Japanese conversation practice with a native speaker in the Portland, OR area (or maybe Skype)?
May 19, 2009 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Japanese conversation practice with a native speaker in the Portland, OR area (or maybe Skype)?

I took three years of Japanese in high school, almost 11 years ago. Lately I've taken an interest in relearning it. Right now I'm still re-memorizing hiragana and katakana, so I at the beginner level for sure. But eventually it would be cool to get conversation practice with a native speaker without necessarily spending the hundred of dollars and the firm time commitments of a college course.

Ideas? I tried posting to the craigslist "activity partner" section, but nothing came of it.

posted by wastelands to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to visit the local Japanese market and look for a posting board to put your ad on.

But you can do a LOT of self-study before a language partner would become useful necessary.

pophjisho.com is an excellent tool of breaking down Japanese content into understandable pieces.

It's my theory that you learn what you internalize, ie to output something you generally need to input it first, and the web (and netflix) are pretty good sources of Japanese-language media to get to the intermediate-advanced level where a native-speaker becomes necessary.

Conversation at a basic language level is pretty boring for the instructor. Been there, got the t-shirt.
posted by toroi at 5:28 PM on May 19, 2009

toroi, for sure. I should have mentioned I'm watching a bunch of Japanese movies at home and listening to Japanese radio stations at work.
posted by wastelands at 5:38 PM on May 19, 2009

Try meetup.com. In fact you can try this Japanese language meetup in Portland Oregon tonight if you hurry!
posted by merocet at 5:44 PM on May 19, 2009

Check out Read the Kanji for help with learning vocabulary online. It has kana as well as kanji, and has the four levels of the JLPT divided so you could try the level four stuff to start out.

For a textbook, you could look at Minna no Nihongo (careful when ordering it, one book is just a textbook, there is another book that has the translations of new vocabulary and explanations of the grammar structure for each unit).

As for movies and radio, I'd bet that any native level programs you're listening to aren't going to be much help. Look for children's programs (If you can find it, try watching the Domo-kun kids show that NHK's Basic Sattelite channel broadcasts. Half an hour of Japanese language, but spoken slowly, using simple words.) and short clips, rather than trying to focus for an hour or two on language that's simply beyond your level.

As for toroi's suggestion, yes, teaching beginning conversation isn't the most interesting thing. Once you get to some basic level of speaking, you should really give it a shot. Nothing will help you to learn faster than talking with a native speaker who gives you the opportunity to speak, gives you listening practice, and will help you with your grammar mistakes. If you've got a Japanese market near you, you should look for people willing to tutor. Yes, free is nice, but if you're actually paying someone (say, $20 an hour, or whatever the going rate is) you can actually expect some decent help, in addition to more motivation for you when it comes to studying.

Trust me, I spent 5 years trying to study by myself, and, coincidentaly, it was about 5 years before I actually started speaking the language. Start speaking, as much and as often as possible. It helps.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:51 PM on May 19, 2009

You guys are awesome. Thanks for the links.
posted by wastelands at 6:00 PM on May 19, 2009

I will fall back on my old recommendation... TheJapanesePage.Com. We have online chat, and a few people do Skype chats, and a few have found some online sites that do Skype classroom like teaching. Your MeFi mail is disabled or I would say drop me a line and I'll ask. I know a bunch of people to text chat or Skype chat online in Japanese looking for study partners and the like.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:36 PM on May 19, 2009

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