So you've decided to learn Japanese! You will need a good deal of motivation to progress quickly.
Even if you are gifted with languages, Japanese is a language very different from English. For starts it doesn't use the Latin alphabet, just like Chinese, Arabic, Russian, and Korean.
If you want to learn Japanese but are unable to do a language study program in the Land of the Rising Sun, it is very useful to have a private Japanese tutor, or to enroll in a language school at home.
In addition to your classes each week, you will need to make regular efforts to review and prepare your Japanese language courses.
Here is what you need to do in order to quickly progress in Japanese and learn to master the Japanese language.
Make Japanese Worksheets
This should be one of the first things you do!
It's true--whatever language you want to learn, vocabulary is the key to the first few classes. If at first you only know a few words, you will learn new ones each lesson. It is therefore essential to memorize them as you go along to develop your vocabulary.
Why not make these cards in rômaji? Translate the Japanese language into the Latin alphabet.
There are many different tips for learning vocabulary, but repetition is the overall key. A proven and probably the best method is the Space Repetition System (SRS) in English. It is supposed to stimulate long-term memory.
At one time or another we have all crammed for a test and revised at the last moment. Once the exam was over, the notions that we learned in a hurry were quickly erased from our memory...
To learn in a way that will last, it is necessary to practice regularly. This is the purpose of your vocabulary worksheets. By working on them every day, you will end up memorizing them effectively.
When you add new vocabulary words, make an extra effort to focus on them. Over time, the words you learned will remain etched in your memory. It will not be necessary to look at them over and over.
Gradually, you will find that you have enriched your vocabulary effectively. When you find out that with 500 to 600 words of vocabulary we can hold a conversation in Japanese, vocab becomes an essential point to develop.
For Japanese, you can easily make flashcards according to themes:
- Prefixes and suffixes (indispensable in Japanese to give meaning to the sentence),
- Everyday life expressions...
At first, you will not only have to write out the English translation, but also the Japanese word in rômaji. Once you have mastered reading and writing Kana (Higarana Katakana) and Kanji, you can use them on your vocabulary worksheets.
In addition to your vocabulary worksheets and flashcards, learning Japanese is inseparable from its syllabaries. You will have to learn Hiragana and Katakana. Repeating them out loud can help you too!
Knowing these two syllabic alphabets takes a little time, but once you have learned them, you will progress faster and be able to read and write Japanese. It is not enough to just memorize them. You also need to practice writing them.
Japanese calligraphy is an art that cannot be improvised!
How Easy Is It to Learn Japanese?
The answer is not as hard as you probably think. Obviously the Japanese writing system differs from all European languages, and it therefore takes some getting used to. However, it is estimated that foreigners only need to learn 44 hiragana or katakana in order to get by.
This is because these are the characters that represent the sounds in the Japanese language, much in the same way that the alphabet does in English.
What's more, Japanese grammar is surprisingly easy when compared to most European languages. There are no genders for the nouns, nor are there any plural forms or accompanying articles.
Where as English has 12 tenses, Japanese only has two; present and past. Additionally you don't need to worry about irregular verbs or verb conjugation in Japanese.
All of this means that, once you get passed the writing system, Japanese is surprisingly easy to learn.
Interest in the Japanese language is also on the rise and therefore people are becoming more determined to learn it, meaning that they have the motivation need to persevere through the difficult moments.
Why Are People So Interested in the Japanese Language
Where does this desire to learn Japanese come from?
1. Japanese cultural exports are exploding.
Japanese culture has given a lot to the world over the years. From sushi to manga, anime to origami, Japanese culture has long fascinated the western world. By learning Japanese, you can access things like Japanese films, comic books, and video games.
2. Knowing Japanese will set you apart from the crowd.
Japanese is one of many languages often overlooked in favour of Spanish, French, German, or Italian. By learning a different language, and one spoken by almost 128 million people, will make your CV stand out from the rest.
What's more, having a knowledge of Japanese brings job opportunities due to its importance in the world of business. According to the World Bank, Japan has the third largest consumer market in the world. This is partly due to the culture of saving in Japan, meaning people can afford to make big purchases, coupled with the high levels of disposable income in the country (an average of $3,800 per household per month).
This makes the Japanese market a prime target for companies all over the world. And the key to winning business in the Japanese market? Speaking their language of course. This is because learning Japanese doesn't only teach you the language, it teaches you about the culture and the different business etiquette which is so important in securing deals with other companies.
3. The Japanese are international tourists.
With so much disposable income, the Japanese have converted themselves into globetrotters. About 18 million Japanese people left the archipelago in 2017 according to the JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization). This means that Japanese tourists are spending across Australia, Europe, and North America.
Naturally, knowing Japanese will set you apart when it comes to jobs in your own country in any sector related to tourism because you will be able to communicate with one of the biggest overseas group of travellers in the world.
Are you convinced you should learn this amazing language yet?
Do you know the rates for a Japanese lesson?
What Is the Best App to Learn Japanese?
Learning Japanese requires a certain amount of rigor in your everyday life. In order for you to take pleasure in what can sometimes be a very difficult learning experience, books are great, but you can also learn in a more playful way thanks to mobile applications. This will even help you practice to improve your pronunciation:
- Skritter: teaches Chinese and Japanese. The flashcard system allows users to revise vocabulary words thanks to the touch screen. It will also help you to learn to trace the Kana and Kanji characters correctly.
- JA Sensei: this is a fun and learning-packed application: conversation, writing, exercises, courses, quizzes...You can trust this app to allow you to be well prepared for your Japanese classes.
- Learn Japanese online: this app is based on Japanese conversation. Sequences are used to understand a short conversation. With voice recognition, it trains you to speak Japanese. Another approach to the oral learning of the language.
- Kana Town: the must-have app for learning Kana (Hiragana and Katakana). Ideal to start learning Japanese. You choose the characters to study and will have to find the right way to pronounce them.
- Nihongo na kana: very good app to start with some Japanese writing as well as start to learn the 92 signs and derivatives of kana syllabary, with quizzes along the way to evaluate your progress.
These applications will also help you enormously to prepare for a test in Japanese!
Practicing to Pronounce Japanese with the Help of Videos
Youtube is the best bet if you are looking to immerse yourself in the Japanese language!
The videos you will find there will make sure your ear gets used to the sounds.
So, how do you feel about learning Japanese through manga on video?
When you begin, it's better to rely on channels offering courses in Japanese. Be careful when sorting through them. Make sure it is correct Japanese you are learning! You'll find this out easily by reading the user comments. People sometimes pretend to be bilingual!
This will help you to work on your pronunciation of Kana or Kanjiet and enrich your vocabulary at the same time. It may not be a miracle method but it is definitely interesting as a complement to your courses.
Once you have acquired the basics as well as a little vocabulary, it will be interesting for you to dive into anime (manga) and dramas (Japanese TV series). You will be able to approach the language in its specific context and gain fluency in oral comprehension.
It is also an opportunity to see that the Japanese language has many variations depending on the speakers you are addressing. And as a bonus, you will discover a little more about the Japanese culture!
With all these tips, you can progress quickly and stay optimistic about your learning! If want to find a tutor, try searching for Japanese classes in your city on the Superprof website.
What's your next step then...? Going to live in Japan or taking a trip to Tokyo?