What is the easiest way to learn Japanese?
Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by approximately 128 million people, a majority of whom live in Japan, where it is the national language. It belongs to the Japonic (or Japanese-Ryukyuan) language family, and its relationship to other languages, such as Korean, is debatable. While there are many dialects and accents in Japan, experts agree that the largely monolingual status that exists here is very unusual. Most countries have many major languages that are commonly spoken within their territories. Little is known of the language’s prehistory, or when it first appeared in Japan. Chinese documents from the 3rd century recorded a few Japanese words, but substantial texts did not appear until the 8th century. During the Heian period (794–1185), the Chinese had considerable influence on the vocabulary and phonology of Old Japanese. Late Middle Japanese (1185–1600) included changes in features that brought it closer to the modern language and the first appearance of European loanwords. While there are many dialects and accents in Japan, experts agree that the largely monolingual status that exists here is very unusual.
Let's take a look at a few tips and tricks that will be extremely useful when attempting to get your Japanese learning off to a successful start, whether through classroom or self-study.
Your first step in learning Japanese should be to do something that will give you the confidence to start speaking and understanding a little Japanese. You don’t have to be flawless. All you have to do is get started and have some fun. Improve your listening skills by using a variety of online resources such as talk shows, Japanese news, JDramas, and audiobooks, to name a few! Make the most of YouTube by streaming Japanese radio stations! To speed up your learning, watch Japanese films with English subtitles and English films with Japanese subtitles. To make the most of your free time, learn with songs, podcasts, and anything else you can get your hands on. Set attainable objectives! Study on a regular basis, but don’t overdo it! Determine your distinct learning style, which will assist you in mastering the language.
While children’s learning is intensely structured, orderly, and ‘textbook driven,’ as we grow older, learning takes on an entirely new ‘meaning’ and ‘way to learn!’ We no longer learn from textbooks or take weekly tests to demonstrate our understanding. To ensure that we learn, we take on both the roles of a learner and a teacher. As a result, we consciously observe and improve our own learning as if we were teachers. We also indulge and choose a variety of methods to assist us in our learning. Why? Because there isn’t a solitary universal method for learning everything! To become proficient in Japanese, we must seek out the best resources, which include teachers, books, online practice, and so on, because nothing is stacked up in one place for a learner to pick and walk away from! In reality, a learner employs a number of tools to prepare themselves for the various learning heads, such as learning grammar, perfecting pronunciation, and expanding their vocabulary.
Grammar is an intrinsic, one-of-a-kind feature of each language that defines the rules for speaking and writing in that language. It is the soul of a language, so it is not easy to master! As a result, if you want to learn a language quickly, it is never a good idea to begin with the grammar if you want to progress faster in learning a language! If you choose to learn a language starting with its grammar, you are likely to get sidetracked because the results may not be encouraging enough for you to continue investing efforts! Especially when you’re struggling with verb endings and tenses! Apart from this to improve your pronunciation, read aloud. Find a conversation partner on Lingoci, Verbling, or iTalki with whom to practise speaking and receive feedback.
Recognize genuine and phoney Japanese cognates. Don’t be afraid to try new things and make mistakes. We’re all guilty of it. Why should that discourage or embarrass you? Remember, self-studying is NOT for everyone! Be wary of phoney online Japanese learning tools!
Enrol in an intensive course. It would be extremely beneficial to your Japanese studies! Keep translating Japanese words/phrases into English to a minimum when you’re first starting out! Move away from it consciously as you progress. Try not to write in your head. For flashcards, use Spaced Repetition System apps such as Anki and Memrise. Learn basic phrases, connector words, and conversation starters to help you communicate and express yourself in shorter sentences.
Keep a journal of new phrases, not just interesting or complex words, that will help you build your first conversation. Begin by reading children’s books. Children’s stories can be an excellent place to begin learning to read in Japanese. Children’s and young adult stories are likely to use simpler language and more straightforward ideas than adult texts. Keep a Japanese dictionary close at hand.
Prioritize. If you want to learn Japanese for business or travel, start with spoken Japanese! Choose commonly used words to start a conversation rather than more difficult ones that are rarely used!
Try to associate Japanese words and phrases with images and visual situations rather than words in your native language or English! After a while, study grammar with grammar-based software or a textbook. I recommend Rocket Japanese or Duolingo to accomplish the same goal. Study a language every day in short bursts or for 2-4 hours, as much as you have time for. Studying on a regular basis for a short period of time is far more beneficial than attempting to do it all in one sitting on weekends! Without missing a beat, practise. There are no shortcuts or ways to avoid practice.
Engage in continuous review to track your progress – repetition is essential!
Japan is a country well known for its rise to fame from ashes after Hiroshima and Nagasaki like a Phoenix. It’s also admired as country governed by its conscience, its age old undisturbed traditions and pure culture with a great value system, respect for life, dignified behaviour, meticulous working, love for animals, respect for elders, peaceful yet powerful religious coexistence between Shinto and Buddhism, “abide by the rules,” attitude that essentially means paying attention to social codes, etiquette, and manners – even if it is bothersome, genuine kindness, sharp eye for detail, awareness for individual needs, and the effort always to go the extra mile. The kindness Japanese extend, however, is not tied to specific situations or people in Japan. Instead, it is an integral part of what being Japanese means. Japanese people are brought up with the ever-present principle of not causing trouble to anyone else since their childhood. The great Japanese kindness is a result of the desire to be seen favorably by others as per the concept of “tatemae,” best translated as “public position”. With basic principles of honesty, discipline, cleanliness, respect, love, health over wealth, dedication and drive, has caused the country to be intriguing anyone and everyone.
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