I find it highly unlikely that a reader finds a blogger's first entry before reading anything else on the site, so I write this first entry of my "Learning Japanese" series knowing it will serve as a backlog for interested people who want some background information on me.
I am not a professional Japanese teacher.
In fact, I wouldn't consider myself professional in any way. I teacher technical-college level English in Fukuoka, Japan. Hopefully I won't be doing it forever, but for now, it's a start.
If I could be said to have a hobby, studying Japanese is it. I've loved Japan and everything about Japan (including the more frustrating aspects like indirect EVERYTHING) since I can remember. Literally, I scrolled back in my brain to the earliest logs captured by my rogue thought processes, and I found Japan mentioned many many times for various yet origin-unknown reasons. Let's leave it at that. I can't explain it any better when a Japanese person asks me why I love their country either.
My obsession with studying the Japanese language is comparable to the frenetic Lafcadio Hearn.
With this in mind, I also want to state formally that my musings on the Japanese language, or any mnemonic devices and tips/tricks I might write about, are no substitute for formal Japanese language instruction in an accredited institution. I have studied Japanese in three different academic institutions, two of them located in Japan.
I also want to make it clear that I'm not fluent in the language, yet. I study very very hard everyday, I live in Japan (as I mentioned), and I want to learn this language more than anyone else I know who is studying. That doesn't mean my Japanese is perfect, but the things that I know how to say, I _know_ how to say.
I want to use this blog more as a writing and remembering exercise for myself. One of my college mentors said that you don't really learn anything until you try to teach it. This is the primary purpose of my blog. I am making it a point not to search through other blogs that have Japanese-language related material. I don't want my blog to become a premier spot on the web, and I don't much care for any of the business-related things that are coming out of blogging at this time.
I just want to write about learning Japanese because it is something I know a lot about and some I care a great deal about. With that in mind, read the things I write for additional insight into various aspects of the Japanese language. Never rely on only one person for anything. Networking can be implemented in real life as easily (or perhaps easier) than anything on the web.
But the web is the bridge. I have had a fantastic time digging up a wealth of information about learning Japanese on the web. Each site I find panders to one interesting aspect of the language, or it covers a broad topic with key points necessary to understand and use Japanese in conversation effectively (if you are studying presently, you know how hard it can be to use Japanese effectively in conversation).
So that's my first entry in a nutshell. Kind of a broad disclaimer saying, "Let's explore the language together" instead of "I am your teacher - you will learn from me!"
I hope you find the things I have studied insightful. Many of my postings will probably be inspired by questions people bring up on IRC channels.
For the record - you can find me almost any day of the week on EFnet channel #Japan
If you don't know anything about IRC, I recommend you take a look. Naturally, I have linked to one of the more popular IRC programs. There are plenty of others.