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I’m studying Japanese! On top of my normal English and Creative Writing degree course, I used to take extra Japanese classes. My university provided them and I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to learn Japanese from a Japanese teacher. Now I’ve graduated from university, I’ve been trying to self-teach myself more. In this post, I’ll share some of my tips and tricks I use to learn Japanese that might be handy for you too!

How to start learning Japanese

Pick The Correct Resources

If you are learning Japanese in a classroom it will be easy to pick the right resources, because your class will most likely provide these for you. If you are studying on your own it’s best to stick with one or two main resources at a time. You don’t want to get confused and teach yourself something the wrong way. In class, we used Japanese For Busy People but my teacher recommended Genki too. Apps, too, can be very helpful while studying Japanese. Think of Duolingo, Memrise or HelloTalk.

Check out the list with resources I use to learn Japanese here!

Get More Than One Notebook

For my language studies, I always have more than one notebook. Usually, I use three, which is how many I use for Japanese too. One to create a vocabulary journal. Every single new word I learn I write down. It’s a way of practicing the new vocabulary but also a way of tracking your improvement. It’s like making your own little personal dictionary.

The second notebook I use for grammar rules and examples. Languages like Japanese can be especially tricky because the grammar and sentence structure differs so much from English (and Dutch), which is why I like to have one place where I can find all the basic grammar rules for when I’m stuck.

The third and last notebook is the notebook I used to take to class. It’s where I write down messy notes and quick language exercises. The last one is definitely the messiest one, whereas I try to keep the vocabulary and grammar notebooks tidy.

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Write in Hiragana/Katakana/Kanji instead of Romaji (English alphabet)

Just like you would recommend a Japanese person to write in the English alphabet while studying English, you should write in Japanese while studying Japanese. Kanji can be very tricky, especially for beginners, but Hiragana and Katakana are very easy to learn. They are super useful to know when you learn Japanese and an absolute must if you want to get better.

Memrise is my favourite app to practice the Japanese alphabet, it’s how I learned to read Hiragana and Katakana. Another way I learned to read these alphabets is to find a Japanese text in Hiragana/Katakana and just read the sounds. Don’t worry about the meaning but focus on the sounds every character produces.

Consistency is Key

As with everything in life, practice makes perfect. You don’t have to study for hours on hours every day, but make sure to set some time for Japanese apart a couple of times each week. Even if you only spend 15 minutes every day on revising some vocabulary, it’s better than to study for two hours once a week. I’ve noticed how easily the knowledge slips away after learning it for the first time, you have to keep using it and keep repeating it in order to remember it!

Find Out What Work Best For You

My high school teachers always tried to promote the use of flashcards while studying vocabulary but it always seems way too much effort to me. Now I’ve given it a go a few months back I am loving it. It takes a little bit of time to make them but once they’re done you can use them forever. I love using flashcards when my boyfriend helps me study. Finding the way of studying that works best for you is essential. Some people learn best by writing down new words over and over, some need to use them in sentences, some use flashcards. Whatever you feel works best for you is the method you should stick to.

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Find Your Motivation

Learning a new language takes time and effort. I started studying English 10 (?) years ago and I still make mistakes. You need motivation, dedication, and patience. That’s why it is so important to find the right tools to keep you motivated.

Why do you want to start studying Japanese? For me, it’s because I’d love to teach English in Japan one day and I’ve always been very interested in the culture. I watch videos and read blog posts of people who are teaching in Japan now to motivate me. I read up about the culture and watch anime in Japanese. The studyblr tag on Tumblr is a great motivation for me too, seeing the pretty notebooks and study tips help me massively. Whatever your reason is to study a language, make sure to find motivation from it.

If you want more general tips on how to learn a foreign language, check out my seven top tips for learning a foreign language blog.

6 Comments on How To Start Studying Japanese

  1. I’m learning Japanese too! But I’m not learning it in a classroom with others, but at home on my own via textfugu.com. The way the author explains everything (in English) and in which order is very easy to follow and it’s very clear. In about a year and a half I’m planning on taking an internship in Japan, and that’s what keeps me motivating 🙂

    • That’s awesome! I started learning it by myself but I found it very difficult! Especially the grammar haha! Never heard of that website but I’ll definitly check it out. That’s so exciting, I hope you get your internship! Good luck ^_^

  2. I love learning languages as well (I speak Chinese!) and I couldn’t agree with you more about the “consistency is key” part. It is so important to immerse yourself in the language and incorporate it into our daily routine.

    Love your blog!

    • Thank you so much! Chinese is very impressive 🙂 I try to immerse myself as much as possible when learning a new language, because if you don’t you’ll never be able to grow ^_^

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