I have been learning Japanese for a whole year now and have to say, what might have looked as a easily doable task in the beginning (its but a language, how hard could it be) has resulted into an enormous project.
First off, why did I start in the first place?
This one is quite easy, every time I read something from japan, may it be novels, comics or other stuff, I always felt (and still feel) I should be able to read this in its original form, not in this (often) badly done translation. Also, I have wanted to learn it for a very long time, but always found it to be the wrong time or not to be a priority. When I passed 30 I thought I might as well just do it, otherwise it won’t ever work out.
What am I learning exactly?
All of the following things need to be learned in order to reach proficiency and to be able to read most anything Japanese:
Three Writing Systems, need to be learned. Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji
The so called Kana, Hiragana and Katakana are “easy”. Each compiled of about 50 characters, representing the sounds of the Japanese language. Both cover the same sounds, but are used in different ways.
Kanji are hard. Punishingly hard. Each Kanji can represent different sounds. Which sounds to use, depends on context / its combination with other Kanji or Kana.
What else must be learned?
Vocab and Grammar (as with every other language as well).
What have I done up to now?
- Reached proficiency of both Kana (Hiragana and Katakana)
- Learned about 300 Kanji (of approx. 3.000 – 10% – yay!) with their respective readings and meanings.
- Vocabulary of about 1.000.
- Teensy bit of grammar.