Okay. This post is probably going to sound stupid.
I've been studying Japanese for about a year and a half. Through a combination of being systematic and not having nor requiring much of a life, I taught myself to write and read 1,945 kanji and all the kana. For those of you who know of iknow.jp, I can read and write about 4,500 words from that---I'm still working on the rest. I am not very good with grammar yet, but I'm studying it with the Genki books (I have both I and II, and also the unofficial Genki sequels, the intermediate and intermediate to advanced books). So I don't think reading and writing will be much of an issue.
Here's the problem. I've been learning these things because this fall, I'm going to be studying Japanese formally in college as one of two majors. They require that you study abroad. If your grades are high and you impress the professors, you might earn a scholarship to a really nice college in Tokyo for a year. I want that extremely badly.
However, my speaking and listening comprehension are bad, and I probably have a horrid accent. These will be huge weaknesses in my path to achieve the goal of winning that scholarship---only one student every year can earn it.
So I'm asking you, since you all seem very smart. Can you tell me ways or programs with which I might practice speaking and listening in and to Japanese? I have until September for my first class to begin, and I really want to make an impression on my teachers.
From: Romania Registered: 2011-10-09 Posts: 880 Website
Random speaking skills suggestion... focus more on speaking than on accents. No one minds a foreign accent, but having to stop between every other word sticks out. You're expected to have an accent, but keeping a fluid output is sure to impress .
On the subject of accent, if you go through the whole list of consonants, vowels, and pitch in Japanese - such as the Wikipedia page on Japanese Phonology, then you can check each one and see if it's different to what you were imagining. It's a bit abstract but it is useful if you find it interesting. You could use any resource but you get the idea.
The most important way of developing my accent is/was purely from listening to natives. Videos are fine for this but if you can get someone speaking physically near to you it's hugely helpful because you have full "HD" capability~ you can hear the sound, you can see the mouth shape, you can see lots of things you can't see any other way. Plus, they can repeat.
The more time you can listen in person, the better. For example, I learned how to pronounce ふ this way. Romaji tricked me into thinking it's fu. But as I heard it in real life I could see how a Japanese person could say "I'm going to do the foovering" (=hoovering=vacuuming).
It's probably true that your words are more important than your accent, but what I just suggested need not take very long.
For speaking, if you can get a list of words you are likely to want to say, that will help. Sounds obvious! It wasn't to me though! Use a little phrasebook or the equivalent, also get your words like how, why, what, when, usually, as it happens, by the way, have you got a minute.........just a little preparation will increase your apparent fluency. Well, it's your actual fluency, I suppose.
I understand that speech is more important than an accent, and I quite agree. But I'd like to practice both, even if maybe not at the same time. So, mizunooto, that does help quite a bit, and I'm really grateful!
First of all, always try to study with audio. Whether it be through dialogues, Core 6k and/or vocabulary flash cards with audio, make sure there's audio, and make sure you mimic it as closely as possible. I agree that practicing pitch accent is important. This dictionary is one of the only one that I've found that marks intonation, but I haven't looked very hard beyond this one. It's under $5 with shipping if you get it used too. http://www.amazon.com/Merriam-Websters- … 0877791643
I'm not sure how familiar you are with pitch, since Genki doesn't go over it all other than saying to mimic it the best you can. It was emphasized a lot in my university classes, and I have been trying very hard to get it right from the start. In case you're not familiar with how it works, compare the 青's audio clip with 青い's (Ao vs. aOi) http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi- … J%E9%9D%92
Find a show that you like and study the subtitles.
They use EXACT subtitles, which that it is a word-for-word transcription of what the actors are saying. So all of the sentences are casual daily conversation (sometimes too casual, but I wouldn't worry too much for now).
If you need a video player that reads subtitles, get VLC (www.videolan.org) or SMPlayer. Since you taught yourself all 1945 kanji, listening to Japanese TV seems like the next logical step.
But you'll soon find out that listening is largely a matter of vocabulary. Study the drama subtitles to increase your vocabulary. Listening to daily conversation will become MUCH easier. Also, you'll get use to the speed at which natives speak.
Even if you can't understand the conversations verbatim, all the words are in the script. Also, drama is full of so many useful words that you'll never find in a textbook.
I wrote a Java program and on average a drama episode contains 450-550 unique kanji per episode. Most anime episodes are 24 minutes. Most drama episodes are roughly 48 minutes.