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9 year old wants to learn Japanese

MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
My nephew is 9 years old and is really interested in learning Japanese. I gave him a vocabulary list, not expecting him to actually do anything with it, but to my surprise, he memorised the whole thing and is making simple sentences. It sounds like he really wants to learn, so I'm looking for resources that are appropriate for an 9 year old.

He is crazy about his 3DS XL, but I'm not sure if there are any games or apps that I could give him. If you guys have any website suggestions or books, I'm all for it.

Xaquinkime

Posts

  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    edited January 2015
    I learned Japanese at college, and my professor was big into learning how to read, as in, we learned hiragana within 2 weeks, transitioning the entire classroom into an all Japanese, no English classroom by the third week.

    This let the students pick up random Japanese children's books, to use as study aids, which was more helpful than you'd think for a college student.

    hsu on
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  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    I think that approach works well in an adult classroom setting, I'm not sure if it's the best way for a 9 year old learning on his own. Reading might be a bit intimidating/frustrating for him at this point.

  • CambiataCambiata Commander Shepard The likes of which even GAWD has never seenRegistered User regular
    Hey, I have one of these books and I think they're pretty neat:

    Kana de Manga: A Fun, Easy Way To Learn the ABCs of Japanese!

    They're specifically to teach the writing systems, though, and not how to speak it. But they're presented in a style suitable for a 9 year old.

  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    I really liked My Japanese Coach as being an appropriate starting point for someone that age, although that was released for the DS and doesn't seem to be in current production.

  • wonderpugwonderpug Registered User regular
    I think that approach works well in an adult classroom setting, I'm not sure if it's the best way for a 9 year old learning on his own. Reading might be a bit intimidating/frustrating for him at this point.

    One thing that could be fun for reading is for him to learn the katakana alphabet. That alphabet is what's used when spelling out foreign loan-words, aka English (often, at least).

    So he could see:
    マカロニ

    Then work on sounding it out...
    ma... ka... ro... ni...

    macaroni!

    For learning, Heisig's Remembering the Kana worked great for me. The mnemonics it gives are totally made up and not based on the actual character origins, so language purists may scoff, but hey, if it works it works.

    I'm not sure where else to go from there, maybe some Japanese comic books or video games? If he learns those two alphabets, he'll at least be able to at least pronounce just about everything he sees.

  • garroad_rangarroad_ran Registered User regular
    edited January 2015
    Watch TV.
    Then watch some more TV.
    Then watch some more TV.

    You can pre-watch whatever you're going to show him to pick out some vocabulary or sentences that show up in the program, and pre-teach these, then make it into a challenge. For example, "how many times did they say this word?"

    Either that or get him some Japanese friends.
    Or find an exchange program to send him to a Japanese school for a year.

    EDIT: I say this because I sincerely doubt that your 9 year old cousin is interested in learning written Japanese. Thus your primary objective should be exposure to the overall "sound" of the language, with a smattering of vocabulary. If I'm wrong and your cousin is super into kanji or whatever, you can introduce him to shoji (painting kanji with a brush).

    garroad_ran on
    GethMagicToaster
  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    I appreciate everyones input, and I'll definitely look into the 3ds game Gabriel Pitt suggested, but I'm not looking to teach him how to read. I'm looking for everything but that.

  • Twenty SidedTwenty Sided Registered User regular
    edited January 2015
    Read and speak it a lot.
    Most of my competency with english came from actually reading a lot. (Even if it was trashy fantasy franchise fiction.)
    You could do worse than have him speak whitebread Japanese.

    Sad as it is, people do judge you on accent, so if you're involved in technical fields, a southern twang in english works against you.
    It's better to be perceived by other Japanese people as being a foreigner with academic leanings than come across like you just watched too much anime.
    I'd suspect Japanese daytime would also have a tone of speech that wouldn't really work with actual conversation. Especially where a comical or exaggerated cutesy tone is involved.

    There's the internet. So my thought is to get him set up with some sort of language exchange with a native speaker over voice chat. I imagine there are plenty of children his age in Japan who'd be learning english anyway if only for academic reasons.

    Twenty Sided on
    Geth
  • AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    edited January 2015
    I appreciate everyones input, and I'll definitely look into the 3ds game Gabriel Pitt suggested, but I'm not looking to teach him how to read. I'm looking for everything but that.

    Why not? One of the best ways to learn a language is to read lots of that language. It's either that or you expose him to a full audio environment, which is arguably harder to do.

    Japanese is relatively easy to learn for kids by reading. Heck, manga is one of the easiest ways to get a kid hooked into the language. It will also set him up quite comfortably to learn kanji if he ever wants to really pursue Japanese.

    If you're worried about it messing with his native language development, don't be. By 9 years old the linguistic roots are strong enough that the to languages won't interfere with each other too much.

    EDIT: I don't want to ruffle feathers by making this sound like a "We're telling the OP to do exactly what he doesn't want to do!" thing. Rather, as somebody familiar with linguistic development, the desire to separate the learning of the text from the learning of the language is very puzzling to me.

    Akilae on
  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    I appreciate everyones input, and I'll definitely look into the 3ds game Gabriel Pitt suggested, but I'm not looking to teach him how to read. I'm looking for everything but that.

    Why not?

    Because I know this boy and this is not the way to get him interested. As I said before, it would frustrate him. C'mon, HA... don't keep pushing this way. This is the third time I said this.

  • wonderpugwonderpug Registered User regular
    edited January 2015
    Japanese is a lot easier to speak than it is to read & write, though, so going vocal only isn't that crazy an idea. With written you've got an extra layer of obfuscation since you can't even attempt to pronounce words on a page without learning two alphabets, and then there's yet another alphabet which would take years to learn. Verbal Japanese isn't actually all that difficult. The basic grammar rules are different than English, but I don't think they're very hard to understand. And since there are way fewer phonemes in Japanese, you generally don't have to worry about tricky pronunciation rules.

    In addition to garroad's recommendation for Japanese TV shows, there are also audio-only lessons you can get. I'm a huge fan of the Pimsleur language products. It's all audio only, broken up into half hour lessons. It does a good job starting you off with basic conversations and then building on the foundation to introduce more topics of discussion, more aspects of grammar, and more vocab.

    I did the first two of three units of Pimsleur Japanese in preparation for a 3-week trip Japan, and with an electronic dictionary to supplement my vocab I was able to make my way around the country and have conversations with locals and such.

    Looks like some of the lessons are on youtube, so you could have your nephew give this a try and see if the approach works for him:



    edit: over the top anime character is the youtuber's addition, and has nothing to do with the actual Pimsleur program

    wonderpug on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Maybe he could benefit from real lessons, with a real teacher.

  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    edited January 2015
    I would suggest https://www.duolingo.com/ but the Japanese is only in beta... and only an English lesson for actual Japanese speakers, so not helpful at this stage. Great app for other languages though!
    More links:
    http://www.humanjapanese.com/download
    http://tangorin.com/
    http://www.japanese-lesson.com/characters/hiragana/hiragana_drill/hiragana10.html
    http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/complete
    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQC11PHdkS2tcTM2ZgZBWyA

    Some of that is probably over his head and I know you said no written stuff, but these are all free and helpful in some way hopefully. I also second the Pimsleur CDs are great too, worth it for learning basic conversation.

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  • NocrenNocren Lt Futz, Back in Action North CarolinaRegistered User regular
    For me a hurdle for speaking/reading japanese was sentence structure. Japanese sentence structure is very ridged with subject always happening first and verb always happening last, with past and present tense.

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  • NSDFRandNSDFRand FloridaRegistered User regular
    edited January 2015
    Nocren wrote: »
    For me a hurdle for speaking/reading japanese was sentence structure. Japanese sentence structure is very ridged with subject always happening first and verb always happening last, with past and present tense.

    It isn't that rigid, though yes the action (verb) of the sentence is usually at the end (unless you are talking about Te form verbs which allow you to "list" multiple actions in a sentence ex: I woke up, ate breakfast, went to school). Other than the verb at the end, almost every other part of the sentence structure is modular as far as the order of parts of the sentence go (subject, time, place, most denoted by a specific particle).

    Edit: for me, the difficult part was memorizing vocabulary.

    NSDFRand on
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  • CherryCherry Registered User regular
    My boyfriend and I are learning Japanese right now. We're using a variety of online resources.

    I really enjoyed learning hiragana and katakana from this beginners book Hirigana and Katakana for beginners. It uses fun mnemonics to learn them. I was able to learn both alphabets within a few days. It really opens up learning if you can read these two alphabets.

    We are also using Textfugu, an online textbook for grammar. This is a paid service. A free alternative that we are using in conjunction with textfugu, is Tae Kim's Japanese grammar guide.

    If he gets serious, and even wants to learn Kanji, we are using another website made by the same guy who created Textfugu called Wanikani. This has a few lessons that are free, but to continue on you have to pay either a monthly subscription or a yearly, or lifetime fee. These are all directed for self teaching. We're enjoying it right now, and making steady progress.

  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    I've already ordered My Japanese Coach for the DS, since he's always on that thing. Thanks for all the info guys.

    BouwsT
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