No Easy Way to Learn a Language
We are a society that wants things fast and immediate. And in such a fast pace world this is often possible. However; there will always be goals that simply require a lot of hard work and dedication. Language learning is definately one of these goals. Some people are very good at absorbing new languages but most of us need a lot more time. I have formally studied Japanese and German and used Rosetta Stone to supplement both of the courses. I started studying German a year ago at my college and I am told by my Professor that I'm basically already conversational. I used Rosetta Stone because the company I work for has a language lab and they invested in a bunch of Rosetta Stone Software for it; however, me reaching a conversational level is soley because I spent endless hours studying not because I could correctly select an appropriate sentance or word from 4 multiple choices. Rosetta stone does help with pronounciation and provides an anxiety-free learning environment where one can sit back, relax and learn. Sadly at some points you really are just using process of elimination. And when you see something that doesn't make sense to you or something that seemingly controdicts what you THOUGHT you just understood there is noone there to explain it to you. It is definately no substitute for an actual language course. Having a professor who wants to see you succeed and is there to answer all the big and little questions involving the language and culture is quite priceless.
If you're serious about learning a new language I would recommend investing your money into a language course. I would also recommend watching as many movies, tv show, news broadcasts and any other form of media that you can find in your respective second language. Also, if possible study abroad or just travel to a country where your desired language is spoken. Also the internet is another learning tool. I would be warry of learning things from random sites because sometimes they're wrong. What I would recommend would be to find a decent international chatroom or a chatroom specific to the language you're learning so that you can put your accumulated knowledge to the test since not everyone can afford to go abroad.
I spent hours upon hours writting and memorizing German vocabulary and sentance structure at the begining so that i would have a good foundation to build upon. If you have extra disposable income - sure why not by a language learning softwware like Rosetta Stone. They can be a decent learning
tool but no substitute for your own hard work or the aid of a real live person who can explain any confusion that is sure to arise when learning your new language. This might sound harsher than I would like but really Rosetta Stone and other Language learning softwares are, in a sense the "get-rich-quick-scams" of linguistics. They're not necissarily a "rip-off" because they can certainly be useful aids but advertisments shouldn't inflate what they're capable of. There are certain things that simply take a lot of time and effort. Don't expect to reach native fluency in 30 days no matter how great the guarantee is. Becoming fluent in any language 99.99% of the time takes years to reach native fluency and depending on the language sometimes much longer. If you're a native englisch speaker wanting to become fluent in Japanese the learning process is going to be much longer than if you were learing a Germanic language like Dutch, German, or Afrikaans. In order to be considered fluent in japanese you have to know atleast 2,000 Kanji characters and that is just bare minimum - there are many more. Also, Kanji is but one of 3 writting systems used in Japanese, Hirigana and Katakana being the other 2 (please note that Hirigana and katakana are much simpler than Kanji and both alphabets can be completely memorized in 2 weeks if you work diligently. I would also like to say that just because you don't know kanji doesn't mean you can't SPEAK Japanese. They have implemented "Romaji" in order to aid foreigners in pronounciation. Romaji is Japanese characters reduced to roman letters) Other languages that have roman alphabets like German are easier in a way but difficult in others (i.e. grammar, case systems, etc). The easy part lies in the fact that obviously the letters are for the most part recognizable and it's easier to associate words with englisch. example: "water" in German is "wasser" (although many German words are not so similar) in japanese water is "mizu" it's simply harder for an englisch speaker to associate "mizu" and imprint it in their head for an extended time as oppose to "wasser". Ultimately the language that you're most interested in will be the one you do best at. It takes a lot of time and patience and if you're not interested in the language you're attemping it will be even more tedious for you. Learning a new language has been one of the more rewarding experiences of my life. I suggest you go for it and stay calm, relax and just learn it!