Occassionaly, I’m asked by my friends how I study Japanese. Now, I’m nowhere near fluent. However, I can easily understand simple sentences. It definitely comes in handy when I’m on the prowl for the latest trends in Japan. Click the link below to find out more.
My History Studying Japanese
I started learning Japanese when I was around the age of 13. I started when I got into Johnny’s idols like Arashi and KAT-TUN. By watching variety shows, I felt this need to live in Japan. Now I’m not delusional, I don’t think Japan is a magical land without flaws. I think it has its strong points and its weak points. Like every other country in the world.
Nonetheless, I was inspired to at least visit the country. I started learning the language on and off, first using the Japanese blogging site, Ameblo. However, o one is going to tutor you, like I first thought. Regardless, I soon learned how to write like other bloggers and learned nuances for my demographic as well.
My Japanese Language Level
Only in the past year, did I start going to formal lessons. The lessons are only an hour long, each week and we study using the textbook Minna no Nihongo. Recently I took a hiatus from class as I had exams at school and Economic after school classes. I won’t lie that I’m far behind Dawn and I have homework that have piled up on me since February. Even now it’s my fourth day of planning to do it but I’m just not getting the motivation.
But what I want to do is to help you learn and get the resources to learn Japanese.
One word that comes up a lot in studying Japanese, the motivation to study and keep working consistently. Tofugu wrote a great article for that here, I recommend reading it before embarking on this journey. I feel like it’s important to work towards an end goal. My goal is to reach N1 in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Right now I’m to the point of N5 -> N4.
I feel like one to two hours of study a day is sufficient. This also comes in the form of blog posts and twitter conversations, practice makes perfect. I also try to dedicate a day to practicing kanji, not crunching, but just learning to use them in sentences or writing them
JLP – Japanese Language Profiency Test
Here are the requirements of each level of the JLPT with N5 being beginner and N1 being fluent.
Kanji – 100 characters Vocabulary – 800 words Learning hrs – 150 hrs
Summary: Can understand classroom phrases with hiragana and very simple kanji. Can understand patterned phrases and glean needed information.
Kanji – 300 characters Vocabulary – 1,500 words Learning hrs – 300 hrs
Summary: Can understand daily-life conversations, if spoken slowly. Can read simple materials aimed at non-native speakers.
Kanji – 700 characters Vocabulary – 3,500 words Learning hrs – 450 hrs
Summary: Can understand native materials if rewritten with simplified vocabulary and kanji. Can follow everyday conversations at natural speed.
Kanji – 1,000 characters Vocabulary – 6,000 words Learning hrs – 600 hrs
Summary: Can read written materials on general topics and understand conversations and news at natural speed.
Kanji – 2,000 characters Vocabulary – 10,000 words Learning hrs – 900 hrs
Summary: Can understand speech in a variety of challenging situations. Can grasp nuance and progression of ideas in abstract and complex materials.
Don’t let N1 intimidate you, it all comes with time and practice. Language schools estimate that they can get you to N2 – N1 in two years time. So if you work consistently, you can get there in that time too.
My Tips for Learning Japanese.
- First of all learn hiragana and katakana. You’ll be using them a lot, so for the sake of learning, give up on using romaji. Last thing you want to do is become dependent on it to the point where you can’t do without it.
- Hiragana and Katakana can be learnt in one to two days, write them repetitively and recite them until it sticks.
- Rosetta Stone doesn’t, I repeat, doesn’t help you past listening practice.
- It’s not about how long you were studying but how much work you put into it.
- You need to know 3,000 kanji to be considered fluent in Japanese.
- Interact with Japanese people on twitter, use the conversations as practice.
This is basically covers a lot of the resources from books to sites to guides.
Learn Japanese: A Ridiculously Detailed Guide by Tofugu
Japanese reading material list : Resources
Rikaichamp for Firefox
Japanese for Busy People
Minna no Nihongo
If you have suggestions for posts, please comment below or tweet me at @naomindoll
I hope to track my progress and give more tips and guides.