Oct 12, 2015

What is the best way to practice Japanese?

There are plenty of articles out there about the best textbooks and the best way to LEARN Japanese - however, what do you think is the best way to actually practice USING Japanese?



I'm a South African working and living in Tokyo, Japan. I'm an avid traveler and I want to document my travels around Japan and South East Asia.


14 Answers

  • Tomuu

    on Oct 13

    One of the things that I've found to be useful (and it's probably self evident) is to NOT have your Japanese friends/partner/colleagues conduct interactions on your behalf. Takes a lot of discipline (well, it did for me) and depends on what kind of level you're at in the first place. Another idea; those people in the street who conduct surveys, work for charities etc that you might otherwise brush aside ... answer them, talk to them. In shops and restaurants, ask questions about the products, the menu etc (even if you already know the answer). For a 'safer' environment, I always found Nihongo Kyoushitsu to be useful. Those lessons conducted by volunteers at community centers. I mean, they're not usually lessons as such, rather level-based groups where you can have a 'controlled' conversation (in Japanese, of course). I'd love to hear some more ideas, too.

  • KevinC

    on Oct 16

    I agree with Tomuu, one of the best ways to study Japanese is talk to people. You can learn a lot of new words and phrases that you cannot find in a textbook. Japanese often use slangs to express their feeling, so it is necessary to know the meaning of those slangs.

  • TurningJapanese

    on Oct 21

    I agree with all the answers above, exposure to Japanese in any way possible is the key. A language partner is a great way to practice using a language. I have only been here in Japan for a short time but it is very evident that there are lots of Japanese who would like to improve their English skills. Therefore, you can meet up on the basis of a language exchange. You meet for coffee and speak part of the conversation in English and then switching to Japanese for the second half. There are plenty of language exchange websites that you can also use which can pair you with people who have a similar language level to you and is conducted on skype, instant messenger etc. I have not actually used any as I find it easier face to face but its all down to your preference. However, as I mentioned earlier, there are so many Japanese people who seem to want to learn English so I do not think it would be very hard to find a language partner. This article may be of some help! https://lingua.ly/blog/best-language-exchange-sites/

  • trekkingbecky

    on Nov 3

    For reading Japanese, I recommend watching Japan's music programs, especially enka/popular songs because most of the songs aren't fast. The lyrics are always at the bottom of the screen. You'll also get to practice reading names with the singers as well as the lyricists and the composers under the song titles and of course, you'll hear the announcer mention all that to help you when you see it. When I was a kid in Canada, that's how I learned most of the kanji that I know. I knew katakana and hiragana from a book, so the TV was great practice and I picked up a lot of kanji. You'll get musical entertainment and therapy as well as cultural exposure. :D Of course, you can turn on the subtitles for when you're watching TV in Japan, but music shows are way more interesting. On Tuesday evenings at 8 is NHK Kayou Konsaato, and on Thursdays at 7:58pm on Terebi Tokyo is Moku 8 Konsaato. Nodojiman on Sundays (NHK) at 12:15pm is fun and entertaining, but this show doesn't put the lyrics on the screen. You'll have to put on the subtitles for reading practice, but it's worth it. Enjoy! :D

  • Saitama

    on Dec 16

    For me, immersion, and writing in Japanese daily. If you can get someone to take a look at what you write and correct it and give you tips, even better.

  • maynestacy

    on Dec 20

    Great advice here. Might I add that a lot of elderly people enjoy social interaction and chat so next time you are sitting next to an elderly person at an onsen, or doctor's office, or standing at a bus stop, start by commenting about the weather, then maybe ask a question about the place/situation and see where it goes. Also festivals are usually a good situation for chatting to strangers - people seem to let down their guard a bit and are more open and friendly at festivals.

  • Kohaku

    on Jan 8

    My recommendation is to join some sort of activity or club with Japanese members. I did a year of Japanese traditional dance before switching to Japanese longbow archery. Learning a totally new skill is difficult, and more so because you'll likely need to do most of the communication in Japanese, but I noticed a significant increase in my Japanese after. That's especially true for my casual and colloquial Japanese speaking and comprehension. It's also a great way to make new Japanese friends, which can really improve your life satisfaction.

  • kcsantosh

    on Mar 15

    Make some Japanese friends and practice speaking in Japanese. Also doing part time job in Japanese company is a good way to improve Japanese language.

  • Nice

    on Sep 17

    There are a bunch of online materials, so i think building basic vocabulary and learning basic grammar would be a good start as self-study.

  • Nice

    on Sep 17

    In addition to self-study for basic Japanese language, eating and drinking out in a local restaurant and bar would be a good place to communicate with local people.

  • MamaKiyota

    on Sep 28

    If you are having trouble finding in-person interaction or simply finding it repetitive, language exchange is also a great option. Personally, I find that talking to strangers results in the same conversation time after time. In the beginning, it's great practice but the effect starts to ware off once you master that type of interaction. Language exchange sites connect you with someone else who is learning your native language and you help each other. I've found that this results in more varied conversation.

  • Ashes

    on Feb 20

    General conversation gets repetitive once you master it and it can be difficult to get into situations where you stretch your Japanese language skills. I've found the best way to learn real Japanese is to live with a Japanese person. I don't mean go find a girlfriend and move in with her, but try a home-stay or rooming with a Japanese uni student to save rent etc.

  • LostgirlCA

    on Mar 1

    My Japanese improved massively when I met my now husband ! My reading and writing of Japanese is still poor. And my grammar is terrible. But my spoken Japanese can get me understood in nearly all situations. I think you just have to immerse yourself in a situation where there is no English to support you. Once you remove that you can really start to think in Japanese. Some of my immediate reactions to situations now involve Japanese phrases and I forget the English. I never meant for this to happen haha I met my husband by chance and now 3 years married and 2 kids ! All the situations like the hospital and the daycare etc etc have all forced my Japanese ability to increase. I just really need to study for my reading and writing.

  • Namakemono

    on Mar 27

    I know it takes a lot of courage if you're not confident at your conversational skills, but just keep on having conversations. It also helps if your Japanese friends/coworkers know that they can correct you when you make a mistake. When I was completely just inserting words none of them would correct me because they were being polite. But the more I used my nihonggo, the more they also tried to help me. :) Let's continue practicing!


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