10 Tips for Mastering the Japanese Language

It's not as hard as it sounds!


Learning a foreign language, especially Japanese, is no easy feat. Apart from having to learn how to read Kanji, you’re also expected to know how to pronounce the words correctly. However, no task is too difficult as long as you set your heart to it. 


Want to learn how to read, write, or speak Japanese fluently? Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind!


1. Start by asking yourself, “How did my love for the Japanese language start?”


If it started with watching anime or reading manga, then you should do these hobbies more often. You can also immerse yourself in their culture by traveling to the country, dressing up as they do, or binge-watching J-dramas. These things can help make learning the language even more enjoyable and keep you interested for a longer period. 


2. Memorize the Japanese alphabet, “Hiragana” and “Katakana.”


Hiragana and Katakana each have 46 alphabet characters. We recommend that you start memorizing them first, before practicing how to write in the language. In English, you typically start with a, e, i, o, and u. But in the Japanese language, you start with a, i, u, e, and o. 
Repeatedly saying the characters out loud will help you remember all of them. 


3. Find textbooks or sources that suit your learning style.


Look for Japanese textbooks that touch on grammar, sentence construction, and word usage. There are many sources online that offer classes for learning the Japanese language.


If you’ve already memorized the alphabet, the next thing you should do is to learn “Kanji.” This is very important since a lot of the Japanese words use the same pronunciation but different Kanji characters. Aside from this, Kanji can also assist you in knowing what certain Japanese words mean. About 3,000 Kanji characters are used by the Japanese on a daily basis, while the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (Advanced Level) makes use of 2,500 characters. 


4. Add the Japanese language to your daily routine.


One way of getting used to the Japanese language is by including it in your daily routine. You can start with small things, like adding Japanese characters to the “push” and “pull” signs on your door. Doing this will help familiarize you with the Japanese language faster. 


5. Continue to look for Japanese content that sparks your interest. 


Now and then, you can veer away from reading the usual Japanese language textbooks and replace them with activities that you like doing. For example, if you love playing online games, try switching the language setting to Japanese. If you’re a huge fan of a J-Pop group, listen to their songs and practice reading the lyrics. You can also try watching Japanese variety shows, reading manga or Japanese magazines, or watching anime with subtitles to familiarize yourself with how the locals speak. 

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6. Have a “do it now” attitude. 


When you come across certain Japanese words that you don’t understand or can’t remember the meaning of, don’t let them go. Instead, search for them on the internet or ask friends who know Japanese. 


7. Listen and practice speaking the Japanese language as often as you can. 


Practice your language skills by talking to someone who also speaks Japanese. If you’re living in Japan, try applying for a part-time job at a Japanese restaurant. This will teach you how to interpret conversations and get you to speak the language more often.  


8. Be mindful of how the Japanese pronounce words. 


When you hear someone in public speaking in Japanese, concentrate on their words and understand what they’re trying to say. Listening to the intonation is also essential to acquaint yourself with the language. 


9. Keep a Japanese diary.


Writing in Japanese every day will improve your grammar. No need to worry about how long or short your diary entry is or if you’re writing with correct grammar. The important thing is to write in your diary every day. 


10. Train your mind to think in Japanese. 


This won’t work if you think in your native language first then translate your thoughts to Japanese. The trick here is to teach your brain to think naturally in Japanese. This will help you get used to the language faster and respond to conversations quicker. 


 (19 June 2019)

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