I’m wondering what is realistic with 2 hours per day study of Japanese using only LingQ after 12 months. No interaction with other people, no TV, no books, nothing but LingQ.
I’m not sure about the character part but I don’t know Chinese characters well and won’t be able to help.
As what I heard, there are like 3 tenses (formal, non-formal and something else)… not sure if you have to learn 3 words per 1 word.
I learn Chinese through LingQ, but I use the other way of learning, too. For example, the following is my daily routine.
- I listen to and read texts including words. I also listen to (or sometimes shadow) the audio files I’ve ever learned many times, but at this time without reading texts.
The contents I review are controlled by Excel Sheet.
- I listen and write by hand the words I learned. Then, I check up all the words. I write and read aloud wrong words again and again.
- When watching videos, I know how to use the words in different contexts.
Sometimes, I type all the subtitles of my favorite scenes on videos, and import them as well as audio files on LingQ to learn new words.
- I try to use new words with native speakers on Skype.
In conclusion, it is impossible for me to learn a language with only one tool.
You only have to learn a formal tense, the others are not really necessary.
As for “Do I have to learn three words for each word?” - no. The term “tense” is quite well chosen, it’s about the same as with tense in English or any other language: you might use different forms of the verbs, but the verbs themselves stay the same. (there are a few exceptions where you would use a more formal word in formal speech, but these are so few and as far as I know almost every language has this distinction between formal and informal speech - although it’s not always taught seperately like it is usually done with Japanese.) This isn’t really a hindrance - at least not for understanding - correct use of formal and informal language is of course not that easy. But then, that’s not a typical Japanese thing either. It’s more a skill of adjusting one’s speech to the situation.
In Japanese there is a much greater difference of degree of politeness in terms of word choice than in any other language I have learned.This is not connected with differences of tense, which also exist in Japanese.
I would not worry about this too much just be aware of it. I just learned the neutral forms at first, used the neutral forms in all of mu communication, and then gradually got the sense of the less formal and more formal forms or words, and eventually acquired enough confidence to use them.
Is it true that foreigners are not really expected to use the different forms?
@JayB: In my experience, If foreigners are on a near native level otherwise they are expected to use them correctly. If however it’s obvious that they are still struggling with Japanese, it’s easily forgiven.
I’m at a fluent but not highly fluent level at the moment (i.e. everyday conversations are okay, but I’m struggling with complicated topics). I try to adjust my level of politeness, but I have the occasional slip - and although I’m sure it’s noticed (I notice it myself often enough, the moment I’ve uttered the sentence), it’s never mentioned and has never been taken as offensive.
(sorry, my English isn’t good today, I’ve been in the sun for too long. I hope, I’m understandable)
The Japanese don’t expect much from foreigners and and are surprised and appreciative of any ability in their language. The more the speaker can use the appropriate polite forms, the better the language sounds to all.
I suspect that it is the whole thing about “respect” language which puts off some Westerners from learning Japanese.
(The idea that one could unwittingly cause massive offense to a complete stranger is a little bit scary! But, as you say, I guess allowances will generally be made for foreigners who aren’t expert speakers!)
ad JayB: I have never met any Japanese person that was offended because I or any other foreigner talking to him/her used an “inadequate” form of politeness. You can also show your respect with gestures, your mimic and your overall attitude towards a person. Of course, you are not supposed to talk like a manga character to your teacher, a sales clerk, bus driver, etc. If you use the “neutral” form you are fine in most cases and unless you have an excellent command of Japanese you are very unlikely to get into a situation where people expect you to use “keigo”. Besides, there are quite a few Japanese, especially young ones, who sometimes also find it hard to consistently use the “correct” level of politeness. I have a Japanese friend who told me that in his company all new employees get a three-week introduction into proper usage of keigo in their company (including a training as how to bow correctly).
Personally, I sometimes like to use keigo because I like the way you can express respect and/or humility by using certain linguistic constructions. In most Indoeuropean languages (at least that has been my experience) we have lost the ability to make those subtle yet sometimes important distinctions.
(…) The idea that one could unwittingly cause massive offense to a complete stranger is a little bit scary! (…)
Unless you behave like an elephant in a china shop, this won’t happen. Besides, with the neutral -masu form you are always on the safe side (unless you wish to talk to the Tenno ;-).
I see what you mean, Robert.
However it must be said that I am by nature a person who can sometimes be a little bit “blunt”. In other words: people can sometimes mistake bullishly outspoken comments from me for rudeness and aggression! (This even happens in English sometimes…)
So I have a feeling that Japan would end up being offended if I ever lived there!
ad JayB: (…) However it must be said that I am by nature a person who can sometimes be a little bit “blunt”. (…)
Well, I can’t really argue with you about that one
However, your “problem” would not be really a language-related but rather a cultural one. My impression (and, of course, I could be totally wrong) has been that you are quite “outspoken” and very direct and you certainly do not mince words. All these characteristics are not all that uncommon in “Western” societies and should not be (automatically) labelled as negative but I do believe you would be regarded as somewhat of an elephant in a china shop if you (or anybody else for that matter) were behaving like this in Japan. Just to be clear, I’m not judging your behaviour I am simply trying to point out what I think may cause some feelings of uneasiness between you and the people you deal with if you were that “blunt” in a Japanese environment.
On another note, however, I’m pretty sure that no matter how blunt you may sometimes be (or appear to others), you are capable of adjusting to a different environment if you decide for yourself that it is worth the effort.
Keeping this in mind, I think you would enjoy Japan - it is a wonderful country with amazing people and a very interesting culture. And since (if I’m not mistaken) you seem to like beer, you will be happy to hear that I have hardly ever seen people drink more beer than in Japan (although I have no scientific data to back up this statement ;-).
@Robert: “…I’m not judging your behaviour I am simply trying to point out what I think may cause some feelings of uneasiness between you and the people you deal with if you were that “blunt” in a Japanese environment.”
Actually I’ve already had a little misunderstanding of this kind with a Japanese person - but it happened while we were both attending a language course in Italy! (“When in Rome do as the Romans”, as the saying goes…)
It’s a long story - and one I’d much rather forget! :-0