How to learn Japanese quickly: 10 tips
Being fluent in a second language is a super impressive skill. It arms you with the tools to become a better communicator, allows you to understand and appreciate different cultures, and connects you with amazing new people and experiences. But, learning a new language requires a lot of effort. Luckily, if you’re learning Japanese, we’ve got some top tips to help speed up the process.
1. Label everything
Grab some stickers and write on them the names of common items around your house in Japanese. Go ahead and label everything that is useful; from the fridge and your keys to the toilet and the TV remote, this is a simple way to surround yourself with the language. You can also include the phonetic spelling underneath to help you learn to pronounce these words too.
2. Study in Japan
Undoubtedly, the best way to speed up your language learning is to study abroad. You’ll experience all the eclectic sights and sounds of life in Tokyo, tuck into authentic cuisine, and be completely immersed in the language. You’ll see it, hear it and read it everywhere you go, and you’ll have endless opportunities to practice speaking Japanese. Even if you’re not a confident speaker yet, it is still considered polite to try!
3. Follow influencers
Find Japanese influencers who make content about subjects that you’re interested in. Social media is a great way to learn current trends and slang. Every time you open TikTok or Instagram, you’ll interact with bite-sized, fun chunks of Japanese language and culture.
4. Find a study buddy
Why learn Japanese alone when you can learn with a friend? Find somebody who is learning Japanese at the same level as you, so that you can practice together without embarrassment before you’re ready to chat with fluent speakers. You might have had the same problems or be confused by similar things, so you can help each other out.
5. Watch Japanese TV shows
From drama to comedy, and even a range of bizarre game shows, watching Japanese TV can help you learn to follow a conversation and improve your pronunciation. Subtitles in your native language are useful when you’re first learning, and subtitles in Japanese can help you recognise kanji and kana characters, which you’ll need to read and write in Japanese. Shows that are set in Tokyo can also prepare you for your own trip to Japan’s incredible capital city.
6. Give anime a go
If you’re interested in anime – a popular style of animated cartoon that originated in Japan – there are heaps of shows to choose from. These shows will often use more complicated language and niche vocabulary, so are ideal for learners with a little more confidence.
Conversation in scripted TV shows isn’t quite the same as real life conversation. An easy way to practice listening to a conversation in Japanese is to subscribe to Japanese podcasts. With podcasts you can learn while you’re doing other things – like taking the bus to class or walking to the shops. You can also slow down the audio speed to make it easier to listen as a beginner.
8. YouTube is your friend
There is a wealth of Japanese-language content on YouTube, from videos specifically designed to help learners, to films, interviews and vlogs made by Japanese content creators. Subscribe to several channels that you find entertaining and watch a few videos every week to improve your listening skills, your pronunciation and to pick up new vocabulary that relates to your interests.
9. Learn from your mistakes
When you get something wrong, don’t just move on. Taking time to acknowledge your mistakes makes you less likely to make the same blunder again. Whether you pronounced something incorrectly, made a spelling error or fumbled your sentence structure, it can help to make a note of it – on your phone or in a notebook – to help you remind yourself in the future.
10. Regular and varied practice
When learning Japanese, practicing often is essential. It is also important to mix it up – just streaming Japanese TV won’t make you fluent! You’ll have to find a combination of different learning techniques that suits you, to give you a well-rounded understanding of Japanese.