Continued from page 1
This could be a person who is going to be living in Japan for a period of time, whether as a teacher or a businessperson, or someone who travels regularly to Japan for meetings.
If you are in this group, you should first master hiragana and katakana before you even start with any other aspect of language. Then, when you do begin, you can dive right into a "proper" Japanese textbook.
Hiragana and katakana are not at all difficult to learn. I learned them part-time in a couple of weeks. Even kanji can be learned fairly rapidly by a motivated and well-organized student with right tools.
2. The Hobbyist
Perhaps you donít have a burning need to learn Japanese. You are doing it for pleasure, or because you are planning on visiting Japan.
If this is you, then your options are more varied. However, even in your situation, I would not suggest starting with a Romaji textbook. Instead, I would recommend you begin with spoken language. If you are wondering how you can do this if you are not in Japan, check out Pimsleur method. Sure, it is a little expensive even second-hand. The point is that you will be able to speak and understand enough for a short trip. Once you have completed course, you can then decide whether you wish to stop there, or continue studying in a more serious manner - in which case you then follow Serious Student method I mentioned before.
Learning to speak and listen will keep your language-learning fun, whilst not undermining any future serious study by getting you used to Romaji crutch.
So whatever your motivations are and whatever your needs, if you can avoid Romaji crutch, you will pick up language better and be well-placed to make rapid progress in future.
About the Author
Stephen Munday lives in Japan and is the creator of http://www.japanese-name-translation.com/ where you can download images of over 2,200 names in kanji or get a romantic calligraphy gift. This article is © Stephen Munday 2005. Permission is given to reproduce this article in whole with the URLs correctly hyperlinked.