Japanese Lessons

Deciding to learn Japanese can be an overwhelming decision, especially if you do not know where to start. As with any foreign language, many people struggle to find a good method for learning and eventually becoming fluent. Most people try a few different methods and then try to stick with the one they like best. Eventually, they find out they are not learning as much as they wanted to. My personal experience with learning Japanese has taught me a very important lesson: there is no one single surefire way to learn a language. Now, with that being said, my advice to anyone trying to learn a language is to utilize different methods in conjunction with one another. Do not rely on one book, website, computer program, or class to help you achieve fluency in Japanese!

First, let’s take a look at the many different ways to study Japanese.

Japanese lessons are one of the more effective ways to learn. Sometimes you can find Japanese lessons taught at a college or high school by a native speaker. These classes are better than learning from a non-native speaker. By learning in a classroom, you get valuable time with a native speaker. You can observe how they pronounce their words, and how their voice changes as they speak. By observing this, you can copy their style and learn how to sound more like a native speaker. Even if you can only find Japanese lessons taught by a non-native speaker, this is still a good option because they know more about the language and can help you succeed.

Some websites offer Japanese lessons online. Many of these websites are free, but you can occasionally find websites with premium services that offer instruction for a fee. I have always utilized the resources available on the free websites—there are many of them, so you should take advantage of them! Use websites with Japanese lessons to supplement what you learn in your classroom, or even as your main method for learning. If you use websites as your main method, I recommend trying out as many websites as possible. After you have surveyed the resources available, make an informed decision about which websites seem trustworthy and accurate. Use several sites like this and work through their Japanese lessons at your own pace.

Another great source of supplement Japanese lessons is computer software. There are several different types of language learning software on the market, but these can get fairly expensive. Also, there simply is no replacement for being taught by a native speaker. Although I do not believe Japanese computer programs are the best sources of Japanese lessons, they are still a good additional resource to help you build your vocabulary. Many of these programs will also teach you kanji, which is great for those advanced students just looking to expand their knowledge in this area.

Language exchange websites can be a useful source if you do not have access to classes with a native speaker. There are several websites on the Internet that will connect you with native speakers of the language you want to learn. These native speakers can help you with Japanese, and you can probably help them with English. All of the interaction between you and your language partner can occur on the website itself, or you can talk through instant messaging or voice messaging systems. This is great for students who are trying to learn pronunciation.

You may be able to find people on language exchange websites who are looking for traditional, snail mail pen-pals. This way, you can communicate by writing letters to each other and get the useful experience of everyday communication in a foreign language. Make sure you trust the website and the person you are communicating with before you give out your address! Also, be aware that it costs extra postage to send letters to different countries. Sometimes you can get lucky and find a native speaker who resides in your home country, but this is less likely than finding a language partner in Japan.
There is also one other way to expand your Japanese knowledge, and this way is much more interesting than traditional Japanese lessons! If you are interested in Japanese music, television, or films, you can use your hobby to practice Japanese. You can watch Japanese movies and television shows with English subtitles, but pay attention to the spoken dialogues. See if you can pick out any words or phrases you understand. You can always check to see if you are right by glancing at the subtitles. You can also look up the lyrics to Japanese songs online. You can Romanize the Japanese lyrics as a practice exercise, or follow along with the hiragana/kanji lyrics while you listen to the song. Try to take the songs line by line and dissect them. Translate them in bits, and check yourself by looking up a translation online. This is a great way to build your vocabulary and hear native pronunciation.

My advice is this: tie most (or all) of these methods of learning together and you have a very effective routine for mastering Japanese! As I said previously, there is no one single surefire way to learn a language. You need a fusion of traditional Japanese lessons and supplementary resources in order to be successful. I personally mixed traditional classroom lessons with computer programs, websites, language exchange websites, and Japanese music. The trick to this fusion method of learning is finding what works best for you. You may need to try out different combinations of the resources mentioned, or even find new ones. I recommend starting out with traditional Japanese lessons if this is at all possible for you. Then, supplement your learning by finding a language partner and trying out online resources.

As you can see, there are many methods for obtaining Japanese lessons. With all of these resources available to almost anyone, your language goals are definitely attainable. Just remember to always be on the lookout for new sources!