Free Japanese lessons?
January 28, 2004 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Is there a good free way to begin to learn to speak japanese?
posted by drezdn to Education (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Audit a class at a local college?
posted by o2b at 11:08 AM on January 28, 2004 has sixteen lessons for free; they're pretty good.

After you have that much basic stuff, you may be ready to start the guerrilla method--it is pretty unreliable, but it's free: get a newspaper article from, run the vocabulary through Jim Breen's online dictionary, and try to figure out the grammar as best you can on your own. (I started out using dictionaries to read manga; however, I did get a few books on Japanese grammar, without which I doubt I would have managed so well).

Talk to a lot of people, if possible. If not, try to get some exposure to spoken Japanese any way you can; download some anime or Japanese pop music (though be aware that anime in particular uses very informal or unusual dialogue styles).

Kanji Gold is a very nice freeware kanji flashcard program. NJ Communicator is a shareware program for viewing and inputting Japanese text.

Good luck with it. I can say from experience that it's not too easy (but after six and a half years, I'm almost sort of fluent).
posted by Jeanne at 11:10 AM on January 28, 2004

Oh, and you can sometimes find language exchanges--teach someone English in return for having them teach you Japanese--posted around college campuses, particularly near language labs.
posted by Jeanne at 11:12 AM on January 28, 2004

Go to the library and see if they have lessons on tape. You want to be listening to the language as much as possible.
posted by Sangre Azul at 11:17 AM on January 28, 2004

I was gonna post that really weird flash animation with the hari-kari and samurai, but I can't find it for the life of me.
posted by gramcracker at 11:38 AM on January 28, 2004

great advice, Jeanne! I've been considering trying to learn japanese for a while. Now I think I'll get started.
posted by jpoulos at 12:58 PM on January 28, 2004

If you search on P2P networks, you can often find some Japanese audio lessons there. In terms of speaking, I have found it difficult to understand spoken japanese without a good understanding of the grammar involved and the vocabulary being used. So I would say first, obtain some audio lessons to get down the very basic structure and some of the cadence of spoken Japanese. Then just pound vocabulary into your head. Really, the best way to go about it is to find some Japanese people and either talk to them or just listen to what they are saying to each other, and try to figure it out. Or even other foreigners who know Japanese can help, because if they only know basic japanese Then they will naturally tend to use the vocabulary that you should learn first. Unfortunately, they will probably use it incorrectly. But you can figure that part out later. Also, learn hiragana and katakana at least. It will enable you to read cool things like this.
posted by donkeymon at 3:06 PM on January 28, 2004

Download the Japanese version of Windows from WinMX, install it, and figure it out.
posted by dydecker at 4:07 PM on January 28, 2004

You might try to ask around the local community college and/or Japanese community, and see if somebody offers private Japanese lessons. You can often talk people into teaching in exchange for work/barter/whatever. Two of the people in my own Japanese class do yardwork for the teacher instead of paying, for example. Even if if turns out that you can't get classes for free, you'll get a lot of benefit from being in touch with other people who are interested in learning Japanese.
posted by vorfeed at 4:09 PM on January 28, 2004

moji (kanji translator extension for Mozilla/Firebird)

KanjiSite - a great resource for learning kanji

Japanese Language Proficiency Test - something to strive towards
posted by gen at 9:17 PM on January 28, 2004

Of course lots of kids have learned Japanese by watching anime and reading manga in Japanese...
posted by gen at 9:18 PM on January 28, 2004

'Pimsleur' + P2P = Learn-o-rama.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:17 AM on January 29, 2004

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