Effective ways to learn Japanese, as a beginner

Effective ways to learn Japanese, as a beginner

Learning a new language

Ever seen “Arrival”? You know, that extremely unique science fiction film about aliens visiting Earth. The protagonist, which is an expert in linguistics, said, “If you immerse yourself into a foreign language, then you can actually rewire your brain”. This highlights the importance of learning a foreign language. Learning a new language is a way to sharpen your knowledge and communication skills.

There is no doubt that every time you learn a new language, it improves your attitude, and this is done through empathy and the understanding of cultural differences. It forges a connection between you and the culture. A country’s native language speaks so much about the people and their upbringings. In a way, it is the glue that holds the people together.

Japanese is one of them

Japanese language is one of the languages which many people choose to learn. It’s unique and can be used in different areas whether that’s business, culture, history, art, or animation. So, how to start? This question seems very easy to answer because there are many ways to learn, but what are some of the most effective ways?

Do not worry because we have prepared you with useful tips that may help you to learn easier.

Specify your goal

What is your purpose to learn Japanese or what does it mean to you?. You might have a ton of goals for learning Japanese but try to pick the most specific one. For example, you may want to learn Japanese for these reasons; traveling, living in Japan, doing business, improving your communication skills, and so on.

Learn three Alphabets

It is a good idea to study with the alphabet as a first step for learning Japanese. You might get confused with their alphabet because there are three different styles of Japanese writing, which are hiragana (ひらがな), katakana (カタカナ) and, kanji (漢字). It does not matter which one would you like to learn first, yet Hiragana would be a simple way to start with. To make it easier to understand, you are supposed to know Hiragana before you learn Kanji which relates to the Chinese characters in the way of Japanese sound.

Hiragana will help you to create a strong foundation and open the door of Japanese pronunciation. Moreover, when you successfully remember all sounds, you can continue with Kanji. Another one is Katakana, adapting words from foreign languages into the Japanese form. For example, “coffee” is written “コーヒー” (Koo-Hii) and “bus” is written “バス” (Ba-Su)

Recommendation: Using flashcards will help you to memorise these three characters. You can make it on your own or install the Hiragana Katakana Flash Card app.

Writing Practice

Speaking and writing are significant factors to learn the language. It is impossible to understand thoroughly by only focusing on one side. After you know how to pronounce all the characters, you have to remember the structure of each character.

The Japanese writing structure is different from other languages.With three distinct writing styles, you should start learning them one by one. Is it complicated? You think it might be difficult in the beginning but do not worry because here are some tips for you to follow.

  • Begin with Hiragana and Katakana: learning how to write Kanji as a first step is quite complex. Starting with Hiragana or Katakana as a basic step will make your learning process look more enjoyable. Some of their characters are similar to another one. Therefore, it would be a better method to remember their shapes. Why do we have to remember their shapes? As you know that our brain effectively works better on remembering images than abstract data. Visualizing their shapes with something else would help you to write them easier.
  • Find a Book: find the books whose contents are clear with a brief explanation for beginners. You can take these books for learning Japanese as a recommendation:

      - Japanese Hiragana & Katakana for Beginners: First Steps to Mastering the Japanese Writing System by Timothy G. Stout

      - Learning Japanese Hiragana and Katakana: Workbook and Practice Sheets by Takagaki & Henshall

  • Pencil or Pen: If we talk about elements in Japanese writing, a writing brush will currently pop up in your mind. In all actuality, lots of beginners use a pencil to practice writing and when they are used to the characters, they go on another level. Japanese children also use pencils to learn their writing process for building a strong foundation.                                                                                                                
  • Graph paper: using a graph paper style notebook or any paper with a square grid which is called Genkouyoushi paper. It is the easiest way to keep your characters in the correct proportion and to confirm that your writing is accurate and legible.

Remembering Words

After you have finished reading and writing systems, now you are ready to get a better understanding by memorizing vocabulary words. Knowledge is everywhere, not only appears in the books. Spending your free time reading your favorite manga, newspaper, watching anime or listening to podcasts to gain vocabulary. This way will help you to receive Japanese informal and formal Japanese words at the same time.

Focus on Grammar

Every language has grammatical differences. It is an important step to improve your Japanese skills. Grammar combines all considerable parts like words, subject, object, verbs and others to become a sentence. It will support your Japanese learning process into academic way and avoid misunderstanding communication.

Bit by Bit

Putting pressure on yourself is not a way to go, take your time to enjoy learning by starting bit by bit.

Time to Show your Understanding

Using the Japanese language in your daily life. You might try to translate some Japanese sentences from books, movies or music into your native language. All of these techniques guide you to the ideas on how to learn Japanese effectively. However, learning is flexible, there are lots of ways more than these tips to study, so find a method that works for you.

Apply for an internship with AIP!

Working in an international setting provides you with the opportunity to gain exclusive, and unique, work experience. There is no better way to understand a new culture than speaking in the native tongue. Learning a new language goes a long way and can definitely be beneficial towards your professional career. Apply for an internship with AIP now and find out the benefits of learning Japanese.

Learn more about our internships!