The Ultimate Guide to Learn Japanese

By Daniel Rhys Coleman and Skye | Updated September 5, 2020

 

Welcome to the start of your long but rewarding journey to learn Japanese language. Many of your fellow adventures do not make it to the promise land of fluent Japanese, but let us guide you with tips and advice based on our experience in moving from beginner to intermediate level and then advanced Japanese.

 

Learning Japanese for beginners can be hard but based on our years of experience and research we have uncovered many ways which we cover in our series on how to learn Japanese for you. This article is one sub-section of that series.

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    Introduction

    Japanese Language School 5

    At this very moment, you probably have a notebook and a pencil ready to start learning Japanese, but then you realize something. “What do I do exactly?” You’ve probably been looking for a study method but then thought “Which one’s the right one?”, don’t worry! This is normal. Language learning is a long rewarding journey but it wouldn’t be a surprise if you didn’t know where to start. After all, Japanese is a daunting language to learn and many people tend to give up easily after their first month (or even their first week).

    In this article, I will be explaining, not only about a study method that will be very useful to learning Japanese for beginners, but I will also be talking about how to maximize your time efficiently. How to take it bit by bit rather than all in one go. This is also useful for those who are aiming for JLPT (or any form of proficiency test). But, the most important thing is to have fun, of course!

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    Study Methods for Learning Japanese for Beginners

    First of all (and what I’m about to say is a bit contradictory), there’s no perfect study method to learning Japanese for beginners. If you’ve been spending most of your time researching for the “perfect language study method” out there (which it could’ve been spent in actual studying), then I’m sorry to say but such a thing does not exist. The reason why I say this is because everyone’s learning style is different. There are those who have a better memory than others, those who acquire a language much faster than others, and those who speak it better than others. 

    However, the study method to learning japanese for beginners in articles or videos that you find on the internet or in a book are created by those who came up with their own learning style. In other words, those methods are only suited for the actual author of those articles. What a lot of people do is that they find a study method, they start learning the language by following that specific method, and then they deviate from that and start learning it their own way. No one really sticks to the same one because they realize that this is not the right study method for them.

    At this point, you’re probably wondering “What is the point of all this then?”. The point I’m trying to make here is that no matter which way you learn a language, if you feel comfortable in whichever way you learn the language and you’re making either big or small progress, then that is without a doubt the best study method. You should always follow a study method to learning japanese for beginners that addresses your own strengths and weaknesses. I encourage you to create a study method that suits you!

    I’m not saying that you should 100% disregard all study methods out there. Quite the opposite actually. All study methods are useful but it shouldn't be used as a step by step manual, but rather as a reference. For example: if you’ve been learning Japanese for a bit and you’re struggling in a specific area, listening for instance, then you should look for a study method that covers that area and see how they approach it. 

    For complete beginners, you should use study guides as a starting point. Have a feel for the language and see what are your good and bad points. Then, after a couple of weeks/months of studying a language, you should be able to know what study method is best for you. Also, make sure to bookmark all study guides that you find on the internet! Don’t just read them and forget about them. It’s good to have easy access to them and see if there’s any learning style that you would like to apply.

    Whether you want to make your own or you’d rather keep following the same guide that you’ve been using, at the end of the day, all of it is for you to address your own learning needs. For those who are not beginner level, consider learning how to make the jump from intermediate to advance Japanese.

    Don't babies learn better than adults?

    Last thing that I would like to point out is that no matter what age you are, you can learn any language easily. Babies and toddlers are like sponges. They absorb things much faster than adults. Hence, they can acquire a language much easily without any interference from other languages, no doubt about that. However, studies have shown that adults have a much bigger advantage when it comes to language learning. They’re much more intuitive and understand concepts better than young kids, such as grammatical structures and abstract words (e.g. “span” or “prosperous”).

    In other words, don’t feel discouraged if you’re struggling to learn a language. You are capable of reaching at a high conversational level within 6 to 24 months whereas a child wouldn’t be able to speak their own language probably (a bit better at least) until the age of 7. Even then, as I mentioned before, you as an adult would have a much better understanding of political-socio-economic topics of the second language for instance, than a child in their own native language.

    Japanese for Beginners

    Now that I’ve covered some things that I wanted you to take into account when it comes to language learning, we can get down to it. The study method that I’m about to explain was inspired by Fluency Made Easy method (FME for short) which was created by a learning language specialist called Ikenna. This method is used for maximizing the learning of the Japanese language, but don’t limit yourself just for Japanese. Most of this method can also be used for any language. Of course, I’ve changed it to suit my own style and this is mostly based on my experience. But, I want to share this with you so you can gain something out of it and inspire you into creating your own method.

    Now supposedly, through the FME method, you would be able to master a language up to 6 to 12 months by following 3 stages. Input, output, and refinement. During the input stage, you would be acquiring vocabulary by watching tv shows or listening to music in your target language for 3 to 6 months. In terms of JLPT level, you would reach N4 after finishing this stage.

    Stage 2 of the FME method, the output stage, is where you use all the vocabulary that you have learned in the previous stage by speaking to a native speaker as much as you can for another 3 to 6 months. After completing this stage, you should be able to reach between at a conversational level of N3 to N2.

    On the last stage, the refinement stage, is where you reach a proficient level of the language. You’d be able to produce complex written texts and speak at a professional level. Check out this video to have a better understanding of how the FME method works.

    Since this guide will be split into 3 articles (The Beginner Guide to Learning Japanese, The Intermediate Guide to Learning Japanese, and The Advanced Guide to Learning Japanese), my method is similar, yet different to the FME. If done right, you can reach an intermediate level in 9 months. But the objective of this method is to study any language the smart way and to be prepared when you want to use it in any context. Whether it would be in spoken or written form.

    Anyways, without further ado, let’s get started!

    Hiragana and Katana

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    The Japanese for beginners process involves reading and writing 2 of the 3 writing systems of the Japanese language. Even for those who were thinking of only focusing on speaking/listening, when you want to write down a word or an expression so you can memorize it, for example, it is better to write it in the scripture of the target language.

    The reason for that is because you'll be able to memorize vocabulary easily and you’ll be better prepared for the later stages of this study method. Learning both of these systems should take you 1 to 3 days. It’s not hard but make sure not to mix them up!

    As for kanji is it up to you whether you want to learn it now or later. Think of it this way. Before you started to learn how to read, how did you learn each letter in the alphabet? Did you learn how to read and then write each individual letter at school? You would’ve most likely done it that way, right? That’s the way I approached it when it came to learning kanji (after learning hiragana and katakana). The way I did it was I memorized all kanji through the Heisig Method. I would study about 10 kanji for 30 minutes a day. First I would learn the meaning of each individual kanji, how to write them, and then add them to my flashcard app, Anki. It took me roughly about 4 to 5 months to learn kanji on the side by using this method.

    I understand that the amount of time it takes for Japanese children to learn kanji is throughout 12 years. But, through this method, depending on how much time you dedicate it, it can take you between 3 to 6 months to learn each meaning and how to write each and one of them. However, kanji should not be your main priority for this learning method. This is something that you can do bit by bit alongside the stages of this study method. Also, don’t worry as much about the readings of each individual kanji. I’ll explain the reason why in the next stage.

    If you want to know more about how to learn kanji, check out our ultimate guide to learning Japanese kanji which provides extremely helpful resources and tips for learning kanji!

    As for hiragana, memorizing the characters in the hiragana alphabet is also one of the more daunting tasks for English speakers when learning the Japanese language. I personally know a lot of people who gave up learning Japanese from the very beginning because they were intimidated at the idea of learning an entirely new alphabet. Here's a simple tip for memorizing the hiragana alphabet that makes accomplishing the task simple & easy! It's the same one I used when started learning the Japanese language.

    When you use hiragana alphabet charts to memorize the Japanese alphabet, the hiragana characters you're learning are paired with the phonetics. Use the chart to translate the Japanese vocabulary words you're learning from the hiragana to the phonetics, so as to memorize the hiragana.

    You'll come to associate the hiragana characters with the phonetics!

    Pronouncing the characters in the hiragana alphabet, too, is one of the more daunting tasks for English speakers when learning the Japanese language. As the characters in the hiragana alphabet are not written phonetically like the characters in the English alphabet, you need to learn how to associate the phonetic pronunciation with each character in the hiragana alphabet. The moment you read the hiragana character か, for example, you want to be able to hear the phonetic pronunciation in your mind for it. Here's a simple tip for accomplishing that task while studying the Japanese language!

    Sing along with educational videos reading out the characters in the hiragana alphabet. Don't be fooled by the simplicity! It's one of the simple Japanese study tips that are both effective & fun. Learning the English alphabet was as simple as singing the ABC's; learning how to pronounce the phonetics for each character in the hiragana alphabet truly is as simple as singing the 'Aiueo' song!

    Best wishes with your studies!

    Listening

    After memorizing successfully both hiragana and katakana, you'll start with the “input process” by listening to content in Japanese. The purpose of this stage is for you to familiarise yourself with the way Japanese sounds, how words are pronounced, for you to get used to the speed of the language, and of course, understand it as much as you can.

    At the same time, this stage can also be considered as vocabulary intake but I didn’t name it as such because you’ll be learning them throughout your learning journey anyways. Even at an advanced level, you will always learn new vocabulary. But the main point of vocabulary intake is to learn new words in context. How do you do that? Well, there are many ways, but this is how I did it and this is how I got really good results.

    I will start by explaining the first approach to listening by using paid resources. A lot of language learners will probably tell to start with either Pimsleur, Assimil or Glossika. Pimsleur is a conversational language skill app that uses images and matching words on a screen to teach you how to speak. This app is particularly good for complete beginners. Similar to Pimsleur, Assimil is a dialogue learning-based course. This will take you from upper beginner to intermediate, so this is basically the bulk of the language. Lastly, and the one I personally use, Glossika.

    Glossika is an AI-based language learning site where it introduces thousands of sentences in space repetition sequences. The sentences themselves are sentences that native speakers use in real-life situations. By using this software on the get-go, you will be exposed to vocabulary in context, as you would in your native language. Plus, you will practice your listening skills at the same time. The time it took me to complete up to A2 (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages - CEFR), or up to low N3 level, was about 3 to 4 months. You have to be really patient for this learning site but I can guarantee that you’ll get excellent results in terms of your listening comprehension and pronunciation skills (and even speaking skills).

    To complement what you learn with the apps that I mentioned before, or if you are on a low budget and would rather save up money, then listening to free material online is the way to go. There are hundreds, if not, thousands of resources out there for you to listen to Japanese content. For complete beginners, you should look for graded listening material for your level. The ones I would suggest are JapanesePod 101 and children's songs on YouTube. You can also listen to your favorite songs, watch anime or Japanese series, or, if you’re brave enough, try to listen to the radio or watch (famous) Japanese vloggers.

    When you watch TV shows or anime, at this stage, you should use subtitles of course. But don’t fall onto the trap of just relying on the subtitles and just end up watching these series passively. Most of you would probably know this but if you watch 900 episodes of One Piece (updated to this day that this article was published), and you only watch it passively, you will most likely learn 20 words at most. 

    The way I learned Japanese when watching a series or listening to music was that I always had in hand my little notebook and pencil, and tried to listen actively. I would write down words or expressions that I would most likely use in everyday life, or I myself would use in my own native language. Then later on that day or on a different day, I would add them onto Anki.

    I also do the same thing with Glossika. For example, if Glossika shows me kozeni ha arimasu ka? (Do you have change?), which is a very useful sentence when you travel to Japan, what I do is I write kozeni (change) in hiragana, the meaning in English, and then I write “kozeni ha arimasu ka?” (in hiranaga) below the word, so I can see its context. I add all that in Anki and that will allow me to, not only remember the meaning of the word but also how to use it in the spoken and/or written context. There’s not much point in learning loose words as you might use them in the wrong context. 

    Furthermore, you can also learn words with their kanji. This is completely optional but, what I mean by that is that since it’s tedious and unproductive to learn kanji readings (kun-yomi and on-yomi) individually, a good idea to learn the readings is by learning vocabulary in context. As in the example mentioned in the previous paragraph, you write 小銭 (change), the furigana on top of the word (こぜに), the English meaning next to it, and then write the rest of the sentence in hiragana“小銭はありますか?” below the word to see it in context. After that, you add it to Anki.

    Another good way to memorize vocabulary, which my friend recommends, is to learn the 500 or 1000 most used words. This is a good way to amp up your listening skills. When we speak 60% of the time, we mostly use 500 basic words.

    You may be asking yourself how much time you should dedicate to this stage. I solely think that it depends on the person. But I think it is better to dedicate yourself to active learning with Glossika/Pimsleur/Assimil or any other Japanese content for 1 hour a day, and vocabulary input 15 minutes a day for at least 2 months. I myself dedicated this part for 4 months because I wanted to make sure that I understood most things and I had a good grasp of pronunciation. However, in order to go to the next stage, make sure you are confident in your listening comprehension and pronunciation skills.

    For those who want even more information on how to improve your skills, consider visiting our how to guide on Japanese listening skills.

    Speaking

    You’ve probably been listening to Japanese content for a couple of months and you’re starting to grasp what the language sounds like and how it’s structured, right? So far, you’ve been learning Japanese from one end, which was inputting lots of words, expressions and sentence patterns. This stage is the complete opposite. You’ll be outputting. Speaking is, from my point of view at least, the hardest and the most important skill to master when learning any language.

    When you start learning a language, most language learners would most likely suggest you start speaking as soon as possible, especially if your goal in your target language involves speaking and I actually agree. But, there is a reason why I chose to put speaking as the second stage. When I start learning any language I always come across two options: option A - start speaking it as soon as possible with a native speaker but then struggle to understand very little and then not being able to speak much (for the first couple of weeks). Or option B - make sure I understand 80%-90% of what a native is saying and just worry about producing the actual language. I always end up choosing the latter.

    If I were to start learning a language with a native speaker, with very little to no knowledge at all and not knowing what it really sounds like, I would end up getting really frustrated. That’s why with option B, you would have a fundamental knowledge of the language and you would have a list of words ready to be used. You basically have a head start!

    How should you approach this stage? This stage is doable no matter where you are located. All I can say is though it might be a bit difficult for you if you don’t want to spend any money, which is understandable of course.

    Same as in the previous stage, I’ll start by explaining this stage with paid resources. If you are an introvert and would rather build up your confidence with a native speaker on a one to one basis, then italki is the perfect site for that matter. For those who don’t know, italki is a language learning site where you can speak to native speakers of your target language online. Normally private tutoring is a bit expensive. Depending on the teacher’s experience and where they achieved their qualifications, they can easily charge you $50-$100 an hour. Crazy, right?

    In italki, you’ll see teachers charging up to $40/h but what’s really good about this site is that lessons can be much cheaper than that. Actually, this site is probably the cheapest place to find any private tutor. The cheapest one I found was about $6.50/h. That’s what I used to pay and I thought it was enough as I only wanted to have conversation sessions rather than “learning sessions” (grammar lessons and such).

    The way I use italki is very simple. I would book five lessons a week (e.g. Mon-Tue-Thu-Fri-Sun) and would focus only on speaking for 2 to 3 months. There’s actually no limit to this. You can focus on it as long as you like actually. But for the purpose of this method, maybe up to 4 or 5 months should suffice. 

    Those who happen to live or visit Tokyo for a month or so, I recommend trying  out this affordable Japanese language school called Japan Switch. They offer face-to-face private lessons for 3000¥/hour! Considering that the average price of private tutors in Tokyo is between 5000 and 7000¥, that's a pretty sweet deal if you ask me. All teachers are trained to high standards and offer high quality lessons. Give it a go!

    Now, whether it’s expensive or cheap, not everyone can afford private lessons. That’s fair enough. There are many free options for you to practice speaking. First, if you happen to live in a city with a relatively high concentration of international people, then language exchange events are the best option. If you join apps or sites like MeetUp or Internations, then it is very easy to attend those types of events. It’s a great opportunity for you to practice your Japanese speaking skills offline.

    Furthermore, you can make friends with Japanese people. This will give you an advantage as you can hang out as many times as possible to keep practicing your speaking or you can ask them any query you have about the language. I’m sure that they will be happy to help you out.

    If you’re not confident enough to speak to a native speaker face to face, or you live in a really rural area and there are hardly any Japanese people, don’t worry! There’s another alternative but you will have to work for a bit on it. HelloTalk is another useful free app where you can chat with native speakers of your target language. The cool thing about HelloTalk is that it has built-in aid software for translation, pronunciation, transliteration, and corrections. Meaning that it makes conversations run smoothly. It feels like you’re having a normal chat!

    However, there are a few downsides to this app. First one is typing. People mainly use this app as a chat app like WhatsApp or Messenger. It’s not a bad thing but it defeats the purpose of this stage which is speaking. This app is perfect for the following stages though. You can use video chat but you probably wouldn’t speak to that person straight away because you just simply don’t know that person at all. Which leads me to the second reason, sketchy people.

    In the realm of the Internet, you can find all sorts of people. Unfortunately this applies to this app. A lot of people use this app as a “dating app” like Tinder. This is why I said that you would have to work for it a bit in this app. First you need to trust that person. See if their main objective is language learning and nothing else. Not just for a couple of days but maybe a week or two (maybe even a month). After gaining each other's trust you can tell the other person whether it’s okay to send voice messages to practice pronunciation and speaking. Then one of you can suggest video chat if you like.

    I actually used this app when I was learning french at high school. Whenever I would start a chat with someone, I would make it clear at the beginning that I only wanted to learn French and was willing to help that person with Spanish or English and nothing else. I met someone who wanted to practice his spanish (and was the same age as me at the time), and had the exact same objectives as me. So what we did was mostly just chat and help each other with anything related to each other’s languages, each other’s homework, etc.. After a couple of weeks, we started talking (typing) about our aspirations for the future, what we liked, what we didn’t like and stuff like that.

    A month passed by and we basically asked for each other’s social media (Facebook and Snapchat). Nowadays, I don’t have a snapchat account, but back then, we both utilised Snapchat really well for language learning. Whenever he would upload a story or he would send me a video message, I would always ask him what he said or the meaning of a specific word. Most of the videos he would upload were in French of course so I learned a lot of casual ways of speaking, and vice-versa. He would always ask me anything related to Spanish whenever I uploaded a story. 

    After gaining each other’s trust (month and a half or so), we suggested doing a language exchange on Skype once or twice a week. It was very informal of course, we were only 16 at the time. After a while, we became such close friends that we visited each other's countries a couple of times. In fact, after high school, I decided to take a gap year in Lyon, France, where he was based. His family helped me find a job at a restaurant and they were kind enough to let me stay at their place for at least 3 months, until I managed to find a place of my own.That was when my French really started to flourish.

    To get to the point of all this, HelloTalk turned out to be a really useful, if not excellent, tool for language learning. If used the smart way of course. I went through 20, 30 people until I found the right language partner in HelloTalk. It only takes a bit of effort and patience, but trust me, it’s worth it. Also, you’ve probably noticed this, but we didn’t really use HelloTalk for that long. Only for 2 or 3 months. We used it mostly to send each other’s homework because it was really easy to correct stuff (back in those days we didn’t have google documents or it was hardly used, by the way). After what I’ve told you about my experience with the app, I can guarantee you that you’ll gain a lot from it for sure.

    No matter which method you use to practice your speaking and for the purpose of following this study method, you should dedicate speaking as much as you can for at least 2 months and maximum 4 to 5 months. For those who want even more information on how to improve your skills, consider visiting our detailed how to guide on Japanese speaking skills.

    Reading

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    If you’ve been following this study method up to this point, then you’re probably ready for the reading stage. In terms of level, depending on the amount of time you dedicated on speaking, the level that you should be at is mid A2 (high N4) or high A2 (low N3). I personally love reading but I’ll be honest with you, reading is not for everyone. Some people don’t have the time for it, some don’t have the patience for it, or some just simply don’t have the interest for it.

    Fortunately though, you don’t have to dedicate it as much as the two previous stages. Also, this stage is easier than the other ones. Since you’ve built up lots of vocabulary throughout the first two stages, reading should be a walk in the park. Plus, you can take as much time as you need when you read a text. There’s no time limit so you don’t feel under pressure. Lastly, there are infinite free resources on the internet! 

    As for kanji, I think it’s a good idea to start learning how to read kanji if you started memorising them through the Heisig Method from the very beginning. If you haven't, don’t worry! Now it’s the right time to do so. If you’ve been learning words with their kanji during the first 2 stages then studying kanji should run very smoothly. The texts that you will be reading for this stage have a lot of kanji. But you should be comfortable knowing how to read about 500 kanji.

    However, the texts that you should be aiming for should be high N4 to mid N3 texts. The more challenging the text, the easier it will become in the future when you start reading without a dictionary. This stage is also considered as an input stage. You should read texts that are higher level than your own and at the same time, write down difficult words and add them to memory flash app (or normal flashcards). For your level, you should try Watanoc and Match. If you want a more challenging one, then I would recommend NHK - News Web Easy or Wasabi Japanese Grammar - Book/Manga.

    If starting off with books that are rated as high N4 texts or mid N3 texts doesn't sound appealing, don't worry! You can ease into it by reading simple books that are more suited to a beginner's level or just someone who (like me) who doesn't want to start out with big bites when learning how to read in Japanese. Here are a few titles to get you started: Guri and Gura, Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru, Tebukuro wo Kai Ni.

    Another thing that I would like to mention and you’ve probably been wondering about it so far, but I haven’t really mentioned studying grammar during the first 2 stages. Normally, the traditional way of studying languages (at schools, universities or language schools), is to learn a grammar point and then put it in context. Then as homework, practice it on a workbook and drill it in your head. 

    I’m not saying that it’s a bad way of doing it because you do get a sense of how a grammatical point is used in context. But, for me at least, it doesn’t give you the full picture and it’s just so boring to do it that way. That's why I focus more on vocab building from the very beginning. You don’t have to focus as much on why the sentence is structured as such. As long as you understand the meaning of the whole sentence, you can easily (to some extent) replace the word with another one and create different sentences with the same sentence pattern.

    However, for this stage, starting to learn grammar will give you the upper hand as you will be reading harder texts and it will prepare you for the final stage. Thus, there is a really good textbook that I think can help you. It’s a reading comprehension book called “itsuka dokokade” (いつかどこかで). The way each chapter works is simple. First you have a text and a conversation about a specific topic (e.g. looking for a flat). Then you have a vocab list that’s been used throughout both texts and you have about 5 grammar points. After that, there are a few grammar practice exercises and reading comprehension questions.

    What I like about this book is that the topics aren’t necessarily easy. For example, the first chapter is a guy who’s looking for a flat in Tokyo. So you’ll see words like “contract”, “guarantor”, or “real estate agent”. At first I thought that it was a bit odd, but the more I think about it, the more useful these words will become. This topic in particular will come in handy if you’re thinking of moving to Japan or if you're living there, but would like a place to live in for instance.

    In addition, as I’ve been reinforcing the idea of learning everything in context this far, the grammar point section has lots of example sentences. (Which is perfect!) Normally textbooks give either a few examples or really bizarre ones which you would probably never hear in real life. For each grammar point, it gives 5 to 6 realistic example sentences. This makes it easier to see how the grammar point is used properly.

    In a nutshell, this textbook is the right one for this stage. It has realistic reading comprehension texts, useful in-context grammar points, it has the right kanji for you to learn, and it’s the perfect level to advance onto the next stage (this book is basically “the bridge to intermediate level”). The length of this stage should be at least 2 months. By doing that amount of time, you should get the idea of what Japanese writing style is like as it is a bit more formal the spoken.

    For those who want even more information on how to improve your skills, consider visiting our guide on how to improve your Japanese reading skills.

    Writing

    At last, you’re on the final stage. So far, if you’ve been following this study guide, you should have been studying Japanese for about 6 to 12 months. Across the skills of Listening, Speaking, and Reading, if you’ve been doing it for 6 or 7 months, your level would probably be low N3 (lower intermediate). If it’s 8 or more, definitely N3 (even higher if you’ve focused a lot on Speaking).

    You might feel that you’re at a very high level and think that you can write most things. It’s possible. But producing written texts is not exactly the same as having day-to-day conversations with a native speaker. There’s much more structure and complexity to it.

    However, this stage is definitely easier than Speaking. You can have as much time as you want when writing any piece of work. Also, this is the stage where you have to start using kanji. So make sure you’re able to write about 500 to 1000 kanij. If you’ve been using the Heising Method throughout the whole study method and know how to write all 2136 kanji, then this stage should be a piece of cake. Throughout this stage, you should from time to time try to learn more grammar points as well. By doing so your writing style will become much better. As long as it’s within your own level, you can choose whatever resource to learn and practice grammar.

    So, what kind of texts should you be writing? You can write anything you like (as long as it’s within your level), but I would suggest writing the following: diary/journal entries, stories, letters to friends, and short essays (400-500字 or more if you want) about your hobbies, past event, holidays, what you’re going to do in the future, your likes/dislikes, etc. You shouldn’t attempt to write something academic or anything too complicated like political-social-economic topics. That will come at a later stage.

    How can your work be corrected? Before I answer that question, you should be writing these essays on a piece paper rather than typing them on a digitalised format. It’s still important to write in your target language before you start typing it. But because it’s hard to find someone who can correct your work physically, then you would have to use a computer instead. If that’s the case then there’s a free website called LangCorrect where you can upload your work and then a native speaker can correct it. There’s also another app similar to LangCorrect called Hi Native for smartphones and tablets. Both of these softwares have premium features. So if you want to pay more to have these features that’s up to you. Personally though, I think the free version is enough.

    If you would rather want to write your work physically, then I would suggest using Hi Native. For example, if you’re struggling to write a sentence or paragraph, I would type in the whole thing in Hi Native and wait for a native speaker to correct it. Of course, if you happen to know a Japanese person then you can always ask them to have a look at it. You can also ask tutors on italki. Book a session with a teacher, ask them via Skype if they can correct your essay, and on the day of the lesson, your tutor will go through all of it to give you advice on any improvement that can be made.

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    Making Friends

    Here're some tips for making Japanese-Speaking Friends

    Japanese Friends

    If you thought learning the characters in the hiragana alphabet and Japanese vocabulary words was a daunting task in your journey while studying the Japanese language, how about making Japanese friends with your newfound skills? Gaining experience as a Japanese speaker is just as much of an important part in the process of studying Japanese. Here are some Japanese studying tips on making Japanese friends. Can't understand how to make friends with Japanese locals due to a cultural barrier? There are tips for that too! Here are six steps for making Japanese friends.

    I can personally give one Japanese studying tip for making friends with a person from Japan: keep trying. Long before I understood a single word other than 'Ohayo' and 'Arigatou-gozaimasu,' I was a little girl running around a convention center in Okinawa, Japan. I wasn't the only child running around without adult supervision! There was a whole crowd of Japanese children who were speaking Japanese to me, while I spoke English back again, and we spent hours playing around the convention center.

    I didn't understand a single word they said and I highly doubt they understood me, either. I love that memory!

    Japanese Studying Tips Friends

    If you want more advice, don't worry! I still have a lot to say on making Japanese friends. Namely, you don't have to worry that making a mistake while practicing your Japanese language skills will affect your friendship or lower their opinion of you. You DO want to learn Japanese etiquette if you want to make the process of becoming friends to be easy.

    I know, I know, it's not a exactly effortless to learn an entirely new book on etiquette. That why websites like this website right here exist and why BFFTokyo published this article. But what if I told you there was an easier way to accomplish this task? A way that didn't feel like studying at all?

    Well, the final Japanese studying tip I have for you on making friends with Japanese-speakers is to watch the Dotanba no Manners anime. Yep, you read that correctly. I'm giving you an excuse to watch anime.

    Feel free to have fun and watch as Dotanba navigates manners in Japanese social situations!

    Language Communities

    You don't have to move forward with studying Japanese alone. One of the tricks to learning Japanese for beginners is to put yourself out there and Japanese language communities is one welcoming way to start. If you're not familiar with the subject, we at BFFTokyo released an article on the subject during the 14th of July 2020. You can read more information on the subject here.

     

    An excellent way to improve your abilities as a Japanese speaker is to gain experience communicating with others using the skills you learned while studying the Japanese language. That doesn't have to happen by communicating with a Japanese friend or even by living in Japan. You can do it by meeting people who are just like you- people who want to practice their Japanese language skills by communicating with friends in the Japanese language.

     

    If you're like me and you're first thought is to worry you won't be able to keep up with Japanese language community members in terms of skill, don't worry! Japanese language communities accept people of all skill levels. Good luck! I know you can do it!

    Videos for Beginner Students

    Here are some videos to get you started in learning Japanese from our buddies at Udon classroom.

    Lesson 1 : Topics

    Here is a video on Japanese pronouns, which are things like this, that, he and she.

    Lesson 2 : Subjects

    Here is a video on Japanese subjects and your first introduction to pronouns.

    Lesson 3 : Possession

    Here is a video on Japanese possessions. Learn things like my, your, and theirs.

    Lesson 4 : Questions

    Here is a video on Japanese grammar and asking questions in Japanese.

    Lesson 5 : Also/And

    Here is a video on Japanese grammar. Learn how to use words like and/also.

    Lesson 6 : Verbs

    Here is a video on Japanese verbs, which are things like 'to sleep' and 'to study.'

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    Learn Japanese in Tokyo

    Affordable speaking based Japanese lessons in Tokyo for English speakers.

    In addition to providing awesome articles on how to learn Japanese, we also offer affordable morning lessons in Tokyo.

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