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Learning Japanese as a Foreign Language

Japanese is often considered a unique language and a relatively difficult one to learn, especially by Western learners. It is true that the Japanese writing system is totally different from the Western alphabets. In fact, the Japanese writing system is quite similar to the Chinese system, whereby logograms – that is, characters representing particular morphemes rather phonemes – are used. However, once the lettering has been learnt, mastering other components of the language become relatively easy. In effect, Japanese grammar is much easier than many other languages. For instance, Japanese language does not really stress on plural forms of nouns. So where English has two options: “This cake” and “These cakes”, Japanese has all of one: “This (general and unspecified in number) cake”. The negotiation of meaning in Japanese truly depends not only on what is said but what surrounds the communicators.

As with any language, there are three different approaches to effective learning in order to acquire the idiom. Learning Japanese is no different.


The best way, because it shows the best results, is to travel and immerse oneself within the Japanese culture and the local lingo; especially since the Japanese society has such complex values and traditions. This would be the best way to understand how behavior patterns have radically changed in the last century in Japan, and to comprehend why a negative tendency to give up rooted values still persists. Effective language learning passes through a thorough understanding of the culture so as to avoid “cultural interference” during the language learning process. The choice of traveling to Japan and acquiring the language from first hand experience, although one of the most difficult to undertake if budget is an issue, would be the most recommended to anyone in pursuit of knowledge of Japanese language and culture.

Formal Classes or Private Tuitions

The second method to learn Japanese would be to receive formal coaching from a private tutor who can provide adequate instructions for the individual to satisfy his or her language learning needs and requirements. As the most opted route, this allows the learner to adopt an individualized pace that would not be easily accepted within a group class. Yet, a group class may also give the needed multiple points of view that individuals may not receive from private classes. It is also equally true that interacting with the teacher and with fellow students is a major factor to succeed in learning any language.

Self-taught Language Skills

A third option for learning Japanese language is the self-taught manner. This method, as common as it may be, is sometimes not the most indicated as it requires the person to have a lot of self-discipline and will-power to continue studies for any period of time. There may also be countless books and systems for anyone to have a go at self-study, nonetheless, the orientation of someone that has had experience with the culture, with the language and most importantly with the teaching, would render the success that this technique alone would not. Outside institute hours, however, the learner should try to gather as much new vocabulary as possible through watching Japanese Anime or other films, listening to Japanese songs, and practising with Japanese language learning software freely available over the Internet. In addition to these, learners can also improve their spoken Japanese by interacting with native Japanese speakers, if possible, or chatting with them over the Internet.

In short, learning the Japanese language is beyond any doubt a fun and rewarding experience for anyone, no matter what the learner’s aim behind the endeavour may be. However, learning the language in question, as with any other language, requires a lot of hard work and patience.