Learning Japanese

So I’ve decided I’d like to learn Japanese and was wondering what people out there would recommend to go about this. I looked into a class and the nearest one is about a 45 minute drive 1 way and would cost 1600$ (it’s at a state college). Even if my workplace pays half, 800$ is a bit much for a 101 language course. I’m not going for my masters degree, I just want to learn. What online resources, books, droid phone apps, etc… would people recommend? Too bad I can’t just get a job over there for a while and jump into it completely!

I’m glad somebody started a Japanese language thread.
Personally I’ve spent time studying (at my leisure) 7 different languages, but Japanese always was the hardest because of the Kanji.
Nihongo uses syllabaries, as opposed to an alphabet, so everything will be phonetic. That’s the good side.

Okay, onto learning material. I suppose I’ll also start off with an order to do things, kind of like an order I went with.
By the way, you don’t have to take me seriously, because I’ve been learning it for over a year now, and I wouldn’t call myself proficient. I understand basics, and that’s about it.

One thing I can say, don’t get Rosetta Stone. Somebody lent me a copy of it, and it’s absolute crap for a beginner.

If you’re an iOS user, go with My Japanese Coach for starters. It was originally one of those Nintendo DS learning programs until they ported it to iOS…

If you want an audio course, I believe Michel Thomas’s course to be the best place to learn.
I er… tried a preview of it, and it’s not bad.
http://www.michelthomas.com/learn-japanese.php

Even if you go with these, I still say you learn components on your own.
Start off with the hiragana and katakana, the two writing sets.
James Heisig’s remembering the Hiragana is the best place to start off.
Instead of just making you learn it in the order it’s placed, James helps you learn in an order that’s easy to remember.
http://www.amazon.com/Remembering-Kana-The-Hiragana-Katakana/dp/4889960724

And the best place to learn is definitely online. It’s free, so that also means you’ll find yourself digging around for information a lot.
If you just search google for free japanese lessons, you come up with amazing results.
www.freejapaneselessons.com/‎ seems like a site you’ll find anywhere else, doesn’t it? It contains some good information on it’s own.
Even generic websites like japanese.about.com are a great start, I happened to find myself digging questions from that site a lot.

A Japanese dictionary, which I always keep bookmarked:
http://jisho.org/

I want to give you more sites, but I think it’s best if you start to grasp what you’re going to learn first.

Reply to this, I’ll do my best to help a fellow learning.
Hopefully you do get a job in Japan and learn through native speakers.

Whoa, thanks for all the info! I’m going to check out some of this stuff after work today and over the weekend.

Any time, Brotzmann. When or If you have any questions, just feel free to ask.

My advice at the moment, something I did, I started with basic words, like animals, colours, months, days of the week, and all kinds of simple nouns in general, then I went into verbs. Verbs are the most difficult part of the language structure, because they change depending on the use and if it’s polite or plain.
Just thinking of it, the verb “walk” has about 7 forms off the top of my head, and there are more.

The word for walk is “aruku”. aruku is the dictionary form, which is the most basic form, and the suffix will change to present a different form.
Aruku also happens to be the plain informal form, something you’ll use amongst friends.
The formal way of saying it is “arukimasu”. Notice that “u” at the end chaned to “imasu”.

You’ll be learning this eventually, but I thought I’d give you some tips when you start.
Don’t worry about it too much, and you can just take it down as notes for later reading.

So basically, I’d say if you’re learning it freely, start memorizing nouns and verbs to kick things off. Never too late or early to start learning some words.