If you've decided to learn Japanese, you will require a great deal of motivation to be able to pick up the language fast. Learning any Asian language is not very easy. Each language comes with its specific set of alphabet systems and is different from each other unlike European languages, most of which have Latin roots.
To learn Japanese and progress quickly, you can choose many different ways. While self-study could be an option, if you want to progress quickly within a short span of time, you can always hire a private tutor or enroll in a language institute. Learning under experienced teachers is one of the best ways to learn Japanese. They know how to make learning the language easy for you.
In Japanese, picking up the spoken language is not very difficult. In fact, 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. Whereas 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. Only when it comes to writing, learners face certain difficulties.
Regardless of whether you seek professional help or not, you need to regularly practice in order to retain what you are learning. Read on to know what you need to do in order to quickly learn and master the Japanese language.
Steps Involved in Learning Japanese
The popularity of a language depends a great deal on the popularity of the nation’s culture and the strength of its economy. When it comes to Asian countries, Japan tops the list. Over the years, it has emerged a nation to reckon with, thanks to cutting-edge technologies that Japanese brands have introduced for consumers across all sectors. Equally intrigued are people by its culture. The best way to know a country and its culture is by knowing the language.
In recent years learning the Japanese language has been gaining popularity. But the language is very different from European languages like French, Spanish or Italian. Japanese is written with a mixture of kanji, hiragana, and katakana. In addition, rōmaji (Roman script) is also used. So, you need to be very dedicated and passionate about the language to be able to learn it well enough for you to speak, read, listen comprehend and write in Japanese. Here are the steps that you need to follow:
- Learn Hiragana which is the basis of Japanese pronunciation
- Familiarize yourself with Katakana which is used to represent foreign words unlike Hiragana which is used for Japanese words
- Start working on Kanji which are the logographic characters used in the Japanese writing system
- Build a core vocabulary with memorizing as many words as possible
- Practice pronouncing the word correctly so that the you don’t develop a false accent
- Learn the use of basic particles which are grammar units used to form sentences
- Pick up the Japanese sentence structure to know where to fit your subject, object, verb, etc.
- Learn basic greetings and expressions that will help you to start communicating
Methods to Learn Japanese Efficiently
Learning a new language is not an easy task. But there are methods that you can follow to speed up your progress. The best way to quickly develop an interest in the language is to pick up a few words to build your vocabulary in Japanese. These can be commonly used words, expressions, and greetings. No matter what you learn each day, daily revision is important. Here are some suggestions to help you learn better
Using Memorizing Tools
Using workbooks and flashcards is a good place to start. Kanji workbooks can help you learn to write Kanji characters and understand their meaning. Get a workbook and dedicate a short amount of time to practice each day, even if it’s only 20 minutes. You can also make vocabulary worksheets. Keep sheets for different categories of words and keep building those sheets and revising them daily. Apart from making worksheets, you can use flashcards categorized theme-wise into verbs, nouns, prefixes, suffixes, etc.
You can start off your vocabulary building exercise by writing the word in rômaji which would involve translating Japanese alphabets into Latin. Once you have mastered reading and writing Kana (Higarana Katakana) and Kanji, you can directly use them on your vocabulary worksheets. As you keep learning the words and memorizing them, you will slowly be able to start conversing in Japanese once you know around 500 to 600 words. But alongside memorizing you will also need to practice writing to able to progress quickly with your learning.
Taking Private Lessons
One of the best ways to ensure rapid progress in learning Japanese is by hiring a private tutor. While you can always join a language institute that offers Japanese language courses, hiring a private teacher will have certain advantages. In a school, not all students have similar abilities to pick up the subject. That impedes progress. When you study under a private tutor, the pace can be adjusted based only on your ability to learn. The teacher will also be able to solely attend to your needs.
If money is not a constraint, you can definitely consider this option. Look for a teacher who is Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) certified and has at least 4 to 5 years of teaching experience. Studying under a bilingual teacher who knows both English and Japanese is of great help. He or she will be able to explain the nuances of Japanese in a language you both understand and in the process ensure that you are able to learn and comprehend properly. If you are planning to sit for a JLPT test, a tutor who is already certified can share useful tips to crack it.
You can also take lessons online from a native Japanese teacher. Online learning gives you the opportunity to study under a Japanese language teacher outside the country. Native Japanese teachers are also usually bilingual. So, if you opt to take lessons from one, you can also expect him or her to share a lot of interesting information regarding their culture, thereby making the learning experience very exciting.
Using Mobile Apps
Learning a language requires discipline. It's no different for the Japanese language. You need to devote time on a daily basis to learn the subject. The process can begin to feel tedious after a point in time. To break the monotony of textbook learning, you can use mobile applications that have been developed specifically for language learning. The apps are loaded with interactive content which makes learning fun. You can take quizzes on the app, improve pronunciation, and a lot more. These applications will also help you enormously to prepare for a test in Japanese! Here are some popular apps:
- Duolingo: it is a fun way to learn basic Japanese. You can spend five to ten mins on the app daily to simply take easy exercises.
- Hiragana Quest: This app helps you to earn both Hiragana and Kanktakana through mnemonics
- 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.
- Jsho: This is a language app and is a great help in building your vocabulary and also to prepare for your JLPT test
- JA Sensei: this is a fun and learning-packed application: conversation, writing, exercises, courses, quizzes.
- Hello Talk: Through this app, you can connect with Japanese people and start conversing which is primarily why you are learning the language
- Nihongo na kana: very good app to start with some Japanese writing as well as start to learn the 92 signs and derivatives of the kana syllabary, with quizzes along the way to evaluate your progress.
Deep Diving into Popular Culture
One of the best ways to improve your language learning is by exposing yourself to Japan's pop culture. Youtube is full of video content and is a great way to immerse yourself in the Japanese language! Listening to the videos will improve your listening skills and ability to comprehend. Your ear will start getting used to the sounds. In turn, you will be able to rectify your pronunciation.
Watching anime (manga) and dramas (Japanese TV series) will help you understand the various contexts of using the language and also improve your fluency. It is also a good way to improve your pronunciation of Kana or Kanjiet and enrich your vocabulary.
Benefits of Learning Japanese
Japanese culture has trickled into our daily lives. From sushi to manga, anime to origami, Japanese culture has gained immense popularity over the years. And by learning Japanese, you can experience the culture more closely; whether it’s Japanese books, movies, TV series, etc. While learning Japanese is often overlooked by students in favour of Spanish, French, German, or Italian, knowing the language can help open up many career opportunities. Knowing a foreign language is undoubtedly good for your CV. But what’s better is knowing one that most people don’t.
Japan’s booming economy makes it a dream market for most business enterprises. Knowing the language is the best way to actually understand the market, discover clients and grab opportunities. Also, a number of top-line brands in all sectors are based out of Japan. If you end up working in one such organization or applying for a position there, knowing the language will always give you an edge over the competition. While learning the language, you will also end up knowing about Japanese culture and etiquette, all of which will definitely make you an asset to the company.
If you know the language, you can also end up working as a translator or interpreter when Japanese companies come to set up a business or Japanese tourists visit India. Knowing the language can change your fortune. So, without waiting further, start your journey to learning Japanese today!