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Old 05-26-2008, 09:06 AM
 
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Learning formal japanese is hard but learning every day japanese not so much. Same goes with every langauge learning the formal way is the most difficult.
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Old 05-26-2008, 10:07 AM
 
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Default Bahasa

Quote:
Originally Posted by nitokenshi View Post
Learning formal japanese is hard but learning every day japanese not so much. Same goes with every langauge learning the formal way is the most difficult.
You're right about every day Japanese is not so hard to learn. But still the lack of knowledge of kanji impedes you from being able to read, even the colloquial language.

For some languages, even learning day to day language requires more effort than usual:
-Russian has the cases and genders and verbs
-Spanish has the genders and especially the verbs
-German has the cases and genders
-Chinese has the characters and tones

Whereas some others languages are relatively easy that you can learn to speak (the day to day language) and read in a quite short amount of time:
-Indonesian/Malaysian
-English
-Swedish
-Dutch
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Old 05-26-2008, 10:09 AM
 
72 posts, read 413,524 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neutre View Post
Hello!

Has any of you learned an Asian language as a foreign language?

Was it hard?

I've been interested in Chinese, but after reading that it has thousands of characters I was very discouraged.
On the other hand there are enough non natives in Asian countries which don't seem to have much problem learning the local language.

Thanks
I liked Korean. It's different from most Asian languages, because of the alphabet used... Hangul. There's not that many of them, it's easy to understand how they work. Japanese is good, too!

I'm currently learning Japanese & will go back to Korean once I've come up in my Japanese. I also want to learn Thai. I love Asian languages!!
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Old 05-26-2008, 12:51 PM
 
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Have you tried Indonesian?

It's very easy and is spoken by over 250 mio. people.
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Old 05-26-2008, 06:34 PM
 
Location: Gulfport, MS
469 posts, read 2,556,352 times
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Let's look at upsides and downsides to various Asian languages, shall we?

CHINESE

Upsides to Chinese:
-- Powerful country poised to take its place among world's movers and shakers.
-- Hundreds of millions of speakers.
-- Ancient and vast literature.
-- Ridiculously simple grammar.
-- The various languages (Cantonese, Mandarin, etc.) are all written the same, so once you learn the characters, you can read them all.

Downsides to Chinese:
-- You'll have to learn at least a few thousand characters to read a newspaper or the simplest book. Let me repeat that: A few thousand characters.
-- Tones utterly alien to native English speaker.
-- Mandarin, Cantonese, etc. written the same, not pronounced the same.

Estimated time and effort to fluency: at least 5 years, probably more.

JAPANESE

Upsides to Japanese:
-- Well-to-do nation, one of the world's major economies.
-- Obvious appeal for manga and anime fans.

Downsides to Japanese:
-- Japanese has four (!!!!) writing systems: kanji, hiragana, romaji, and katakana. You'll have to learn at least a couple thousand characters to read a newspaper or the simplest book.
-- You can't 'take a break' from Japanese -- if you don't keep your skills sharp, you'll forget all the characters you've learned.

Estimated time and effort to fluency: at least 2 years, probably more.

THAI

Upsides to Thai:
-- Beautiful alphabet.
-- Thailand is a pretty cool place.

Downsides to Thai:
-- Has five tones.
-- Alphabet is totally unrelated to the Roman alphabet we use.
-- Of limited use outside Thailand.

Estimated time and effort to fluency: at least 2, probably 3, years.

KOREAN

Upsides to Korean:
-- No tones.

Downsides to Korean:
-- Lots of Koreans already speak English and are more eager to practice their English on you than let you practice your Korean on them.
-- Difficult grammar and conjugation (each verb has more than 600 possible endings!).
-- Filled with strange sounds English-speakers have a hard time telling apart.
-- Of limited use outside South Korea (North Korea, forget it!).

Estimated time and effort to fluency: at least 2 years, probably more.
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Old 05-26-2008, 07:48 PM
 
985 posts, read 3,262,361 times
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Default Indonesian

Hi!

As for Indonesian, the estimated time and effort to fluency are a couple of months.

A friend of mine had learned Indonesian for about three months before we went to Indonesia, and he was able to converse with the natives on a normal level. I was . I had heard a lot of times that Indonesian is easy, but I didn't know it was that easy!

I'll try to list the up- and downsides of Indonesian later.
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Old 05-26-2008, 08:52 PM
 
Location: Kauai, HI
1,041 posts, read 4,035,268 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mississippienne View Post
Let's look at upsides and downsides to various Asian languages, shall we?




Downsides to Japanese:
-- Japanese has four (!!!!) writing systems: kanji, hiragana, romaji, and katakana. You'll have to learn at least a couple thousand characters to read a newspaper or the simplest book.
-- You can't 'take a break' from Japanese -- if you don't keep your skills sharp, you'll forget all the characters you've learned.
I wouldn't consider romaji one of the Japanese writing systems. Generally, the Japanese people do not write in romaji, as they would in the other alphabet systems. Romaji is used to learn Japanese, in place of the other alphabets, and mainly for those who cannot understand hiragana.

I wholeheartedly agree with the second point. I have been away from Japan for two years, and stopped studying about a year and a half ago. I use Japanese with my friends, VERY casually, and have forgotten SO much Japanese, it makes me depressed. I feel like I have some sort of disease- I know I know what the kanji/word means, but I can't seem to find it in my head.....blah.
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Old 05-27-2008, 04:18 AM
 
72 posts, read 413,524 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mississippienne View Post
KOREAN

Upsides to Korean:
-- No tones.

Downsides to Korean:
-- Lots of Koreans already speak English and are more eager to practice their English on you than let you practice your Korean on them.
-- Difficult grammar and conjugation (each verb has more than 600 possible endings!).
-- Filled with strange sounds English-speakers have a hard time telling apart.
-- Of limited use outside South Korea (North Korea, forget it!).

Estimated time and effort to fluency: at least 2 years, probably more.
That's not true. There's only a couple sounds that are difficult, like "ea" (as in "bear") & "oo" (as in "good"). Mostly it's stuff like SH, EE, U, L, D, etc.. Normal sounds. Hangul is also EXTREMELY easy to learn. If you really wanted to, you could learn all of the hangul alphabet within a couple of hours. Once you can read hangul, you can begin reading words in magazines, on TV, etc. You won't know what they mean, but you'll be able to pronounce them. The sentence structure is the same as Japanese. As for Koreans knowing English... Yeah, maybe so.. But they won't talk to you in English. A lot of them are VERY shy about it & won't just walk up & start a conversation with you. A lot of them are very self conscious about their English-speaking capabilities. And having taught English in South Korea, I can tell you that a lot of the stuff they learn is on paper, not necessarily speaking, so it's difficult for a lot of them to understand someone when they speak English, they often have very thick accents & don't pronounce a lot of words correctly (my students did, though, because I taught them how to SPEAK English, as well as proper grammar & whatnot). An example of this would be the word "margarine". A lot of them would pronounce it with a "g" sound as in "good"... They don't know what Tofu is, either. lol And don't even bother asking for "Tomato Sauce"... Because you'll get ketchup. (believe me... -_-.....)

Anyway.. Korean's not that bad & there's a lot more pluses than what you listed.

Now, if you want some Korean resources, check these out:


YouTube - Let's Speak Korean 01

Free, on YouTube. lol
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Old 05-27-2008, 09:13 AM
 
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
17 posts, read 104,960 times
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I've learned to speak Thai fairly well since I moved here 3 years ago.

It is really not a difficult language to learn ... except for learning to speak with the proper tones, which takes a great deal of mental effort to learn to speak properly. Many, many foreigners I meet are quite able to speak Thai but they butcher the tones. Same for Chinese. This is an essence of the language, and to learn it, means to learn the tones as well.

Also, there is a huge difference between being able to speak in general conversational situations vs. being fluent (e.g. watching TV news and really understanding it, reading a news paper). I believe becoming fluent in any language is a life-long process ...

If you are looking to learn an Asian Language, go for the one that interests you most and one that you can practice on a regular basis.
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Old 05-27-2008, 01:41 PM
 
Location: Seattle-area, where the sun don't shine
576 posts, read 1,677,957 times
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Quote:
Downsides to Japanese:
-- Japanese has four (!!!!) writing systems: kanji, hiragana, romaji, and katakana. You'll have to learn at least a couple thousand characters to read a newspaper or the simplest book.
-- You can't 'take a break' from Japanese -- if you don't keep your skills sharp, you'll forget all the characters you've learned.
- romaji are just English characters. If you can read this post, you know them all.
- There are only 46 hiragana and katakana each. You can easily learn them in a week.
- The simplest books come with furigana characters over the kanji. They are hiragana that tell you how to read the kanji.
- There is a huge gap between the most commonly used kanji and the least commonly used. Something like the most common 500 account for 80% of the kanji used, and the most common 1000 account for 95%. Once you get to 1000 or so (I can read around 1200), it's not hard to learn passively. You can read a lot of materials while only having to occasionally look up a kanji
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