Aug 23, 2017

On studying Japanese

 Whether you are in Japan, outside, studying abroad or working here, if you are interested or linked to Japan in some way then it is inevitable that you want to learn Japanese. Perhaps your desire is to read Japanese, or maybe speak it. Maybe it is just the desire to watch a tv show without having to spend the whole time reading the screen instead of looking at your favourite character. Whatever your reason and goal there is only one thing that you can do, study. Depending on your strengths and weaknesses, where you start can vary from person to person. Maybe you haven't cracked open a textbook in over a decade or two. Don't let that discourage you. There is always something you can do to improve yourself, you just need a place to start. If you live in Japan, you could simply go out and meet people. Start up some conversations with some lovely people, they are abundant and surprisingly easy to find people willing to just chat. But maybe you aren't in Japan? What should you do? Well I suggest finding those with interests in Japan as well and start a study group. Be sure you feel comfortable to make mistakes and just go at it. You can also go the non social route and stock up on some books and just set aside time each day to practice on your own. From my personal experience, I mostly only wanted to be able to have conversational skills and the ability to make Japanese friends with ease. I however took the long and expensive route of going to university for a major in Japanese studies and studying abroad through the program my school offered. Student loans helped to make this possible and I did achieve my goal, but I believe you can certainly do it without the 40 thousand grand a year. I was able to quickly and with relative ease find a job in Japan though.

  Living in Japan is a great way to hone any skill you have at Japanese and there are plenty of jobs here teaching english but require a bachelor's degree or the equivalent. However if you are truly interested in Japan, even just a two week vacation can help with listening and speaking, especially if you spend the two weeks visiting people on couchsurfing or staying with airbnb and the like. But what do you do before you come, or if you are already here and still struggling to improve your Japanese? My strongest recommendation is a particular book, or 2 or 3, that helped me while I was studying abroad. Its called “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar”.

You can find it for about $40 dollars on Amazon.com or 2550 yen used on Amazon.jp there is also the intermediate and advanced versions, but for the skill level I wanted, I only bought the first two. I had had two years at university before picking up the first book but wow, did it help in my studies. Not only did I improve my hiragana and kanji reading but my understanding jumped like crazy. I read the first book cover to cover. You don't have to be like me , it was a pretty dry read doing it like that, but I broke it into a few pages a day, one grammar point at a time, rereading the previous days before moving on. Because it is a dictionary, you can look up grammar points like they are words in a dictionary. Each point has a plethora of examples in every way that it can be used, cross references to other grammar that has the same or similar meanings and warnings about how to change things into the negative form. If you spend five minutes trying to grasp everything the examples are saying, honestly and earnestly try to read the hiragana and kanji, then these book are extremely useful. 

After the first book is finished, even if you have forgotten half of what you have read, simple sentences and questions construction is now in your grasp. The only thing left to do is build vocabulary and go out and do what you want with your new Japanese skills. 



American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too