How to start with Japanese?

I have the opportunity to learn Japanese in my school for the next two years, but the course isn’t a “from scratch” course. To qualify for the course you have to be able to have a basic foundation. I was wondering how I should go about starting with this language. I know about all the writing systems and really have no idea which to start with, which is also why I don’t have a clue which LingQ lessons to take first, can anyone give me an idea as to how I should start learning Japanese?

You should go for Hiragana first. This is also what school children are doing in Japan, so beginner’s material is often in Hiragana only. Katakana is quite important as well and often used as well in beginner’s material (still more words are written in Hiragana, so I’d go for that first and for Katakana right after that). As to Kanji, there is a discussion in the ‘Ask Steve’ - section. Obviously different people prefer different methods of studying them, I personally really like the book ‘remembering the kanji’ by Heisig.
Anyway, you shouldn’t fear kanji, but include kanji study from the very beginning in your Japanese studies.

I think, it’s best to start with the beginner’s 1 lessons in lingq. Most easy is usually the ‘greetings’-section. As far as I know there are also many texts in romaji (this is, in latin alphabet) in lingq. Although I wouldn’t recommend to stick to romaji too long (as they are always only a means of helping foreigners to study, but never ‘real Japanese’), that might be easier to start with. (Just make sure, you’ll study Hiragana and Katakana too!!)

Hi Harry! Welcome to Japanese world!

Here are some message threads in forums.

How to start Japanese

楽しい日本語ゲーム Genkijapan.Net - Language Forum @ LingQ

ひらがな の書き方(How to write Japanese hiragana)

カタカナの書き方 (How to write Japanese katakana)

がんばってね! (Gambatte ne) Enjoy and Study hard!

I’d start by getting “Remembering the Kana” by Heisig, and the Colloguial Japanese book. I used that book when starting, and I found it very helpful. I’m sure the Teach Yourself book is also good. If you have the funds, get both series.

I suppose it depends on what level qualifies as a basic foundation, but these books should give you a decent base.

There’s also a torrent floating around the internet called “Let’s Learn Basic Japanese”. IIRC, there are 52 lessons, so you just watch one a day.

Remembering the kanji are very popular books. Although I don’t like them.
Don’t rush into kanji. My advice is to read and note kanji as you come across them.
As others have said, start with hiragana, then katakana. If you just need to reach an elementary level, there may be no expectation of your ever having studied kanji.

There are quite a few decent basic level textbooks out there. Whichever one you pick, make sure you stick at it. Of course, the material on Lingq is good, and you can actually get pretty far just with that. As it’s so different from English you will need an explanation of some points, though, particularly things like the the particles and giving and receiving words. This latter point gets taught early on in many courses, and can leave you wondering why (how hard can a couple of verbs be!), but it’s something even advanced speakers get wrong when they’re used as auxiliaries.

Yes, don’t rush into kanji, but also don’t put if off too long. Heisig’s kana book is very good and you’ll get a sense of what learning kanji that way will be like. I believe that the first portion of Heisig’s kanji book is available as a free pdf on his website, so you can also test out the system and see how you like it.

You also just need a lot of time to get used to the word order in Japanese. Everything is backwards so it takes quite a while before it starts to feel natural. Just relax and allow yourself the time to get used to it.

The series of books published by Kodansha International has a few good titles specializing in things like sentence structure, particles, etc. I found them very helpful. There are books by (I think) Naoko Chino and Taeko Kamiya. I probably have those names a bit wrong. They are kind of like grammatical workbooks. The Japan Times grammar dictionary is also very clearly written. You can consult it when you don’t understand something.

While I had no problems picking up the kana in only two days just by memorization without using any special book, that didn’t work with kanji for me. Although I know some people who reached a fairly decent kanji knowledge that way. To me, Heisig’s book was THE method, even though I only started with it about 3 or 4 years after having started Japanese (already completely freaked out by kanji at that time).
From my own experience it is that I recommend to not put off the kanji for too long. I had huge problems to remember any more than 100 to 150 using the ‘old fashioned’ way, so I was stuck to illiteracy (or at least not sufficient litteracy) way too long. I started to hate kanji, which doesn’t help either.

There are some quite well grammar books available. Online, I’d recommend tae kim’s