Japanese for kids

The son of one of my friends has decided that he wants to learn Japanese and his parents have asked me if I can recommend any suitable courses for him. I thought of the Talk Now! series, but they only teach you a limited number of words and phrases, and the lad, who’s 10 years old, wants to learn more than that. I also suggested Pimsleur.

Have you any suggestions?

This entry was posted in Japanese, Language, Language learning.

17 Responses to Japanese for kids

  1. ISPKN says:

    Try JapaneseNow! from Transparent language. Its awesome!

  2. Polly says:

    So far, I like Living Language-Ultimate (beginner-Interm.). After only about 10 lessons I was able to understand the general idea of Simon’s earlier post in Japanese, surprisingly. And believe me I started from NO knowledge whatsoever. The dialogs help to reinforce the grammar and the new vocab. It introduces the kana slowly starting from chpt 1 or 2 but always relies only on romaji for the lessons themselves. It also includes about 149 kanji in the last few lessons in the book. (Yes, I am the kind of guy who will turn straight to the last page of a mystery to see whodunnit)
    It’s not that heavy on grammar IMO, but a 10yr-old may need help with some basic terms: object, subject, verb, noun, etc.

    I’m using Volume 1 of Kanji cards by Tuttle Flash Cards / Alexander Kask. Each volume contains about 450 cards. They’re very compact and include all the Kun- and On- yomi plus 4 examples in usage of, presumably, the most common combinations. Also, stroke counts and shows the writing step-by-step. In the past three weeks I’ve learned about 112 kanji (all the readings not just their meanings) just during commercial breaks using these nifty little cards. But, I’ve read that it always goes quickly AT FIRST.

    Oh yeah, the number one best method to learn a new language: find some native speakers and make nice…

  3. cholo says:

    one thing a friend did for me was to buy the same children’s books for each language. For example, “Where the Wild Things Are” – English + Japanese versions (http://www.amazon.co.jp).

    Also, many Japanese children’s programs like Benesse’s “Shimajiro” now have content to teach English for Japanese kids – http://www.shimajiro.co.jp/course/pocket/index.html getting delivery of books/DVDs (once a month) is a bit spendy, but it might be worth it…and for instant gratification: http://www.shimajiro.co.jp/hiroba2/enjoy.html


  4. Zachary R. says:

    The way I recommend is that he attend a language school, though I don’t know if there’s one where you are. That’s what I attend every saturday to learn my japanese [about 20 languages are offered there] and I find it extremely helpful. All ages are welcomed and credits are given to highschool students.

    I also heard the Genki book is very useful. When online, I sometimes use http://www.japanese.ac.nz/ as a reference for basic learning.

  5. Vili Maunula says:

    While I can’t recommend anything, I can at least suggest that your friend’s son stays away from the Kumon Japanese tutoring system. While the method may be suitable for mathematics, I found that at least for me the Japanese studies books (which I was assigned as part of my exchange year in Japan) were quite unsuitable for learning.

    The method is based on repetition, which is fine with kanji (I ended up mastering about 800 kanji within a year of studies), but does not really work with active language use. Especially since all of it is written work (in fact, most of it is just copying).

    Furthermore, what was oddest to me was the fact that many of the texts on which exercises were based on had nothing to do with Japan — instead, I read things like Hans Christian Andersen’s stories in Japanese, which I found really quite odd.

    So, I say “no” for Kumon.

    There are, however, four studying aides that I can warmly recommend.

    First, there is “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar” by Seiichi Makino and Michio Tsutsui, and then there is “A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar” by the same authors. Those two are not only the best Japanese grammar references that I have seen, but perhaps the best grammar references I have seen for any language (and I can say that I have honestly seen hundreds of grammar reference books over the years). They cost a bit, but are worth every penny.

    Thirdly, there is Jack Halpern’s “The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary”, which includes Halpern’s SKIP method that finally made locating kanji easy even for me. I think Halpern also edited a bigger kanji dictionary, but this one fits nicely in your… well, not your pocket, but a small bag at least.

    Finally, there is the marvellous JWPce text editor for Windows/Linux/PocketPC (http://www.physics.ucla.edu/~grosenth/jwpce.html), which is freeware and allows you to type Japanese easily. More importantly, it also comes with the EDICT dictionary (as well as a number of add-on dictionaries), and I consequently use it a lot as an electronic dictionary for both words and kanji (the kanji part comes with a number of different lookup methods, including SKIP).

    I would, by the way, also like to thank everyone for their suggestions here. I have been wanting to re-start my Japanese studies, but haven’t yet found a good way to do it. Maybe I finally will, now.

  6. Polly says:

    I have Jack Halpern’s “The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary”, and I must say that SKIP is a marvel! At first, I thought it was so unlikely that such a system could be used in short order, that I didn’t even bother to look at the 4-5 step process. But, once I did, it took about 5 minutes to learn the system and then it was easy to count strokes and find the kanji. What seemed like a random sequence of kanji turned out to be a well organized system of reference.

    I bought the dictionary as a sort-of collection of kanji to give myself a method in picking and learning them. But, then I got the flashcards mentioned above.

  7. NekoFoo says:

    uh.. i have a rosetta stone for japanese. isn’t rosettastone supposed to be one of the best? i thought it was, but some people here said they’ve found some things that are better, which sucks cuz’ rosettastone costs a lot. i also have all 30 pimsleur tapes for japanese I, courtesy of limewire, oh yee. i’ve had it for about half a year, but i’m only at the end of section 2. i move too slow D’= i’ve learned how to form basic sentences so far. the reason i go so slow is because sometimes i get to a boring section and it discourages me. but i get through.. eventually.

  8. AutoBlog says:

    This blog is great!

  9. Paul says:

    So far I’ve found Ranma 1/2 best for learning Japanese and Lamu really hard.

    For learning kanji:
    (I haven’t add many because I’ve been drawing them with a mouse !)


    …go to the menu and click on the number ’29’ to restart.

    cordiali saluti
    da italia

  10. Like your blog. Good content..we’ll link one of ours to yours Denver Home Improvement .

  11. Sport Talk says:

    Do I have to be a member to post to this blog?

  12. seo says:

    Happy New Year!All the best for 2008.

  13. Jake Ruston says:

    Great blog entry!I look forward to reading the rest of your blog posts. Do you accept donations via paypal? I have a bit of spare change you could have for your troubles 🙂

  14. Simon says:

    Jake – donations are always welcome. I’ve added a paypal button to the sidebar now. This page explains other ways to contribute to Omniglot.

  15. Jesse says:

    I would have to say check out “Japanese for busy people !” Romanized text book. Not the work book. It’s cheap, and it comes with a cd to help you get the sound of words. It’s helped me out a lot. Amazon has it.

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