You can learn Japanese much faster and much more efficiently than you are doing currently. There are all kinds of tools out there to help you, and there are some great guides you can follow to have a better learning experience. But the bottom line is this: you can learn significantly more on your own. The path to being fluent looks rocky and difficult from the outset, with so many obstacles that this shining goal may seem almost impossible to reach. There are lots of times when you will feel like you cannot possibly ever become good at what you are doing. Studying the traditional way—with textbooks, CDs and perhaps a teacher—is only a small part of reaching beyond beginner and lower-elementary level.
If you study Japanese in a classroom, then you are following a set program laid out by your teacher. This program is most likely designed to teach you grammar, vocabulary and written Japanese. Learning in a classroom means that you have a community of people to practice with. You also get, more or less, the complete package. You get to learn spoken and written Japanese as well as some literature. If you’re taking classes once or twice per week and think it’s not enough, then this article is for you. If you’re out on your own trying to self-teach, this article is for you.
Ways to learn:
- Attend a local class – Studying alone can be jarring, and difficult to keep dedicated to, especially if you have a busy lifestyle. Joining a class can help you. If you’re not in Japan, see if there are local classes you can join in your area. These might include anything from private lessons in cafes to official courses held at the local library. If there’s a university near you, see if they offer Japanese as a course. Language degrees sometimes offer courses for external students.
- Become Familiar with Katakana – Katakana is another component of the Japanese writing system that should be part of a beginner Japanese program. Learning somehow feels more interactive when games are involved. There are katakana games to give learners lots of entertainment and practice! You can watch YouTube videos of “How to read and write in Katakana” in English to understand it better.
- Create Japanese Environment at Home – Though you can immerse yourself in Japanese anywhere you happen to be, you have the most choice and control in your house, apartment, room, cave, secret lair, or wherever you happen to call “home.” Changing the display language to Japanese on your computer, TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, etc. provides useful, contextual Japanese reading input each time you use the device.
- Listen to Japanese everyday – Reading and writing alone won’t get you far past elementary level. A very important thing to do while learning Japanese is to listen to it. This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people focus only on textbooks for years, then feel like a deer in the headlights when it comes to having a conversation. After all, you learned your first language by listening and speaking before you went anywhere near reading and writing, right? The same goes for Japanese.
- Learn Basic Japanese Pronunciation – Beginner Japanese learners should focus some time and energy on learning Japanese pronunciation. A good pronunciation dictionary is essential. Find a specific word that’s easy to use the search bar. Pronunciation practice is a breeze with this site!
Human beings have always found it easier to remember things that they learn in a context where it is useful to them. When you are able to successfully convey something using a particular word, you will find that this word sticks and becomes easier to remember. Finally, we want to wish you good luck. If you’ve read all of this, that probably means you are dedicated and have the motivation to do well.