If you have learnt numbers in Chinese language, you will master numbers in Japanese language faster. The reason is that both languages use the same concepts: counting units change every four digits and the use of counters (quantifiers in Chinese language). The difference is the pronunciation. There is irregular pronunciation in Japanese language.
Let’s go to numbers starting from one hundred.
百 (ひゃく) — 100
千 (せん) — 1000
万 (まん) — 10000
Counting units change every four digits
10,000 is ten thousand in Western countries, but Japanese language has a name for the unit: 万. Thus, 100,000 is one hundred thousand in Western countries, but it is 十万 (ten 万) in Japanese language.
The use of counters
English language: two books
Chinese language: 两本书
Japanese language: 二冊本, where 二 = 2, 冊 = the counter for book and 本 = book
Just like Chinese language, you need to keep learning so that you can get yourself familiar with the use of counters.
1. Do revision.
2. Keep learning.
As mentioned in Japanese Journey 六, there are two types of adjectives in Japanese language: い-adjective and な-adjective. The example in adjective conjugation, 高い, is an い-adjective.
All い-adjectives end with い. Some of the “famous” い-adjectives that you may hear from Japanese drama series are 可愛い (cute)、優しい (gentle)、美味しい (delicious) and 素晴らしい (fabulous).
To describe a noun, you just need to add the noun after the い-adjective, for examples, 可愛い子供、優しい人、美味しい寿司。
Although some な-adjectives end with い, you add な in between the adjective and the noun to describe the noun. Are な-adjectives confusing? No. From the examples below, although the pronunciation ends with い, they are kanji that does not end with い alone like い-adjectives. It takes a lot of learning to differentiate な-adjectives from い-adjectives, but it is not confusing.
Examples of な-adjective and its usage:
(a) 綺麗 (きれい) — 綺麗な女の子
(b) 有名 (ゆうめい) — 有名な人
Asking questions in Japanese is easy. Once you have learnt sufficient grammar and vocabulary to form sentences, you just need to add か (ka) at the end of the sentence to make it a question sentence. Let’s look at two examples:
(a) 高いですか？— Is it expensive?
(b) あなたは行きますか？— Are you going?
1. Start a diary to write in the language that you are learning. The more you use the language in your daily life, the more your brain can retain what you have learnt.
English language learners are familiar with conjugation. For example, eat, eats, ate and eating are used differently depending on the person and the tense.
Japanese language has three types of conjugation: noun conjugation, adjective predicate and verb predicate conjugation. There are some notes on my book which I have written down. Thus, I have looked up some extra information on conjugation and added more information into the book.
Below is the summary of what I have learnt. The conjugation is highlighted in bold.
先生 (せんせい) = teacher
1. 私は先生です。— I am a teacher.
2. 私は先生じゃないです。— I am not a teacher.
3. 私は先生でした。— I was a teacher.
4. 私は先生じゃなかったです。— I was not a teacher.
There are two types of adjectives in Japanese language: イ-adjective and ナ-adjective.
高い (たかい) = expensive
1. 高いです。— It is expensive
2. 高くないです。— It is not expensive.
3. 高かったです。— It was expensive.
4. 高くなかったです。— It was not expensive.
行き (いき) = go
1. あなたは行きます。— You go.
2. あなたは行きません。— You do not go.
3. あなたは行きました。— You went.
4. あなたは行きませんでした。— You did not go.
1. Find more information on a topic and write down the information. It helps to reinforce the learning.
2. If possible, read in the language that you are learning.
3. New Japanese words: Teacher — 先生
Expensive — 高い
Go — 行き
Somebody asked me why I share my Japanese learning experience, and not Chinese language or English language learning experience. The answer is simple: you can use the same method to learn any languages. Of course, my learning method may not be suitable for you, but you can refer and make the necessary adjustment.
Another reason is that I learnt Chinese language and English language at school, step-by-step, year-by-year, so the credit goes to all the teachers that have taught me well. Thank you.
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Last week, I revised the particles. When we first learn a language, we learn how to introduce ourselves.
I am Wendy.
At beginner level, I have been using “は” (pronounced “wa”) in most of the sentences for the subject. Little did I know, “は” is not the subject marker, but the topic marker. I am glad that I have done the revision. Now that I know “が” is the subject marker, which was seldom used by me, I will pay more attention to it.
The particles have been a problem to me because it is only one syllable. When I am listening to anime, it is too short to notice. Likewise, when you are learning other languages, pay attention to helping words. For example, many students who learn Chinese language do not know when to use 的、得 and 地 (pronounced “de”). It only takes around an hour to learn and understand the three helping words, but it benefits you for the rest of the learning journey.
1. To master a language, it needs lifelong effort.
2. Helping words may seem insignificant but it is worthwhile to master the helping words at early stage of learning a language.
3. Learn every aspect of the language, listen, read, write and speak (LRWS). [I have arranged the sequence for easy memorization, Love Resorts World Sentosa :-)]
You can find a lot of online resources for learning Japanese, but I choose a book for learning Japanese. It is a personal preference, reading a book works for me and here are the reasons:
1. The book refers you to extra information if there are some topics that it does not cover.
You may argue that there are more extra resources that you can find online. Yes, and that is the troublesome part. I have tried online resources, but when I click too many extra resources, I find myself lost and end up not learning anything.
2. There are too many choices online and I cannot find one that suit my needs
Am I a picky learner? I am not sure. Since it is easier to find a book than a website, so I might as well stick to the book.
3. You can write and make note on the book
This is a strong reason. The notes that I have written months ago will still be there when I open up the book after a few years.
4. The book is more systematic
Chapter by chapter, topic by topic, you will not go wrong with a book.
5. Though you can bookmark a website like you bookmark your book, the website may have moved after a while.
I like to put bookmark at the page of a book where I have stopped. I do the same for websites that I find interesting. When I have bookmarked more than 50 websites, I find them “hard to manage”. In the end, it is meaningless to bookmark any website because I seldom visit the bookmarked websites.
Even if I do visit the bookmarked websites, sometimes it is frustrating to find that some websites have been moved or become inactive.
6. Reading on computer hurts my eyes
For health reason, I choose a book.
Nonetheless, I do use the online dictionary and some other references when I need some extra information. For example, when I am learning katakana, I print the list of katakana from a website and learn how to write. When I am on the move, a mobile application with Japanese phrases is a good companion.
Which method is more suitable for you?
1. A new Japanese word: Why? — どうして？
2. Choose a suitable method and stick to it.
3. Use different resources as tools to enhance learning.
The teacher asked the students to write hiragana on my first Japanese class. He said this is the basic of learning Japanese. He is right. Without learning the writing system in the first place, I would have difficulty to continue my Japanese learning journey on my own. The reason is I would have difficulty to look up in a dictionary for new vocabulary. For Chinese language, 汉语拼音 (HanYu PinYin) helps a person to look up a new word in a dictionary and learn, though it is not the writing system.
There are three types of writing systems in Japanese language — hiragana, katakana and kanji. Both hiragana and katakana are the lists of Japanese syllables. If you want to be fluent in Japanese (or any other languages), please learn the writing system at the beginning. With today’s technology, you can use the online dictionary or apps to find the meaning of a new vocabulary. In this way, you can always learn and continuously improve.
Hiragana is more commonly used than katakana. Katakana is only used for loanwords (mostly from English words) and sound mimics. Kanji is the Japanized Chinese characters. In the past week, I used one hour to revise hiragana, five hours for katakana and zero hour for kanji. Zero hour for kanji? Yes, lucky for me, Chinese language is my mother tongue, thus writing kanji is the same as writing any Chinese characters. The only problem for me is to know how to read (pronounce) the kanji because the same character in kanji and Chinese language is pronounced differently.
If you have noticed, I use kanji in my post title (It is not Chinese character!) as a way of revision. The same character, 二, is read ni (に) in Japanese language and er in Chinese language. If both languages are foreign to you, I would suggest you not to learn both languages at the same time because you would be confused.
As for hiragana, I have always been practicing writing hiragana repetitively, even when I am not learning Japanese. Below is the figure showing my hiragana writing, with two circled syllables that I have forgotten how to write without referring to any references. Thus, a quick revision is sufficient for hiragana.
I gave less attention to learning katakana by heart. Nonetheless, I would like to master Japanese this time, at least up to the level when I took Japanese Language Proficiency Test a few years ago. So, I spent more time on katakana, learning how to write and doing some exercises from the reference book. With some guessing work, I managed to get 17 out of 20 correct 🙂
1. When you learn a new language, start from the writing system.
2. Keep doing revision.
3. Use the language in your daily life to reinforce what you have learnt.