Travel, Teach, Live in Japan
A lot of new learners of the Japanese language seem to rely too heavily on Romaji (or even the English alphabet) to get by when they are mastering or learning Japanese. This is mostly because whenever we first start studying Japanese, you want to jump right in and be able to speak the language. Merely studying Hiragana or Katakana can take time, and afterward you really can't even recognize much (you can read, yes, but understand...no).
Fine, so exactly what is the big deal? You're still learning Japanese, right?:
You already have associations involving the English alphabet and how to speak things written with it. Japanese symbols, on the flip side are brand-new to you and you will not need to bother about this. The mere point that you are not used to pronouncing Japanese characters in a certain way is actually very good for you. You can essentially begin from scratch and enjoy an infinitely more natural and faster way to become fluent with your pronunciation.
Japanese People Don't Read Romaji
Possibly your Japanese book uses Romaji. This is still no excuse. That just means that it was manufactured by a lazy author. Truth be told, you will not really find much Romaji being used when you visit to Japan. Maybe just the names of big department stores and certain English words and phrases now and then. If you jot something down in Romaji and for a Japanese pal of yours, they will most likely be pretty puzzled because quite frankly, Japanese people generally, just do not use Romaji.
Today's Shortcut is Tomorrow's Liability
If you think you will want to keep learning Japanese and in due course become really good at it or even get proficient, you will need to learn Japanese symbols sooner or later. It's just going to be less difficult to learn them from the get-go. An inch of effort now or a mile of anguish down the road. Which would you rather have?
Alright, so Romaji just isn't the best way to go. What can you do if you are just getting started? It truly depends upon what kind of Japanese student you are. From my viewpoint, there are two varieties of Japanese students:
The Dedicated Student
Maybe you're studying Japanese in college. Maybe you are going to stay in Japan for a number of months or a year. Maybe you are a business person that has numerous Japanese clients. Or maybe you simply have several Japanese friends and you are fed up with them talking about you behind your back.
If this seems like you, start by learning Hiragana and Katakana. You can memorize these two groups of symbols in only a couple of weeks with a couple of flash-cards and a little resolve.. Following this, you are able to move ahead and practice establishing your vocabulary, grammar and other language skills using Hiragana and Katakana as a solid foundation.
Maybe you're heading to Japan for a few weeks of holiday. Maybe you truly like manga and just want to learn more about the culture. Maybe you just have a little free time and would like to study a few languages for the enjoyment of it.
For people like this, my advice is to begin with some basic conversational Japanese classes. This is often less difficult than studying how to read and write, especially if you are immersed in a high-quality study course. When you have some simple conversational Japanese down, it may be that you will plan to take it further and actually learn the language diligently. Going onward you will be in the appropriate position to take the road mentioned above and learn all the Japanese symbols (including all those bothersome Kanji).
So I trust you can comprehend now why depending on Romaji really is not to your advantage. It doesn't matter what you truly want to get out of studying Japanese, you really are only doing yourself a favor by ditching Romaji. Make an effort instead to either be able to write Japanese characters or get some important conversational Japanese terms.