The ultimate guide to learning Japanese vocabulary
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 such as Korean is unclear. 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 has no clear genealogical relationship with Chinese, though in its written form it makes prevalent use of Chinese characters, known as kanji (漢字), and a large portion of its vocabulary is borrowed from Chinese.
- Vocabulary is the building block of every language, including Japanese. It makes it easier to express complex thoughts and emotions. I know these statements can feel obvious and redundant to repeat but it’s still important to keep these facts in mind.
- Build up your knowledge of Japanese words and vocabulary. This can really speed up your Japanese learning process. I can’t stress more the importance of doing the above. Sometimes you will get bored on studying grammar alone. While I don’t deny the importance of grammar, increasing your “word inventory” is equally important as well.
The ultimate guide to learning your Japanese Vocabulary?
1. Setting Achievable Goals
Setting achievable goals is a great way to keep yourself motivated when you’re learning a new language. Achievable goals are defined as, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. If you’re confused about what goal to set first, here are the recommend goal-setting steps.
Start with One Goal
Write your Goal Down
Set Short-term Milestones
Measure Actions as well as Progress
Set Goals you actually want to Achieve
2.Using Benchmarks to help Measure Progress
The goal-setting system like benchmarks provides guideposts on your Japanese vocabulary progress. For example, the ones used in video games could even be applied to Japanese vocabulary. When you start a video game, it gives you progress updates by how much you’ve completed. You can track your vocabulary like you’re playing a video game.
In black and whites terms, you need to know 10,000 words to be fluent in a language and at least 2000 words to be conversational. This a completely arbitrary number and won’t be able to define your fluency, but using it as a benchmark a good indicator of your fluency.
3. Listen to Japanese Songs
Believe it or not, you really can learn and increase your vocabulary by listening to your favourite Japanese songs.
Probably the reason is that when you keep listening to the songs over and over, somehow the lyrics just got into your head subconsciously. And by that, your knowledge of words increased after a period of time, without even you knowing.
4. Watch Japanese Dramas
Naturally, if you keep watching more dramas, your ears become so used to the language. In no time, before you can notice, you have picked up a certain amount of new words and you remembered these words related to the scenes in the dramas.
In fact, I think this is the best way to learn new words without forcing yourself to remember them. Didn’t we do the same thing when are learning our mother tongue?
5. Read Japanese Novels
This is the universal “rule” to increase one’s word list when learning any new language. You will come across many new vocabularies you normally won’t find in the textbooks or notes when learning Japanese.
You will also discover how some words are used differently as opposed to what you were taught in the classroom.
6. Learning through Frequency
Here is our secret on how to learn vocabulary as a beginner. Learn based on how frequently you use the word. Many other methods of how to learn vocabulary fail because they teach you vocabulary that you do not use and therefore forget.
Think about the 100 most common words in English, then choose 20 or 30 most frequent words that you use and try to make a list of them. Learning the most frequent words you use on a daily basis and adding them to your Japanese vocabulary is a great way to learn. If you use these words on a daily basis after you say them in English repeat them in Japanese. Chances are if you use those words frequently in English you’ll use them just as much in Japanese.
7.Learning through Kanji
Another method of how to learn vocabulary is by learning Japanese Kanji. Learning Kanji makes it easier to expand your vocabulary because you can associate the character with a group of words. When you see the kanji you know, you can piece together which word it is.
In Japan, there are three different alphabets; hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Here are a few examples listed in their respective categories.
Typically, everyone begins with hiragana. In comparison to English, it would be like learning your ABC’s. Most people move onto katakana next. Katakana is used for foreign words which have been imported into Japanese. The last thing people usually learn is kanji. Kanji is a logo graph and depending on the use of the kanji, it has numerous ways it could be read.
8. Japanese Vocabulary and Flashcards
You know I’m going to say it – one obvious “secret” on learning Japanese vocabulary is through flashcards. The system is popular for a reason. The concept is simple, and you can easily create them using paper or an online template.
9. Repetition is the key
Sometimes it happens with most of us that we learn Japanese words so fast and quickly and suddenly we forget it in about 2-3 days. So, as I mentioned, ‘Repetition is the key’. When you learn words you must repeat them daily for 15-20 min.
Only 15-20 minutes Daily can do what 2 hours of continuous study can’t do. Daily small parts of study can’t make you bored and you also have sufficient energy for the repetition of old words.
Learning a language usually takes time and you have to be patient with yourself. Try to find a learning technique that is right for you. Download Japanese songs with lyrics and play them often. Carry a personal dictionary and write down any word that comes to mind and you would want to learn in Japanese. Join people online to discuss how to learn Japanese and practice at the same time. Make this fun-filled activity for you. It is a well-known fact that your brain memorizes and connects information when you’re having fun, so try to entertain yourself. Enjoy the process along with the success. Learn and entertain yourself. Find the tutor on our website and start your Japanese learning journey today!
Best of luck!