I presently am focused on Spanish, with a growing effort in French. But I have a two week, upcoming trip to Japan in December, so about 2.5 months away. Although I agree with Steve’s approach generally of taking a lot longer to become competent in a language, working on listening and reading a lot upfront, speaking more later, I also think it is a good ethic to try and get up to some level, however, minimal it my turn out to be, of the destination’s native language before traveling there.
So I’m looking for advice on starting to learn some Japanese from scratch. I don’t see completely abandoning Spanish and French between now and my Japan trip. I don’t know any of the Japanese characters yet, but am willing to start learning if it makes the most sense to do so. My goal would be to have some functionality in Japanese society while traveling, such as being functional in the restaurant, train travel, read some signs, menus, and other basic words, and be able to have some (probably very spare) social conversations in Japanese. I know that two and half months is probably not enough to do much more than this. But it’s also a great opportunity to jump start the Japanese language, and maybe work towards greater fluency in the future.
Any thoughts on starting from scratch would be appreciated, whether or not it involves materials beyond LingQ (although I hope to make LingQ a meaningful part of the effort as I do in Spanish and French).