Remember your first few days in middle school or high school when you were signed up to take Spanish or French as a second language?Well, learning Japanese can generate the same sort of excitement and anticipation. Japanese, so totally different than many other world languages, is actually quite easy to learn if your follow these four tips I use to teach my own students.
1. Make Mistakes. That’s right, the more errors you make, the more you know what you don’t know. And that’s the larger part of learning. Making mistakes will help you learn more easily than you dreamed possible. You or others may laugh when you fail, but you’re learning to win! So, at first, don’t be afraid of failing a lot!
2. Learn Katakana. A writing system the Japanese use for importing words from other languages into their own, Katakana is most used to express English words. Learning Katakana will help you sound out words that are very familiar to you, only they will be written in Japanese. Learning to read Japanese that makes you sound out words you already know is a real confidence builder as you begin learning.
3. Take Chances. Speaking in any language, even your own, can sometimes be risky business. Take the risk. The worse that can happen is that you will learn what NOT to do. Consider the fact that sometimes it’s important to do something and fail, than to do nothing all. Japanese folks will never sneer at you if you attempt to communicate with them in their own language, they may laugh little but they will appreciate your efforts in the kindest way – they’ll help you. Face it, when you visit Japan you will stand out as a tourist and you’re bound to make some mistakes no matter how much you’ve prepared. Don’t be timid because of it, go ahead and take some chances, the native folks will help you.
4. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat. It may get boring, but stick with it. Repetition fixes things in your brain so that they become almost automatic in response to certain situations. Hone your skills, especially regarding the language, so you can easily call them up when necessary.
If it happens to rain on the day you were going to the beach or go shopping, use the time to read up on culture or news and practice your phrases or language lessons. Commuting time shouldn’t be wasted time. Listen to audio CD’s in your car. Or down load lessons onto your iPod and listen to them as you walk, or take the train or bus, to get to work.
A delightful language, learning Japanese could give you a career boost, help you make overseas friends, or help you have fun on an already exciting tour of the land.
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