WELCOME!

Minna-san Konnichiwa! (みなさんこんにちは)

Thanks for stumbling onto our page! We dedicate this blog to Japan and all the great stuff that comes out of it.

This blog is here for those interested in seeing what the ACMT Japanese Club has been up to and what we're learning step-by-step. It's a self-study club to enrich our lives and give us better opportunities for our future.

If you decide to follow this blog and learn alongside us, don't hesitate to send us questions. We may only officially have members who are a part of ACMT Zagreb, but unofficially the amount, who want to be a part of this, is limitless.

Thanks for your time and effort.

Sincerely,

Japanese Club

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New to the site? Click here to get started.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lesson 2 - Second Row of Hiragana

Lesson 2

Sumimasen for taking so long on this next lesson. Enjoy!

HIRAGANA

For this lesson, we'll be learning the second row: ka, ki, ku, ke, ko

You must remember that the Japanese phonetic alphabet has its own order as well. It's important, what if someone learned our alphabet like this: DGWE...just because they seemed easier to learn? For us it will always be ABCD...


As you can see from the picture above, we're showing you how they look when typed (first row) and how they look when written by hand (second row).

IMPORTANT: I can't stress this enough, but when writing the characters, there is a system to writing each of them. Let's take the hand-written 'book' example below:


This word has been written backwards and looks a bit awkward, but it's still legible. You can tell that it's 'book.'

Same when you write hiragana. Try to write them in the correct stroke order because although it may not look any different to you, Japanese people will pick up on the fact that your handwriting looks funky.

Let's start with か:

Pronunciation:
When you pronounce , you have to say it like this:
kah → as in, “cabana”
NOT 'kay'
The is always pronounced as 'kah.'


Next character is :


Pronunciation:
When you pronounce , you have to say it like this:
kee → as in, “key”
NEVER 'ki' as in kite
The is always pronounced as 'kee.'

Next character is :


Pronunciation:
When you pronounce , you have to say it like this:
kuh
NOTE: when pronouncing , refrain from rounding your lips (pull the corners of your mouth back slightly as well) as in 'cute' ← DON”T DO
The is always pronounced as 'kuh.'


Next character is :


Pronunciation:
When you pronounce , you have to say it like this:
keh → as in, “basket”
NOTE: 'e' is never silent in Japanese, like it is in English (Example: note)
The is always pronounced as 'keh.'

Next character is :


Pronunciation:
When you pronounce , you have to say it like this:
ko → ADD SOUND
NOT like the o in hot, when it really sounds like 'hawt'
The is always pronounced as 'ko.'

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lesson 1 - Homework and Extras

CONTINUATION OF LESSON 1

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HOMEWORK AND EXTRAS

Let me introduce you to a lovely little document called genkoyoushi. This is a type of Japanese paper used for writing vertically.


Homework

Hiragana

Print out the genkoyoushi 6 times (front and back to save paper).
Per side, practice one hiragana character.
Example: on one side, on the other, one one side, on the other, and on one side (This should leave you with one side left).

Kanji

On the last genkoyoushi practice your kanji. Since there are 3 kanji, use one column per kanji to practice writing them. With the spare columns, use it for whichever character (kanji or hiragana) that you are still having trouble with.

Learn the meanings of each kanji (kun-yomi and on-yomi + translation).

Conversational Pieces

Read the conversational pieces out loud. For now, try to sound out each letter.

Learn the pieces and their translations.

Grammar

Learn what to, ya and ka mean.


Extra credit: Practice writing the sentences (in the Grammar post) in hiragana and katakana. This helps you learn the kana a lot better.


QUIZZES, TESTS & EXTRA

If you are interested in challenging yourself and adding a bit of motivation to your studying, send us a request through our e-mail for a quiz (short) or a test (long).

It's always nice to receive a good grade for your hard work and it motivates you to learn more.

As for the extras, we will be posting crossword puzzles, wordsearch, etc. at a later time, but if you are interested in having them right away, send us a request through our e-mail address.

COMING SOON: we will be posting a downloadable version of Lesson 1!  So you can have an easier time if you want to print out your lessons.

Extras

1 Question: Why are we only learning hiragana?
Answer: At this point in time, we'll only be learning hiragana (not katakana) because for beginners, if you want to read Japanese, hiragana is what's most important to learn right now.
Do you remember when you were young, you learned block letters first and then cursive came later? That's because the block letters were most important. You can't read without knowing them. It's the same with hiragana. Katakana is important, but we'll leave that for later since we can be mostly literate in Japanese with just hiragana.

2 Question: What's this long sentence even mean?
Answer:
The romaji of this sentence is:
Iu made mo nai koto desu ga, kono kaisha no keiei-joutai wa, kanari akka shite imasu.

Translation:
Needless to say [it goes without saying that], this company's operations have deteriorated considerably.


ANY MORE QUESTIONS? Confused about certain parts, don't know how to pronounce certain words, want to know more? Then just send us an e-mail to acmtjapaneseclub@yahoo.com. We'll try to get back to you as soon as we can.

Lesson 1 - Grammar

CONTINUATION OF LESSON 1
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GRAMMAR

I know, I know...this is your favorite part of every language, isn't it?

Since you are so anxious, let's get started.



Key Structures

To Name Things

watashi, watashi-tachi; anata, anata-gata
I, we; you <sing.>, you <pl.>

Amerika-jin to Nippon-jin
an American and a Japanese

Igirisu-jin-tachi ya Kanada-jin-tachi
Englishmen, Canadians, and others

Ōsutoraria-jin ka Nyū-jīrando-jin
an Australian or a New Zealander

kore, sore, are; kore-ra, sore-ra, are-ra
this, that, that; these, those, those

Sumisu-san to Jōnzu-san
Mr. Smith and Ms. Jones


MORE EXAMPLES

Examples of 'to'
anata to watashi
you and I

Igirisu-jin to Furansu-jin
an Englishman and a Frenchman

inu to neko
a dog and a cat

Examples of 'ya'
inu ya neko
dogs, cats and other animals

Nippon-jin ya Chūgoku-jin
Japanese, Chinese and others

watashi-tachi ya anata-gata
we, you and the rest

Examples of 'ka'
Igirisu-jin ka Kanada-jin
an Englishman or a Canadian

pen ka enpitsu
a pen or a pencil

kyō ka asu
today or tomorrow

Other Examples
kore to sore to are
this, that and that one there

are ya kore
that, this and others

are ka sore
that one over there or that one

Tanaka Kaoru-san
Mr./Mrs./Miss Kaoru Tanaka

Biru-san to Emirī-san
Bill and Emily

Sumisu-san to Gurīn-san
Mr. Smith and Ms. Greene


Further Study

I. Compare the usages of to and ya

 II. Indicating things.

Lesson 1 - Conversational Pieces (Expressions)

CONTINUATION OF LESSON 1
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CONVERSATIONAL PIECES

Are you ready to learn some greetings and expressions? I'm sure that even if you've never learned Japanese before, some of them will be familiar.

So let's get started!

First of all, let's explain some things about the Japanese language. There different ways to speak in Japanese. Three of them are - plain, formal and informal.

It's very important to know that there is a difference because in Japanese society, politeness is held in high regard. They value politeness and if you inappropriately use informal (aka casual) lanugage, then it could be taken as rude or offensive. You don't want to piss off potential clients or business partners!

Plain style is the neutral form and is accepted in society, that is until you learn more Japanese and can distinguish when to use the formal style (it's called 'keigo' in Japanese).
This style is standard textbook language and newscasters on Japanese TV speak in this style as well.

Informal style is a casual form of speaking that should only be used in close relationships such as with friends or family members.
Informal may be tempting to use because in most cases it's a shorter way of saying different expressions (example: ohayou gozaimasu, informal: ohayou), but it's best to only use them outside of your business environment.

Formal style (keigo) is incredibly polite. You can't get more polite than with keigo. It's mainly used when talking to someone who is highly respected or has high status.

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GOOD TO KNOW: It's important to know that in Japanese, there are no lower-case or upper-case letters. There are also no spaces in between words.

You may be wondering how you will even be able to tell what's what in a sentence, but not to worry. As you get used to things more and more and expand your knowledge of the language as time goes on, by the time we get to that stuff, you'll be prepared.

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こんにちは
Konnichiwa
Hello. or Good afternoon.
It depends on when and how it's used.
TIP: Pronounce 'n' and 'ni' speparately.

Example:
こんにちは、スミスさん
Konnichiwa, Sumisu-san
Hello, Mr. Smith.

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おはよう
Ohayō.
Morning.
<Casual>

おはようございます
Ohayō gozaimasu.
Good morning.
<Plain/Formal>
TIP: The last vowel in gozaimasu is not pronounced.
Pronounced as go-zai-mas 

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こんばんは
Konbanwa.
Good evening.
TIP: Used at the beginning of a conversation, not at the end.

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おやすみ
Oyasumi.
Night.
<Casual>

おやすみなさい
Oyasumi-nasai.
Good night.
<Plain/Formal>

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さようなら
Sayōnara.
Good-bye.
TIP: Used only if you won't be seeing the other person for some time.

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どうも
Dōmo.
Thanks.
<Casual>
TIP: To thank for a small favor.

ありがとう
Arigatō.
Thank you.
<Casual>

ありがとうございます
Arigatō gozaimasu.
Thank you.
<Plain>

どうもありがとう
Dōmo arigatō.
Thank you very much.
<Plain>

どうもありがとうございます
Dōmo arigatō gozaimasu.
Thank you very much.
<Formal>
TIP: Use when you want to emphasize how thankful you are.

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どういたしまして
Dō-itashimashite.
You are welcome.

はい
Hai.*
Yes.
<Plain>

うん/ウン
Un.
Yeah.
<Casual>

いいえ
Iie.**
No.

すみません
Sumimasen.
Excuse me.
TIP: Used when you talk to someone, and to apologize for small faults.

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いただきます
Itadakimasu.
Lit. trans. I accept (the food)
TIP: Used when you start eating as a signal “Let's start.”
Also can be said to the person who is treating you the meal.

ごちそうさまでした
Gochisōsamadeshita.
Lit. trans. It was a wonderful feast.
TIP: Used when you finished eating.
You can say this to thank the person who treated you the meal.

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*Hai. Unlike in English, 'hai' can be used in many different contexts.
Example: It can also be used to answer someone's call.

**Iie. Unlike in English, 'iie' can be used in many different contexts.
Examples:
It can mean “Don't mention it.” by raising the end of the word when something's not a big deal.
If someone is apologizing for something small, you can say “iie” as in to say “Don't be sorry.”, “No problem.”

Extras!
If you feel like knowing a bit more besides yes and no, check out these words:

そうねえ。
Sō nē.
Well...

たぶん。
Tabun.
Maybe.

まあまあ。
Mā mā.
 So so.

いいよ。 
Ii yo.
Okay.

おそらく。
Osoraku.
Probably.

べつに。
Betsuni.
Nothing.

ありうることです。
Ariuru koto desu.
Possibly.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lesson 1 - Kanji

CONTINUATION OF LESSON 1
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KANJI

A Bit about Kanji 
First let's talk a little about Kanji. At first Kanji may look difficult, mysterious and even a bit scary. I mean, how can someone read a sentence filled with a bunch of squares, lines, dashes, curves, and dots? I mean seriously, look at this sentence:


言うまでもないことですが、この会社の経営状態は、かなり悪化しています。2

It's a bit intimidating isn't it?

Let's scare you a bit more. Did you know that there are nearly 50,000 kanji? Can you imagine learning all of them? Neither can Japanese teenagers, that's why, the good news is that you only have to learn 2,000.

Some more good news is that you only need to know about half to read a typical Japanese newspaper and even better news to those that enjoy reading manga, it takes less to read the books in original Japanese.

Of course you're probably thinking, “2000 kanji is still a lot...” 
and you'd be right if you compare those to the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Don't worry, we'll take everything one step at a time and gradually, you'll learn the kanji. Do you remember when learning multiplication and long division was hard? You grasped the concept, but to be able to remember you had to practice a lot. I advise you to practice whenever you can.


Goals

Hopefully within 1 year we'll be able to learn 80 kanji, which is Level 4 (the most basic level) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. The characters we'll be learning are the same characters studied in Japan by first- and second-graders and they are some of the most common and most important kanji that you need to know.


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READY FOR YOUR FIRST KANJI?!

001
kun-yomi: ひと、ひと(つ)
romaji: hito, hito(tsu)
on-yomi: イチ、イッ
romaji: ichi, itsu
Examples:
一(いち)[ichi] - one, the number one
一つ(ひとつ)[hitotsu] - one (object)
一月(いちがつ)[ichi gatsu] - January (1st month)
一番 (いちばん)[ichi ban] - #1, the best
一人(ひとり)[hitori] -–one person, alone
世界一(せいかいいち)[sei kai ichi] -–the best in the world

How is it written?:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

002
kun-yomi: ふた、ふた(つ)
romaji: futa, futa(tsu)
on-yomi:
romaji: ni
Examples:
二(に)[ni] - two
二つ(ふとつ)[futotsu] - two (objects)
二月(にがつ)[ni gatsu] - February (2nd month)
第二 (だいに)[dai ni] -–the second

How is it written?:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

003
kun-yomi: み、み(つ)、みっ(つ)
romaji: mi, mi(tsu), mit(tsu)
on-yomi: サン
romaji: san
Examples:
三(さん)[san] - three
三つ(みっつ)[mittsu] - three (objects)
三月(さんがつ)[san gatsu] - March (3rd month)
三角 (さんかく)[san kaku] -–triangle

How is it written?:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Confused by some of the terms?
There are at least two common pronunciations: kun-yomi (purely Japanese pronunciation) and on-yomi (pronunciation based on the original Chinese). (For a more in-depth explanation.)

You may have noticed that each character seems to have at least two pronunciations. Some have even more, but many of those are obscure and rarely used, so we won't be writing them down for you to learn. Don't worry! Since they're rare you won't miss them!

Trying to figure out whether to use the on-yomi or kun-yomi can be a bit tricky at first because it may seem random and unstructured. In some ways it can be, but soon you'll begin to notice a pattern:
  • Compound words (words made up of multiple kanji) are usually read using the on-yomi pronunciation
  • Kanji that stands alone or next to only kana characters usually use the kun-yomi pronunciation
  • Japanese place names and family names also usually use the kun-yomi pronunciations
There are, of course, exceptions, but we'll worry about them as they come along.

Lesson 1 - First Row of Hiragana

Lesson 1

Are you ready for your first lesson in Japanese?

HIRAGANA
Let's start with some hiragana1!

The Japanese hiragana alphabet is similar to our alphabet, I'm sure you all know that A comes before B and B comes before C. In hiragana (and katakana) the characters also have an order.

For this lesson, we'll be learning the first row: a, i, u, e, o

The first row consists of stand-alone vowels...meaning they aren't connected to consonants (with the exception of n). These are the only ones that don't follow the consonant-vowel order.
As you can see from the picture above, we're showing you how they look when written by hand (first row), how they look when typed (second row) and what they are in romaji.

As you know when typing with Latin characters, it looks different than if you write words by hand.
For example, an 'a' can look like this when typed: 
a
or like this when written:  
 
You still know it's an 'a' though.

Many Japanese books and sites want you to learn the characters as they are typed, but here you'll be learning to write them as they are usually written by hand.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
IMPORTANT: When writing the characters, there is a system to writing each of them. Let's take the hand-written 'book' example below:
This word has been written backwards and looks a bit awkward, but it's still legible. You can tell that it's 'book.'

It's the same when you write hiragana. Try to write them in the correct stroke order because although it may not look any different to you, Japanese people will pick up on the fact that your handwriting looks funky.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Let's start with あ:

Pronunciation:
When you pronounce , you have to say it like this:
ah → as in, “ah yeah”
NOT 'ay' as in 'ABC' in English
The is always pronounced as 'ah,' which makes speaking in Japanese a lot easier than in English. That's a plus!

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IMPORTANT: In Japanese, consonants and vowels are usually pronounced in only 1 way. The exceptions to this rule are, occasionally, the vowels at the end, or near the end of a word.

Examples:
Yoroshiku onegaishimasu
Pronounced: yo-ro-sh-ku o-ne-gai-shi-mas

ichi
Pronounced: ich
Takushi
Pronounced: tak-shi
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Next character is :


TIP: If you visualize a small circle in the middle, it will probably help you write this character.

Pronunciation:
When you pronounce , you have to say it like this:
ee → as in, “sweet”
NOT like 'I' when you refer to yourself in English.
The is always pronounced as 'ee.'

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Next character is :



Pronunciation:
When you pronounce , you have to say it like this:
uh → as in, “put”
NOTE: when pronouncing , refrain from rounding your lips (pull the corners of your mouth back slightly as well)
The is always pronounced as 'uh.'

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Next character is :
Pronunciation:
When you pronounce , you have to say it like this:
eh → as in, “get”
NOTE: 'e' is never silent in Japanese, like it is in English (Example: note)
The is always pronounced as 'eh.'

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next character is :

Pronunciation:
When you pronounce , you have to say it like this:
o → as in, “macaroni”
NOT like the o in hot, when it really sounds like 'hawt'
The is always pronounced as 'o.'


Congratulations! You've learned the first row of hiragana! Now to make sure that you remember, practice practice practice.

Look at the end of the lesson for the homework regarding the hiragana!