Japanese, with its unique alphabet and sentence structures, can be quite a challenge for Westerners to learn. Like all learning endeavors, though, you can make the process much easier and more efficient by doing a little planning before you dive in. In this article I am going to tell you three things you can do to make your Japanese language learning experience a pleasant, efficient and worthwhile one.
1. Find Out What Type Of Learner You Are
Contemporary research based on Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences shows that there are 7 distinct types of learners: visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, and logical-mathematical. Before you jump into Japanese do yourself a huge favor and find out what kind of learner you are. To discover whether you’re a linguistic or a logical-mathematical learner, take one of the many free tests on the Internet.
To do this, just go to Google and type in “Theory of Multiple Intelligences free test,” and you’ll find one. Look at a few and use the one that has the most questions; you’ll get the most accurate results that way. When doing this, keep in mind that you won’t be just one type of learner. You will have much more strength in certain areas, though. Find your strengths and then design as language learning strategy that’s best for you.
2. Get Friendly With the Katakana Alphabet
You may not know this, but the Japanese writing system has more than one alphabet. One of them is called Katakana. It is the simplest alphabet, and it is used to transcribe foreign words, to represent the names of plants, animals, and minerals, and to type out technical and scientific terms.
It is also commonly used to write the names of foods, which makes it very useful for to know. In addition, it’s a phonetic alphabet, so it’s not too difficult to learn. If you study hard, you can master the sounds of the 48 characters of the system in an afternoon or two. So, before going out and trying to tackle Kanji, the much more difficult system of characters that make up the primary written form of the Japanese language, get familiar with Katakana. This will ease you into success, one step at a time.
3. Work With a Native Japanese Speaker From the Beginning
When learning a language that uses the same alphabet as your own, for example, if you’re a native English speaker learning Spanish, you can learn a lot just by adjusting your own pronunciation. When learning Japanese, though, you will be making sounds that are totally and completely different than anything you are used to. For this reason, it is imperative that you work with a native Japanese speaker from day one.
Fortunately, doing this is as easy as ever. You have several options. One is to find a local Japanese speaker and work with him or her in person. This is a great option, but it is also the most expensive.
The next option is to use language learning software or online instruction. These programs, in the early days, were not very good. Today, however, you can get high-quality, fully interactive language learning software programs recorded by native speakers for under a hundred dollars. This is much cheaper than hiring a personal Japanese tutor, and you can repeat lessons over and over until you’re satisfied that you have learned them. Check out my Rocket Japanese review to see what I mean.
Finally, if want a totally free option, you can do a language exchange over the Internet. All you do is go to a language learning forum and search for a native Japanese speaker who is willing to teach you Japanese in return for you teaching him or her your native language, whatever it may be.
It doesn’t really matter which option you choose. Just make sure that you’re working with a native Japanese speaker right from the beginning; it’s much harder to fix bad Japanese pronunciation than it is to just learn it correctly in the first place.
Best of luck to you!
Have any tips about learning the Japanese language? Please leave them in the comments below.
Have a great day.