The Japanese course - beginner's review on completing it.
おはよう / こんにちは :)
Here's my opinion about the course as someone who started it from the scratch and managed to finish the course.
I got started here on Duolingo 38 days ago. It took me 25 days to finish the course. I finished it at level 19, and I revised a lot. I took each lesson at least once. It was my third course tree to complete.
Before I started this course I was a complete rookie (and to be honest, I mostly still am) in terms of the Japanese language.
What I knew:
that there are 3 writing systems in Japanese; apart from simpler hiragana letters like あ, い, う I couldn't read anything and kept forgetting and confusing letters like そ and す, か and き etc.;
some VERY basic phrases and words like: I, you, hello, bye, thanks, excuse me, dog, cat, basic numbers like 1 2 3 4, です form;
What I didn't know:
little to none knowledge about the culture and customs, politeness levels, addresing people;
almost no kanji recognition and no knowledge about radicals and onyomi, kunyomi readings;
never really watched anime besides a few odd episodes here and there, with english dubbing or subs;
count't read and tell time, or recognise vocabulary like days of the week;
no real knowledge about particles besides は, に, の;
I agree with most people, the introduction of grammar (or lack of thereof) is highly confusing and lacking. That's why throughout the course I used various online resources to look up new grammar and things I didn't understand, as they appeared. Without that, I don't think I would be able to progress to the very end.
I think this course is a good introduction to a language, a "stepping stone" and a way to get a taste of it. But without using other resources it's not really effective in giving strong foundations of the language structure, since it teaches by induction and not by introduction. The usage of kanji is on the weak side, even for N5, if someone doesn't read sentence comments or look it up by themselves. Usage of new grammar points is inconsistent, some structures were used a lot, some appeared in only one sentence or lesson and it took a lot of perceptiveness (or revising) to even spot them.
The course prompted me to go and look for things on my own in order to understand them. Thanks to that, I found the Japanese language really fascinating and right now I'm set and decided to take at least JLPT N4 in the future. And hopefully, with time I will see this beta course evolve to a full version course with furigana and grammar tips. ;)
P.S. I may not neccesarily be the brightest crayon in the box, so if I was able to complete this course, then I think that with the right motivation anyone can do it ;D
Wow, congratulations! That's an amazing achievement!
I've had a couple years of formal Japanese instruction and spent a little time in Japan. As such, the lessons are pretty straightforward for me, but I'm consistently overwhelmed by the thought of how difficult they must be for a beginner. It's an extremely difficult language to learn from English because it's just so different.
I think your feedback is quite solid and hopefully useful to the course creators, but mostly I'm just so impressed by your accomplishment.
Thank you (and everyone!) for the feedback.
I always envy (in a positive sense ;) ) people who had the opportunity to visit Japan and study Japanese apart from online courses. I hoped to sign up for a more formal studies, but unfortunately there are no classes available near me. Most popular languages to study where I live are English and German, sometimes French and Russian, and rarely Spanish. But I definitely won't give up on Japanese, I really like this language and the beauty of it and its culture. So for now, I'm trying to improve through doing the reverse tree and I continue to look at online guides.
I'm really happy this course was released here on Duolingo, even if it's not quite perfect yet, it is a good starting point. Many thanks to the creators of this course and to people who contributed and continue to contribute to our learning community here.
Very nice summary!
My experience having just started Hiragana is similar. I want to learn the basis of the script first, and some context before being asked to memorize random words with mixed in with Hiragana. It strikes me as a very muddled approach, but it is exciting to see the language here and available for use!
Thank you for your thoughtful review. I too found out that you have to actively find resources beside this duolingo course. But I love the app so I can spend time waiting in line for something on learning Japanese. It keeps me motivated. I have taken the approach to understand what is going on in a lesson first, before I take the next one. So I go slowly through the tree, I am now at 16, activity 1.
First, a hearty Omedetou! Japanese has been declared, by those who know what they're talking about, the most difficult language for an English speaker to learn, fully (I think an extremely significant portion of the difficulty is Kanji... you may think "but Chinese has characters, too" but they're nicer about theirs with only one reading per character... Japanese is like "hold my Sapporo!")
If you are really interested in digging into Japanese, I cannot recommend Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar/Intro to Japanese website enough. http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/complete/ He does a phenomenal job of explaining many of the parts of Japanese that, frankly, have no English equivalent... even if you squint real hard...