Hi! My name is Monica. I am a beginner of Japanese, and I am here writing this to share my insights on how I study the language.
I started learning a few words in Nihongo back in 2012 but I wasn’t that motivated enough to really focus on becoming fluent. In fact, I didn’t even know about the Japanese writing system: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. I was just simply using my best friend —Google. Though I sucked at it but I liked the feeling when my students smile at me after saying ”Konnichiwa”.
I knew that this day would come. The moment where I have to sit for hours watching videos in JapanesePod101 and stare at my walls memorizing the Hiragana and Katakana alphabet (chuckle). After several months of studying Japanese on my own, I can now read and write in Hiragana and Katakana. I also know the numbers, months, and many other words in Japanese. It feels amazing!
I know it takes years to get fluent with Japanese, so I’m trying hard to improve my skill every day.
TIP #1: Study the history of Japan.
TIP #2: Study Hiragana. Make sure you already know how to read and write it after jumping to tip #3.
There are tons of free online resources you can find on the internet.
I mainly learned the Hiragana and Katakana from JapanesePod101 YouTube channel. I find it very informative, and it’s by far the best one when it comes to learning Japanese. They have a website too, so go ahead and check them out. One other channel I’d like to mention is the Yuko Sensei. These are just two of the many sources of information I have over months of studying Japanese. I always search for information on the web, and I could say that sky is our limit to learning something. It just takes some time and effort to do it.
TIP #3: Study Katakana. Make sure you know how to read and write it after jumping to tip #4.
I find that learning by writing makes it easier for me to grasp everything. I tend to remember the words with less effort than just by reading it from a book or by merely watching a video. I highly recommend that you practice by writing it down on a notebook and review it before you sleep or when you get up in the morning.
TIP #4: Practice reading and writing in Hiragana and Katakana until you master them.
Invest in books or subscriptions (online course/material) if you can. Otherwise, you can always find something free on the internet.
TIP #5: Study the basic Japanese grammar (particles, sentence pattern, nouns, pronouns, verbs, etc.).
These are the books that I’ve purchased so far. I’m not done flipping all the pages though coz I’m busy watching video tutorials on YouTube.
TIP #6: Study Kanji.
Undoubtedly, this is the most daunting aspect of the Japanese writing system, so don’t pressure yourself in remembering all Kanji characters coz it ‘s not even possible. There are over 50 ,000 of them, and I’ve already accepted the fact that I’ll never be closer to that (chuckle).
TIP #7: Stay motivated by constantly reminding yourself of your goal.
You don’t study or learn a language for nothing, right? So, stay true to yourself and stick to your goal in mind. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is really what you want. Does it make you happy? Would it help you achieve your goal in the future? Why are you doing it then? If you don’t have answers to these simple questions —then, there’s something wrong.
TIP #8: (Learning or studying should not be forced.) Make it natural and visible.
One way I study or ensure that I remember the words/phrases is by making it visible. This technique is something I learned from reading my favorite book. The idea is to make learning a habit: a good habit that is easy to start, visible, attractive, and obvious. For this reason, I do it like this one below ↓.
I stepped up my DIY Japanese learning by labeling almost all the things I have in my room. I also wrote down all the Hiragana and Katakana alphabet on the wall that way I won’t forget them. It works! It’s way easier to remember them now that I can see it everyday. I have no excuse of not studying Japanese coz these printouts are all over my house. They serve us my reminders.
These are just snippets of what my learning style look like. I don’t want to show the entire look of my room coz it’s messy with all the writings I posted on every wall. They’re everywhere! This has always been my way of studying how (only when it’s something I find very important). When I was prepping for the nursing and teaching board exam many years ago, I did it this way. It worked for me coz I passed both exams (one take only), so I’m certain that my efforts are not wasted. I can do it!
TIP #9: Install some free mobile apps and use them to practice your Japanese.
Below are the apps I used to practice the Hiragana and Katakana. I am not ready for Kanji yet, so I plan to focus on it after fully mastering the two.
TIP #10: Work on your speaking skill. Find a Japanese language partner or formally study Nihongo with a native teacher.
I’m lucky to have Japanese friends, so this isn’t a tricky one for me. However, as we all know it, Japanese are shy in nature, so this is the challenging part when it comes to practicing the language with them. Not to mention, they’re very busy at work, so expect for a somewhat occasional exchange with them.
There are countless of language exchange apps out there that you can find. HelloTalk and Ziktalk are a few of them.