Japanese is one of the hardest languages to learn. Not only are there new pronunciations and grammatical structures, but the written language also contains thousands of complex characters.
Before you start learning Japanese, here are 8 key pointers to get you started.
1. Master Hiragana and Katakana
Hiragana and Katakana are the most fundamental 30-letter Japanese alphabets. They offer multiple ways of expressing identical sounds (“ah” is written as “あ” in Hiragana and “ア” in Katakana). Hiragana is the standard alphabet to use, whereas Katakana is applied for foreign-derived phrases. Begin by studying these two Japanese alphabets, before moving on to learning the Kanji symbols.
2. Get supervision to study Japanese stroke order
Once you begin studying kanji, you need to be aware of the fine difference between finishing a pen stroke with a sudden stop or with a swoosh. In English, writing your alphabets in an unusual manner may be considered cute. But in Japan, you will be seen as disrespectful and uninterested. You may also be judged as lazy for neglecting stroke order.
A native Japanese speaker can help you with stroke order. You may also want to consider taking Japanese lessons by hiring a native speaking Japanese tutor with TUTOROO. Through in-person private Japanese classes, tutors can sit right next to you and ensure you perfect each stroke order.
3. Choose effective Japanese learning materials
A poor textbook may ruin your Japanese learning experience. When it comes to books to learn Japanese, Genki and Japanese for Busy People are excellent to start with. Begin with a good dictionary that includes kanji, hiragana for each kanji, and an English translation. In addition, get Barron's Japanese Grammar book right away. You can consider buying kanji cards further in your study.
4. Find a Japanese conversation buddy early on
Hearing your buddy and yourself speak Japanese will serve to reinforce accurate pronunciation. If necessary, ask your companion to correct you. The most beneficial part of this is how it will influence your mind to think in the Japanese language.
TUTOROO links you up with friendly Japanese tutors near you so you can always meet them for a chit chat session over coffee.
5. Enjoy Japanese anime with English subtitles
In addition to taking Japanese language classes, you can spend an hour daily watching anime in Japanese with English subtitles.
If you’re unfamiliar, anime refers to cartoons or animation produced within Japan. While watching anime, note down any unfamiliar terms and enter them into a credible translation software to learn what they mean. Revise these terms daily, and your Japanese vocab will improve exponentially.
6. Try Japanese flashcards
Make learning Japanese more interactive using flashcards. Quizlet offers hundreds of flashcards with Japanese words, phrases and sentence structures. It even includes image flashcards to help students learn through various interactive means.
There are also engaging games that put your skills to test. In 'Match,' time is of essence as you need to rapidly match words to their right hiragana spellings before the timer runs out.
Quizlet will also become one of your best friends while learning Japanese in language study. It is designed to be easily accessible both online and on the app, making it a simple option for you to study Japanese in your spare time.
7. Immerse yourself in Japanese Culture
Japan has a rich and long-spanning history. Understanding the culture and identity will grow your appreciation for the language. Loving the culture motivates you to master the Japanese language. In fact, if you get a chance, pay Japan a visit.
Additionally, try your best to refrain from translating into your original tongue. Change your internal monologue to Japanese. Even change your smartphone language to Japanese. These small steps help train you to think in the language and learn Japanese faster.
8. Learning Japanese is a marathon, not a sprint
Burnout is a real challenge when it comes to learning a new language. Break your Japanese learning experience into different sessions across different days. You don’t want to cram your study into a single 8-hour session. You are bound to get frustrated. Worse still, you might give up entirely! Do the homework your TUTOROO Japanese teacher gives you between each Japanese lesson.
Apply the Pomodoro Technique - split your time into half-hour sessions when doing your homework. Spend 25 minutes fully immersed in learning Japanese and then a 5 minute break . This can help to improve your focus and efficiency while learning Japanese the first time.
Hope these tips help, and we wish you the very best in your Japanese learning journey!