They’re many reasons as to why people want to learn Japanese, such as; being interested in Japanese culture, using Japanese for work, or teaching English in Japan. However, most learners don’t know how to study and have no confidence.
Maybe you experience one or more of the following:
- Japanese is difficult so I worry I’ll never improve.
- I want to know effective methods on how to learn Japanese.
- I don’t want to give up.
- I want to pass the JLPT N2 so that I can qualify for work.
I have taught more than 130 students coming from 25 countries via skype since 2009. There are various type students. Some people learn fast and some people learn slow. Some people easily give up and some people achieve their goal.
In this article, I’ll give you advice on the most important things to mastering Japanese.
１．Stop thinking “Japanese is a difficult language” and have confidence
Confidence is very important for learning a language, because you have confidence it will give you the motivation and help you make progress.
I’m going to be straight with you, Japanese is a difficult language. It’s the truth, so there’s no way around it. If you really want to master it, then you should take on the challenge. Doesn’t matter how old you are or what kind of schedule you have, etc. Among my students there are some that are more than 60 years old, and some with learning disabilities. You may sometimes think it’s difficult and don’t act. You can’t avoid it forever. Because it’s difficult, when you master it you can feel a big accomplishment.
２．Slow and steady wins the race 急がば回れ
Please imagine you’re building a house. The first step is to make a concrete foundation and set up strong pillars. If you use weak materials or neglect this stage, what will become of this house? It’s easy to collapse from natural disasters like earthquakes or Typhoons.
Learning a language is also the same. Foundation is very important. You should take your time learning the basics. I sometimes see articles saying things like grammar is not important and just emphasize listening and speaking. I don’t agree, because if you understand grammar, then you can build upon that and make sentences and it will improve listening and speaking skills. Grammar is like the pillars of a house. If you don’t understand grammar, then you will never master Japanese.
Expanding your vocabulary is also important. Japanese has more than 10,000 basic words. If you don’t know these words, it seems like a wall-less house.
Most importantly, you should learn to take your time and have patience. Even if you are clever and improve quickly but easily give up, you’ll be stuck in the same place forever. More than that, even if you are poor at remembering things but use correct methods and continue study little by little every day, in the end you will achieve your goal.
３． Try to Take JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency test)
When you almost understand elementary level Japanese, I recommend you try to take the JLPT (Japanese Language proficiency test) N5 or N4. JLPT is a measure of Japanese level for non-native speakers. It’ very well known test and people who study Japanese take this test. This test consists of 5 levels, N1 to N5, N1 being the most difficult and N5 being the easiest and each level includes vocabulary (Kanji), grammar, reading and listening. If you want to work using Japanese or want to enter university in Japan, then you require more than N2 level.
When learning Japanese setting a specific goal is very important. If you can feel your progress, then you’ll have more motivation. Through JLPT check your level and step by step every day to get closer to your goal.