Recently, there has been a growing demand for the Japanese language in India owing to the ever-improving India-Japan relations, especially due to the expansion of Japanese companies in India. Trade relations with Japan are growing as Japan is synonymous with high quality and technologically advanced products. High school graduates and college students want to learn Japanese to improve their chances of securing a job with a leading Japanese company.
Japanese is the most popular choice among East Asian languages in India.
Despite its popularity, however, the Japanese language also comes with the reputation of being difficult to learn. But, remember, the career scope of Japanese language students is immensely wide, especially if your Japanese in school results in the accomplishment of a high level of proficiency like JLPT N2.
Learning Japanese in School
The future of Japanese language education in India has received a boost with several schools in urban India offering comprehensive Japanese language courses for students of all levels of learning. These courses are meant for beginners, intermediate, as well as advanced level students of the Japanese language. School students can opt for online Japanese language courses or enroll themselves in courses offered by language schools in their city. Check out these top few.
Hayakawa Japanese Language School & Cultural Center, Chennai
The Hayakawa Japanese Language School, which is also a center for promoting the culture of Japan, seeks to impart a quality Japanese learning experience of international standard to Indian students at the most affordable cost.
The school provides language training courses, as well as experiences to learn about Japanese culture, Japanese business etiquettes, English to Japanese translation, and Japanese to English translation and interpretation services through professional native Japanese teachers.
The school provides its students with Japanese language textbooks, self-learning Japanese CDs for Comprehensive Japanese Test (C-JAT), and Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).
Japanese Learning School (JLS), Bengaluru
JLS offers exclusive courses for basic and advanced levels of Japanese studies, specifically designed for Indian students.
Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) Courses
- JLPT N5: Includes basic elements of grammar, a vocabulary of around 1,000 words, and 120 Kanji characters. After completion of this course, one is able to read and understand typical expressions and sentences written in Hiragana, Katakana, and basic kanji and can also listen and comprehend basic conversations used in daily life.
- JLPT N4: Includes more advanced grammar, a vocabulary of around 1,500 words, and 350 Kanji characters. Students will be able to comprehend and participate in day-to-day conversation and write simple sentences in Japanese script.
- JLPT N3: Includes a vocabulary of around 4,000 words and 700 Kanji characters. Students will be able to read and understand written materials with specific contents concerning everyday topics, is also able to grasp summary information like newspaper headlines, and is able to speak and comprehend coherent conversations in everyday situations spoken at near-natural speed.
- JLPT N2: Includes a vocabulary of 7,000 words and 1,200 Kanji characters. Students who successfully complete this course will have the ability to read, write and converse Japanese with relative ease, and even work in a Japanese business environment without difficulty.
- JLPT N1: Includes a vocabulary of 10,000 words and 2,000 Kanji characters. This course assures the student a command over the language sufficient for all business dealings and language levels that even permit education at a Japanese University.
Choose Japanese Courses in College
Knowledge of the Japanese language not only helps in reading, writing, and speaking the language, but also provides the learner a perspective on Japanese etiquettes, values, discipline, customs, religious beliefs, ethics, manners, traditions, and aesthetics. This knowledge can be further strengthened by taking up a course in the Japanese language as you enter university. A degree or diploma course in Japanese can also open a world of career opportunities for graduates.
JNU Japanese Courses
Jawaharlal Nehru University was one of the first universities in India to introduce a Japanese language course, which was later upgraded into a full-time 5-year integrated program leading to an M.A. degree. The program emphasizes the learning of Japanese literature, culture, society, and religion. Students can also pursue M.Phil/P.hD programs, which were introduced in the Center in 2006.
Department of East Asian Studies, Delhi University
The Department's M.A. in Japanese program is one of the two postgraduate courses on offer at the Department. Students can also pursue inter-disciplinary doctoral research programs in East Asian Studies and Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Studies. Such studies offer a perspective into the history, culture, language, literature, society, economics, politics, and international relations of Japan. The Departmental Library has a collection of audio and video materials, over 80,000 books, and a number of prominent journals in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
Some of the unique modules offered across 4 semesters of the 2-year M.A. program include:
- General Linguistics
- Theory and Practice of Translation
- Cultural History of Japan
- Introduction to Kambun
- Introduction to Kobun
- Guided Speaking and Interpretation
- Study of Representative Works
Hire a Japanese Private Tutor
Private Japanese tutors usually set a high standard of teaching Japanese. Many such tutors offer bilingual classes in both Japanese and English, making it easier for students to follow the lessons. Online private lessons in Japanese offer a learning community for students to practice their Japanese with native speakers and exchange cultural talks, to boost their confidence.
Moreover, private tutors adopt a practical, hands-on approach to teach a new language. Private lesson plans are customized as per the specific needs of the students. The biggest advantage of opting for private Japanese lessons is the flexibility of the class schedule. Tutors and students can mutually work out a suitable time every time they have to meet for a class.
Find a Japanese Private Tutor with Superprof
Superprof India offers a unique platform to check out tutor profiles, including the experience and qualifications of teachers of Japanese that would help students make a better decision. Superprof tutors offer their first lecture free of cost. This helps both students and teachers to familiarize themselves with the learning and teaching styles and establish a mutual connection.
The average price of Japanese lessons on Superprof is ₹1,344, a criterion that is decided by:
- The experience of the teacher
- The location of lessons (at home, online, or an outside location)
- The duration and frequency of lessons
Learning Japanese: Tips for Beginners
Most learners of Japanese get hung up over a few specific aspects of Japanese, such as Japanese vocabulary, grammar (especially, verbs), multiple writing systems (kanji, hiragana, katakana) while ignoring the nice and easy ones. However, compared to other languages, there are many aspects of the Japanese language that are much easier for learners to grasp.
Use of English Loan Words
The Japanese language offers a massive pre-existing vocabulary to draw on due to the thousands of English words borrowed into the Japanese language. These “foreign loanwords”, or gairaigo (外来語), offer learners with an English background (which most schoolgoers in urban India are) a massive head start, allowing them to understand and communicate a great deal of information even with shaky Japanese grammar and zero Kanji knowledge. Don't believe us? Check these examples out for yourselves!
- “mic” → maiku (マイク)
- “table” → teeburu (テーブル)
- “Internet” → intaanetto (インターネット)
- “romantic” → romanchikku (ロマンチック)
- “driveshaft” → doraibushafuto (ドライブシャフト)
The “Japanified” pronunciation of English loan words must be learned, of course. However, the predictable and consistent phonetic patterns do help. Simply learn Katakana and familiarize yourself with how English sounds are transferred into Japanese. Let us help you get started with a few key patterns:
- English loan words adopt the consonant-vowel, consonant-vowel pattern found in Japanese. So you can be sure that any English consonant clusters, such as the ‘dr’ in “drive” will get extra vowels added in the middle. In this case, ‘d’ becomes do.
- In Japanese, no words end in a consonant (with the exceptions of n), so if an English loanword has a consonant sound at the end (e.g. “mic”), you can be sure that the Japanese equivalent will have a vowel tacked on: maiku.
Learning Through Phonetics
The unique nature of Kanji characters (alphabets) makes it easier for students to pick up the pronunciation. Most Kanji alphabets are “pictophonetic” compounds comprised of two chunks: a “phonetic indicator” that points to the character’s pronunciation, and a “semantic indicator” relating to its meaning.
Learning the most common phonetic and semantic chunks (or “radicals”) enables learners to make educated guesses about the pronunciation and meaning of new characters. For example, all of the following Kanji share the same phonetic chunk, 工 (“craft”). It is pronounced kou (こう), and each of the following Kanji it contains are all pronounced kou:
- 紅 (“crimson”)
- 虹 (“rainbow”)
- 江 (“creek”)
- 攻 (“aggression”)
- 功 (“achievement”)
Simple Use of Subjects and Objects
Japanese is often referred to as a “pro-drop” language by language experts. This means that pronouns and objects are often left unsaid if the “who” and “what” are obvious to the listener and speaker. For example, if someone asks if you already ate dinner, you can simply say tabeta (食べた, “ate”), the past-tense of taberu (食べる), since both parties already know the subject (“I”) and the object (“dinner”). All you need is the verb.
Best Japanese Video Games to Aid Language Learning
Ever considered Japanese video games as a learning resource to master the Japanese language? What if we told you that video games are the perfect tool for cranking up your level of Japanese language knowledge? Japanese video games are no longer region-locked nor do they require you to buy Japanese consoles. From Super Mario to Final Fantasy, here is how you can learn Japanese by playing video games!
My Japanese Coach
All you need is a Nintendo DS. Install My Japanese Coach to learn Japanese the cool way. A Nintendo DS is as useful as a smartphone today. Each new play throws up new words that users are encouraged to memorize (the correct stroke order of both hiragana and katakana). There are mixed reviews on the utility of the app, with some users complaining that the explanations within the game are too confusing for beginners. However, others have found it to be incredibly fun and educational.
Katakana War teaches you your everyday Japanese in a fun way. Anime characters (your avatars) embark on an adventure to learn new words. Learn katakana (one of the 3 writing systems of Japanese) through various levels of learning.
The game features illustrated manga chapters, in addition to flashcards that allow users to study both hiragana and katakana. This is a great app for beginners as no previous knowledge of Japanese is required to get started.
The most famous Japanese video game of all time, Pokémon is a light-hearted catch-em-all RPG. The game is undoubtedly one of the easiest Japanese video games to learn from. Choose your language at the start of a new game, following which users are given two settings for reading: kana only, or kanji (without furigana).
The game includes a lot of English loan words. Learn onomatopoeia and memorize words that repeat often enough. Also, it is fairly easy to pick up word meanings from context. Moreover, Pokémon Go is available for play in Japanese. This makes the game an on-the-go learning tool.
Finally, find a good Japanese-English dictionary. Google Translate may not always be enough for you to crack this language. There are several online dictionaries for you to get started. The Dictionaries of Japanese Grammar is a series of 3 books published by the Japan Times. It contains well-written explanations of words, accompanied by example sentences. Moreover, most Japanese teaching universities around the world use this series. Reason enough for you to pick it up? Get cracking, we say!
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