Beginning Lessons Progress

With about 17 lessons already written, I think it’s about time for a more detailed explanation of what’s coming over the next 6 weeks and beyond.

First, I’m starting to consider combining Introduction to the Japanese Language into the Beginning Lessons. I still want to make it obvious that the Intro series lessons are more in depth, but having just one contents page will make navigation easier, and it’s sometimes fuzzy whether a particular lesson should be in one section or the other. Links would be broken in the process, but this site is still too young for it to matter. (And I might learn how to set up redirects in the process.)

Regardless, after the next couple new lessons, I’m probably going to do some heavy editing of what I have, mainly for organization and clarity. I’ll also expand the “about” page significantly so that it’s clear why I’m doing things a the way I am.

Based on my current plan, the combined Beginning Lessons will likely end up with around 50 lessons, not including vocab pages and other short pieces. I still intend to use the “do as much as you can with just a couple of conjugations” approach, while fully explaining all the underlying grammar that we do use. There’s a lot you can do with very simple language.

To be clear, the beginning lessons will use simple sentence structures and very little verb conjugation, but I am not afraid of giving you the details you need to understand the grammar that is used. This is my primary issue with textbooks and teachers alike in all subjects: they’re afraid of scaring you with too much information, so they simplify things that shouldn’t be simplified and cut out details that can’t be cut out if you’re actually to understand anything.

Where things will get tricky is the beginner/intermediate beginner boundary. At some point you do need to start learning all the basic conjugations and using informal language; this isn’t terribly complicated in the grand scheme of things, but spending some time with just dictionary, masu, and te-form will help you ease into it. But it’s hard to decide what communicative functions (like describing the weather, giving directions) should be introduced early and what should wait. The more you learn in polite form only, the more you have to relearn later using plain form.

So the heavy grammar is coming, just not until after the beginning lessons. And even then, I intend to have more of a linguistically oriented theme: “Why does this mean what it does?” Because the great thing about language is that we can understand, and Japanese is no exception.

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