Advice Anyone? Where should I learn Japanese?
Okay, it may seem to be weird to post this type of discussion on Duolingo, but this is all I got. I was wondering where I can start learning Japanese. I started about 4 days ago and have only learned hiragana.
What is your opinion? Any (free or cheap) software or websites to try out that helped you?
Anime helps with understanding greetings and small things (as in how you use them, when to use them etc) but as you grow, you will start to understand most of the vocab :)
I've just started Japanese last week on Memrise! There are plenty of courses. I don't know all, but there is a long-time contributor who's put up several reliable Japanese courses for all JLPT levels.
If you are a complete beginner, start with Basic Hiragana and Basic Katakana. Once you can read and write in kana confidently, you can move on to the actual JLPT N5 courses. (I don't know how familiar you are with JLPT... basically there are 5 levels, from the easiest N5 to the master N1) There are 3 courses: Vocabulary (first you learn the words with hiragana/katakana, then the same words but with kanji) - Readings - and Grammar.
Memrise works similarly to Duolingo. You can set a daily goal of XP points so it motivates you to go back and study. The lessons are repetitive so it really beats the kanas/words in you, and as I said, all the tasks are really similar to how Duo lessons work. So far, I'm liking it so I recommend giving it a go :)
Here's my account where you can pick up the same beginner N5 courses: http://www.memrise.com/user/AislinC/courses/learning/
PS: You will need to install Mycrosoft IME to be able to type in kana easily. Here's a handy guide to it: http://www.memrise.com/blog/how-to-write-in-japanese-a-guest-post-from-jlptboo/
ETA: For some reason it didn't register that you've already learnt Hiragana xD It might still be worth flying through it, but you can leave that one out, then. The Katakana and the JLPT N5 courses are definitely for you, though!
I've been learning Japanese for a while now, first with several online resources, then a textbook, now in a class.
In my opinion, most online resources stick too close to the patterns we know from Indo-European languages. Japanese is extremely flexible though and tends to leave out redundant information. This is something that many online resources fail to address properly. Starting every sentence with a "sentence topic" (the は particle) is not wrong but... Not exactly natural. That's also why I'm not fond at all of translation-based approaches to Japanese - they just enforce the thought that languages map to each other while sometimes, they don't really do.
Japanese forces you to abandon the familiarity of your native language quite soon and embrace drastically different concepts and structures. For me, that's a major part of the appeal of the language.
The textbooks were better... Less focus on translation and more variation. "Minna no Nihongo", one of the two textbooks I own, is quite interesting because the main book is all Japanese while the grammar/vocabulary/lesson text translations book is available in a bunch of different languages. The other textbook probably isn't that interesting for most users here since it's written in German (Japanisch Schritt für Schritt - lovely book whose only flaw is the prolonged usage of romaji).
But to be honest... If you actually want to use the language actively and not just be able to read it, you should probably look for an actual human being that can mentor or instruct you. You'll need someone that can mercilessly correct all those inevitable mistakes and still appreciate the variation that is necessary for natural speech. Also, just getting the pronunciation right is nearly impossible without someone with a trained ear correcting you. I thought my pronunciation was... okay due to many years of exposure to spoken Japanese. Indeed, it was far better than the pronunciation of those without that kind of exposure but I still made plenty of mistakes and I still do sometimes...
I don't know about any websites, but I'm learning Japanese with a tutor I found on TakeLessons.com. It's pretty cheap (for a tutor, at least), and learning a language with a fluent/native speaker is always your best bet, but you may or may not want to make that kind of financial investment. Good luck!
Yeah, I'm not good with tutor stuff with a real person unless it's at school, and I'm pretty young... That could spoil it.
I'm pretty young as well, and the tutor (over Skype) is working fine for me. To each his own, I guess. I hope you find something that suits you