Japanese is a wonderful language to learn. Whether you’re looking to improve your Japanese for personal or business reasons, there are a lot of benefits to learning the language.

For one, Japanese is spoken by over 125 million people across the world. It's also a fantastic language to learn if you’re thinking about travelling to Japan.

But where do you go to learn Japanese in Edinburgh? Thankfully, whether you’re an absolute beginner or an experienced Japanese speaker, there are classes in Edinburgh that can help you improve your knowledge of the language.

Consider A Short Course In Japanese

There’s no way around it – for a native English speaker, Japanese can be a very difficult language to learn.

A blank sheet of paper on a table with a red pen on top and a cup of coffee and a bunch of berries to the side
Learning the Japanese alphabet can be one of the most challenging things to master when starting to learn Japanese

Where To Start When Learning Japanese?

One of the main difficulties English speakers have with Japanese is the fact that the Japanese language actually has three alphabets, which can feel pretty overwhelming for beginners to the language!

There’s the Hiragana, which comprises 46 characters and essentially serves as a phonetic library to the Japanese language. It’s generally one of the easiest alphabets to learn, so it’s worth looking at learning Hiragana first off if you’re completely new to the language (it’s worth noting that Japanese children start off learning Hiragana as well!)

The other alphabets in Japanese are Kanji and Katakana. Hiragana can be combined with Kanji and Katakana.

Kanji are essentially used for Chinese loan characters, while Katakana comprises 48 syllables and is typically used for loan words that aren’t Chinese and foreign names, although there are other uses.

You can find a Japanese language school near you to get started on your learning adventure...

Starting A Japanese Short Course

Perhaps due to the difficulty even mastering the alphabet or due to the prevailing popularity of foreign languages such as French, German, and Spanish, it can be hard to find opportunities to learn Japanese at school (although there have been some Japanese courses run at schools to a limited degree).

This means that many Japanese language students may decide to learn the language when they’re a bit older, or as an extra-curricular activity.

Some Japanese lessons in London are targeted to this demographic!

If you are just starting out on your learning journey or only consider yourself an intermediate speaker of Japanese, taking a short course in the language might be a great entry into seeing whether or not learning Japanese could work for you.

This is because:

  • You don’t have to commit a huge amount of time to learn Japanese, so you don’t lose out if you discover that learning the language isn’t for you;
  • It can give a good basic insight into what you might learn on a longer-term Japanese course; and
  • You may be able to learn some basics of Japanese, whether that’s the alphabet, common greetings and introductions, or basic words and grammar.

For instance, you could take a short course in Japanese at the University of Edinburgh. The university runs a number of short courses that cater for a range of ability levels, from beginners to elementary and intermediate speakers. The courses tend to run in the evenings on weekdays,

Additionally, courses are available at the university to prepare for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, known as the JLPT for short. The test is used as a way to evaluate a person’s proficiency in Japanese if they are a non-native speaker of the language.

According to the University of Edinburgh’s website:

“The preparation course is the only opportunity in Scotland and in the north of the UK for learners to prepare their JLPT skills in a face-to-face classroom environment.”

Find out if Japanese language learners in Leeds also have such a comprehensive learning programme...

Cherry trees
Taking Japanese lessons can be very helpful if you plan on travelling to Japan

Learn Japanese With A Language School

If a formal short course in Japanese doesn’t sound right for you, there are other language trainers in Edinburgh that offer Japanese lessons.

For example, inlingua offers evening Japanese courses for all ability levels, and also offers duo lessons and private Japanese tuition. So, if you’re looking to learn Japanese with a friend, inlingua’s courses could be worth researching further!

When it comes to how inlingua teaches foreign languages, its website states that the inlingua method is:

“an intensive, world-renowned method where trainers teach in the target language, using pictures and role-plays rather than direct translations. They encourage you to participate actively in the classroom, helping you to pick up your new language as quickly as possible.”

Birmingham has a fantastic language learning programme; find out how they teach Japanese there!

Other Japanese language courses offered in Edinburgh include those run by Listen & Learn and Language Trainers.

Listen & Learn boasts “native-speaking qualified Japanese teachers” and offers a lot of choices when it comes to when and where you learn Japanese, as well as the types of courses offered, with business, conversational, group and private classes available.

Language Trainers also offers a variety of Japanese courses, and also offers a “free online placement test” that you can use to gauge your ability level in Japanese. Once you’ve completed the test, you can reach out to Language Trainers “to learn more about our customised course packages.”

Is the greater Manchester area also served by this language training school?

If you are considering learning Japanese through a language school, some things it may be worth thinking about when researching courses are:

  • How much the course would cost and if that amount is affordable to you;
  • Where you’d like to have your lessons;
  • How long Japanese courses tend to last and if you can commit to that amount of time; and
  • Whether there are any reviews or testimonials for their Japanese courses that you could look at.
Fingers typing on a keyboard
There are also ways to take Japanese lessons online if you prefer to learn remotely

Are There Other Ways To Get Better At Japanese?

One of the best ways to get better at Japanese is to ensure you get regular practice when it comes to listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills.

Many learners of a foreign language find that their speaking skills are the last to develop. So, if possible, try to speak as much as possible in Japanese, whether that’s in a group class or one on one with a native Japanese speaker or tutor.

However, that doesn’t mean you should neglect your listening, reading, and writing skills in Japanese. Ideally, if you can work on developing your proficiency in all four aspects of Japanese (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) then you should put yourself in good stead when it comes to attaining mastery of the language.

How will you keep up with your Japanese lessons if you relocate to Glasgow?

Immerse Yourself In Japanese Culture

One of the best ways to get better at Japanese is to immerse yourself in the Japanese language and culture.

You could achieve this in many ways. For example:

  • Travelling to Japan would give you a great chance to interact with the locals and learn more about what life is like in Japan;
  • Reading Japanese literature, or even reading manga, is a wonderful way to boost your Japanese vocabulary and become faster at reading Japanese;
  • Watching Japanese films can improve your listening and overall comprehension skills; and
  • Writing something in Japanese can help you put your Japanese writing skills into practice!

Discover how Cardiffians make themselves competitive in the language learning arena...

Benefit From Regular Practice

Another way to get better at Japanese is to make sure you regularly practice whatever new items of vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation you may have learnt.

There are lots of resources out there that can provide Japanese lessons for you to work with.

For instance, there are language-learning apps, such as Duolingo and Babbel, which offer bite-sized lessons that don’t take too long to complete. So, if you’re time-poor but still would like to learn Japanese, learning the language gradually through apps like those above might work for you and your lifestyle.

Keep Yourself Motivated

It can also help to remind yourself at times why you’re learning Japanese, especially if you get frustrated at any point with your progress or a particular grammatical point.

Some things that may motivate you is to step back and see how far you’ve come during your time learning Japanese, and what you can say and understand now compared to when you just started out.

Equally, you can think about some of the good aspects of learning Japanese (apart from becoming more fluent!) For instance, you don’t have to learn noun genders in Japanese, which you would have to learn if you studied a language such as Spanish, French, or German, among many others.

Equally, it can be reassuring to know that Japanese syllables can only be pronounced one way. So, even if there are lots of syllables in Japanese, their pronunciation is highly predictable. This is great compared to the difficulty of pronouncing some words in English (think tomato vs "tomatoe" or potato vs "potatoe").

Another way that you can try and keep your Japanese language learning on track is to learn the language with the help of a tutor. Superprof has a wide range of tutors that offer help in a number of subjects, including foreign languages and Japanese.

So, if you need someone to give you some additional motivation to learn Japanese, or would appreciate having lessons that are tailored around the areas that you’d most like to improve in, why not see whether there’s a Superprof Japanese tutor in Edinburgh near you?

Now discover Japanese language learning opportunities you may benefit from in Belfast...

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Lucy is a freelance writer and wine enthusiast, who loves travelling and exploring new places.