For those who want to learn authentic Japanese, complete with a guide to writing, reading, and speaking the language, every step of the way, consider immersive learning. Immersion-based learning is one of the best ways to learn Japanese. Especially considering the plethora of free learning resources available out there for Japanese learning - online Japanese learning courses, self-learning app, podcasts, and so on.
Understanding Immersive Language Learning
Immersion-based language learning is meant for those who want to learn a language in the most authentic and natural way possible. It makes for a fun, interactive, and extremely dynamic way to learn because it allows students to truly experience almost all aspects of Japanese cultural life in the language (in this case, Japanese) they are learning.
Because immersive language learning usually means learning a new language in the most natural way possible, practically, it would mean living in the country where the language is spoken, in this case, Japan. However, this is not an option under the current pandemic situation.
Immersive learning makes it easier to learn and remember new words and phrases through the things you eat, the hobbies you take part in, the people you meet and so much more.
Superprof is here to help you find other ways to immerse yourself in Japanese language learning. Whether you want to master the Japanese alphabet, learn hiragana and katakana, or be a fluent speaker in Japanese, immersion into the language by incorporating Japanese cultural aspects into your own life can help a long way.
Benefits of Immersive Language Learning
Here, we have summarized the proven benefits of language immersion.
- Second language skills: Students find it easier to achieve high proficiency in the immersion language.
- Improved performance on standardized tests: Immersion students often perform as well as or better than non-immersion students on standardized tests of English.
- Enhanced cognitive skills: Research shows the development of greater cognitive flexibility in language immersion students. Such students demonstrate increased attention control, better memory, and superior problem-solving skills as well as an enhanced understanding of their primary language.
- Increased cultural sensitivity: Immersion students are more aware of and show more positive attitudes towards other cultures and an appreciation of other people.
The long-term benefits of immersive learning include students who are better prepared for the global community and job markets where a second language is an asset.
Immersion vis-a-vis Submersion
Often, there may arise confusion between the two types of learning. However, we would like to iterate that the immersion approach is a far better way of learning than the submersion approach.
Immersion in a language requires the students to possess the necessary tools, and master the tips, and tricks to support themselves when it comes to learning the language and culture. On the other hand, submersion usually requires students to take a deep dive without resources or support.
Tips to Learn Japanese Through Cultural Immersion
Japanese is a language based on contextual use. And, one of the greatest advantages of using the method of immersive learning to learn a foreign language is being able to put everything you learn into context.
While you learn Japanese through immersion, you get to live the culture of Japan on a daily basis, enabling you to connect your everyday life with the language. It is important to remember this when you choose the best method to learn Japanese.
While Japanese textbooks and online courses can introduce you to Japanese and act as a reference guide, immersive learning will truly help you excel at reading, writing, and speaking Japanese.
Some foreign language exposure is much better than no exposure.
Immersive learning also helps students learn more about Japanese culture and society because the Japanese language is so deeply tied to its culture and traditions.
Example: Much of the language is directly linked to the concept of Uchi-Soto 内外. The way you speak to those you consider “Uchi”, or inside your social circle, is different from how you speak to those in your outer, or “Soto”, circle. This is why you learn Keigo or honorific speech, and use it to show humility and respect to those outside your social circle.
Japanese Immersion, Anywhere, Anytime!
This form of cultural immersion requires you to surround yourself with as much of the target language, in this case, Japanese, as possible, even if (nay, especially if) you can't travel to Japan. Try to make almost everything you hear, read, see, and say, on a daily basis be in the Japanese language, like:
- Listen to the radio in Japanese.
- Listen to podcasts in Japanese.
- Watch a TV show or a movie in Japanese.
- Check Facebook or Instagram in Japanese.
- Read the news in Japanese.
- Read an article on the Internet in Japanese.
- Get driving directions on your smartphone in Japanese.
It is important to set yourself realistic goals as to the amount of time you can spend in Japanese. This will obviously depend on your life circumstances, employment status, marital status, and other such factors. However, it is equally important to try and increase your exposure to the Japanese language in small, meaningful ways, each day.
Top 5 Japanese Language Immersion Tips
1. Watch Japanese Television
Language learning is a lot about spaced repetition. What better way to expose yourself to such repetition than TV series? The same words and lines come up regularly in TV series. Listening to the same voices over and again allows you to grow accustomed to the pronunciation and speed of a few different people over a number of weeks.
Let's admit it, now. Pokémon and Dragonball Z are probably the reasons why you got interested in Japanese, in the first place, right? It is time for you to revisit those old favorites - this time, with pen and paper.
Important to remember that it is all about active watching. In other words, watch a show with the intention of picking up new vocabulary. Note around 10 new words or phrases each episode. Incorporate them into your growing vocabulary. Use them while speaking. This is also a good way to improve your application of Japanese grammar.
2. Listen to Japanese Music
Just listening is also a good practice to pick up foreign vocabulary. And, Japanese music can help you with this, for the same reason that we remember the lyrics of English songs or any other songs in our preferred language. Choose songs that you enjoy listening to give yourself a useful listening exercise that won’t be a total chore.
3. Read and Watch Japanese News
A good way to keep up with Japanese contemporary culture and current affairs is to follow the news, especially news in Japanese. The Japanese broadcaster NHK’s News Web is an excellent place to start this practice.
NHK helpfully posts news in ordinary Japanese. These are articles written in simple Japanese, alongside videos and audio clips for listening practice. The NHK page is ideal for Japanese language beginners, allowing users to hover over more difficult words for explanations in simpler Japanese, and glossing all kanji with hiragana.
Unlike watching TV or listening to music, using NHK’s site will help to hone your Japanese reading skills. The NHK site combines the best of textbook learning with interactive features which are invaluable to the reader.
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Combine the activity of reading up on Japanese culture and learning Japanese. This way, you can learn to speak about the events with the words that native Japanese speakers would use to discuss them.
4. Play Games in Japanese
For our gamer friends out there, who are also into learning Japanese, switching games into Japanese is an easy way to pick up new and interesting vocabulary. It is unlikely you would learn this fast in a classroom.
Pokémon is, of course, a great place to start. It offers the option of kana (intended for Japanese children) or kanji, so it can be attempted by Japanese learners from beginner, intermediate to advanced levels of learning.
The game’s repetitive situations such as battles, going to the Pokémon Centre, and so on, really allow users to internalize new vocabulary. So much so that it would become second nature to the users to read some of the moves, items, and phrases in Japanese.
5. Social Media in Japanese
Think of everyday activities that you could conduct in Japanese. Social media are great for this because, first and foremost, they are online, enabling users to change their language. Secondly, almost everyone spends too much time on social media. So, you might as well do something productive with that time and improve your Japanese.
Pair Japanese learning through immersion with regular study and revision. That is how you will learn Japanese fast. Ask any Japanese language student who has gone from zero to JLPT N2 level. The latter is the minimum level for those who wish to go on to pursue higher education in Japanese or join the Japanese workforce.