Here’s a series of articles about tips for foreigners to learn Japanese by a Japanese language teacher at TCJ (Tokyo Central Japanese Language School) in Shinjuku Ward.
Hello! I’m AKO, a Japanese language teacher at TCJ.
When did you come to Japan? Have you ever had a problem with your Japanese language skills?
In this article, I would like to introduce some of the learning methods that I recommend for those who are about to start studying the Japanese language.
Table of Contents
① First, knowing the purpose of learning Japanese is important.
It is a good idea if you can clarify what you want to do with your Japanese. Write down the purposes as specifically as you can without thinking too much.
For example, “I want to work”, “I want to step up in my career”, “I want to be able to read the materials from my child’s school”, “I want to be able to make reservations at restaurants and beauty salons in Japanese”, “I want to attend yoga classes and cooking classes” and so on.
② Make a study plan with your Japanese teacher.
Once you have decided what you want to do in Japanese, it is a good idea to consult with a Japanese language teacher.
They will be able to advise you on how much time you will need to study until you reach your goal from your current language skill, and what kind of teaching materials are suitable for you.
In addition, it is also effective to create a periodical study plan for a month or a week with your teacher by considering how much time you can spend on studying Japanese outside of class.
It is also a good idea to discuss with your teacher if you would like to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), which is the most common Japanese language test, and if you do, when do you plan to take it.
③ Efficiently review what you have learned in class in the following order.
Let’s say that class has actually started. So, how do you study Japanese outside of class?
There are 24 hours in a day, right? In fact, the key to success in learning Japanese lies in how much you can expose yourself to Japanese outside of class.
We recommend the following steps.
1) Listen to the audio of a native Japanese speaker (to learn about the appropriate scenes and usage of the words)
2) Try reading aloud
3) Transcribe the text
4) Check and understand the meaning of vocabulary and grammar items
5) Memorize and practice
6) Use the language by speaking and writing
Without a Japanese teacher, #1) is difficult to do. The best way to know in what kind of situations you can use certain words, and what kind of situations are inappropriate, and how they differ from similar expressions, is to ask your teacher.
Therefore, focusing on #1) and #2) in class would make your class time more effective.
I think #3) to #5) are something you can try to do in a spare time. It would be good idea if you can use tools other than paper textbooks, such as smartphones and tablets.
In the case of #4), if you don’t understand something even after looking it up in the textbook or on the internet, it is better to ask your teacher.
In the case of #5), you can gain confidence by trying to use the words with a native Japanese speaker other than your Japanese teacher to see if you are using it correctly.
Also, “writing” includes not only handwriting, but also texting and posting on social medias, so try using these as much to show what you have learned.
Now that I have introduced the recommended ways to learn Japanese, let me introduce the most important tips.
④ Keeping a strong mind to continue until you reach your goal.
Having said that, I am actually one of those people who tend to put off the promises made to themselves, while others do not give up until they meet their goals.
If you are such a person like myself, you should involve others in the process of achieving your goal. Have someone to study with or be a rival to, and it will motivate you to keep going.
Or perhaps the trick is to put just the right amount of stress on yourself, not so much that makes you want to run away, but enough that others will be annoyed if you don’t do it.
Now that you are living in Japan, have you started to think about what you would like to be able to do in Japanese specifically?
I hope you have an opportunity to meet the Japanese language instructors who have certain amount of knowledge related to the Japanese language, such as structural understanding of the language and its cross-cultural application.
It would be my pleasure if you had even more productive life in Japan by making good use of such a coach who is best suited for your learning!
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|4F Shinanomachi-Toshin Bld.,34 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo|
| 0 min from Shinanomachi Station on JR Chuo-Sobu Line|
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|Languages: English, Chinese, Vietnamese|
|Website: Tokyo Central Japanese Language School (TCJ)|
Tokyo Central Japanese Language School (TCJ)