Well, we fell straight into a new year. Many people take it as a fresh start, so how about a resolution to finally begin learning Japanese? Stop dreaming about it and take action. Japanese language is not that difficult and with a little effort, anyone can learn it. さて、はじめましょう (Well, let’s get started).
Learn the basic writing system
Start by learning hiragana and katakana. Even if you are a busy slow-pace learner, you should be able to learn one hiragana row in a day. If you want to master it quickly, learn as many characters as you can. But, don’t forget to practice everyday. Yo don’t need to worry, hiragana is quite easy. However, after all those years I have been learning Japanese, I have a feeling that I never truly mastered katakana. Those characters just don’t make sense to me. For example, サ(sa) in katakana is similar to せ(se) in hiragana. Confusing, right?
Practice reading hiragana with children’s books.
Study key phrases
Start exploring some easy yet useful phrases like greetings, saying sorry, or thanking people. Don’t be afraid to use romaji at the very beginning if you aren’t confident in Japanese writing system yet. By studying basic phrases, you will get some knowledge on the sentence structure and learn new vocabulary.
Explore basic grammar structure
Japanese grammar is quite straightforward. There are some exceptions, but you will learn them quickly along the way. You can start by, for example, using free course at Duolingo, or our free course with interactive exercises. For your convenience, we created also a “how to start” handbook with information every beginner should learn and know.
Find a penpal
You don’t have to be advanced in Japanese to exchange emails with someone from Japan. Just be honest and say right at the beginning that you are a rookie. Start by writing about what are your weekend plans, or what you did the last week. Those are pretty simple sentences. Japanese people like penpals, because it is an opportunity to polish their English skills. So, it is a win-win situation.
Learning a new language requires regular practice. No one will pour the knowledge into your head. You will have to do it by yourself. So, grab a notebook, pencil and start writing the Japanese characters. The more you practice, the more you will remember. I still know the kanji I practiced every day for about a week. Kanji that I have written down only few times or not at all, disappeared from my mind really quickly.
Saa, ganbatte ne. Or do you have any other recommendations for newbie students?