The adoption in around the 6th century CE of kanji by the Japanese from Chinese emissaries was a blessing for the Japanese language since it was the first time the language appeared in written form. At the same time, the act was destined to seem like a curse for the thousands of non-native Japanese speakers who have tried their hand at learning kanji. Simply put: mastering kanji is hard!
To the brain of the typical Westerner who has been raised on an alphabet-based Indo-European language like English, Spanish, or German, the prospect of learning and mastering kanji presents a special challenge. Each kanji is a pictograph, ideograph or phono-semiotic (ouch!) character and can consist of up to twenty individual strokes which need to be drawn in a particular order. Most kanji have three or more possible pronunciations and must be used in combination with one or more other kanji just to form a single word. Continue reading
It is not an impossible task to learn Japanese fast. First, enthusiasm, commitment, and focus can go a long way. Second, it helps to know certain basics. Written Japanese uses three different scripts:
Kanji is composed of Chinese characters. Hiragana and katakana are syllabic scripts based on Chinese characters. A combination of kanji and hiragana are used in modern Japanese. Katakana is usually used to depict loaned foreign words in addition to sounds. Continue reading
Learning Japanese with audio is without doubt the fastest and most efficient way to get started. If you are lucky enough to have some Japanese friends who can help then you are already ahead of the game. In most cases people will look to evening classes at their local college or on the internet for online basic Japanese lessons.
Of course the best way to learn any language is in the country itself. This has obvious advantages but for most of us this is not possible and we have to choose more practical methods of how to learn Japanese. Continue reading
Japanese is a language spoken by more than 120 million people worldwide in countries including Japan, Brazil, Guam, Taiwan, and on the American island of Hawaii. Japanese is a language comprised of characters completely different from the western alphabet that makes up such languages as English, French, Italian, and German. If you are required to learn Japanese for business reasons, or if you are planning a vacation to the Asian island, it might seem intimidating to learn a language so different for your own.
If you are required to learn the Japanese language for your job, consider jumping into an immersion program. There are immersion programs that are available for enrollment that do not require you to travel to Japan, but are held in the United States. Master instructors who are native Japanese speakers will provide a short and highly intensive program in which you will live and breathe Japanese. Continue reading
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test, or JLPT, is administered only once per year and is taken by about 380,000 (1995 figures) non-native speakers of Japanese each year worldwide. The test is divided into four levels (1-4), with Level 1 being the most difficult. The Level 1 has a pass rate of only 29%.
After 4 years of university study of Japanese in my native country, I doubt I would have passed anything beyond Level 3 of the JLPT upon graduation. However, using the techniques I share with you below, I studied for and passed Level 1 of the JLPT on the first try after just 15 months of additional study (while working full time). This success was due not to any innate linguistic talent of mine but rather to having worked out ways of studying smart. Here is what I found works best:
Tip #1: Buy and use blank note cards religiously:
I prefer the type that comes in packs of 100 cards and are bound by a single metal ring. When studying for the JLPT, I filled 35 packs of these cards, or the equivalent of 3,500 words and phrases. Continue reading
Learning Japanese is not only exciting but also something of a challenge. Without doubt learning a new language is an enriching thing to do, whether you choose to do this for a hobby or to increase your chances of work.
For many people travelling to and from a class every week is not an option, it may be too far away or just an inconvenience to an already tight schedule. This is when online classes become an attractive option and a flexible way to learn Japanese. Continue reading
Learning a second language is never easy for the simple reason that it is exactly that a second language. Ninety-nine percent of the time and, of course, barring the existence of congenital speech defects, the difficulty of learning a new language is brought on by the learner’s adherence to the conventions and practices of his first language, his native tongue. Conflicts in pronunciation, vocabulary, usage, intonation, manner of expression, even understanding of concepts, therefore arise. A perfect way to test this fact is to have a simple statement in English read by a Frenchman, an Italian, a Russian, a Japanese, a Portuguese and a German.
See how many versions of the same statement in English you get!
The best thing to do in learning a new language, therefore, is to start fresh. Try, even temporarily, to suppress whatever conventions you are used to with your native tongue, and learn from scratch. While this is easier said than done, it is crucial to the process of learning a new language. Continue reading
Learn Japanese for a real communication for your work, school project, and communicating with your Japanese mate properly.
Many people think that Learning to speak Japanese language is more difficult than learning to write Japanese. But, it is actually vice versa, because there are 3 different Japanese symbol called Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana, if you want to learn to write Japanese.
Normally, many Westerners think that kanji symbol is the only writing form we use in Japanese. It is true that we use kanji symbols more than hiragana or katakana symbols when writing something in Japanese. However, unlike Chinese people who use only Kanji symbols, we mix up all Japanese scripts. Continue reading
Many of us have at one time or another fantasized about becoming fluent in a foreign language. At that point, most people take the path toward half-hearted attempts at learning but never really become proficient. Meanwhile, a brave few commit themselves and really make it happen. What makes the folks who choose the latter path undertake the countless hour of study, occasional moments of embarrassment, and the uncertainty of success?
My road to mastery of a foreign language – Japanese – began in college. It was tough going at first, but over the ensuing 15 or so years I attained a high level of proficiency in the language: I have given lectures at Japanese universities, critiqued essays for Japanese college students, and translated books from English into Japanese. And along the way, I have come to believe in the inherent value of learning and mastering a foreign language.
Here are 5 reasons to why you should consider learning a foreign language:
Reason #1: Expands your social network: The act of studying a foreign language can help you bond with fellow travelers along the same path. And, once you become proficient in the language, your social network of potential contacts and acquaintances will increase by the thousands or millions as you become able to communicate with a whole new population of people. Continue reading
For many people, the idea of learning a foreign language is both exciting and intimidating, especially if the thought brings back memories of learning a second language in middle school or high school.
The truth is that learning a foreign language is a lot easier than most people expect particularly if you follow these tips which I have discovered after a lifetime of helping other people learn everything from Japanese and Arabic to German and French.
1. Make mistakes. The way to learn a new language is by making errors. Thats right; your success will come from repeatedly failing. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and you will learn more than you ever dreamed possible. Continue reading