With so much information on the Internet, do you feel lost as to where to start? This article is your ultimate guide to becoming a Japanese speaker. Below you will find effective ways to learn Japanese and tips on how to improve your Japanese. In addition, we will explain how to choose an online Japanese language school. If you read to the end, you will know exactly how to become a Japanese language speaker!
- Effective Methods of Learning Japanese
- Tips for improving your Japanese speaking ability
- How to choose an online Japanese language class
Effective Methods of Learning Japanese
First of all, we will introduce you to learning methods that will help you improve your Japanese. When it comes to learning Japanese, the main things you need to focus on are grammar, vocabulary and kanji, and listening skills. What should you do to improve these skills? Let’s take a closer look at each of these learning methods.
How to learn grammar
First, we will explain how to learn Japanese grammar. To learn grammar, there are two steps: one is to memorize the rules, and the other is to make what you have learned stick with you through practice. Therefore, we recommend that you first take the approach of learning systematically using grammar books or online materials, and then deepening your understanding through example sentences and quizzes. Even if you are new to Japanese grammar, grammar books and online materials can help you learn while grasping the big picture. However, it is extremely difficult to learn to use the language just by reading it. By checking example sentences in various situations to grasp the nuances and taking quizzes for output, grammar will take root.
How to memorize words and Kanji
So, what should you do if you want to learn vocabulary or Kanji? This is all more of a memorization aspect than understanding the mechanism. Our brain gradually forgets along the “forgetting curve,” even once we have learned something. Therefore, it is effective to re-memorize when we are about to forget. Based on the concept of the “forgetting curve,” we recommend repeatedly exposing yourself to kanji and vocabulary using a method called “interval repetition learning. If you review what you learned today tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, the next time you review it will be a week later, and then another month later.
Another method is to memorize kanji by utilizing their radicals. Kanji characters always contain a part called a radical. Kanji characters with the same radical have a common meaning. For example, the radical of “hana” (花) is “艹” (kusa-kanmuri), and “cha” (茶) and “kusa” (草) have a meaning related to plants in common. By memorizing the radicals, it will be easier to guess the meaning of unfamiliar kanji when you encounter them.
How to Improve Listening Skills
Grammar and vocabulary are important, but many people want to be able to understand Japanese by listening to it! There must be many people who say, “I want to be able to understand Japanese by listening to it! How about using podcasts or movies to improve your listening skills? With Japanese podcasts, you can study using only your ears while doing housework or commuting. Also, if you watch movies, dramas, or anime with Japanese audio during your relaxation time, you can increase your exposure to real Japanese while enjoying it as a hobby. The advantage is that you can not only improve your listening ability, but also learn a set of situations in which the expressions are used.
Many of you may also be familiar with shadowing and dictation. Shadowing is to practice by following and pronouncing the audio you hear. Dictation is to practice by writing down the audio you hear. It helps to improve your comprehension because you may not understand the words when you try to speak them out loud yourself, and you may not be able to write them down when you try to write them. Shadowing is a better way to start because you can practice over and over again without spending a lot of time. If you don’t know how to do this, shadowing apps also exist. If your goal is also to learn to write faster, gradually move on to dictation.
Tips for improving your Japanese speaking ability
If you proceed with your Japanese study, you would like to interact with someone in Japanese! You may think, “I want to communicate with someone in Japanese! Here are some tips for improving your Japanese speaking ability. First, we summarize how to practice pronunciation, then tips on how to practice conversation, and finally, how to practice imitating native speakers.
Pronunciation Practice Methods
If you are learning Japanese as a foreign language, try to practice pronunciation by using IPA, which stands for “International Phonetic Alphabet,” an excellent tool that can represent the sounds of any language by symbols. You may want to first check the IPA for the sounds in your native language, and then look at the IPA for Japanese sounds. You may find some sounds that do not exist in your native language, or you may find similarities with Japanese, and you will be able to understand what you need to pay attention to when learning. If you are not sure if your pronunciation is correct, we recommend that you use a voice app to get feedback. Some language learning apps have a feedback function for pronunciation, and you can also try voice input in Japanese by setting your phone to Japanese settings.
Conversation Practice Tips
If you want to try out the Japanese you have learned so far in conversation to see if you can communicate in Japanese, why not find a language exchange partner online? You can have practical communication with a Japanese person, and you will feel motivated by the sense of accomplishment of getting through to them! You will be motivated by the sense of accomplishment of being able to communicate with a Japanese person. This is recommended for those who prefer to have a more in-depth one-on-one conversation. Another option besides language exchange is to join an online conversation club. In this case, you will have a group of Japanese language students with whom you can discuss your problems and report your progress to each other. This may be suitable for those who want to talk with a large group of people in a lively atmosphere.
Imitate native speakers
A shortcut to improving your speaking ability is to imitate native speakers. You can learn to express yourself naturally by listening to native speakers’ pronunciation and intonation on Japanese YouTube and dramas, and mirroring and shadowing them. Mirroring is to completely copy and pronounce what you hear. Shadowing, as mentioned above, is to follow the audio you hear and pronounce it as you hear it. By practicing over and over again, your mouth will become accustomed to saying the words and it will gradually become easier to say them. Try to do it with the intention of copying perfectly even the accent and intonation!
How to choose an online Japanese language class
If you want to learn from a teacher, here is how to choose an online Japanese language class. Many people find it difficult to learn Japanese on their own and want to take an online Japanese language class. Below we have summarized the advantages of Japanese language classes and the quality of the instructors, as well as language exchange events.
Advantages of Classes
First, let us introduce the advantages of online Japanese language classes. With online, schedules are often more flexible. You can set up your study schedule as you like, according to your time off from school or work. In addition, you have the opportunity to learn in an advanced way, as we offer a wide variety of teaching materials as well as paper textbooks. An additional advantage is that you can learn from high quality instructors in Japan, even from overseas. You will be able to ask for advice and questions that would take time to resolve by self-study.
Check the quality of instructors
Even if you say that the lecturers are of high quality, how can you identify them? First, look at the instructor’s qualifications, experience, and teaching reputation from the profile section. The instructor introduction page of online Japanese language classes often includes information on whether the instructor is qualified to teach Japanese, how many years of experience he/she has been teaching Japanese, and what kind of things he/she emphasizes in teaching. It is a good idea to check these to see if they match the ideas you value in language learning. It is important to prioritize the points that make sense to you: if the person is qualified, you can trust them; if they have long experience, you feel comfortable with them; if they fit your idea of emphasizing conversation, and so on.
Using Language Exchange Events
Online Japanese language schools sometimes host language exchange events. A language exchange event where you can connect with Japanese people would be a great way to learn practical conversational skills. One of the benefits is not only to practice your Japanese, but also to experience the fun of cross-cultural exchange. For those who want to learn not only about the Japanese language but also about Japanese culture, we recommend a Japanese language school that also offers language exchange events.
Ohanasi Kagawa offers online language exchange events on weekends. The good thing is that Japanese and English learners are paired up one-on-one and switch between English and Japanese every 15 minutes so that they can teach each other. The rules are thoroughly enforced so that even those who are new to online events can feel comfortable participating!
In this article, we have explained how to learn Japanese effectively, tips for improving Japanese speaking ability, and how to choose an online Japanese language class. Find the online Japanese language class that is right for you and hone your skills as a Japanese speaker.