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 ultimate derivation and relation to other languages is unclear. Japonic languages have been grouped with other language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, Korean, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance. It is also recognized as a minority language of Angaur, a state of Palau and Singapore.
Things to know
It’s all too common for students of Japanese who haven’t been to Japan in a while, or who haven’t had a chance to go yet, to be much more confident in the written than the spoken word. Once you have a basic grasp of the language, it’s relatively easy to crack open your favorite novel (or manga!), write an email, or post on social media. But it’s not always so easy to find someone to engage within a dialogue—or to get up the courage to do so. By finding opportunities to speak Japanese every day, you can make sure that you’re able to reach or retain a high standard of fluency. Of course, you might think that it’s easier said than done—if so, good news! With a bit of careful planning, you can still have an active Japanese-speaking life, no matter where you are in the world from Australia to Zimbabwe.
Let’s take a look for ways to learn Japanese speaking at home
1. Do a Language Exchange, or Two or Three
If you live in a reasonably sized city, it should be easy for you to find Japanese speakers who are interested in a language exchange. As the name implies, a language exchange involves a native speaker helping you with Japanese, in exchange for you helping him or her with your native language. It’s a straightforward, affordable way to practice real-life Japanese conversation.
If you’re already quite advanced, you might be able to offer tutoring services for your native language with Japanese as the language of instruction (you could charge for this, or think of it as an opportunity to practice Japanese while paying it forward… or you could do what this author did, and combine both models by getting paid in coffee and/or ramen).
2. Check Out What’s Already Happening in Your Community
There may already be a thriving Japanese community in your city, with plenty of cultural festivals, meetups, and more where you can practice speaking the language.
Meetup and Facebook are great places to search for existing Japanese language and culture groups. Your local Japanese consulate can also probably point you in the right direction and may host 会話 (かいわ, conversation groups) of their own. Local universities and cultural institutions are also great options for events in or about the Japanese language.
You might be surprised how much is already on offer, making it easy to meet new Japanese friends so that you can broaden your social circle and become more fluent at the same time.
3. Practice with Some Study Buddies
You don’t necessarily have to only practice your speaking with people who are native in Japanese. As long as they’re of a similar or higher proficiency level than you, you can still enjoy valuable Japanese language practice.
Whether you’re introducing each other to your favorite Japanese songs at karaoke night, role-playing conversations, or using verbal games to reinforce your Japanese studies, practicing with someone else is like going to the gym with a buddy. Even though neither of you is likely to become the next Hulk Hogan (perhaps fortunately), you’re both more likely to stay the course.
4. Talk to Yourself
This may seem awkward, and you probably shouldn’t do it on the bus or in the middle of the grocery store, but talking to yourself in Japanese can be an entertaining exercise and effective language study tool.
Whether it’s difficult for you to meet native Japanese speakers for conversation or you just want an added language boost in your downtime, talking to yourself doesn’t have to make you feel like you’re a living personification of the #foreveralone meme.
The most productive way to go about this is to think of an everyday topic and record yourself talking about it. Then listen to the recording and see what grammar or pronunciation errors you can catch, and re-record without them.
5. Take online classes
In order to take your Japanese learning to the next level we recommend you to take online classes preferably live, so you can clear your doubts, speak with the trainer, your classmates, which not only help you to learn the language thoroughly in terms of reading, writing, word pronunciation, but will also aid you to train your ear besides grant you an extra edge to get confident to speak the language soon.
Change of usual preferences of songs and watch movies without the subtitles and observe.
First, go get your headphones and put on a Japanese anime song or whichever song that makes you feel like you’re in Japan and sing along to the song that you’re listening to and enjoy yourself. Whenever you watch a Japanese movie, turn off the subtitle and try to understand the movie, watch it over again with the subtitle on and observe if your understandings are mutual to what the characters mean. After a few movies, you will catch a hint on the words that are used the most often.
Even if you’re shy about using your Japanese language skills out loud, you’d be surprised how quickly that anxiety dissipates when you give yourself a chance. You’ll feel more confident, grow your comfort zone, meet new friends who share your interests and passions, and become proud of everything you’ve achieved.
With a little bit of strategy, research and self-confidence, your Japanese can become better than ever by mastering speaking.