On this page I’m going to show you some of the hints and tips I’ve used to get fluent in Japanese. It took a while, but nowadays I speak everyday in Japanese, in academic environtment as well as having regular articles and columns in Japanese in the Japanese press. So if you want to master the Japanese language, here is my advice! But if you have more tips not written here,I would like to ask you to add them through comments.
If you’ve decided to give it a go then…how often you study has the greatest impact on your fluency. In other words you’ll be able to remember more from studying 10 minutes everyday for a week than 70 minutes in one shot once a week. Frequency of review is critical to learn Japanese quickly.
For you busy people, get as many Japanese Language CDs as you can and listen to them all the time. I’d recommend listening to them on your way to work or school, either in the car or on an mp3 player. Get into the routine and you soon see how much has sunk in.
2. Use an Electronic Dictionary
Using an electronic dictionary is a good method to increase the speed of learning because its portability. Anyway, Here’s some tips choosing electronic dictionaries:
- It needs to have some kind of touch screen. I know those aren’t cheap, but handwriting recognition is essential especially in learning kanji.
- It needs to have good sample sentences, and sentences where words and characters are used in context.
- You should buy an english-japanese dictionary if you are an english native, or choose your own language if it’s available. FYI, my mother tongue is Indonesian and I wasn’t pretty good in English. However, there was no good Indonesian-Japanese dictionary and it was tough for me at the first time using my English-Japanese Dictionary.
4. Try to think in Japanese
You probably think in your mothertongue right? So it’s safe to say when you go to say something (in the beginning stages of learning Japanese), your brain is taking what you’re thinking in your language and trying to convert it into Japanese- right? It somehow wastes time!! You should try to make it faster by getting used to think in japanese, especially when you live in Japan. And also it’s very easy way to practice because you don’t need to bring your textbooks when you are thinking.
5. Use some tools:
Beside an electronic dictionary, there are some tools that can make your learning turns into something fun.
- Flash Card. The key to rapid memorization. Cheap. Versatile. Write down vocabulary words on flash cards. It’s best if you write 1 word per card. Why? So you can change the order of the words. The mind has a tendency to remember order so if you’ve written say 5 words on 1 card you may remember “enpitsu” (pencil) simply because it comes after hon (book) on your flash card.Then when you try to remember enpitsu without your cards you won’t be able to without seeing “hon” (book) first. You memorized the order and not the word. If you write a single phrase or word on a card you can randomize the order by shuffling your cards. If you can tear through your word targets in any order, rest assured you know the target.
- Manga, Anime, Japanese Drama and Movies. Manga is a good tool to improve your reading comprehension and the rest could be a tool for listening practice. However the biggest danger in using anime for language practice is the level-of-language issue. For the most part, people will be speaking in plain forms, and often using slang that is not always appropriate. Be very careful in trying to use certain phrases in general or polite conversation. And be careful on their temptations. There are so many kinds of interesting manga, anime, drama and movies and Japanese artists are able to make it so temptating. Don’t forget that your main study tools is your textbook.
- Japanese Music or JPop. This may not be the best way to practice, but it’s entertaining and a bit different. ike anime, listening to Japanese music can help aid your listening practice. It’s a bit more challenging than watching anime, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you start to understand parts of a song. As with the warnings for anime, beware of idiomatic usages and dialects, as well as altered grammar due to the lyrics.
3.Try to use these useful links:
- http://www.alc.co.jp : You can find many specialized terminologies and phrases, including some sentence samples don’t exist in an usual electronic dictionary. This will be more and more useful after you reach JLPT Level 2 or study in Japanese Universities.
- http://www.jisho.org : This would be more convenient because its feature: find kanji and find sentence, but you can’t find phrases as you would find in http://www.alc.co.jp
- http://www.rikai.org or firefox add-on rikaichan. This would be very useful if you’re browsing a japanese site and you need a fast search of some words. It’s not as complete as http://www.alc.co.jp but it doesn’t need time to search one word. Just point your mouse on a japanese word, then its meaning and its readings instantly appear.
- http://www.hiragana.jp : You can just enter the URL of the Japanese website and abracadabra!! The system will automatically add hiragana on the kanji from the whole site. But sometimes it take times so I won’t recommend this site to you if your connection is slow.