Begin to Learn Japanese
Hello cjjaco! This http://de.realkana.com/hiragana/ is a good website to learn and train Hiragana (and Katakana). It's not too difficult to learn the about 45 different characters (the rest are only combinations or with dakuten or handakuten). I learned them in about 2 days, but I still need a bit more time to read them (just like you and seabassman I've just started to learn a bit Japanese), especially with those which are very similar like e.g.: わ = wa れ = re ね= ne).
As Skyblueteapot wrote (by the way, thanks for this hint!) it seems to be very helpful to choose lessons with romaji transliterations, so that you can see where the words start and where they end (the blue highlighted words are often no help as they display only fragments of the whole word).
I am terribly sorry for the following message.
I would like to answer your questions, but I am not an experienced tutor.
Before answering yours, me too, I am wondering how I will manage to learn languages after some years of experience, but I feel I made no progress at all while talking with native speakers. Spending much time to write something is good for me, but when it comes to talking with real persons, I don't know what to say or don't figure out what they say with me.
To tell the truth, as one of Japanese people, I don't know how to start Japanese from scratch with the help of your mother tongue, what is the most effective way to make some progress. I didn't analyze at all how I had been learning my mother tongue since I had absolutely no prior knowledge at birth.
So, just listen to the others' advice, especially the learners' ones.
I've learned Japanese from scratch learning LingQ. When I create a lingq I add the pronunciation from google translate, and learn to read the words as I learn their meanings. But it is helpful at the start to look at the romaji transliterations which some beginner 1 lessons have to see where they put the word breaks.
In terms of learning to write the characters, there are a lot of useful websites online. But it needn't be your earliest priority. Just read, listen, lingQ and learn.
that's helpful! thanks for your comments
If you wanted to learn just hiragana or katakana, I would recommend searching youtube for guides first. Because I managed to learn hiragana in just a week of studying. But if you want to learn Kanji you could search youtube, but that would be extremely difficult, so you should search for guides or a tutor. If you want you can skype me and we could help eachother learn japanese, because I'm also starting to learn. My skype name is: seabassman12