Learn Japanese at home, at work, or online
Do you want to explore Japanese culture in-depth? If so, the smartest thing you can do is learn Japanese. This wonderful language will allow you to connect with more than 200 million people worldwide and get excellent corporate jobs in Australia and abroad, so as you can see, it’s a great way to improve your social life and access new professional opportunities that are exclusive to bilinguals. On top of this, learning Japanese is great if you’re trying to get in touch with your heritage, and you want to communicate better with relatives that live in Japan, so if this is your case, don’t hesitate to start a language course this year. Another reason why you should become bilingual is if you want to visit Japan anytime soon, as being able to communicate confidently there will completely change the way you experience the country and its people, as once you speak Japanese there will be no language barriers and less culture shocks.
Now that you know some of the reasons why you should learn Japanese, you probably can’t wait to get started. Before you sign up for Japanese lessons, take a look at this short guide, and find out how you can study this fascinating language effectively without leaving your home.
Differences Between English and Japanese
The reason why Japanese can be so intimidating for Westerners is due to how different it is from English. Although you’ll find many loan words that actually come from English, like bijinesu ビジネス, which derives from business, or Suupaa スーパ, which means supermarket, if you actually want to become a fluent speaker, you’ll have to get used to many aspects of the language which can be particularly challenging, like its grammar and its writing system. As you might have heard, sentence structure in Japanese follows a subject-object-verb word order, instead of the subject-verb-object word order that we’re used to using in English, so even making simple sentences can be daunting at first. On top of this, you’ll have to master three different writing systems called kanji, katakana and hiragana, which work together and are used to write different kinds of words, so as you can see, to become bilingual, you’ll have to open your mind to new ways of reading, writing, and forming sentences. Even if it’s a little hard at the beginning, with some persistence and the help of a qualified teacher, you will be able to overcome any stumbling block that you encounter, so get started today and enjoy your journey to fluency!
Tips to Learn Japanese More Effectively
Becoming a fluent Japanese speaker will take a lot of hard work on your part, but if you commit to the learning process, it can be one of the most meaningful things you do for yourself. To help you avoid some of the most common mistakes beginners make, here are some tips to become a bilingual as fast as possible.
• Learn hiragana first: as we previously said, there are three writing systems you’ll need to learn to read and write in Japanese. The first one you should master is hiragana, Japan’s version of the alphabet that you will need to know to read most coursebooks and understand Japanese sounds. Most students take about a month to learn all 46 hiragana characters, but you can do it in even less time if you write them over and over and use mnemonics or flashcards.
• To understand Japanese grammar, start slow: getting used to Japanese sentence order will take some time, so before you jump to complex grammar rules, master making simple sentences. You should always remember that in Japanese, verbs always come last, so for example if you want to say “I read the book”, you would say 私は本を読みます(watashi wa hon o yomimasu) which literally translates back to “I the book read”.
• Immerse in Japanese culture as much as possible: to make progress as fast as possible, you should listen to Japanese speakers as much as you can. This will not only improve your listening skills, but it will help you master Japanese pronunciation and expand your vocabulary. There are plenty of ways you can do this, like listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos and reading the news in Japanese. You should also tell your teacher to speak to you in Japanese from day one, and find other language learners near you to have simple conversations with.
Free Resources to Learn Japanese
Although it’s essential to find a teacher that guides you through the process of learning a challenging language like Japanese, there are plenty of resources you can use in your free time to develop your skills on your own. Don’t know any? Take a look at some of our top picks.
• Watching Japanese shows and films can be a great way of picking up new phrases and understanding cultural references. Fortunately, Netflix has a great selection of Japanese anime in its original language like Naruto and Cardcaptor Sakura and many wonderful Studio Ghibli films that can help you expand your vocabulary and develop your listening skills, so don’t forget to check them out.
• If you enjoy podcasts, you should listen to JapanesePod101, which has episodes for learners of all levels that teach you all sorts of things, like how to introduce yourself in Japanese, and how to talk about others. If you prefer to listen to short stories in Japanese, you should check out JLPT Stories, which focus on helping students develop their skills through active listening, and has plenty of episodes with wonderful stories that are easy to understand.
• There are plenty of language apps you should try that will help you memorise useful phrases and learn basic grammar, like Memrise, Duolingo, Drops, or LingoDeer. You can also use apps like Anki or Quizlet, that allow you to create your own flashcards and download decks made by other users.
Now that you know what to do to get started learning Japanese, what are you waiting for to get started? Here at Listen & Learn, we have some of the best native Japanese teachers who can help you achieve all your goals fast though flexible, personalised lessons that will make you fall in love with the language. All you need to do to start learning with us is reach out to us, and one of our team members will get in contact with you in 24 hours to help you find the perfect Japanese course that fits all of your requirements!