What is the best way to learn Japanese?
Japanese is the only major language whose genetic origin is unknown. The most persuasive theory is that Japanese and Korean are related, although other theories have been offered as well. Some people try to link Japanese to South Asian language groups including Austronesian, Austroasiatic, and the Sino-Tibetan Tibeto-Burman family. Beginning in the second half of the twentieth century, linguists focused their attention on the origins of the Japanese language rather than its genetic link in general; in particular, they attempted to reconcile some conflicting linguistic features. Japanese is an isolated language spoken by 121 million people in the Japanese archipelago. Small Japanese communities can be found in American Samoa, Hawaii, North and South America, Europe, and Australia.
Learning a language is not only rewarding but also intriguing. Language learners start from basic knowledge of the language and proceed to more advanced learning post-learning consonants, vowels and grammar. In order to be able to learn the 'soul' of any language there are a few common steps that each beginner could follow; let's now have a quick look at these:
- Practice LSRW (Listen, Speak, Read, Write)
- Try to capture as many new words as possible that are commonly used in day to day conversations. This will help you build your first meaningful conversation in Japanese
- Learn the correct usage of a word with the context it is used in besides its pinyiñ to be able to speak it.
- Understand the technicalities/ grammar rules which direct how a particular word is to be used in different situations, differently
- Find reliable resources that can help you learn online or offline. Could be an online course, online learning app, knowledge from articles, blogs etcetera online.
- Try SRS (flashcards) apps such as Anki and Memrise. Use from their existing decks or create your own. Either way it will help you memorize words and phrases.
- Use the internet to its fullest capability. Surf to find authentic music in the Japanese language, Japanese dramas, articles, blogs, news, videos, audiobooks, whatever helps you!
- Use Mnemonics. They will make a lot of sense while learning and you will have a smooth experience learning Japanese.
- NEVER miss practising. You cannot avoid practising. Practice is the key to your learning. If you stop practising thinking that you have learnt you would actually be heading back so.many steps you took with effort.
Bur wait..there's more!
- Learn via an immersive technique. You could either opt for a travel immersion, if possible, or you could look for a classroom immersion method to learn. There are several such apps and online Institutions which are offering partial and complete classroom immersion classes. A few such that come to my mind Assimil, Rosetta Stone, Michaels etcetera
- Label objects in your home with their respective names in the target language. This would help you remember the objects with their respective names in Japanese without having to translate the object from its English name to its Japanese name in your head.
- Whenever you are comfortable, change the language of your devices to be able to see it every day and get pushed to learn as a way to understand.
- Read a lot of literature, including children’s books to start with. Do not feel embarrassed to read those books; just remember children learn to read from these books, where the child first learns to read and speak two letter words, then progressing to three letter words and so on and so forth. Jumping to phrases will only burn you out and create stress. Learning in small chunks and with small words to begin with will help you build your first conversation in Japanese.
- Watch online movies, videos and soaps to capture the accent and the way the words are pronounced. Your prime objective to do this is to be able to train your ear to identify Japanese words so that you can identify them, when somebody is speaking other South Asian languages versus Japanese.
- Use shadowing technique to assist you in speech and accent. After you listen to an audio clip or a video try to ape the same accent, with possibly the same speed, using the same words so that you could effectively speak like a native speaker.
- Speak a lot with your pet, a plant or yourself in the mirror. This is best for people who do not feel comfortable making mistakes in front of other people or are scared others would make fun of them! This indeed is a very good method to be able to practice speaking.
- Listen to as many reliable audiobooks, audio resources, documentaries, talk shows, music that you can find, to register the correct pronunciation of the word being used and of course recognize which word is being used in which context
According to some sources, the Japanese–Ryukyuan language family consists of Japanese and the Ryukyuan languages (Ethnologue, Vance 2001). Japanese studies have revealed that it contains both Altaic and Austronesian elements: the phonological system is more similar to that of Austronesian languages (Alpatov 1998), but the archaic lexicon appears to have more Altaic elements (ibid.). The only languages to which Japanese is related are those spoken on the Ryukyu Islands, which are located south-southwest of Japan, but the linguistic affiliation of the Ryukyuan languages is also unknown.
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