Learning Japanese in Duolingo – Update #1

A while ago, I wanted to learn Japanese – mostly because I find it to be quite an interesting language. I guess that I partially also want to embrace that meme of becoming the hyper degenerate that can read manga raws… but that’s more of a joke that I’ve got going with friends, I guess, so it’s really not that.

My longest streak in Duolingo has been about 76 days long. I did also try out the free trial but then got charged prematurely even though it said that I’d get notified in the app and via e-mail when I’d get billed. I found that to be quite dodgy and luckily was able to get a refund thanks to Google’s relatively easy-to-use refund form. Either way, I lost the streak after that as time management has been a bit difficult with my exam preparations – and more importantly, it’s been difficult for me to actually study in Duolingo, mostly because there isn’t a vocabulary index of sorts. Apparently, you’d have to write down things you learn as time goes on, so I may start doing that from now on.

Motivation also got to a new low when Duolingo started to teach me Katakana on top of Hiragana. I’m not sure if I’ll need to learn all of that really if I just want to be able to understand/speak Japanese… but I guess Duolingo has other plans. I’d love it if you could select what your goal is in terms of learning the language. Learning all the different symbols feels a bit difficult, especially as Katakana is so different from Hiragana.

In terms of lessons, I haven’t managed to make much progress either. I’ve been stuck with the first unit for a while now, mostly because I didn’t feel like I was ready for any progress with the second unit just yet. On top of that, I have yet to get an actual grasp of how sentences work. The sentence structure that works really well in Latin, Albanian, German and English Grammar just isn’t really applicable to Japanese grammar and while I get it to a degree, I find it difficult to learn just with Duolingo alone.

There are a few interesting differences, for instance. To say that you’re a student, you’d say “gakusei desu” – but to say that you’re not a student, you’d say “gakusei dewa arimasen”… So you change a whole word out for it. Simple sentences also often are formed with a “desu” at the end, which is… “unique”. Meanwhile, questions are formed by adding a “ka” to the end of it. If you ask a question like “What is your name?”, you’re actually asking “Your name is what?” and then you add the “ka” at the end. So, “What is (your) name?” would be “O-namae was nan desu ka?”. And then there are also other intricacies to learning Japanese, like the fact that the “wa” after a noun indicates what’s the subject. Sentences can sound quite similar due to that making the actual grammar a bit easy… but because the meaning can change heavily based on where “wa” is placed or based on whole words being replaced when you simply negate a sentence, I find myself struggling a little bit.

At the same time, there are also other cases that I’m having trouble with but I don’t know any good examples at the moment. More than anything, some words simply can get swallowed when someone’s speaking fast – which is something that is a thing in English and German, too, but it’s not quite as extreme, in my opinion.

For the time being, I’ll pause Duolingo lessons as I need to study for my exams. The owl will get quite mad at me for that but as long as I don’t wake up to Duo threatening me with a baseball bat, I should be alright. Once exams are over or once I have a bit more time, I should be able to possibly dedicate some time to write down the things I learned and maybe using that to study up… It would be great to know another language, after all, even if I won’t use it as much in my day-to-day, I guess.

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitch and YouTube as well.

One thought on “Learning Japanese in Duolingo – Update #1

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  1. If you take a look at the app Human Japanese (they have a free version and the paid one isn’t too much either) it will probably help a lot with sentence structure and grammar. It’s been a big help for me. Also totally get the breaking a streak thing – a habit so easily broken and then hard to regain.

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