Japan 2020: How do I do it?
Hello! I would just like to say that you for taking your time for reading this post. In the year of 2020, most likely around March, my family is planning to visit Japan for the first time. When I found out we were going, I found a new passion in learning the language. However, I have heard many fluent individuals who state that it can take 2 to even 4 years to learn Japanese. I only have less than a year, and my schedule is usually busy during the week due to school and other activities. My weekends are the only time I get to really focus on studying Japanese. I don't want to disappoint myself, but I will try to work hard! So I'm in a sticky situation... I'm not saying I want to be fluent in less than year, I just want to be able to have enjoyable conversations, and help translate my way through Japan. I want to be the translator for my parents, and make sure we make it through the trip safely and happily. So...
Do you guys have any tips, tricks, magic, or anything that can help me?
Anything is appreciated. I hope you all have a wonderful day~! -local language enthusiast :)
In short, I'd recommend the website italki.com to get a tutor and just practice for an hour over the weekend. I'd also recommend reading Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner and try incorporating some of the stuff in there into your regimen, I've personally found it very helpful.
Also, most importantly, try not to get too worried about it! People don't generally speak a lot of English in Japan, but they're also super kind and will try their best to help you with the little English they do know. English signage is also frequent in Japan, especially in Tokyo. Here's a good video on the subject if you want to know more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmOP68S5v7c
Trust me, regardless of how much Japanese you know, you're gonna have a great time. I went to Tokyo for four weeks on a language immersion program last summer and most of the friends I made didn't speak any Japanese before coming on the program, but that didn't hinder them too much and we all had a great time. I hope you enjoy your trip!
Thank you so much! I am grateful and I will work hard, thank you for the resources, I hope you have an amazing day~
First off.. nope, you can't get fluent in Japanese in one year without making it your full time job. If you have a busy life, it just isn't going to happen. Language learning isn't magic - success directly correlates with the amount of time and effort you put into learning. To learn fast, you must dedicate more time and more energy into learning the language. And Japanese is one of the harder languages for English speakers to learn so it requires a larger investment to achieve functional fluency.
Fortunately, it sounds like you already appreciate that you won't be fluent after a year of study. That's good. You want to have a strong, but realistic goal. If you study hard, you CAN reach a point where you can speak a little Japanese and understand a little Japanese. Enough to allow you to read signs and ask for directions and say thank you in a polite way. Also studying the language will give you greater cultural insight which will pay off during your visit too.
Be consistent, use multiple resources, study at least a little bit every day and immerse yourself in Japanese and Japanese-related things on a regular basis. Focus on understanding grammar, learning hiragana/katakana, some basic kanji and set phrases. When you have a decent foundation in Japanese and your trip is drawing near, start learning some common travel phrases and practice your speaking skills.
Good luck and do your best!
Aw, thank you so much! I appreciate it, and I will try to study better, in a realistic way. I hope you have a wonderful day~
In 1 year, its totally possible to become comfortable with simple conversations. I have been studying for about three months now and I'd say I could have a 5 minute conversation with a native. I am sure you'll learn lots! Try to study for at least 10 minutes on weekdays, even if you don't have tons of time. Learning a language daily is very important. Even if its just revising something you already know, its essential to remembering what you've learned! Learn kanji! Even if its only the top 100, or even just 50. It will help a lot!
Ah, thank you! I will try to implement better and more efficient study habits. I appreciate this, and have an amazzing day~
If you're worried about time, the easiest piece of advice I would give is to learn katakana first. It's not traditional, I know, but all of the foreign words (e.g. English) that you'll be able to understand are going to be written in that (though they do use katakana for Japanese words as well, so if it doesn't sound familiar then it might be Japanese). And after that, learn hiragana/kanji. Numbers, basic food words, directions, basic verbs, and question words are all good foundations. If you stick to Tokyo and Kyoto, there's a lot of English, so don't worry too much.
Oh! If you are feeling confident, and you like media, try watching a movie/show that you already know, but in Japanese. I recommend something for kids. Like, do you have a favorite Ghibli movie? Watch it in Japanese with no subtitles. You already know the plot, so you can devote more brain power to listening. Or create a target word list/bingo sheet and have it in front of you while you watch, and then try to cross off the words as you hear them. Also try reading children's stories, if you can find them. There are some really cute children's stories out there, like this one: https://www.ehonnavi.net/ehon/109976/%E3%82%82%E3%81%86%E3%81%AC%E3%81%92%E3%81%AA%E3%81%84/
Thank you so much for the useful tips and resources! I really appreciate that you are considering different situations. I am really grateful, and I hope you have a goood day~ ありがとう！
The best thing is to consistently study, everyday, preferably with no days off. Use diverse resources, like Memrise, Duolingo, a textbook (Genki), some Youtube courses, Lingodeer, and an audio course (Pimsleur). After that, watch a lot of anime to trick yourself into listening practice while entertaining yourself. If it were any western language, I'd recommend comics and books in the target language from the start, but Japanese literacy is a bit of a beast to wrestle with.
While anime is certainly a great resource, in my experience it really only becomes useful as a language learning tool at the intermediate/advanced level. It's possible to pick up a few words here and there (I learned the word for "human" from Attack on Titan and the words for Red Blood Cell, White Blood Cell, and Platelet from Cells at Work), but if you use English subtitles, it doesn't help that much with listening comprehension until later. Using Japanese subtitles is far more helpful (though still not great for listening), but you'll probably be completely lost if you're still a beginner. I only recently started watching anime with Japanese subs, but even then I started with shows I'd already seen with English subs and there were still a lot of words/phrases I didn't understand.
That said, I will say that anime with English subtitles has helped me get a better feel for the flow of the language when I was just starting out, but most people say that when they have subs on they tend to focus on those and not the Japanese dialogue, so that might not work for everyone. But it's definitely a great source of motivation, especially if you get really hooked on a show. It's definitely worth watching as a learner at any level, but the degree of usefulness only reaches its maximum potential at higher levels.
I appreciate this assessment, because it is difficult to understand. But it is a good motivation! :) Thank you!
I will work hard! Thank for your advice, and other resources. I really appreciate it :) I hope you have a good day~
Hi i'm Brady Jones, I know a good way to learn. Except, before you leave don't try to cram everything in your head. I've been studying Japanese for 1 year and my teacher tells us that we should do 5-10 words a week then, about a week later re go through them. I promise that it works!.
Hello Brady! Thank you for this tip, and I will try to study in a better way. I'm glad to get advice from a student learning. I hope you have a great day~
great to see many useful tips under your post www
I am also learning Japanese. Till now I have completed the Japanese skill tree and now I am trying to turn everything into gold. NHK offers free Japanese courses online: https://www.nhk.or.jp/lesson/english/learn/list/
It's quite practical and offers you various occasions where you can make use of the expressions you learn. I have not yet started with that course (but I am going to do so after I get every lesson in Duo to level 5 lol). Btw I don't think it is necessary to be fluent in Japanese so as to travel there. Thousands of Chinese students come to North America every year and many of them are not fluent at all w. As far as I know every east Asian students all learn English starting in elementary school. Just ask someone who looks young and they probably will likely to be able to give you some help... (forget it, I'm just guessing XD )
Aw, thank you, I appreciate the effort! I will try to study hard, but I'm positive students over there will help me. I hope you have an excellent day and again thank you~!
Hey just go though it, I hope you will like it. http://studboo.com/index.php/2019/04/15/learn-japanese-in-40-days/
Thank you so much! This article seems to be helpful, I hope you have a wonderful day~~
Don't take the "put this much energy into it" too seriously. Time yes, you have to put time for any language, but active learning is not the most effective, at least not for spoken language. Written in different alphabets is an entirely different matter but even then...
The most important thing is comprehensible input. You can retroactively trigger diffuse learning with active learning but it's not the most effective. How many words in any language, including your mother tongue can you think of without an image forming up in your head about it? Why do you see people attempting to use gestures when communicating with non speakers?
lonely right ear warning for headphone users I learned English like it's nothing because of diffuse relaxed learning (movies and video games) to the point that in 6th grade I already had teachers act jealously towards a kid that never tried to be an ass -____-
Best of luck and have fun, that's the most important!