I just got to level 5 this morning (even if I’m probably not touching the lessons until tomorrow), and I thought I’d finally drop by to say hi to the community and annoy you all.
First of all, have some stats:
A bit of background: I’m Italian, even if I consider myself at least sufficiently fluent in English to study other languages in it. I know a smattering of words in German and French (basically enough to man a bar) and studied Latin and Ancient Greek back in school (remembering them successfully is another matter entirely).
I started Japanese back in 2017/2018, trusting in the Wise Green Owl of Duolingo, but… well, progress just didn’t feel like progress. It felt like I was learning random chunks of stuff and just memorizing without rhyme or reason instead of actually learning things - I tried it with languages closer to what I already knew (again, French and German) and the process did feel like it was working closer to how it was probably intended.
But with Japanese it simply didn’t click.
Then I stumbled on WK did the free levels. I didn’t exactly have the most stable of jobs, so I skipped on the subscription - instead branching out to a bit of Anki (I’ll have to confess to trying the WK deck here) and Lingodeer.
I also played around with Heisig’s method, but learning just the meaning of Kanji didn’t work for me.
And then I did nothing for about two years.
In 2021 I finally decided to pick things up again, actually got the lifetime subscription on WK and reset everything. I’m currently managing to have some Crabigator time in the morning before work and some after dinner; if things go as I’m hoping one of those slots will be replaced by something else (probably Lingodeer) in a few levels and I’ll add KameSama to the routine as soon as I begin burning stuff.
I also just started some kana writing practice in the spare time (Write Japanese app, but I’m pretty sure those aren’t uncommon), as I’m not convinced I’m actually reading them instead of just playing a good guessing game.
Finally, the considerations!
Learning as an ESL (and as an European) is rarely a problem, but manages to be annoying from time to time, occasionally for cultural references (I did have to google Tosh.0 for 年 - but on the flip side googling it proved to be enough effort spent that I actually started remembering. Fingers crossed) and occasionally for pronunciations: I’ll freely admit that I speak a worse English than I write and when examples use words I pronounce wrong the problems compound.
I’d need to discuss the topic with natives of other languages to be sure because it might just be bias, but it feels like coming to Japaese from a syllable-timed language (like Romance ones) is marginally easier than it would be from a stress-timed one (like English). And it also feels like the pronunciation of Romaji is closer to how I’d pronounce consonant-vowel pairs in Italian than English, but once again it might be bias - and it’s not always a one-on-one mapping in the first place: hello, ら.
Occasionally stumbling on vocabulary you already know due to passive exposure to Japanese is an absolute delight.