There are many different ways of tackling the Japanese language, whatever way you study Japanese, I hope it’s working for you. These are my 5 tips for stuyding Japanese that I use to study and apply what I learn, so far I’ve only been studying for about 7 months, but these are working pretty well for me.
5. The Internet
Even though I beleive this to be number 5 in “My 5 Tips For Studying Japanese” I still use it the most, obviously. There are thousands of websites out there written by people who are trying to help with Japanese. You can find complete textbooks on Scribd, you can find thousands of Japanese videos on YouTube and you can even use websites to ask specific questions and someone will probably answer them. If you want to see how to use the internet to your advantage check out tofugu’s article on the Top 10 Online Resources for Learning Japanese for Free. Some people might say, the internet is all knowing and you can find any information you want, that’s also it’s weakness, you can find any information, and sometimes it’s wrong.
4. The Japanese Learning Community
Are you having a hard time finding these thousands of great but hidden sources of knowledge, or don’t know where to start? Well there are thousands of like-minded people ready to help you out just because they want to. If you looking for a great source to learn news, culture and the language than check out japansoc.com. If you want to learn Japanese, but still want to be sitting at your computer, well guess what you can do that now aswell at edufire.com. you can attend online classes, and get to know both teachers and students to help you out. You can also literally follow the J-blog community by checking out my twitter and checking out who I follow.
3. Japanese Culture
Enough of sucking up to the people I aspire to be, we’re getting down to some really good stuff, Japanese Culture. You might ask me “How can I put fit Japanese culture into my life” well, it’s pretty easy. If you want to listen to music, listen to Japanese music, If you have no idea where to start check out jpopjapan.com (or if you cannot listen to peppy Jpop songs like me check out this link for some great Japanese Indie-Rock songs to get you started). If you want to go out, go to a Japanese Resturant, use chopsticks, try the wasabai and remember to begin with いただきます! If your watching an Anime movie, turn of those bloody subtitles! I know some poeple who could quote “Spirited Away” word for word and they still watch it in English. If your in school and you need to do an assignment with pretty a leniant topic, make it Japanese. Right now I’m trying to work something Japanese into an Art assignment. Picking up culture on your journey of learning japanese is an invaluable term, it all counts in the end.
2. Japanese People
Now people, where can you find lots of Japanese people? JAPAN! If you’re serious about your learning then you need to immerse yourself as much into the Japanese world as you can. For those of who are unable to go right now in time, I’ve got some ideas that can get you near Japanese people. First of all, my family gets overseas university students to stay at our house while they go to university and sure enough, some of them are Japanese. I teach them English and they teach me Japanese and they become your friend after a while and someone you can stay in contact with even after they leave (apparently I have a place to stay in Saitama when I got to Japan). Japanese people are the absolutely essential if your learning Japanese, you’re never going to be able to get the pronunciation of words right or pick up some natural language in textbooks (audio tapes also are also bit helpful but they speak so unnaturally slow). For those who can’t really share their home, get a job in which you come into contact with Japanese people. I work in a supermarket right next to the same university my home-stay brothers study at and I probably speak to maybe about 3 Japanese people on average each shift and they get a real kick out of talking to white boy in Japanese, some even ask me about my shifts so they can schedule when to shop. Just a note, Japanese people are not machines, I’ve learned that you can hit a translator with 1000’s of words, but not a person, they normally have things to do, unlike me, which brings me to my final point.
This I reckon is the biggest misconception made by Japanese learners, you cannot expect to be casual about learning Japanese and expect to get better! If you’re studying Japanese maybe half an hour a week, just think, do you spend half an hour a week using English? All the other things in this list co-inside with sitting down and studying, alot. The more nerdy you are about studying, the easier it’s going to be. But the big comfort I can take from it is that a few years from now when I’m in Japan sitting down with my freinds chatting in Japanese, I reckon I’m not going to feel like a nerd then.