Japanese is one of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers, not least because there are three Japanese alphabets! The sentence structure also differs from English, as it follows a different construction of subject object verb.
Sentences combine kanji (Chinese characters which convey meaning) with hiragana and katakana (which represent syllables in speech). Add to this rōmaji, which includes Roman letters like our writing system, and it’s easy to see why learning Japanese isn’t child’s play.
Japan is becoming an ever more popular tourist destination, so the number of eager linguists learning the language has increased. With that in mind, this guide explores the main difficulties faced by learners of Japanese and gives top tips for mastering the language.
Watch Japanese cartoons and films
A great way to get an ear for a new language is to immerse yourself in the culture. You can do this from the comfort of your own home by watching Japanese movies and cartoons.
Sing along to Japanese music
Try learning the lyrics and then singing along to Japanese songs. The vocabulary you will pick up is no substitute for learning the nuts and bolts of the language, but it will get you used to the new sounds and is a fun way to start.
You’ll also be better prepared for karaoke, one of the nation’s favourite pastimes. Blast out a popular Japanese song and you’ll gain friends!
Learn from a native speaker
Whilst you might prefer to teach yourself from a book, having supervised guidance from someone who knows what they’re doing is a huge benefit. There are plenty of courses all over the country where you can learn in groups or get one-to-one tuition.
Whether you’re looking for a Japanese course in Brighton, London, Manchester or Bristol, it’s always a bonus if your teacher is a native Japanese speaker. They will have an unrivalled understanding of the intricacies of the language and the culture.