertained. It is easy to keep practising now, but getting to a "workable" state is the real challenge, imho.
#13 by erohatasensei
2019-02-22 at 04:10
Read Eroge and pick up context clues.
#14 by super-onii
2019-02-22 at 07:16
playing vn's or watching anime unfortunately won't help you unless you already know some basic japanese.

- search for books to learn (there are guides on reddit about it). don't use genki. it's good, but not meant for self studying (lot's of group tasks and a bad solution book + expensive). if you still want to try it out, there are pdf scans around the web that you should check out before buying the books.

- download Anki (flashcard program) and the "most used kanji" flashcards
#15 by glowworm
2019-03-03 at 21:22
Translating is it's own burden, and you should just focus on learning so you can read, and understand in Japanese to start. There's something to be said for reading side by side with a TL to see if you're not catching on to something, but that's very dependent on your translator not sucking, and if so can be detrimental. You will find that translators often disappoint.

First of all you need to know kana, memorize them. Get anki, you'll need to it to learn basic vocab. Go to Imabi.net, or tae kim(if imabi is too linguistic-y for your blood at the start) and learn the basics of grammar. Hit up a vocab frequency list, and add the most frequent words into an anki deck. Once you've gone over all the basic particles, verb conjugations, and whatnot once( you'll be coming back to them numerous times) start reading doujins on exhentai, with kanjitomo until you're comfortable delineating where words begin and end, and the basics of grammar such that it's a puzzle where you're mostly plugging in vocab, and occasionally referencing grammar. After that move onto vn's with ITH + Translation Aggregator, using jparser; stick to nukige for a while.

As for best J>E E>J translations, they all suck about equally. Weblio can be decent for JP>ENG if you keep it to phrases, google can sometimes surprise, and yandex too, but they just as often fall short and omit things.Last modified on 2019-03-03 at 21:47
#16 by surferdude
2019-03-03 at 22:03
If you only need Japanese for reading VNs, then you can skip learning kanji almost entirely.
Just learn kana, all the grammar, and as much vocab as you can, then use Translation Aggregator + jparser + edict2, set it to display romaji, and you're all set.
Using this method, I was able to read (and understand well over 95% of what I was reading) short VNs very soon after starting to learn Japanese.
Oh, and you can also read manga as long as it has furigana.Last modified on 2019-03-03 at 22:11
#17 by ghostdiver
2020-05-31 at 01:15
hello i know this discussions is already over but i have a question.
so i started learning hiragana and katakana and kanji soon but how will that help me read vn if i cant speak Japanese. i can understand some from anime and vn but i cant say i know them by heart, so my question how can i understand them even if i can read them?Last modified on 2020-05-31 at 01:16
#18 by ecchihieronymus
2020-05-31 at 01:21

Learning by doing? Also text hookers. At some point you'll remember kana constructs and kanji. I've learned basic Kanji like 肉, 母 and 父 JUST from browsing VNDB and looking for VNs. It's going to take some time, much more than other languages so don't expect instant results. What #16 wrote is also really helpful, I'll have to try that soon.
#19 by fuukanou
2020-05-31 at 01:29
#17, for what it's worth, listening is the easiest bit about learning a foreign language (as opposed to reading, writing or speaking) because context etc. will cause you to remember words. As long as you can actually read out the words in your head, reading is similar. In Japanese there's also the additional safety net of kanji having inherent meaning allowing you to understand (ok more like give a good guess as to) what a word means even if you can't read it. If you're anything like me when I began, you'll find that you actually know quite a lot, it's just it's never been formalised anywhere.Last modified on 2020-05-31 at 01:32
#20 by ghostdiver
2020-05-31 at 02:17
i guess i just have to push through and see if i learn thanks for answering.
if only vn is mainstream like light novel is now i wont have to learn another language.
#21 by rampaa
2020-05-31 at 02:23
#22 by kazuka
2020-06-04 at 23:25
Just read honestly, and it'd better to avoid parsers considering the mistakes they make. And you have to do this in a daily basis, otherwise you won't retain much.
#23 by erohatasensei
2020-06-05 at 00:47
The immersion meme.
#24 by darksshades
2020-06-05 at 18:51
I personally started using Nihongoresources(link) way to get more kanji vocabulary.
It gives you 5 kanjis/day with examples/dict, etc.
The given kanji are sorted allegedly by most common and used on text.

Also, if you only want to be able to read novels you could try a texthooker combo like (VNR+MeCab) or (Textextractor+Chiitranslite for furigana) to train your japanese.

You can use VNR to display furigana above the kanji and clicking the kanji will show a popup window for the dictonary page.
So if you're only interested in being able to read you could try that. After a while you start to learn a lot of common kanji readings without the need of furigana anymore.

Similarly chiitrans will display a popup dict page if you hover over the kanji.

P.S: I know I'm kinda repeating #15, #16. Just wanted to put it there as I did not see anyone mentioning VNR and textextractor here yet which in my opinion gives a better user experience in general.
#25 by shinytentacool
2020-06-06 at 13:10
I always figured the best way would be to read a visual novel that has english and japanese side by side. And it'd have to be a pretty boring and long one too, so you're bored enough to wanna take the boredom away by learning. And I guess you'd also need to learn kana first