Introduction to Japanese in 30 Minutes - How to Read, Write and Speak



How to Learn to Speak Japanese

Four Methods:

It isn't difficult to pick up the basics of Japanese - the entire language is made up of just 46 distinct sounds - but it can take many years of practice to master the nuances of this beautiful language. Begin by exploring Japanese on your own, then seek professional guidance and immerse yourself in the language if you want to achieve fluency.

Steps

Learn Basic Words and Phrases

  1. Practice Japanese greetings.Learning how to greet people properly is one of the first steps to speaking any language. Following are some common ways to say "hello" and "goodbye" in Japanese. Look up the sounds that correspond to the characters to make sure you pronounce them correctly:
    • はじめまして ("Nice to meet you.")
    • おはようございます ("Good morning.")
    • こんにちは ("Good Day" {can be used only till sunset and thus can also be used as "Good Afternoon"})
    • おやすみなさい ("Good night.")
    • さようなら ("Goodbye.")
  2. Learn some conversational phrases.Now that you know the most basic way to start a conversation, learn a few phrases that will help you move it along by expressing interest in the person to whom you're talking.
    • おげんき ですか?("How are you?")
    • げんき です。ありがとう。("I'm fine, thanks.")
    • ありがとう ございます ("Thank you.")
    • すみません ("Excuse me.")
    • ごめん なさい ("Sorry.")
    • わかります ("I understand.")
    • しりません ("I don't know.")
  3. Learn numbers.The numerals 1 through 10 are written in Kanji.They are pronounced using different combinations of the same 46 sounds that are used to pronounce all Japanese characters. Practice counting to ten:
    • 一 (1)
    • 二 (2)
    • 三 (3)
    • 四 (4)
    • 五 (5)
    • 六 (6)
    • 七 (7)
    • 八 (8)
    • 九 (9)
    • 十 (10)
  4. Explore more complicated words and phrases.Buy an English - Japanese dictionary and practice pronouncing different words and phrases until you're comfortable with the sounds. Having this foundation will help you excel when you take your Japanese to the next level by signing up for some classes.

Learn Japanese Fundamentals

  1. Get to know the Japanese writing systems.Japanese language uses four different writing systems that have different characters.To speak the language, you don't necessarily need to learn how to write in Japanese, but it's important to understand the way the four systems work together.
    • Hiragana is a Japanese syllabary, a system of characters used to represent distinct Japanese sounds.
    • Katakana is similar to Hiragana, in that it is made up of Japanese sounds, but it is mostly composed of words that originated in different languages. It could be considered the syllabary for foreign words. Together, Hiragana and Katakana cover every sound in the Japanese language, 46 in total.
    • Kanji are Chinese characters adapted for Japanese that are the foundation of Japanese writing. The sounds used to pronounce Kanji are the same as those used in Hiragana and Katakana.
    • In Japanese language, the Latin alphabet is sometimes used for acronyms, company names, and names meant to be read by non-Japanese speakers.
    • Romaji, the written Roman version of Japanese words, is also worth mentioning, even though it is not used in Japan. It is recommended that new students of Japanese skip Romaji and learn Japanese characters instead. Once you start learning Romaji it's difficult to associate Japanese sounds with Japanese characters.
  2. Learn Japanese pronunciation.The sounds corresponding to the Hiraganaand Katakanaalphabets are composed of either one of five vowel sounds or a combination of a consonant and a vowel sound, with the exception of a few consonant-only sounds.
    • Since each character in Hiragana and Katakana has only one distinct sound, it is relatively easy to learn how to pronounce all 46. Pay special attention to intonation, though, since variations on these basic sounds can drastically change the meaning.
    • Whereas English pronunciation is based on accents, Japanese pronunciation is based on pitch. A word may be pronounced the same way and mean something different depending on whether it is spoken in a high or low pitch. To sound like a native speaker, getting intonation right is key.
  3. Learn variations on Japanese sounds.Japanese characters may be written with extra strokes to signify that they should be pronounced with an additional sound.The additional sounds fall into these categories:
    • Voiced consonants, which are pronounced with a "voice," a vibration in the throat. There are 4 voiced consonants and one semi-voiced consonant.
    • Y-vowel sounds, which can directly follow consonant sounds to change the pronunciation.
    • Hard consonant sounds, which add a hard stop between sounds.
    • Long vowel sounds. The meaning of a sound can alter depending on how long the vowel sound is held.
  4. Understand Japanese grammar.Japanese grammar is quite different from other languages, but it follows a logical format that is easy to learn. The following is true about Japanese grammar:
    • Nouns don't have plural forms and they don't change according to gender.
    • Verbs don't change according to gender, number, or whether the subject is an object or person.
    • The predicate is always at the end of the sentence.
    • Personal pronouns vary based on different levels of politeness and formality.
    • Particles directly follow the word they relate to. For example, instead of saying "I am Japanese," it would be "I Japanese am."

Get Professional Instruction

  1. Sign up for courses at a university or community college.Japanese is a popular language that is taught at nearly every university and community college. Check into taking a course at a local school so that you can learn under the instruction of someone who is fluent in Japanese.
    • Do your Japanese homework. It may seem like it will take forever to learn the 2,000 Kanji characters or get a grasp on Japanese vocabulary, but these are important steps to take if you want to learn how to speak Japanese with fluency.
    • Participate in workshops and class discussions. The written homework is important, but learning how to converse in Japanese requires that you get out of your comfort zone and let your voice be heard during class. Raise your hand, go to the workshops, and get in as much speaking practice as you can.
  2. Take online courses.Online courses are a good alternative if you want to save a little money. Many are designed to encourage you to speak out loud by hosting virtual classroom discussions and workshops. Do some research to find a course that fits your needs and take it as seriously as you would any university course.
  3. Buy Japanese language software.Language software produced by companies like Rosetta Stone is designed to help you learn at your own pace by using CDs and workbooks to gradually learn the language. Check out reviews before you decide which software to purchase, since this option can be rather pricey.
  4. Get a tutor.Hire a more advanced Japanese student or a fluent Japanese speaker to help you build a solid foundation in Japanese. You could hire a tutor as a supplement to the courses you are taking or the software you are using, or choose someone who is equipped to teach you the language on his or her own.
    • Check out the classified listings at local colleges and universities for Japanese tutors. Students hoping to make some extra money tutoring often advertise on bulletin boards and college websites.
    • You could also hire a tutor who is actually living in Japan. Put up an ad on Craigslist stating that you're looking for a Japanese tutor and would be willing to have tutoring sessions online using Skype or another online video chat program.

Immerse Yourself in the Language

  1. Spend time with people who speak Japanese.Talk to students in more advanced classes, or better yet, fluent Japanese speakers who have lived in or are from Japan. Speaking Japanese with someone who is fluent will help your pronunciation and clue you in to intricacies of the language that are impossible to pick up from a textbook.
    • Start a Japanese discussion group that meets at least twice a week. Plan to speak only in Japanese for a full hour. Each meeting can have a theme, or you could simply talk for an hour on any subject in Japanese.
    • Plan excursions with Japanese speakers so that you can practice speaking in different contexts and situations. For example, take a trip to the botanical garden and focus on learning Japanese words for different plants and trees.
    • Speak with Japanese speakers a little bit each day, even when you aren't meeting for a group discussion. Give someone a call and converse only in Japanese, or drop by your professor's office hours for a little extra practice.
  2. Watch Japanese movies and shows.This is an excellent way to learn more about Japanese language when you aren't able to spend time with Japanese speakers. Replace your regular shows with anime and watch at least one Japanese movie a week to immerse yourself in the language at home.
    • Rashomon,Seven Samurai, andSpirited Awayare popular Japanese movies.
    • You can start by watching the films with subtitles, but you'll get a better immersion experience if you turn them off and focus instead on the Japanese sounds and pronunciation.
  3. Study Japanese in Japan.Taking a trip to Japan and spending as much time there as possible is the best way to learn Japanese, period. If you can arrange it, find a way to work or study there for 6 months or more so you can spend time soaking in the language and practicing all day long.
    • If you're enrolled in a college or university, look into study abroad programs in Japan. You may be able to take classes there for a semester or more.
    • You could also try to work there for a few months or longer. The organization WWOOF,which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, lets you work on a farm in exchange for room and board. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the language of another country for as long as you want to stay.

Community Q&A

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  • Question
    How do I learn to speak my name in Japanese?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can approximate the right pronunciation to your name using the Japanese sounds. For example , the name George would be sounded out jōji (ジョージ). As it's not a Japanese name it's written in katakana. If your name was Alice, you'd use arisu (アリス); if it's Mark, you'd use māku (マーク).
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Is there a way to learn spoken Japanese through a course?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Of course! There are language learning sessions taught by professional educators. There are also more convenient, socially and economically, ways to enroll in courses. There are different websites that are free to use that specialize in languages including Japanese. Check out Duolingo.com, Memrise.com, and Busuu.com.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    I have learned a lot of words but I forget most of them. Can you help?
    Community Answer
    You should come back to them often. If you keep forgetting a word, find a translation. Say the English word and the Japanese word together. Repeat it until you feel you've got it memorized, and can switch between them without peeking at your reference. If you forget it once more, it's okay to redo the exercise or move on and come back to it later.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How can I find someone in school who speaks Japanese?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It depends on your school and its demographic. Chances are, very few people will even speak the basics.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How can I understand and pronounce Japanese words that are written out?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Work with a native speaker to learn the rules of pronunciation.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How to say "my name" in Japanese?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    In full Japanese: 私の名前は〇〇です。
    Thanks!
Unanswered Questions
  • How do I say my name in Japanese?
  • Hiragana letter and pronounce?
  • Is there an app that can translate it for me?
  • How can I learn to understand and write Japanese?
  • What are some resources for finding Japanese language tutors?
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Quick Summary

To learn to speak Japanese, start by watching Japanese movies to give you an idea of how the language sounds and how words are pronounced. Next, learn some basics like simple conversational phrases and how to write the numbers 1 through 10. Then, use an English-Japanese dictionary to look up words and practice pronouncing them until you’re comfortable with the sounds. Once you know a few words and phrases, spend time with Japanese speakers in a discussion group or by just having a friendly conversation to help you gain fluency.

Did this summary help you?
  • Label items in your house with Japanese characters and pronounce their names out loud each time you pass them.
  • Learn how to say and spell your own name in Japanese.

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Sources and Citations

  1. WWOOF

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Date: 01.12.2018, 05:52 / Views: 84545