Part II of II.
Personally, I began my Japanese studies at a two-year college called Georgia Perimeter. Perimeter, or GPC, began with extremely small classes of Japanese (a maximum of about 6 or 7 students), although since then they have offered larger 30 student classes like Georgia State offers. I believe the smaller, more intimate class size helped us gain more one-on-one experience. Particularly on days which some students might not have shown, it was almost like having your own personal Japanese tutor! Talk about cool!
However, GPC also started out using the same flawed textbook as discussed in the previous entry. This textbook, while praised by others for its good aspects, simply needed to be refreshed; since the author/publisher were not refreshing it, GPC chose to move on from the book and picked up another one for its courses, “Youkoso!”. This was a more mainstream Japanese textbook, in line with another very common one titled “Genki”. Youkoso! was well-received among myself and my fellow students, after grudging through the previous textbook (which our instructor did not even particularly enjoy herself), and I believe it is the textbook of choice still at GPC. If not, I am sure they have chosen Genki by now.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
There are many other ways to learn Japanese these days besides going to your local universities. The image above is of an electronic dictionary, known as a “denshi jisho” in Japanese. Getting a used one of these (due to price) can prove to be an invaluable asset to your language learning.
There are hundreds of sites to help teach you Japanese online these days, although they work best when used in conjunction of self-learning with a textbook of your choice (Amazon is a great place to find those, with several useful reviews as well). LiveMocha and Lang-8 are two competing sites which allow for the user to post blog entries in their target language and then have them graded for accuracy by native speakers of that target language; the idea is that you then grade other posts in your native language as well.
There are many more online sources to teach you Japanese these days, and they are growing every year. However, the best way to learn the language is still to simply (or not so simply) immerse yourself completely within the target language. For that, I highly recommend All Japanese All The Time (AJATT).
Learning Japanese while living in Atlanta doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think, thanks to these in person and also online resources!