Do you think it’s possible to learn a challenging language without a teaching assistant? This article will tackle the best way to learn Japanese: one of the toughest languages to learn.
Not everyone who speaks Japanese has taken formal Japanese language education. There are other methods to master it on your own. You may start by simply learning the basics of the Japanese language. Countless people are learning languages on their own. You can enhance your Japanese knowledge by yourself, but it will take some effort. With a practical study plan, one may start from zero and progress to a solid advanced skill level. You may also want to try different approaches to find the best way to work for you.
Read on if you want to know the best ways to learn Japanese at home or need more advice to help you get further.
The best way to learn Japanese is easy
Learning a new language may also introduce you to a vastly expanded selection of books, films, music, games, anime, and other media. The most widely used media frequently undergo English translation. However, less well-known Japanese movies or anime are either not translated into English, are not official translations, or are poorly quality.
You may now comprehend anime, films, variety programs, news, and all other forms of popular Japanese media if you know Japanese. The ability to follow pop culture, current affairs, history, and many other topics in their native language enables you to develop a stronger bond with traditional and modern Japanese culture.
Your ability to communicate in Japanese sets you distinct from the crowd. Popular foreign languages frequently tend to be romantic languages, especially if you are coming from the Western Hemisphere. Many English speakers decide to study German, Italian, French, or Spanish. It is more often taught in schools and is more similar to English, making learning more straightforward.
You might take advantage of particular chances by studying a less popularly studied language renowned for being challenging to master and being seen as brave and dedicated.
Proven and Tested Methods of Learning Japanese by Yourself
As of the present, modernization and technology are invading every part of our world. The inventions of apps, websites, and gadgets help us advance. With all the online resources available today, learning anything is easier than ever.
The benefits you will get depend on your purpose of learning the language. If you aim to learn Japanese for work, you will have more assertive communication with your co-workers, clients, and customers. Understanding Japanese will also help you get more job opportunities. If you’re in Japan, it will help you approach the people for simple inquiries and familiarize yourself with their culture and tradition. Below are some of the proven and tested methods that can help you learn Japanese. However, you have to be dedicated and focused on your goal.
1. Explore the Basics of Japanese
First, memorize the basic greetings, such as “Konnichiwa,” “Arigatou,” “Sayonara,” and other usual expressions. It will help you familiarize yourself with many simple phrases used in a simple conversation. You may also utilize search engines like Google for translation.
Second, learn how to bow as a sign of respect. A bow is the most typical welcome gesture in Japan. The societal setting affects the bow’s depth, length, and style. In many situations where handshakes are customary in the English-speaking West, use bowing instead. However, many Japanese are tolerant and inclined to shake hands when seeing foreigners. In informal meetings with friends and family, individuals typically make a little head-bobbing motion. People often use the regular sitting or standing bow to meet acquaintances of a comparable social rank and age.
The prefix “-san” is most frequently used when addressing someone. This suffix can address both males and females and suggests a degree of familiarity. A more refined and formal variation of the honorific “-san” is “-sama.” It is frequently used when addressing someone with a higher social rank or in a professional situation.
“Hajimemashite” (Nice to meet you) is a frequent greeting when meeting someone for the first time in a social environment. In contrast, “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” is the most typical greeting in formal contexts.
Then, master the three written scripts of Japanese symbols or characters: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. You will learn how to read, write, and pronounce in the Japanese language with the guidance of the said scripts.
2. Construct a Core Vocabulary
One of the most crucial things you should do while starting your quest to learn basic Japanese by yourself is to develop your vocabulary.
This basic vocabulary is crucial for speaking, writing, listening, and reading. It will enable you to expand on the knowledge of the fundamental terminology you already possess.
Everyone can do this without too much difficulty.
Learning some “loan words”—words that are so similar to English words that they will seem very natural to learn and use—is one of the quickest methods to develop a core vocabulary. The term “camera” illustrates that concept:
カメラ (かめら) (camera)
To create this essential vocabulary, start from the very beginning. Consider the conversational tics you employ to introduce yourself, express “please” and “thank you,” or respond to inquiries.
Japanese flashcards are a great tool for learning fundamental terminology. When you set a goal for yourself to pick up a particular number of new words or phrases each day, they might be amusing to utilize.
3. Use tools for memorization
The usage of memorizing tools has been by far one of the strategies explored that has been most successful. Many tools are available to help with spaced repetition, a memorizing method that is very effective for vocabulary growth.
Repeating the terms you’re trying to learn a few times apart is considerably more effective. You will only be reminded in this manner when it is truly necessary.
There are several potential plans for carrying this out. People who adhere to these plans typically use programs like Anki to train for 10 to 20 minutes daily.
I should clarify that it’s not simple to memorize one sentence to use in every situation; rather, people gradually learn each word’s definition and appropriate usage by observing it in various situations. The best part is that your brain almost achieves this on its own!
Using these memorizing techniques still helps pick things up rapidly. But the most significant aspect is that the lessons are now in your memory.
– Learning with mnemonics is an intriguing alternative.
It is considerably simpler to learn new words when they are connected to another word or rhyme. The Greeks memorized the Iliad by heart because they chanted the entire poem, which is a strange way our brains function.
Instead, employ visual mnemonics to help you remember kanji. Many individuals find it simple to recall kanji by connecting their appearance with a well-known shape, even though these are not always visible.
4. Educate Yourself about Hiragana
The alphabet used in Japan is termed Hiragana: one of the three Japanese writing systems you must understand to read. Excellent pronunciation is a must, and you may get a foundational understanding of it with the help of Hiragana. It will also offer opportunities to utilize Japanese materials or textbooks, boost self-confidence, and visualize your progress.
Follow the instructions listed below to learn Hiragana in just a few days:
● Utilize image-based mnemonics for faster Hiragana memorization. There is a distinctive graphic for each hiragana character.
● Concentrate on reading rather than writing. The time it takes to learn Hiragana is only doubled or tripled when studying writing.
● Browse for some Hiragana quizzes online. After practicing for hours, see if you have learned much by completing an online examination. You will then determine if you need to improve and put up more effort.
Hiragana will help you become a better speaker and listener. Each letter serves as a visual cue for each phoneme since each Hiragana represents one phoneme. You may learn each sound through sight and sound. You will benefit from knowing how to pronounce the Japanese.
Additionally, you will understand the words more clearly when listening to Japanese if you completely understand all Japanese sounds. The Japanese sound will become familiar to your ears immediately.
5. Become Informed about Katakana
There are several applications for Katakana. The most frequent application is to translate foreign words, mainly English ones. Katakana’s translation of words often doesn’t sound exactly like the originals. You’ll learn to pronounce foreign words using Japanese sounds as you become used to them, and you may then write them in Katakana.
Foreign human names, foreign place names, and national names are all written in Katakana. For instance, Amerika is the common term used to refer to the United States. Katakana is also frequently used to write technical and scientific terminology, such as the names of different animal, plant, and mineral species. The traditional musical notation also used Katakana.
Some teachers of Japanese as a second language introduce Katakana once the pupils have mastered the rules and can easily read and write sentences in Hiragana. The majority of pupils who have mastered Hiragana have no trouble remembering Katakana as well. Since they are utilized with loanwords, other teachers start by introducing Katakana. Students can use this as an opportunity to practice reading and writing kana with valuable terms.
You may find Excellent tutorials on how to read and write Katakana on Youtube. It starts with the necessities, such as the kind of pens and paper to make the procedure simple, and gently shows each character’s strokes.
6. Gain More Knowledge about Kanji
Studying Kanji is notably the most problematic aspect of learning Japanese, but it doesn’t have to be difficult if you understand how to learn it. To learn enough Kanji, you only need to devote one or two years of study.
Kanji lends words their meaning. And you will notice there are no spaces between Japanese words. Kanji serves to separate them, making the language easier to read. Reading mistakes can happen when you don’t know where one word begins and another one finishes, which makes it extra harder to read long phrases.
You become a lightning-fast reader after you learn Kanji. Once you understand Kanji, you can rapidly scan through information and understand a phrase. You are not required to read all of the Hiragana. Instead, just switching between Kanji will allow you to decipher what anything means.
To achieve Japanese fluency, as measured by the N1 Japanese Language Proficiency Test, you need to be familiar with 10,000 terms, jouyou kanji, and several grammatical rules. You would thus require at least a year of intensive, full-time study to achieve near-native levels of fluency. You wouldn’t necessarily have to live there, but you would have to create an authentic environment at home. Even so, it still takes 3-5 years on average for someone to attain this level of study intensity but not full-time.
Include Kanji flashcard exercises in your study plan to improve your skills. Through websites like Study Kanji, students may access basic Kanji and use them to acquire new information or test existing knowledge.
7. Watch Japanese Movies and Series With a Subtitle of Your First Language
Using subtitles in education will enhance bilingualism and improve reading and understanding. Watching movies and series subtitled in your first language makes you more familiar with Japanese sentences translated into your language. You will ultimately figure out how words went together and made sentences. However, relying just on subtitles to learn is a terrible idea. Your brain will no longer process the stream of Japanese, or it will focus less on it.
You may use Japanese subtitles to minimize the listening aspect, but they also improve your reading skills. The subtitles move by so quickly that you must learn to speed read, a talent you may not have used much before. Additionally, you will pick up vocabulary terms that you may not have otherwise. Since you know how to spell and pronounce them correctly, it will be simpler to employ such words in your discussion (whether speaking or writing). As you compare written passages to ones you heard on TV, your comprehension of book dialog will also increase.
8. Install Japanese-related Apps or Sites
More functional applications and websites are being made as technology advances. Numerous applications are already available that can help you improve your understanding of the Japanese language, including grammar and writing.
One of the most popular language learning apps available is Duolingo, and because of its free pricing structure, learning Japanese is made simple. The software provides a staggering quantity of the various Japanese writing systems and tests that help you develop a strong vocabulary and sentence structure using flashcards.
You can also install Japanese keyboards on your mobile phone to enhance your typing and writing skills.
9. Start Japanese Conversations
Your primary means of practice and the best way to learn and apply Japanese is to have conversations. You will find it simpler to recall a piece of information when applied to a situation or used in a simple conversation.
You can engage in small talk if you still feel awkward with your speaking skills. Keep conversation informal and respectful. To avoid offending the other person, bring up the weather, a delicious cuisine you recently had, or another uncontroversial subject. Additionally, even if your level of Japanese is lower, the simpler the topic, the simpler it will be for you to grasp the other person and carry on the discussion. However, you’re not expected to start making small conversations because most Japanese people are not accustomed to conversing informally with strangers on the train or in public.
The ability to put your language skills into practice is another reason why it is crucial to do this manner. You could finally find yourself attempting to think and speak in Japanese after all your work.
How Long Before You Completely Learn Japanese?
The US Department of State estimates that it lasts 2200 hours, or 88 weeks of instruction, to become fluent in Japanese. According to others’ estimates, it will take English-speaking pupils roughly 4800 hours to truly master the Japanese language and pass the JLPT N1 test. On a random Reddit topic, users commented that it required approximately 800 hours of study time to be able to watch anime with complete understanding. Others disagreed, saying that it takes 2–5 years of practice to become proficient but that you might get by after a year.
Different people will take different amounts of time to learn Japanese. It is because our skills of memorization, comprehension, and devotion vary. If your goal is to learn, it won’t matter how many days or years it takes.