Being able to converse in a foreign language serves as a firm edge both in the professional and academic fields. Additionally, a language that brings a whole lot of opportunity— the Japanese language. But where should you start, and what are the best study tips for someone learning Japanese?
With numerous study techniques, language learners find it hard to explore what works and might not work for them. Going through each of those techniques is time-consuming and could be highly-distractive for the student. If you’re someone trying to start your way of learning Japanese, you’re in luck! You found an article just for you. Continue reading and know the four best study tips for someone learning Japanese or any language there is.
Let’s find out!
THE MOST EFFECTIVE TRICKS FOR SOMEONE LEARNING JAPANESE
Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no one specific way to instantly acquire language knowledge and skill in language, in our case, Japanese.
Learning Japanese or any language is an active and continuous process. Non-native Japanese speakers dedicate time and commitment to learning and enhancing their language skills to reach the fluency and proficiency they are now. This is not to keep you hopeless; instead, it encourages you to explore and enjoy the fun learning process.
In general, learning is a complex inquiry, discovery, and collaboration process. A single classroom is composed of different types of learners. Some of those are visual, auditory, audio-visual, verbal, and a handful of other types. The ability of an individual to acquire language skills in a particular amount of time depends on their goals and the materials they use to cater to what type of learner they are. The efficacy of their techniques should match their capacity to keep up with their chosen technique.
THE HARDEST PART: GO AND GET STARTED
As the saying goes, the most challenging part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place. It is proven to be accurate; learners of the Japanese language may feel hesitant due to confusion about where they should start their learning journey.
A person interested in learning a foreign language without any prior knowledge easily gets discouraged when the first thought they have is, ‘I don’t have enough materials.’ The lack of confidence significantly impacts their approach to the language.
Deemed as one of the most challenging languages to study for non-native speakers, the Japanese language requires you to have a positive outlook on learning. That is easily one of the best tips for someone learning Japanese.
Learning the Japanese language in a formal institution, though costly, will ensure a more focused environment for the student. It will be a place where the person is with individuals who share the same goal—acquire Japanese language skills. Being in a classroom allows the student to play an active role in learning. The collaboration will occur as they speak, write, listen, read, and share ideas.
Since we’re in the digital age, we have unlimited access to Online tutorials and Free workbooks on the Internet. These are easily accessible resources that are useful in this early stage of learning. Most of the online tutorials are in video forms on YouTube, a widely known video streaming platform. Watching tutorial-like videos will mimic the experience of having an actual language instructor facilitate learning. Also, free and just one click away, ebooks, pdf, and printable worksheets are readily available.
For you to not be too overwhelmed by the language, start small. Memorize the basic greetings, such as ‘Konnichiwa,’ ‘Oishi!’, ‘Sayonara,’ ‘Arigatou,’ and other common expressions. It will help you through small talk before moving to prolonged and extensive phrases.
Another important aspect is to learn the Japanese honorifics and signs of respect. Bowing plays a vital part in Japanese culture. It reflects respect and is the most typical welcome gesture in Japan. In western culture, handshakes are more used as a greeting among people. However, In Japanese traditions, they need to bow, especially in the presence of their elders, as a sign of respect. Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself, as many more study tips help you learn Japanese.
RELAX IN JAPANESE
Don’t get confused! Relaxing in Japanese doesn’t necessarily mean booking a flight to Japan. This means that you have to let go of whatever English or Native-language-based drama you’re watching and make the switch to any Japanese movies or series. Exposing yourself to a relaxed state allows you to be more comfortable around the language and gives you a broader idea of less formal, everyday phrases and expressions that people use in that language. That is also one of the best tips for someone learning Japanese.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT HANDWRITING TOO MUCH
Keep your confidence boosted, but don’t get too ahead of yourself that after some weeks of trying to learn words, you’ll want to achieve the perfect Japanese handwriting. Take everything slowly and at your own pace. Dealing with a foreign language like this, it’s better to focus on speaking and reading as those are the skills that you mainly must use in daily conversations and interactions.
ALWAYS HAVE A GOOD JAPANESE-ENGLISH DICTIONARY AROUND
Though updated and advanced, Google Translate could only do so much to help you in your learning journey in terms of translation but it isn’t enough to explain the full context around a Japanese character, word, or sentence. Having a good Japanese-English Dictionary is a crucial thing to have for someone learning Japanese. it doesn’t have to be a big one, but a pocket-sized Japanese English-Dictionary will do. There are also downloadable applications for online viewing of different Japanese to English dictionaries for on-the-go use like Weblio Dictionary.
Japanese flashcards with complete sentences are also an excellent tool for learning fundamental terminology. Try to set a goal of having yourself pick up a particular number each day will surprise you because in no time, you’ll see a noticeable improvement.
REPETITION AND MEMORIZATION
According to research, repetition has been seen as the most effective way to learn a second language. During our early development years, we also have used repetition to learn how to speak. Our parents and guardians repeat several words like ‘Ma’ or ‘Pa’ for us to pick up and imitate. While watching Japanese movies or being around Japanese people, try to repeat what they’re saying (not always, but most of the time just do it inside your head because they might find the gesture offensive) or the expressions that you usually hear from them. Repetition is proven to be one of the best study tips to someone learning Japanese.
Aforementioned, there are various types of learners, it is just right that for one to find their forte is to mix up the different materials and resources there is until they find what best works for them. Do not just focus on one. Make sure you’re putting your writing, listening, speaking, and critical thinking skills into play.
Here are some basic phrases to help you in learning Japanese.
- Ohayou. おはよう。- Good morning. (Casual)
- Ohayou gozaimasu. おはようございます。- Good morning. (polite)
- Konnichiwa. こんにちは。- Hello.
- Konbanwa. こんばんは。 – Good evening.
- Hajimemashite. はじめまして。- Nice to meet you.
- Genki desu ka? 元気ですか。- How are you?
- Genki desu. 元気です。- I’m fine.
- Sumimasen. すみません。- Excuse me.
- Gomennasai. ごめんなさい。I am sorry.
- Itadakimasu. いただきます。- Thank you for the meal.
- Sayonara. さようなら。- Goodbye.
- Watashi no namae wa ～ desu . 私の名前は～です。
My name is ～.
- ～ kara kimashita. ～から来ました。
I am from ～ (your country’s name).
- Onamae wa? お名前は？
What is your name?
- Wakarimasen. わかりません。
I do not understand.
- Chotto matte kudasai. ちょっと待ってください。
Just a moment, please.
- ～wo kudasai. ～をください。
- Please give me ～.
- Nihongo de nanto iimasuka? 日本語で何といいますか。
How do you say it in Japanese?
Counting in Japanese
- 零 (rei) = 0
- 一 (ichi) = 1
- 二 (ni) = 2
- 三 (san) = 3
- 四 (yon / shi) 4
- 五 (go) 5
- 六 (roku) 6
- 七 (shichi ou nana) 7
- 八 (hachi) 8
- 九 (kyū / ku) 9
- 十 (jū) 10
A SKILL TO HELP YOU NAVIGATE THE WORLD
The benefit of learning a foreign language is unimaginable and will ultimately depend on your purpose in learning. Acquiring knowledge in the Japanese language to be used for work will give you more assertive communication between co-workers, clients, and customers. This also means a massive chance of more job opportunities. If you’re someone who plans to visit or stay in Japan for good, considering the tips mentioned above will definitely help you adapt and adjust to their environment easily. It can be a tool for you to widen your network and be more appreciative of their culture.
How long will it take for someone learning Japanese to be fluent?
The duration for fluency and proficiency highly depends on your capacity to retain information. But this doesn’t imply that the longer you take to fully understand a language means that you don’t have enough comprehension skills. This may indicate that the strategy you used needs to be improved, or you need to try something that will work better for you.
From the perspective of a learner who learned Japanese through a formal education and according to the US Department of state, they estimate that it takes around 88 weeks of learning, or 2200 hours (approximately a year and a half), to reach fluency. With guidance from a teacher or an instructor, the average length of time to learn advanced Japanese is around 2-3 years.
With the presence of diversity, different people will take different amounts of time to learn Japanese. One must have serious dedication and focus on their goal to be fluent in their own set time accordingly.
YOUR GLOBAL ADVANTAGE
The acquisition of a second language can be considered as a global advantage. We live in an increasingly interconnected world and proficiency in other languages is a vital skill that allows you to engage with the world in a more immediate and meaningful way. With that being said, imagine being proficient in the language of a very competitive and progressive country, in this matter, Japan.
Language grants us the ability to communicate effectively. Being able to understand and express yourself in different mediums is one of the most rewarding aspects of the human experience because it empowers us to connect with others. Being skilled in the use of the Japanese language equips you with the unique opportunity to communicate with an even wider range of people on a personal or professional scale. The ability to speak their language makes you a part of their community and this allows you to build strong, lifelong relationships.
Bilingualism is a significant advantage that makes you stand out from your monolingual competitors. The demand for bilingual professionals is rising exponentially. A study showed that between 2010 and 2015, an evident rise in US job postings requiring bilinguals have doubled. Businesses seek individuals who can communicate effectively and seamlessly with customers as they bring their brand to different parts of the world.
FEED YOUR BRAIN
Along with being ahead of your competitors, learning a language has undeniable cognitive benefits. Individuals who indulge themselves in more languages have improved memory, problem solving, critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, refined multitasking skills, and greater listening skills. Learning a language engages your brain and fights cognitive decline.
As learning a language improves your cognitive abilities, It will also be a great help for you to boost your confidence. Initiating a conversation with people exposes you to active social interaction. It demands you to step out of your comfort zone. The reward that awaits you is the overflowing sense of accomplishment when you have successfully held, even a short one, a conversation with a native speaker.
Exploring a new language means stepping inside a new culture. This sheds light on looking through different cultures and finding the beauty in it. An opportunity like this gives you a chance to gain perspective coming from a whole new point of view.