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July 19, 2006



I've wondered at times whether it wouldn't be better to start off JFL learners with dictionary forms of verbs and no particles. Just get them grunting ouf simple sentences: 明日東京行く、私リンゴ食べる. As time goes on fill in the blanks and show them the more polite forms of speech. This is closer to how little kids in Japan learn the ropes, and it seems like a much more natural way to pick up Japanese as a foreign-language learner.

Paul D

I think Japanese textbooks for Westerners take the completely wrong approach. Languages like English and French are subject-predicate languages that need many parts in place be grammatical. Japanese is completely different, and just "ikimashita" is usually more appropriate than throwing in all that "watashi-wa" crap. Western language-learning methods are still dominated by Euro-centric language assumptions, though.

All my favourite textbooks are published in Japan, in Japanese only (but often with some exposition in English, Chinese, and Korean).

I agree with Durf that starting with dictionary forms (instead of -masu forms) gives you a better sense of the language. I wouldn't drop particles, though; it takes some time to develop a sense of which particles can be dropped and when.


Japanese: the Spoken Language (much maligned I'm sure) does start out with -masu forms. BUT, the earlier sentence patterns and conversations learned are things like "wakarimasu ka?". "hai, wakarimasu.". No 'watashi-wa's in sight. I think the first use of wa learned is actually something like 'goruhu simasu ka', 'iie, goruha wa simasen. tenisu simasu.' Or something like that. And I don't think it's till the 4A lesson.

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