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Language learning can be intimidating. Sooner or later, you will find yourself asking many questions. Let me tell you that this is very normal, especially in the case of a language like Japanese.
What will I learn?
Lots of people find it hard to learn the language because of its complex writing system. One of the top questions that Japanese language learners ask is:
There is a number of factors at play here. Honestly speaking, the answer to this question will vary for everyone. Come let’s examine some of the factors that can help you figure out the timeline for learning Japanese.
Yes, you read it right. Before embarking on the journey of language learning, set your end goals.
How will you achieve the goals?
Identify what does learning Japanese means to you?
This is an important step. Goals and aim will determine the time it will take for you to learn Japanese.
Wondering why this is so?
There are four main language skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing. Each of these skills needs a different level of practice and understanding of rules.
For example, learning to write will take longer than learning to speak Japanese as the Japanese writing system is very complex and requires great practice.
The key to language learning is the amount of time that you can spend. The more time, the quicker you will learn Japanese.
At some point in life, we all have heard practice makes you perfect. It is actually true in language learning. The more you will practice, the better and faster your learning will be.
Taking language learning casually will do you no good. Spending only a few hours a week will result in slow learning. Compared to if you will spend a few hours a day.
It definitely doesn’t mean that you have to learn Japanese for 8 hours a day. Dedicating set 2-3 hours can be enough for you to speed up your learning.
I hear you asking why we are talking about mother tongue here. It is one of another deciding factor. Greater the difference between mother tongue and Japanese, the longer it will take to learn. This is because of the difference in the writing system, grammar, and sentence structure.
If you’re a native speaker of the European language, you will probably find the Japanese difficult writing system difficult. Don’t lose heart. There are some elements of the writing system, like the Hiragana letter, that is not difficult.
Initially, don’t start with kanji letters as these letters are very complicated and can take up to 2.5-3 years to learn.
If you are learning Japanese for business or for engaging with government officials, you need Keigo. Keigo is the politer tone in Japanese. Keigo is the ultra-formal register of the Japanese language. It varies greatly from the standard register.
Asking for help in standard Japanese
Tetsudatte-kudasai (please help me)
Using Keigo for asking for help
Tetsudatte itadakemasen ka? (Would you be so kind as to help me?)
Keigo can be pretty tricky to master as it takes words that you already know and completely changes them.
Also, Keigo has two from:
You need to be careful that while using Keigo, you don’t switch between the two. Learning Keigo can be time taking as there are many additional words that you will have to learn.
Motivation plays a very important role in language learning. Try to fill yourself with positivity. Having a negative overview of language can stop your language learning process. Considering Japanese as difficult will result in you failing to learn the language.
So always keep a positive mindset when starting to learn a new language. As motivation and a positive attitude are necessary for achieving language-related goals.
To keep yourself motivated to break down bigger goals into smaller achievable goals.
The more you will expose yourself to the Japanese, the faster you will learn.
Do you love watching T.V. shows and hearing music? Here is good news for you. You can learn by watching movies, T.V. series, and news in the Japanese language. You can also listen to Japanese songs and read books and magazines in the Japanese language.
This passive learning can prove to be very beneficial for you as you will be learning the language while doing something that you can enjoy.
The more you will expose yourself to spoken language, the better will be your pronunciation. Similarly, exposure to written language will help you improve grammatical and syntactical structure.
Identify the level of proficiency you want to attain in the target language. Wondering why? The level of proficiency you want to achieve will determine how long it will take you to learn the language.
The higher the proficiency level you want to achieve, the higher the effort will be.
If you want to learn fluent Japanese, it will take you a lot of time. Compared to if you want to learn conversational Japanese, it will take less time.
On average, one needs to spend 10 hours per week to speed up learning. But sparing that much time from your weekly schedule can be hard. So does that mean you can’t learn Japanese?
NO! Just make sure to use the spare time at hand wisely. Try listening to Japanese music, podcasts, reading books and newspapers on your way to work or school.
Other things you can do to speed up your Japanese learning:
You must be thinking about how an experience in language can help you to learn Japanese. Researches prove learning a third language is easier than learning a second language as a grown-up.
So if you are bilingual, then you have the upper hand in learning Japanese. For someone who has been speaking only one language, it will take a little longer to learn Japanese.
That is because the Japanese have a complex writing system. Without having prior experience in language learning, it can be overwhelming. With the right attitude and motivation, nothing is impossible. Keep telling yourself that you can do this!
Don’t get too overwhelmed with the number of things that need to be taken into account. Language learning be it Japanese or any other, is a time taking process and requires effort.
When starting to learn a new language, remember that it’s a process. You can’t master a language in just a few weeks. But don’t lose hope! It certainly doesn’t mean that you will have to wait for years to start using Japanese. You can do a number of things in Japanese very early. For example, you can hold a conversation with your friends in Japanese in a few months. You can read simple Japanese books in about a year, but watching Japanese T.V shows will take more time.
Here are some of the tips that can help you to ease out and speed up your Japanese learning:
In language learning, you can’t count in numbers how long it takes to learn. But one thing is for sure with consistency, dedication, and commitment; you can learn Japanese. Just make sure that you manage your time effectively and keep yourself motivated.
Set your goals, in the beginning, to keep yourself on track. Also, what you can do is determine daily goals. This will help you achieve your language goals sooner. Always stay positive and never compare your learning with others. Because you never know the amount of effort they are putting. Instead, focus on how you can improve your progress daily. Best of luck!