If you want to learn Japanese, you’ve come to the right place! We at Nihongo Master are dedicated to providing you with the best Japanese language learning content on all our various media platforms. Learning a new language is tough, and most of us would want to find ways to do it quickly.
While I personally feel like there are no shortcuts to learning a new language, there are tips and tricks that can help you to learn faster and easier. Of course, these all depend on the individual and what one’s study method is. But generally, if you stick to these 7 tips, you might be able to skip a bit of time out of your language learning journey.
1. Don’t skip the writing systems
The first one I think is the most important tip of all is: do not skip the writing systems. In Japanese, there are three writing systems: hiragana, katakana and kanji. Each of them are used for their own purposes and knowing all three of them is essential if you want to reach a good level of fluency.
Hiragana and katakana are pretty easy to pick up. You can master them casually in a week. They are the Japanese alphabet that represents a syllable.
As for kanji, they are Chinese characters that are used in Japanese writing. I’d say there are around 2,000 essential kanji characters that you would need to take time to learn. One way to learn kanji is through vocabulary. When you learn new words, look at what the kanji characters for them are. Most conversational words use essential kanji characters. Have yourself be exposed to kanji characters on a daily basis. The more you see them, the more you’re able to recognise them.
Skip the stroke order for now. I would recommend foregoing this unless you’re doing it for school. If you’re here for the fast fluency, you can afford to not know the order of the strokes.
2. Use language learning hacks
As I mentioned earlier, different people have different styles of learning. Depending on your style, pick up language learning hacks to help you learn Japanese faster and easier.
One of the most popular methods of learning Japanese fast is using a spaced repetition system (SRS). This is often the use of flash cards. There’s a 80/30 rule that says you get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. So you focus on 20% of the language you use most to yield 80% of your speaking abilities.
Another way is by using mnemonics. A lot of people find this language learning hack pretty useful. When you have mnemonic devices linked to Japanese language learning, you’ll be able to retain them in your brain faster and easier.
And while some people often binge study, it may not help all. Some people actually study and retain knowledge better when studying in small chunks of time. This helps you to focus and not push yourself too much. Whatever you learn in that 15 minutes a day, be sure to repeat them and lock them in memory. This will definitely help you to learn Japanese faster.
And last but not least, consistency is key. You’ve got to be a bit responsible for your language learning journey. Stay committed, keep studying regularly, and you’ll be able to reach your language goals as early as 90 days!
3. Think and explain in Japanese
One of the most important ways to improve your Japanese language skills is by training your brain to think in that foreign language. For this one, you would have to really put in the effort to do this, especially if you’re not already bilingual.
By doing this technique, you’re going to be able to lock those new words and grammar into your brain even faster. Reading the meaning to a word or an explanation to a grammar point won’t guarantee that you can recall it when you need it. When you actively use these words and grammar, you’ll be able to store them in your brain easier!
The easiest way to start doing this is by reacting in Japanese. If you see a cute dog coming your way, you might start to think in English “it’s cute”. Try to think in Japanese: “あの犬は可愛い” (“that dog is cute”).
You can also practice this technique by describing your surroundings. You don’t have to do that all the time. You can even do it on your way home from school or work. Describe the area around you. What do you see? What are the people doing? What’s the weather like?
This last way of practicing this technique is one that I often do, and that’s translating my own conversations. After having a conversation with someone, try to translate that conversation into Japanese at your own pace. Say you ordered something in a restaurant. How would you do that in Japanese?
4. Find language exchange partners early
The best part about the previous technique is that you don’t have to be afraid of making mistakes with someone else. However, that doesn’t give you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. On top of that, you will also start to fear speaking in Japanese. Trust me, I was at that stage once too.
So, to do that, you should definitely find a language exchange partner early on so you can start using your language skills ASAP.
There are so many ways you can find one. Sometimes, in your city or country, there’s a community of Japanese language learners like yourself. This is the best way to find one. Otherwise, go online and on apps like italki or HelloTalk. These are also great platforms to learn from others just like you!
5. Immerse yourself in Japanese
A lot of people say immersion is key. It’s pretty true, but you don’t have to be in Japan to be fully immersed. You can also just surround yourself with the language, through various means that you can control. One of the easiest ways is to constantly play Japanese media like games, TV shows, movies and anime (in Japanese language, of course).
I personally used to listen to Japanese podcasts as well to expose myself to the Japanese language. This method is also a way of passive learning, which kids use to learn when they’re younger and developing.
If you have a Japanese town in your city, that’s perfect! You can find Japanese speakers around you to practice with in real life too! All these exposure will definitely help you to learn Japanese faster and easier!
6. Practice your Japanese speaking skills
I cannot emphasise this enough, but definitely work on your speaking skills from early on. Learning a language from a textbook and actually using the skill in real life is so so different. You realise there are so many other challenges that you face when you start speaking. You might not be able to recall what you learned, you realise you have a fear of speaking to overcome. Anything can happen.
Whether it’s practicing in front of the mirror or with a language exchange partner or friend, start early! As soon as you learn your first grammar point, I suggest going straight into practicing your speaking skills!
7. Don’t be afraid to fail
And last but not least, don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, if you don’t fail at some point, you’re not human! All of us are learning. Even natives have things they need to learn. Failing is actually part of your Japanese language learning journey, so don’t avoid it. Instead, embrace it!
Learn Japanese Fast & Easy!
I hope that with these 7 techniques, you’ll be able to learn Japanese fast and easy! One of the best ways you can learn Japanese grammar points and new useful vocabulary words is by tuning in to our Nihongo Master Podcast! We have a language series in the podcast that breaks down grammar points just like our online learning system, and have roleplaying scenarios using the new grammar point. Hey, that’s the 8th technique to learning Japanese fast and easy!