Learn Japanese

If you're considering learning a new language, Japanese is a unique and fascinating option to explore. In this article, we'll examine the reasons why you should consider learning Japanese, the effective strategies to master the language, the challenges that learners of Japanese may face, how to measure your Japanese proficiency level, and tips for selecting a quality Japanese course. Whether you're interested in Japanese culture, planning to travel to Japan, or simply want to expand your language skills, this article will guide you on your journey to learning Japanese.

Learn Japanese with EF

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Want to learn Japanese?

Here's why you should choose EF for your Japanese course abroad.

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Learn Japanese in Japan

Why learn Japanese

Learning Japanese can be an enriching experience that opens doors to a fascinating culture and a new way of thinking. With over 130 million speakers worldwide, Japanese is the official language of Japan and is spoken by millions of people around the world. Japan is also a country that is rich in art, literature, and pop culture, and being able to speak Japanese can provide deeper insights and appreciation for these aspects of Japan. For example, by learning Japanese you read works by famous Japanese authors like Haruki Murakami or Yukio Mishima in their original language, watch anime and movies without subtitles, and appreciate traditional arts such as calligraphy, tea ceremonies, and kabuki theater. Also, if you plan to work or travel to Japan, knowing Japanese can help you navigate your surroundings, communicate with locals, and gain a deeper understanding of Japanese culture.

5 benefits of learning Japanese

If you're not yet convinced about learning Japanese, we've got some more reasons that might just change your mind.

  1. Access to Japanese culture: Japan is a country rich in art, literature, and pop culture. By learning Japanese, you can gain deeper insights and appreciation for these aspects of Japan, including reading famous works by Japanese authors in their original language, watching anime or movies without subtitles, and appreciating traditional arts like calligraphy and tea ceremonies.
  2. Better communication with locals: If you plan to work or travel to Japan, knowing Japanese can help you communicate better with locals in personal or professional settings, navigate your surroundings, and gain a deeper understanding of Japanese culture.
  3. Improved job prospects: With its thriving economy, Japan offers many opportunities for work, especially in areas such as technology, education, and finance. Knowing Japanese can give you a competitive edge and make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers.
  4. Mental stimulation: Learning a new language like Japanese can be a mentally stimulating experience, challenging your brain and improving your cognitive abilities. It can also boost your memory and enhance your problem-solving skills.
  5. Personal growth: Learning Japanese can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience that broadens your perspectives and opportunities. It can expand your horizons, help you connect with people from different backgrounds, and improve your overall cultural awareness.

How to learn Japanese

If you're interested in learning Japanese, there are many resources and strategies available that can help you get started. One of the most effective ways to learn Japanese is through immersion. Creating a Japanese immersion environment at home, or even travelling to Japan, can be a great way to accelerate your language learning progress. Here are a few simple steps to create a Japanese immersion environment at home:

  1. Start by changing the language settings on your phone, computer, or other devices to Japanese. This will expose you to the language on a daily basis and help you learn new vocabulary.
  2. Watching Japanese movies or TV shows with subtitles can improve your listening and comprehension skills. You can watch with Japanese audio and English subtitles, and then switch to Japanese subtitles as your skills improve.
  3. Listening to Japanese music, podcasts, or audiobooks while commuting, exercising, or doing chores can help you get used to the sound and rhythm of the language, and improve your listening skills. Starting with songs that have clear pronunciation and a slower tempo can be helpful, and you can gradually move on to more complex materials.

To learn Japanese, it's essential to set specific and achievable goals, such as passing a language exam or holding a conversation with a native speaker. Tracking your progress can also help you identify areas that need improvement and celebrate achievements, which can be done through keeping a journal or using language learning apps to record new vocabulary and grammar rules.

Challenges of learning Japanese

Learning Japanese can be a thrilling experience, but it's not without its challenges. Here are some of the most common obstacles that learners of Japanese may face on their language journey:

  1. Pronunciation: Japanese has a unique sound that can be difficult for non-native speakers to master. The language features several vowel and consonant sounds that are not present in English, and intonation is also essential in conveying meaning.
  2. Writing system: Japanese has three writing systems, including hiragana, katakana, and kanji, which can take some time to master. Kanji, in particular, can be challenging, as there are thousands of characters to learn.
  3. Grammar: Japanese grammar is vastly different from English and can be difficult to understand. The language has many particles that indicate grammatical relationships between words, and there are several verb tenses to learn.
  4. Vocabulary: Japanese vocabulary is vast, and many words have multiple meanings, making it difficult to determine the right context. Additionally, Japanese words often have no equivalent in English, making it challenging to learn and remember them.
  5. Cultural nuances: Japan has a unique culture, and language learners must be mindful of cultural nuances when communicating. Politeness levels, honorifics, and appropriate social etiquette can all be challenging for non-native speakers to understand.

Despite these challenges, learning Japanese is an incredibly rewarding experience. With practice and dedication, learners can overcome these obstacles and become proficient in the language. Resources such as textbooks, language learning apps, and language exchange programs can be helpful in supplementing classroom instruction and improving language skills. By immersing themselves in the Japanese language and culture, learners can gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of Japan and its people.

How to stay motivated while learning Japanese

Learning Japanese can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging at times. To keep yourself motivated, here are six tips to help you stay on track:

  1. Set specific goals: Establish specific, achievable goals for your Japanese learning journey. This could include passing a language exam, mastering a certain number of vocabulary words, or having a conversation with a native speaker.
  2. Find a study partner: Learning with someone else can be more fun and help keep you accountable. Consider finding a language exchange partner or joining a study group.
  3. Use a variety of resources: Mix up your study materials and resources to keep things interesting. Try using different textbooks, language learning apps, and podcasts to supplement your learning.
  4. Embrace your mistakes: Don't be afraid to make mistakes - they're a natural part of the learning process. Use them as an opportunity to learn and improve.
  5. Practice every day: Consistency is key when learning a new language. Try to practice a little bit every day, even if it's just for a few minutes.
  6. Embrace the culture: Immerse yourself in Japanese culture through movies, TV shows, music, and other forms of media. This can help you stay motivated and provide context for the language you're learning.

In conclusion, staying motivated while learning Japanese can be challenging, but with the right mindset and resources, it's definitely possible. By setting goals, finding a study partner, using a variety of resources, embracing mistakes, practicing every day, and embracing the culture, you can stay on track and make steady progress on your language learning journey.

How to measure your Japanese level

Measuring your Japanese language proficiency is an important part of tracking your progress and identifying areas for improvement. There are several tests and frameworks available to help you determine your Japanese level. One of the most commonly recognized tests is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), which assesses your ability to read and understand Japanese at various levels. The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is another framework that can help you gauge your language proficiency, with six levels ranging from A1 (beginner) to C2 (proficient). Additionally, there are several online language proficiency tests and language exchange programs that can help you assess your speaking, listening, reading, and writing abilities in Japanese. Whatever method you choose, regularly assessing your Japanese level can help you identify areas where you need to focus more on improving your skills and provide you with the motivation to continue learning.

How to pick a good Japanese course

If you're interested in learning Japanese, it's important to find a course that fits your needs and learning style. Here are some popular options to consider:

  1. Language schools: Enrolling in a Japanese language course offered by a language school, such as EF Education First in Tokyo, can provide an immersive and effective learning experience. These courses are tailored to meet the needs of learners at all levels and may include cultural activities and excursions to enhance your learning.
  2. Online resources and apps: Many online resources and apps are available for Japanese language learners, ranging from free to paid options that offer interactive exercises, podcasts, and videos for learners at different levels. Reputable websites and cultural institutes offer comprehensive and effective online courses, allowing learners to tailor their learning experience to their needs and preferences.
  3. Language exchange programs: Participating in language exchange programs can be highly beneficial in terms of improving your speaking and listening skills with native speakers, and receiving feedback in real time. Additionally, language exchange programs can offer unique cultural insights and provide fresh perspectives on the language being learned.
  4. Self-study: Learning Japanese through self-study is an effective way to improve your language skills. There are several options, such as using textbooks, grammar guides, reading materials, and watching Japanese media. These resources can help improve vocabulary, comprehension, and accent. Additionally, seeking Japanese-speaking conversation partners can also provide a great opportunity to improve your language skills.
  5. Group classes: A great way to learn Japanese is by joining group classes that offer a structured curriculum and a social and supportive environment. These classes allow learners to practice their speaking and listening skills with other learners, build confidence, and provide feedback. Additionally, learners have the opportunity to meet other language learners and make new friends.

It is important to consider personal preferences, budget, and learning goals when looking for a Japanese course. Researching course providers and their teaching style can also help you to find a course that meets your needs and helps you to achieve your language learning goals. With dedication and effort, you can find the perfect course to start your Japanese language journey.

Learning Japanese with EF in Tokyo was incredible. The teachers were fantastic, and the immersive environment helped me improve my language skills and progress faster than I expected.

Carla, EF Tokyo

Learn Japanese with EF

At EF, we think learning Japanese should be a fun and immersive adventure. Our expert teachers are enthusiastic about teaching and creating an engaging learning environment that adapts to your specific needs and learning style. With a range of courses to choose from, including private lessons, group classes, and immersive language programs, we can help you achieve your language goals and deepen your appreciation for the Japanese-speaking world. To get started with your Japanese language learning journey, contact us today.

Learn Japanese in Tokyo

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