The Japanese culture is a complex and fascinating one, but it can be hard to truly discover if you cannot understand the language that beautifully expresses it. However, learning Japanese can seem very difficult once you find out that there are three different character sets for writing it, and this can be done either horizontally or vertically.
If, however, you decided you want to give it a shot, then you must remember that nothing is impossible and that it can be achieved if you are willing to put the necessary work into it. In this article, you’ll find some tips to get you on the path of discovering the beautiful Japanese language.
Set a clear goal
A pretty obvious one, but crucial if you want to achieve the desired results and maybe get to enjoy your manga the way it was meant to. Before you start anything, set a clear goal and a deadline to achieve it. This will help you focus and, more importantly, determine the language level you want to achieve.
If you are only going to Japan for your vacation, then there’s no need to go into complex details. Simple phrases to get you around will suffice. If, however, you are going to move to Japan for a longer period of time, then the situation changes and so is the goal. For this reason, firstly decide what your objective is.
Start with adjectives
In Japanese, people usually omit the subject of a sentence, which makes learning adjectives a great way to start having conversations and say more with fewer words. Compared to English, which is considered a low context language, which means that you rely on the words in the sentence to convey all the meaning, Japanese is a high context one.
This particularity can have both positive and negative results. On the positive side, a minimal set of words can be effective and help you convey what you are trying to say. On the other hand, it can lead to vague and confusing conversations if the context is not set right.
Listen to Japanese language learning podcasts
In the lines of ‘fake it till you make it’, it is always a good idea to listen to as much Japanese as you can. Some suggest a goal can be listening to 10,000 hours in the following 18 months. Even if sometimes it doesn’t make much sense to you or you don’t understand everything, just listening to it will be very beneficial.
Make sure you choose something that you find interesting and engaging and get used to the sounds, pace, and right intonation. As there are so many online resources these days, you can put your smartphone headphones on and go for a walk while listening to the topic that interests you.
Learn written basics with supervision
Even if you might not be aware, there’s a difference between finishing a pen stroke with a sudden stop or with a swoosh. It is important to learn the differences with the help of an expert, especially if you want to learn how to properly write it.
For Japanese people, not knowing how to properly make your pen strokes means you couldn’t be bothered to learn that, and you might want to avoid this assumption. Stroke order is an essential part of learning the basics of kanji, so don’t skip this step.
Don’t be afraid to go out there and interact with people. In order to properly learn Japanese, you need to stop thinking in your language and not try to translate words you know.
The best way to do this is by immersing yourself in this foreign culture and discover the many ways in which Japanese people can express the different nuances of an object or emotion.
If you can be part of something you enjoy with people who speak the language you want to learn, then surely you’ll learn a lot faster. Structured study and courses are, of course, essential, but take any opportunity to interact with Japanese people in real life situations and really start communicating.
If this might seem hard as there are none around you, remember that the internet is a big place filled with opportunities. You can discover online clubs, meet Japanese people, and join communities of people who share your interest.