Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic (or Japanese-Ryukyuan) language family, and its relation to other languages such as Korean is debated. Japonic languages have been grouped with other language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance. Japanese is the de facto language of Japan, and it’s also the only place where Japanese is the official language. Japanese is one of the most fast-paced spoken languages in the world. Japanese is certainly a challenging language, but it’s far from impossible. In fact, in this section, I’m going to show you why learning Japanese is actually easier than you think. Learning Japanese is mostly about smart study habits, regularly challenging yourself, and keeping a good routine. Japanese borrows many loanwords from English, so once you get into the language you’ll be surprised at how many words are already available to you. Realistically speaking, the average English speaker will take about 2-3 years with full-time study to become ‘fluent in Japanese. It all depends on how much time you devote to studying on a daily basis. It takes quite a bit of time compared to, say, French or German, which can be picked up by an English speaker quite well within 6-8 months of dedicated study. That said, the reason Japanese fluency takes a bit longer is simply that there’s a lot to learn. t’s important to remember that it’s not necessarily HARD to learn.
How to get better at Japanese after learning the basics? Let us explore.
Important things to know
1.Don’t Sweat The Grammar, Just Get Started
Japanese grammar can feel very alien at first because of its structure, which is very different from what you’re used to in English. (You can blame the Grammar Villain for that!)
What’s important is that you really just get started learning and don’t be discouraged. Japanese grammar can be tough, and even the Japanese know this.
When you’re speaking to a native Japanese speaker, they are most likely just going to be impressed you’re learning their language. So, don’t be afraid to mess up!
There is an excellent quote that says:
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”
This should be your mantra when learning Japanese. You will make mistakes. Embrace them and learn from them, and don’t give up!
2.Set Short And Long-Term Goals To Get Yourself On A Path To Success
Identifying your goals will help you stay on target and help you figure out what you need to focus on at each stage of your Japanese learning.
One of the biggest dangers with Japanese (or any language) is losing focus and not knowing what to do next. This is especially critical in the early stages of learning Japanese.
With this in mind, here’s a list of milestones that you can consider your ‘roadmap’ for successfully learning Japanese:
- Learn Hiragana/Katakana
- Pick up a textbook and start learning beginner-level grammar and your first, simple kanji
- Find a speaking partner to begin working on your conversation skills
- Start learning more advanced kanji (with a target of 2000 of basic fluency)
- Once you’re fairly comfortable, start looking into Japanese materials that interest you—such as TV shows, books, games, comics, etc.
- Continue to focus on vocab and kanji: you’ll hit a plateau where you feel like your Japanese learning has stalled out, but keep going and you’ll soon start to see further progress
- At this point, you will have reached an upper-intermediate/advanced level!
3.Find Japanese People To Speak With
The final and most important step in learning Japanese is practicing using it with real people!
No matter how much you study, you’ll learn things from conversations that you simply can pick up in a textbook or by watching your favorite anime shows.
You can search online for language meet-up events or look for conversation partners on sites like conversationexchange.com (face-to-face language exchanges tend to be more serious and last longer).
There are also a number of language exchange apps and websites which you can use to find language partners from around the world. This means it’s easy to find language partners to practice with online even if you can’t find an in-person meet-up.
4.Learn Japanese through Online resources
There is a very wide variety of materials available for helping English speakers learn Japanese online.
- Already know some Japanese or want to get started? I recommend Multibhashi which teaches you to speak Japanese through the power of a native language expert. This comprehensive beginner program teaches you Japanese through a fun and natural method that makes learning a pleasure, and grammar a breeze!
Japanese Audio For Listening Practice
- Conversations – Do you struggle to understand fast, spoken Japanese? Conversations helps you understand real Japanese & transform your listening skills in less than 90 days.
Learn & Practice The Japanese Writing System
- How To Learn Hiragana: Many people see the hiragana and think they are the hardest marks they’ve ever seen. As a beginner, they’re confusing and intimidating. But here’s the good news. They’re not hard. In fact, with the right techniques, you can learn and remember them in 1.5 hours or less. You just need to know how.
Do not hesitate to speak the language in public and with native speakers. It will be helpful in improving your mastery. Also, don’t be ashamed to allow other people to correct you if you pronounce something wrong. No one knows everything. Welcome constructive criticism. Test your knowledge at every social occasion you have.
Keep watching movies and television shows.
Challenge yourself to think in the language you are attempting to learn.
Now You’re Ready To Start Learning Japanese Online! Follow the tips in this article and you’ll be speaking Japanese in no time! I’ve provided you with a roadmap and resources to help you on the way, and now the rest is up to you!