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I'm new to the group. Been trying for years to learn Japanese. Took my first martial arts class as a P.E. requirement my first year in college & fell in love with the language & culture. Would love to travel there.
Now living in WV, near state capitol. Anyone know of classes offered in the area (private or college) ?

VuDuChld 5 June 20
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Welcome in! I can't help with finding classes where you are, but hope you find something suitable. Out of interest though, how have you tried learning Japanese up to now, and how much progress do you think you've made with it? (My father tried learning Japanese at a class were the teacher tried to teach reading far too soon, insisting that it was vital to be able to read kanji from the start, and within a few weeks the class was empty. There are many Japanese classes like that and they are to be avoided like the plague, so don't be too quick to hand over any .)

(The text editor on this site is bug-ridden - it keeps removing words, such as "" which I've just had to edit back in to the end of my previous comment.)

I was stuck with Japanese for years, just working through different language courses (written using romaji) to maintain and extend a little the Japanese I know, but Google Translate has opened up the way for making further progress by making full Japanese just about accessible. I found an electronic copy of a Japanese story by Miyazawa which I've been gradually working my way through, trying to make sense of it. If you, and/or anyone else here, are interested in the idea of working on this as a team to try to create a literal and free translation of the whole thing, we could exchange files through dropbox. Here's an example of how the current version starts:-

銀河鉄道の夜

Gingatetsudōnoyoru

Milkyway/galaxy railway 's night

宮沢賢治

Miyazawa Kenji

+目次+目次

  • mokuji + mokuji ichi,

一、午后(ごご)の授業

gogo (go go) no jugyō

afternoon 's lesson

「ではみなさんは、そういうふうに川だと云(い)われたり、乳の流れたあとだと云われたりしていたこのぼんやりと白いものがほんとうは何かご承知ですか。」先生は、黒板に吊(つる)した大きな黒い星座の図の、上から下へ白くけぶった銀河帯のようなところを指(さ)しながら、みんなに問(とい)をかけました。

`De wa minasan wa, sōiu fū ni kawada to un (i ) ware tari, chichi no nagareta atoda to iwa re tari shite ita kono bon'yari to shiroi mono ga hontō wa nani ka go shōchidesu ka.' Sensei wa, kokuban ni tsu (tsuru) shita ōkina kuroi seiza no zu no,-jō [ue?] kara shita e shiroku kebutta ginga-tai no yōna tokoro o yubi (sa) shinagara, min'na ni toi (toi) o kakemashita.

Well then everyone, such manner in river-da is-said, milk 's stream after if-it's-the-case is said doing is, this "lantern-festival" to white thing ga true wa something honourable knowledge is? (= What are these white things in the Milky Way?) Teacher wa, blackboard in hang did big black constellation 's picture 's top from bottom to white smoke Milky-Way/galaxy band's like place o pointing-while, all in question o suspended.

"Then you are told that it is a river like that and you are told that this blurry white thing that was said to have been after the flow of milk is somehow understood?" The teacher said, While pointing to places like the galaxy bands whirling white from the top to the bottom of the figure of a big black constellation hanging (suspended), I asked everyone.

 カムパネルラが手をあげました。それから四五人手をあげました。ジョバンニも手をあげようとして、急いでそのままやめました。たしかにあれがみんな星だ と、いつか雑誌で読んだのでしたが、このごろはジョバンニはまるで毎日教室でもねむく、本を読むひまも読む本もないので、なんだかどんなこともよくわから ないという気持ちがするのでした。

Kamupanerura ga te o agemashita. Sorekara shi go hito te o agemashita. Joban'ni mo te o ageyou to shite, isoide sonomama yamemashita. Tashikani are ga min'na-boshida to, itsuka zasshi de yonda nodeshitaga, konogoro wa joban'ni wa marude Mainichi kyōshitsu demo nemuku, honwoyomu hima mo yomu hon mo nainode, nandaka don'na koto mo yoku wakaranai to iu kimochi ga suru nodeshita.

K ga hand o raised. Then four five people hand o raised. J to hand o raise-yoo to doing, hurriedly as-it-is stopped. Surely that ga all star to, sometime magazine de read no de under ga, nowadays wa J wa quite every day classroom demo sleepy, book o read spare-time too read book too nonexistent, somewhat what-kind-of thing too good understood-not to iu feeling ga do 's did.

Campanella raised his hand. Then I got four hands. Giovanni also tried to raise his hand as soon as he tried to raise his hand. Indeed everyone was a star, someday I read it in a magazine, but recently Giovanni is sleeping in the classroom every day, since there are no books that neither read nor reading the book, I feel like I do not understand anything at all did.

Campanella raised his hand Giovanni also caught in a hurry to raise his hands.When certainly that everyone is a star, I read it someday in a magazine, but nowadays Giovanni is like a classroom every day But neither sleep nor reading books, nor read books to read, so I felt that I do not understand anything at all.

 ところが先生は早くもそれを見附(みつ)けたのでした。

Tokoroga sensei wa hayaku mo sore o Mitsuke (mitsu) keta nodeshita.

Even-so/whereupon teacher wa soon mo that o spotted.

「ジョバンニさん。あなたはわかっているのでしょう。」

`Joban'ni-san. Anata wa wakatte iru nodeshou.'

"J. You wa know?"

 ジョバンニは勢(いきおい)よく立ちあがりましたが、立って見るともうはっきりとそれを答えることができないのでした。ザネリが前の席からふりかえって、ジョバンニを見てくすっとわらいました。ジョバンニはもうどぎまぎしてまっ赤になってしまいました。先生がまた云いました。

Joban'ni wa ikioi yoku tachiagarimashitaga, tatte miru to mō hakkiri to sore o kotaeru koto ga dekinai nodeshita. Zaneri ga mae no seki kara furikaette, joban'ni o mite kusutto waraimashita. Joban'ni wa mō dogimagi shite ma~tsuaka ni natte shimaimashita. Sensei ga mata iimashita.

J wa strength good stood, standing see to moo clear(ly) to that o answer couldn't. Z ga front no seat from turned/looked-round, J o seeing let-out laughed. J wa moo embarrassed doing red ni became. Teacher ga again said,

「大きな望遠鏡で銀河をよっく調べると銀河は大体何でしょう。」

`Ōkina bōenkyō de ginga o yokku shiraberuto ginga wa daitai nanideshou.'

"Big telescope with galaxy o yokku examine galaxy wa generally what-is"

 やっぱり星だとジョバンニは思いましたがこんどもすぐに答えることができませんでした。

Yappari hoshida to joban'ni wa omoimashita ga kondo mo sugu ni kotaeru koto ga dekimasendeshita.

yappari star to J was thought ga this-time mo immediately ni reply couldn't.

etc.

You can see the difficulty of the task, but this is the kind of resource that could transform Japanese learning. There is a copyright barrier to making it widely available though, so it really needs to be done with texts that are free of copyright. What I want to do though is show how things could be done.

@PerbeMayhaps No one in that class agreed - they all left.Chinese and Japanese children learn to understand and speak the language fluently before they learn to read and write it, and most adults do best if they do likewise. A few people who are able to memorise characters easily make good progress the other way, but they are not the norm - they then become a self-selected group of experts who encourage others to learn the same way, but it doesn't work for most learners, so there's a ridiculously high drop out rate. What's needed (and is currently missing) is a wide range of reading materials for learners to allow them to get a lot closer to fluency before having to learn characters, but the characters should also be in there for those who want to learn them sooner. What I want to see is a collection of decent stories (short stories and ideally a few novels) that are worth reading for their own sake, all produced with characters or Kanji+furigana, then pinyin or romaji, then a literal translation, and finally a line with bits of full translation, though only of the more difficult parts to interpret (there is no need for a complete English text version). This would not only help learners to get close to fluency without learning to read, but it would also make learning to read full Chinese/Japanese easier too. As it stands, the lack of such materials simply leads to most learners giving up.

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