Ideally, I'd like to be able to speak Chinese and Japanese. But since I could, I'm taking Beg. Japanese I at my university. Which is something I've been wanting for, err, 8 years? And I'm finding it really rewarding, so far. I've memorized all hiragana and now I'm venturing into the 3-lettered vowels, which are kind of weird but in a way they make since---practically-speaking. If the Japanese written language was made up real letters and not just phonetic representations they would definitely not have so many exceptions and other sets of alphabets (katakana, for one). But ah well. The part of hiragana history I know is the one in Ancient Heian Japan when hiragana was dismissed as not as 'sophisticated' as Chinese writing by the male nobles; Chinese (I guess kanji?) was basically the equivalent of Latin for intellectuals up until the mid-18th-century in the West. So it was up to the court women to write diaries (The Pillow Book), poems, and novels (Tale of Genji) in hiragana.
Surprisingly, I've learned a lot of Chinese through my girlfriend (who is from Singapore). I have a pretty good knack for languages...If I have another
Anyways, if any of you have taken Japanese, what strategies do you suggest to use for learning more efficiently?