Are you a non-native Japanese speaker who wants to learn Japanese? Use our Japanese study time table to enhance your learning experience!
This Japanese Study Time Table consists of learning-language phases and their corresponding estimated time. From learning the alphabet to reading Japanese reference books and resources, we got you covered.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about how to start making time to study and get on the path to fluency.
Phase 1: Learn the Alphabet
Estimated Time: 1 week
Learning the Japanese alphabet and writing system can seem difficult at first. Unlike English which uses the Latin alphabet, Japanese combines three writing systems. These are hiragana, katakana, and kanji, however hiragana and katakana is where everything starts.
To begin learning hiragana and katakana, starting with the basic characters and learning their sounds is best. The sounds are easy to memorize, as there are no silent letters or unusual pronunciations.
Once you grasp hiragana and katakana, it’s time to move on to kanji. Kanji are Chinese characters that play a huge part in the Japanese language. It is hard at first because there are thousands of characters to study.
So, to begin learning kanji, start with the basic characters and learn their meanings. There are many kanji textbooks available that provide stroke order and pronunciation guides. Note that since kanji are frequently combined to form words, it’s essential to learn the meanings and pronunciation of each character.
One thing to remember while learning the Japanese writing system is that becoming proficient takes time and practice. Keep going even if you need to wait to learn everything right away. The more you practice reading and writing Japanese, the easier it will become.
Phase 2: Learn the Basic Japanese Sounds
Estimated Time: 5-7 days
Good knowledge of hiragana is essential for developing good Japanese pronunciation skills. While more than hiragana will be needed to fully educate you in Japanese, it’s still essential for understanding the language’s word sounds.
To learn Japanese pronunciation, you must familiarize yourself with the basic Japanese Sounds.
Basic Japanese Sounds
Japanese has a simple sound system compared to other languages. It only consists of five vowel sounds and fourteen consonant sounds. But, some of these sounds may be different from those in English. Thus, mastering them is crucial for accurate pronunciation.
- Vowels – The five vowel sounds in Japanese are “a,” “i,” “u,” “e,” and “o.” These sounds are short and clear, with no diphthongs like in English.
- Consonants – Japanese consonants are generally softer and lighter compared to English. Some consonants have slight variations in pronunciation, depending on their position within a word. For example, “s” and “z” may be pronounced as “sh” and “j’ respectively when followed by “i” or “y.”
- Pitch Accent – Unlike stress accent in English, Japanese has a pitch accent system where the pitch of a word changes its meaning. Some words have a high pitch accent, while others have a low one. Using a proper pitch accent of words is important if you want to speak Japanese and sound like a native.
With a little practice and understanding of the concepts mentioned above, you’ll eventually master the Japanese pronunciation.
Phase 3: Master the Japanese Pronunciation
Estimated Time: 1-2 weeks
Now that you understand the Japanese writing systems and basic sounds, let’s explore some tips for mastering Japanese pronunciation.
- Listen and Imitate – Listening to native speakers and imitating their pronunciation is one of the most effective ways to learn Japanese pronunciation. Pay attention to the sounds, rhythm, and intonation of Japanese speech. Try to mimic them as closely as possible.
- Practice Vowel and Consonant Sounds – Practice saying the different vowel and consonant sounds in Japanese. Pay attention to the correct mouth and tongue positions for each sound. To identify areas of improvement, recording yourself while speaking might help.
- Speak Aloud – Speaking aloud regularly builds muscle memory and improves articulation. Start with simple words and phrases, then move to more complex sentences.
With dedication and close attention to detail, you will greatly improve your pronunciation skills. So, remember to practice regularly. Ganbatte!
Phase 4: Learn Japanese Grammar
Estimated Time: 3-4 weeks
Now that you’ve studied Japanese for a few weeks and learned some vocabulary and kanji, it’s time to start learning grammar. Don’t worry if you’re a bit slower than others, as everyone learns at their own pace. So let’s focus on improving your Japanese grammar skills.
While Japanese grammar operates differently than English, it’s not necessarily more challenging. By learning the fundamental concepts of Japanese grammar, you’ll be able to comprehend the language more thoroughly and speed up your language acquisition.
Below are a few fundamental concepts to help you begin:
- General Japanese Grammar Rules – When written, Japanese sentences are not separated by space, unlike in English. Keep in mind that direct translation from English to Japanese may not be effective due to different grammar rules and sentence structures.
- SOV Sentence Structure – In Japanese, the basic sentence structure uses a subject-object-verb (SOV) language. It differs from English, where an SVO language with a subject-verb-object pattern is used.
- Verbs – Verbs are significant because they convey movement, action, existence, and presence. Understanding how they are used in Japanese is crucial as they are one of the most critical parts of speech.
- Nouns and Pronouns – In the Japanese language, nouns, and pronouns serve different functions. Nouns are self-contained words with a lexical meaning, while pronouns are used as substitutes for nouns.
- Grammatical Particles – Japanese use particles to state the grammatical roles of words in a sentence. They are often small words or syllables attached to nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
These are just an overview of what you must learn in Japanese grammar. It’s still important to immerse yourself in the language to use Japanese grammar correctly.
Phase 5: Read Japanese Reference Books
Estimated Time: 1-2 months
As you move along, there will always be more to learn. For times like this, Japanese reference books are quite an ideal technique for learning and improving Japanese.
Japanese reference books are comprehensive information sources covering various topics, from grammar to cultural insights. They are typically written by native Japanese speakers, which makes them an authentic and reliable source.
These reference books often provide the meaning of the words and their usages. It helps learners grasp the context and appropriate usage of words in different situations, which is crucial for developing fluency and cultural competence.
By incorporating Japanese reference books into your language learning routine and using them effectively, you can master the language and take your Japanese skills to the next level.
Phase 6: Read Manga
Estimated Time: 1 month
Upon the foundation of the alphabet, Japanese pronunciation, and basic grammar, you can now apply the basics while reading Manga.
Manga, or Japanese comic books, are an excellent resource for those who want to learn the Japanese language. Combining visual and textual elements makes Manga an effective language-learning tool.
- First, the images in Manga provide valuable context for the text.
Readers can see the characters’ facial expressions, body language, and the setting, which helps them understand the meaning of unfamiliar words or phrases.
- Second, Manga tends to have shorter word counts than other forms of literature, making it more accessible for beginner learners.
It is because Manga is primarily written for a younger audience and uses simpler vocabulary and sentence structures.
- Third, the fact that Manga is mostly written for children makes it a more approachable form of Japanese media for language learners.
The themes in Manga are often relatable and straightforward, making it easier for learners to engage with the content and learn new words and phrases.
Overall, Manga is a highly effective tool for learning Japanese due to its combination of visual and textual elements, shorter word counts, and accessibility for beginners. It is an enjoyable way to immerse oneself in the language and better understand Japanese culture.
Phase 7: Converse in Japanese
Estimated Time: 1-2 months
Learning to converse in Japanese is an essential part of studying the language. It is specially included in the last phase because this is where you need to apply all that you learn from Phases 1-6.
For an effective and efficient way of practicing Japanese, you may follow this guide:
- Set a specific time for conversation practice.
Designating a specific time in your timetable for conversation practice is important. It could be once a week, twice a week, or even every day, depending on your schedule and level of commitment. Setting a conversation practice time will make you more likely to stick to your routine.
- Find a language partner.
It’s important to have a language partner who is willing to practice conversational Japanese. It could be a native Japanese speaker, a fellow learner, or an online tutor.
- Prepare conversation topics.
To make the most of your conversation practice time, it’s a good idea to prepare some conversation topics in advance. These could be anything from simple greetings to more complex discussions about Japanese culture. By preparing topics in advance, you’ll feel more confident and be able to practice specific vocabulary and grammar structures.
By following these guides, you’ll be able to build your confidence. With regular practice and dedication, you can soon hold your Japanese conversations!
Japanese Language Hacks: Pro Tips
Using the Japanese Time Table provided will eventually let you learn Japanese. But, if you need fast-paced results, consider following these pro tips to learn Japanese vocabulary. These tips might be helpful along with the consistent progress of the phases included in the timetable.
- Using Spaced Repetition System
Spaced repetition is a system that helps you learn and keep new information through flashcards at specific intervals. The intervals are based on your performance. So, the more you struggle with a particular word or phrase, the more frequently you’ll see it in your study materials.
Once you have your materials, the next step is to start practicing. Begin by creating a set of flashcards, each with a Japanese word on one side and its English translation on the other. Then, test yourself by going through the cards and trying to recall the English translation for each Japanese word.
As you work through the flashcards, mark each one as either “easy,” “medium,” or “hard” based on how well you remember it.
For example, if you mark a card as “easy,” you’ll see it less frequently going forward, whereas if you mark it as “hard,” you’ll see it more often. This way, you can focus your time and energy on the words you struggle with the most, making your study time more efficient and effective.
With a little practice and persistence, you can use this technique to build a strong foundation of words and phrases that will serve you well as you continue to learn the language. So, give it a try!
- Using Keyword Mnemonic Method
In terms of learning Japanese vocabulary, only a few people enjoy memorization. Yet, that’s how they usually do it. However, regarding time and efficiency, mnemonics with sprinkles of spaced repetition are the way to go. So, what exactly is the keyword mnemonic method?
The keyword mnemonic method is a memorization technique that creates associations between new words and familiar words or images.
How can you use it to memorize Japanese vocabulary? Let’s use the word たべる (taberu/to eat) as an example of the two-step process each word goes through:
- To begin learning a new Japanese word, such as たべる (taberu), you can associate it with a relevant keyword in English. The chosen keyword should be related to the meaning of the word being learned. For instance, you can associate “table” with “taberu” to aid memory retention.
- The next step is to connect the English keyword to the meaning of the Japanese word. For example, if you associate “table” with “taberu,” you can link the two by creating a phrase such as “The table is where we will eat.” It helps trigger the recall of the meaning of the Japanese word by using the keyword as a memory aid.
Furthermore, you may incorporate these strategies along with the two-step process:
- The keyword that you’ll use should be easily imaginable in your mind’s eye.
- There should be some interaction between the keyword and the English definition of the Japanese word.
- The interaction of the keyword and English definition should be simple yet unusual.
- Include a sensory experience in the imagined interaction, if possible.
- Not all Japanese words can be effectively converted into a good keyword mnemonic.
Creating these associations between Japanese and English words makes you more likely to remember their meaning and pronunciation. The more vivid and memorable the keyword, the better.
Bear in mind that it typically takes dedicated students approximately four to six months to meet a basic level of skill in Japanese if they have yet to gain experience with the language. Upon achieving this significant goal, you will be capable of performing the following actions:
- Use basic Japanese phrases for self-introduction, ordering food, and asking for directions.
- Understand hiragana, katakana, and simple kanji.
- Write simple sentences using hiragana, katakana, and some simple kanji.
- Engage in basic conversations with native speakers about hobbies, interests, and family.
- Recognize basic Japanese words and phrases in TV shows, movies, and news broadcasts.
Start your Japanese Journey
At first, learning may appear overwhelming, especially when studying and mastering the writing systems. Nonetheless, like many of life’s seemingly impossible challenges, success can be achieved through persistence, consistency, and time.
By establishing practical goals, developing a routine, and finding ways to allocate time for daily study, you can speak and read Japanese sooner than you ever thought possible.
Start your Japanese Journey with Denwa Sensei, and reach your Japanese learning goals faster than a typical learning app ever could!