The Best Resources for Learning to Speak Japanese

Japanese learning resources

Photo by lestaylorphoto on Flickr

They say that it takes seven or more years to master Japanese for those who learn it as a second language, and apparently it is especially difficult for westerners to master. This can be a little daunting for the intrepid linguist or traveller looking to take in everything the world has to offer.

But if you actually want to speak a language and speak it well you’re going to have to devote some time and effort to tasks like absorbing vocabulary, sentence structure, pronunciation, and of course social and cultural mores surrounding verbal interactions. You may never speak the language like a local, but with enough study you can come darn close. However, the right type of instruction can speed the process and make it easier. So here are just a few resources to consider when learning to speak Japanese.

These days most people start with software for language learning, mainly because it is inexpensive and readily available, and it allows for flexible scheduling. Programs like Rosetta Stone have made it easy for adults to continue learning new languages with proven tools that give you the best chance to learn common words and phrases, pronunciation, and even how to assemble sentences.

And if you don’t want to shell out the cash for a comprehensive DVD course, you might be surprised to learn that you can find all kinds of lessons online, piecemeal. The drawback of this method is that it relies heavily on repetition of words throughout the learning process. So it can get a little boring. Plus, it doesn’t really allow users to test their skills in casual conversation. But it’s a good option for those that need a place to begin and they don’t want to drop a lot of dough until they’re ready to fully commit to the process. See our article Best Japanese Learning Tools – Part 2: Websites

Learning Japanese in class

Photo by Brenda Annerl

The next option is to take language courses, and these may be done at the college level or through schools that specialize in teaching students a second language. This is a good option for beginners, those that have some knowledge but want to take it to the next level, and those that want to learn “conversational” dialect. All can find the learning services they seek through schooling of one form or another. This is useful in a couple of ways. First and foremost, you have a teacher on hand to guide and correct you. Unlike a video tutorial, this means you can ask questions and learn in an organic way. But you’ll also have access to other students, which means you’ll always have someone to practice with.

Of course, the best choice when it comes to learning language is to fully immerse yourself, and this is most easily done by spending time in the country where the language is spoken. Unlike other subjects that you can devote yourself to part of the time (a masters in special education does not require you to move into a home for disabled children, for example), truly learning a language requires that you speak it 24/7. And while you can certainly watch tutorials, take classes and even enjoy the company of a native speaker, your very best resource when it comes to learning Japanese is Japan itself.

2 Responses to “The Best Resources for Learning to Speak Japanese”

  1. SaktiPhoenix  on December 1st, 2012

    Thank you so much for having this excellent blog. To me it’s been years since I’ve had the idea of wanting to speak Japanese and know more about Japan.

    I’ve been a hardcore otaku for most of my life, and after watching and listening so much anime the time has come to say “I don’t wanna read more subs anymore!!”

    So I found your web-page and it’s absolutely amazing. Great tips, resources, and effective as well!!!

    Thanks for sharing all your experiences :)

  2. Travis  on December 1st, 2012

    Thanks for your kind words Sakti and it’s great to have another fellow Japanese learner! We’re always looking for tips and encouragement and any advice you care to pass on :)

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