How to learn Japanese? What is the best way?

learning Japanese

Curious about how you can learn to speak in Japanese online?

Learning a new language would be a difficult task to achieve. You must have full motivation on how you can achieve speaking a different language. Every country has its own unique and vibrant culture. Japan is an exciting country with an old culture that their locals still observe. It would be nice if you want to understand and interact with Japanese people deeply. 

If you have this kind of motivation, you would be able to do so much research about the country and its people. One of the factors in understanding their culture would be learning their language. It may seem not easy to understand, but if you are eager to embrace their culture, you would be able to do it by yourself. 

There are lots of references that you can find everywhere, and especially the Internet. There are plenty of online classes for learning Japanese, and there are even more materials that you can study on your own to learn Japanese.

Self Learning How to Speak Japanese

Japanese is a complex language to learn. Often, learning how to speak Japanese would be easier if you attend a tutorial class with teachers. This way, you would be able to interact with your tutors and learn the techniques in speaking Japanese. You will also get a hold of review materials for you to study at home. 

Sel-learning Japanese would be easy if you can identify WHY you want to learn their language. It should come with an understanding that your motivation to learn can help you a whole lot. Why? Because Japanese is not an easy language. You have to prepare yourself for long hours of understanding not only the words but also the grammar. 

What would push you to learn how to speak Japanese? Is it to interact with the locals? Is it for work? Do you plan to use the language as a means of self-improvement? It is crucial to identify your reasons. Once you’ve cemented the idea, then it would be easy for you to push yourself to learn more and more about the language, including the culture behind it. 

How to Self-Learn Speaking Japanese

There is no easy way to self-learn Japanese unless you are born gifted with a knack for language learning. For the uninitiated, it is highly advisable to first learn the basics. You have to have that solid foundation that would support your journey. Don’t just buy Japanese learning books. Sometimes, they wouldn’t help you at all. You have to carefully choose the resources that you are going to use. 

Build your knowledge from tons of vocabulary words. This includes knowing the meaning and the pronunciation of the words. Start with learning how to speak kanji and mnemotechnics. Once you get the hang of it, your learning curve can improve drastically. 

Fastest Way of Learning Japanese

Today's technology can bring us almost everything that we need. We now live in a world where we can stay at home and have our needs delivered right at our doorstep. Things are much easier to get nowadays, and the same goes for how fast you can obtain knowledge about something new for you. There's a lot of available materials and online classes if you want to learn how to speak Japanese. Online courses can provide you with tutorials and can guarantee that you will learn the language in a short time. 

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While Japanese can be pretty tricky to learn, those who managed to do so can say that it is an easy task, and you will be able to learn it in just a few weeks.

Can you learn Japanese in just a couple of days? Anything is possible if you have the right motivation, dedication, and method of learning Japanese. There are language classes that offer a learning experience within the time frame that they commit to you. These institutions may give you the necessary knowledge and enunciate Japanese words, but it doesn't guarantee that you will be fluent in just a short period. You will still have a hard time conversing with a Japanese in any given situation.

You can learn Japanese in just a few days, but you will have to practice a few more months to master the language.

Phrases to Learn While in Japan

Learning a few basic Japanese phrases would be a good idea if you are planning to visit Japan. Instead of hiring a translator, Japanese people would appreciate you embracing their language. Some basic phrases are essential to show your gesture towards their locals and some handy queries to get you by. Here are some of them:

  • Konnichiwa – “Hello” in regular daytime greeting.
  • Sayonara – “Goodbye.”
  • Hai – “Yes.”
  • Lie – “No.”
  • Arigato gozaimasu – “Thank you.”
  • Sumimasen – “Excuse me.” or “Sorry.”
  • Ogenki desu ka? – “How are you?”
  • Watashi nonamae wa _____ desu. – “My name is _____.”
  • Onamae wa nan desu ka? – “What is your name?”
  • _____ wa doko desu ka? – “Where is _____?”
  • Kore, _____ ni ikimasu ka? – “Does this go to _____?”
  • Koro kara, arukemasu ka? – “Is it possible to walk from here?”
  • Oikura desu ka? – “How much?”
  • Ossume wa nan desu ka? – “What do you recommend?”
  • Kore wa nan desu ka? – “What is this?”
  • _____ wa arimasu ka? – “Do you have _____?”
  • Menzei, dekimasu ka? – “Can you do tax exemptions?”
  • Eigo deom, ii desu ka? – “Is English, okay?”
  • Doragu sutoa wa doko desu ka? – “”Where is the _____?””

Japan is a lovely country because of all the places you can visit and its rich culture. Japanese people are naturally kind and caring people. The country is the safest in the world because they respect each other and their visitors. Learning about their culture would be an excellent compliment for them as they would appreciate your efforts in adapting to society, and one way of showing your appreciation for their culture is by learning how to speak Japanese. 

Learning Japanese as an Expat

Japan is among the Asian countries that continue to attract a huge number of expats. No one can blame these expats, though, for calling Japan their second home, as this region in Northeast Asia provides high quality of life and excellent job security. When it comes to language, however, there are still barriers. Here’s our expat’s guide to learning Japanese:

What Are the Basic Japanese Phrases Expats Should Learn?

You should consider learning a few basic Japanese phrases if you are planning to stay in Japan for an extra period. Once you are here, you would realize that having a conversation with the locals is much easier than figuring out hand signals or bringing out a dictionary now and then.

You don’t have to worry about the accent and the vocabulary that you have to compose what to say. With the proper practice of some basic Japanese phrases, you would say that you are fluent in Japanese in just a few weeks.

The next set of Japanese phrases are for your initial conversation with a friend. These phrases are ways to know more about your friend:

  • Namae wa nan desu ka? – What is your name?
  • Watashi no namae wa _____ desu. – My name is _____.
  • Doko kara kimashita ka? – Where are you from?
  • Watashi wa _____ kara kimashita. – I am from _____.
  • Sou desu ka? – Is that so?/Really?/I see.

Japanese people are known for being polite at all times. They would quickly recognize their faults and apologize immediately. We can somehow adapt these characteristics by starting to learn some traditional Japanese politeness phrases:

  • Arigatou gozaimasu – Thank you. 
  • Douitashimashite – You are welcome.
  • Sumimasen – I am sorry/Excuse me.
  • Gomen nasai – I am sorry. (from the bottom of my heart)
  • Yoroshiku onegaishimasu – I am in your debt!
  • Itadakimasu – Let’s dig in.
  • Gochisousama deshita – That was delicious!

In any conversation with a friend, there would be some clarifications that you need to know. It may be because you did not hear it correctly or, in this case, a different language.

Here are some phrases to help you with your conversation:

  • Eigo te iu no wa – And in English, that is?
  • Wakarimasen – I do not understand.
  • Shirimasen – I do not know.
  • Wasuremashita – I forgot.
  • Motto yukkuri kudasai – Please go a little slower.
  • Mou ichido kudasai – Could you say that one more time?
  • Nihongo de perapera de wa nai desu – I am not very fluent in Japanese.
  • _____ te iu no imi wa nan desu ka? – What does _____ mean?
  • Tetsudatte kuremasen ka? – Can you help me?

There is no harm in asking some more questions.

Here are some essential phrases asking for some details:

  • Doko desu ka? – Where is it?
  • Itsu desu ka? – When is it?
  • Doushite? – Why?
  • Dochira desu ka? – Which one is it?
  • Nan desu ka? – What is it?
  • Dare desu ka? – Who is it?

The next set of Japanese phrases will take you to the next level of a conversation after you started one with your friend. 

  • Ima nanji desu ka? – What time is it right now?
  • Ima – Now.
  • Ato de – Later
  • Kyou – Today
  • Kinou – Yesterday.
  • Ashita – Tomorrow.
  • Mainichi – Everyday.
  • Nansai desu ka? – How old are you?
  • Doko ni sundeimasu ka? – Where do you live?
  • Kyoudai ga imasu ka? – Do you have siblings?
  • Ikura desu ka? – How much does that cost?
  • Kore wa nan desu ka? – What is this?
  • Sore wa nan desu ka? – What is that?
  • Are we nan desu ka? – What is that?
  • Toire wa doko desu ka? – Where is the toilet?

After asking some simple questions, you also need to answer back in Japanese.

  • Hai – Yes.
  • Iie – No.
  • Mada mada – Not yet.
  • Kamoshiremasen – Maybe/I am not sure.
  • Tokidoki – Sometimes.
  • Zenzen – Never.
  • Itsumo – Always.
  • Taitei – Usually.
  • Watashi wa _____ desu – I am a _____ (this describes your profession.)
  • Daijoubu desu – That is okay.
  • Ii desu – That’s good.

Can I Live in Japan Without Learning Japanese?

It will all depend on which part of the country that you will stay in. If you are fluent in English, it would not be a problem for you to stay in Japan, especially in any major city. There are Japanese people there that can speak English well. English is the universal language, and it would pose a problem if you cannot speak English. However, if you plan to stay in the province, you should expect some locals to have difficulty communicating using the English language. That said, learning the native Japanese language would be best if you want to live there.

Do I Need an Interpreter while in Japan?

There are times that you need to talk to Japanese locals immediately about something important. You will need an interpreter to help you with your situation if you have no time to learn a little bit about the Japanese language. It would even be more difficult if both of you and the Japanese locals do not understand each other. As such, an interpreter may only be necessary if you will stay for a short while. However, it would be more cost-effective if you would enroll in a Japanese language class instead, mainly if you are planning to work here as you would spend most of your days dealing with the locals. 

How Can I Read Japanese Characters?

learning japanese

There are four scripts in writing that the Japanese use: the romaji, katakana, kanji, and hiragana. Romaji means “roman letter,” which is a special case, are the letters that we use today. But the Japanese only use romaji for translating words. The Japanese mixes katakana, kanji, and hiragana every day.

Each script has a distinct function, and they indicate the different parts of the language, which will show you the purpose of all the words.

The hiragana script comprises simple characters that are round in shape and considered for grammatical functions and word endings.

Kanji is a script of complex characters that originated from China. Most commonly used for basic blocks of meaning, which is the foundation of plenty of words.

The katakana script contains more straightforward characters with a “spikey” characteristic shape. This script is for foreign loan words.

How to Write in Japanese?

As mentioned above, Japanese writes in a combination of Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana basic scripts. The Hiragana and Katakana scripts have 46 characters, while the Kanji script has a few thousand figures.

Hiragana scripts emphasize letters with round characteristics and are for grammatical elements of sentences like the auxiliary verbs, suffixes of nouns, and particles.

The Katakana script strikes sharper, angular shapes of letters. It is mainly for emphasis and foreign languages.

Japanese use Kanji script for the lexical elements such as verb stems, adjective stems, and nouns.

Two writing orientations have their purpose. Horizontal writings may mean business documents, scientific writings, foreign language-related writings, or contemporary, while vertical writings have the traditional Japanese writings of novels and other humanistic writings. It is read from top to bottom with its lines going from right to left, while horizontal writings are from left to right.

Learning Japanese has its challenges, but if you put your mind into it, there’s nothing that you couldn’t do, right? You can start by practicing the language phrases that we listed above and try conversing with the locals as much as possible. Before you know it, the Japanese could be your second language in only a few months. 


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