HELP! Learning Japanese

hello! I just opened my account about ten minutes ago to learn Japanese. I haven’t spent any time on this site yet but for the beginner lessons they seem even too advanced. I don’t know how to read Japanese! Is there somewhere that teaches you the pronunciation of the words using English and how to read? All I see is Japanese writing.I studied Mandarin about ten years ago and am familiar with learning a language that has a completely different writing system than you are used to (I am a native English speaker). I saw on the side that you can have Romaji which seems to be the equivalent of Mandarin’s pinyin but it would be helpful if that were written under the words.

Any assistance or tips would be appreciated!


I suggest that you find some resources for learning the hiragana, katakana, and kanji. There are the three writing systems used in Japanese. You will probably be best off to buy a small beginner book in Japanese and let LingQ be an additional resource for you.

People all learn in different ways. We have members who learned from scratch only using LingQ while others need more help.

Some lessons have Romaji, and there are even some lessons written in Romaji, but our system only works with text written in the normal fashion, with hiragana, katakana, and kanji. There are no lessons with the Romaji or anything else under the text. Our text has to be in the target language, in all languages. That is how the system works.

I suggest you choose a beginner lesson here at LingQ, and listen a few times. Refer to the Romaji to help you. Look up individual words in the Japanese text, and try to get a feel for the language. Do not be frustrated by all the things that you do not understand at the beginning. Just keep at it and you will improve. Your knowledge of Chinese will help you acquire a large vocabulary faster than someone with no Chinese since about 50% of Japanese words are of Chinese origin.

Good luck.

Once you understand how the japanese characters works (what is hiragana/katakana/kanji and what is exacly each one), you can choose a beginner lesson and start trying to recognize the characters, the words and the sentences.

As Steve said, do not be frustrated by what you do not understand, just act like a child discovering a new world.

@Mish2674 - If you want to use romaji, you could put it in the hint for words when you LingQ them. If you are starting with no Japanese knowledge at all you will probably want to stick to the lessons that are in just hiragana and katakana at first. Hiragana can be used to convey all the sounds in the Japanese language and it is used much more frequently than katakana so I would say that learning hiragana is a good place to start. After you have a decent grasp of hiragana you could move on to learning kanji and you can use hiragana to show the pronunciation instead of romaji at that point.