Below are a list of language learning tips to help you get off to a good start in your Japanese studies. If you’ve decided to give it a go then here are some language learning tips and affordable online Japanese language programs that are worth taking a look at.
#1 Firstly, how often you study has the greatest impact on learning Japanese.
In other words You’ll be able to remember more from studying 10 minutes everyday for a week than 70 minutes in one shot once a week. Frequency of review is critical for learning Japanese quickly. It also helps you keep track of how fast you’re learning Japanese. You won’t have to wait a week to find out you can’t remember, if you study and review everyday you’ll know the next day or as soon as you pull out your study materials whether they be audio books, flash cards or logging into an online study site.
We like JapanesePod 101.Com. Cheap, engaging plus you can pay per month so you can stop when you need a break. Tons of functionality built into the platform like pronunciation checks, live tutor support, tests and it tracks every unit you study. Plus they give away a truck load of free stuff whether you subscribe or not. But If you are serious about your studies it's a deal you can't pass up.
#2 Study Tips & The Time of Day or Night Plays a Role
Another way to learn Japanese fast has to do with what time of the day or night you study. Studies indicate that students who study upon waking and before they go to sleep at night remember more! So burn a little midnight oil! Or zip through your study targets or vocabulary with that morning java.
#3 Language Learning Tips for Japanese - Pronunciation
No matter how much Japanese you know, it won’t make amount to a hill of beans if your pronunciation is so far off that no one knows what you’re saying. After all, there is no substitute for hearing native speakers. There are solid software products that can really help you get a good handle on pronunciation.
#4 Tips for Learning Japanese - Carry a Dictionary
It’s mighty handy to be able to check a Japanese word you overhear or suddenly think of etc. Plus it really speeds up your learning curve for new words if you can check them right there on the spot. Paper or electronic, both are great. But electronic dictionaries have quite a few advantages. Trying to remember them after you get home is tough. It gets a whole lot tougher if you’ve had a drink.
#5 Tips for Learning Japanese - Give yourself a Break!
Another great language learning tip is to rest your brain every 30 minutes or so. Don’t grind at it too long. Why? Your retention will drop and you may find yourself just “putting in the time” instead of studying with enthusiasm. Attention to what you’re studying creates the memory of it! When you take a break do something physical and don’t think about your studies. Wash the dishes, vacuum or shoot some hoops!
#6 Language Learning Tips - Save Your Brain Space
Considering that you can only learn Japanese so fast, it makes sense not to memorize words that have roughly the same meaning- at least initially. So for example if you know that “I” means “watakushi”, why memorize the other Japanese equivalents of I, (watashi, boku and ore?) Use your time to learn different Japanese. You can come back to the other forms later.
#7 Language Learning Tips - Flash Card Use
Flash cards. The key to rapid memorization. Cheap. Versatile. Write down vocabulary words on flash cards. It’s best if you write 1 word per card. Why? So you can change the order of the words. The mind has a tendency to remember order so if you’ve written say 5 words on 1 card you may remember "enpitsu" (pencil) simply because it comes after "hon" (book) on your flash card.
Then when you try to remember "enpitsu" without your cards you won’t be able to without seeing "hon" (book) first. You memorized the order and not the word. If you write a single phrase or word on a card you can randomize the order by shuffling your cards. If you can tear through your word targets in any order, rest assured you know the target.
#8 Tips for Learning Japanese - Drill From Japanese Into English
Probably the biggest language learning tips are language order and flash card review. You probably think in English right? So it’s safe to say when you go to say something (in the beginning stages of learning Japanese), your brain is taking what you’re thinking in English and trying to convert it into Japanese- right?
You’ll benefit more from reading the English word and then translate into Japanese and not the other way around. Why? Because you’re thinking in English and this is the situation you will be in when you begin speaking Japanese.
#9 Learn Japanese Faster With Flash Card Review
The second most important factor in your success will be how much you review. (The first is daily study.) Always begin your vocabulary drilling by reviewing past targets. Remember the bigger your vocabulary gets the tougher it is to keep tabs on what you remember.
So, separate your flash cards into weekly or monthly stacks of say 20 cards. Don’t mix the stacks. Each time you make a new stack, make sure to review past stacks first. If you can’t recall the target quickly, STOP learning new Japanese and tighten up your past targets. When you can tear through any given stack with greasy,greasy,greasy fast speed, you can “retire” the stack.
#10 Language Learning Tips - Using a Textbook
Don’t read to yourself! When you begin to learn Japanese, you’ll benefit a lot more from actually pronouncing the target sentences rather than just reading them to yourself.
When you just read a target, the mind lets you skip parts of the drill target you selected even if you don’t know it by heart. But if you always enunciate your language target you can’t skip over the part you don’t know without noticing it. Also, words you have trouble pronouncing becomes glaringly obvious.
Another super useful tip is to close your book after reading a target. If you think you really know your language target. Close your book and practice the target. It’s easy to “cheat” when you have your book open.
#11 Waste Not Want Not
I know that perhaps after hours of listening to little kids scream and chatter in Japanese that is often broken, the last thing you want to listen to more of is a language that you may be struggling with.
But Japanese audio books are a great way to get going faster with the language then just spacing off on the train counting the stops until you arrive at your stop. Amazon has some cheap and decent audio books that you can read while listening to. Using both senses makes the language sink in faster.
If you're burnt out, wait for your day off to pack in a bit of study time. Really one of the worst things is to grind at the language when you're exhausted. Nothing sticks and you very well may begin to get a feeling of dread when you think of studying. Perhaps this is one of the most important language learning tips. If this develops, motivation stalls and procrastination takes off. You haven't lost a battle. You lost the war.
#12 Language Learning Tips - The Need For Speed
Hesitating and stumbling, rest assured you don’t know it. Do yourself a favor and go back and review before moving ahead.
How do you know you’ve mastered a Japanese word or phrase? Speed. That’s how. When you can recite from memory your target words with greasy fast speed, you know the target. If your hesitating and stumbling, rest assured you don’t know it. Do yourself a favor and go back and review before moving ahead.
# 13 - Language Learning Tips and the Dangers of Slang, Direct Translations and Cuss Words
Forget Japanese street slang books. First off, the bulk of the language is offensive to most Japanese. Second, slang and cuss words sound funny when said with an accent which is what you have unless you were raised speaking Japanese. If you want to speak with more color and flair, master basic patterns first. Then beef it up with more complex patterns and then incorporate “kotowaza” or proverbs into your vocabulary.
We have a monthly e-zine that handles this on the right hand side column of this page. We also incorporate commonly used yet powerful and colorful expressions that will help you express yourself without offending your partner.
# 14 - Dating And Marriage Give You Real Immersion And Can Level Japanese Skills Fast
Something many English teachers hear when arriving in Japan and talking with new coworkers about learning, or improving their Japanese, is to get a girlfriend, or boyfriend as applicable!
Why? Simple really, by getting yourself a girlfriend or boyfriend that you spend a lot of time with, and want to get to know, you will naturally spend more time talking with them. There are only a few Japanese people with native level English ability, so the chances are that your partner and you will fill between English and Japanese, with both of you improving your language skills! This can help you achieve level N3 in JLPT fairly quickly.
If things really work out and you find yourself considering about getting married in Japan you will find yourself delving into even deeper Japanese language skills. At that point you are likely going to be around JLPT level N2 for your efforts, which if you are getting married means that you can then break away into other work easily if you wish to.
If you’re the type that is literal about languages - a word of caution. There are tons of “borrowed” words that have made their way into the Japanese language (hint for identification- they’re written in katakana. In fact, about 10% of Japanese is "borrowed" from foreign languages and has been incorporated. Although some foreigners laugh at some of these words, and therefore try to “improve” them by remaining pure and doing direct translations, this generally doesn’t work.
These words or "Japanized" English are considered legitimate Japanese. So the word “hotdog” which in Japanese is said as “hotto dogu” can’t be said literally as “atsui inu” . Atsui meaning “hot” and inu meaning “dog”.
Also note that words like “kiss” said in Japanese as “kissu”. If you look up kiss in a Japanese dictionary, you’ll find “seppun suru." You’ll be risking ridicule using this out of date expression. There are hundreds of these out of date words, so when you’re looking through the dictionary and run across words like “kissu” or “supoon” (spoon), resist the temptation and work them into your vocabulary just as they’re written.
It’s up to you whether or not you use perfectly legitimate Japanese “suberu”, “tomaru” “nomimono” in favor of “slip”, “stop” and “a drink”. As the English equivalents are commonly heard in the streets of Japan.
If you're finished with our language learning tips, section take a look at our getting a job in Japan section for a complete run-down on how to go about getting a job in Japan, so you can use that acquired Japanese on the battle field.
Also, you can find full-time jobs all over Japan on our jobs posting page and part-time jobs on our overseas job opportunities page.
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