What Is The Best Way To Learn Japanese On Your Own
The land of the rising sun, as Japan is sometimes referred to, is known for its unique culture, rich history, and difficult language, which relies on three different alphabets. If you’d like to experience Japan the way native speakers experience it, you’ll need an effective language learning strategy. Let’s take a closer look at the best way to learn Japanese on your own.
5 Best Ways to Learn Japanese
Are you wondering how to learn Japanese on your own effectively and without getting bored? We have good news for you: the amount of learning resources available is staggering, so you shouldn’t have a problem selecting a learning approach that works great for you.
1. Create an Immersive Japanese Learning Experience
Thanks to many decades worth of research, we know that immersion plays a critical role in language learning. Unfortunately, not everyone can simply pack a suitcase and move to Japan for a few months to be surrounded by native speakers.
However, you can create an immersive Japanese learning experience without even leaving your home with the help of mobile apps like the Encore!!! language learning app.
Unlike traditional language learning courses, which tend to heavily rely on boring grammar explanations and tiresome rote vocabulary memorization, Encore!!! encourages learners to speak from day one and makes it easy to practice even for several hours a day by combining language learning with everyday activities.
We’ll go into more detail on how to learn Japanese fast with Encore!!! later in this article, so make sure to read till the end.
2. YouTube as the Japanese Language Teacher
YouTube is a fantastic resource for all language learners, but the learners of the Japanese language are especially lucky because they can access so much great content for free and essentially use YouTube as the Japanese language teacher.
If you’re a complete beginner and would like to learn basic phrases that are guaranteed to come in handy when meeting people, asking directions, explaining what you need, and describing common tourist sights, we recommend this video lesson, which has been created using the Encore!!! language learning app.
Other popular learning resources that you can find on YouTube include Japanese Ammo with Misa, Learn Japanese From Zero, Nihongo no Mori, and Yoo Sensei. If you’re interested in interviews with native speakers about many interesting topics, make sure to check out That Japanese Man Yuta and Find Your Love in Japan.
3. Watch Japanese Movies and TV Shows
Many Westerners who are now fluent in Japanese have learned their first few words by watching Japanese movies and TV shows, more specifically anime.
In simple terms, the term anime encompasses all hand-drawn and computer-animated cartoons from Japan, which are characterized by their distinct style and plot lines ranging from realistic to absurd. In Japan, anime is popular not only with children but also among adults because many anime movies and TV shows deal with adult themes, such as marriage, work, or the loss of loved ones.
The website MyAnimeList has a long list of the most popular anime movies and TV shows of all time, so you should be able to easily pick something interesting to watch. Most popular anime movies and TV shows have been dubbed in English, but we recommend that you watch anime in Japanese with English subtitles. When you become sufficiently proficient at reading Japanese, you may want to consider switching to Japanese subtitles.
4. Read Simple Manga
For most learners, it’s much easier to master spoken Japanese than written one. That’s because mastering the written form of the language requires learners to learn two syllabaries (cursive hiragana and angular katakana) as well as kanji, which are adopted logographic Chinese characters.
In modern Japanese, there are 46 hiragana and 46 katakana letters. How about kanji? Well, some dictionaries list as many as 50,000 characters, but “only” about 2,000 kanji characters are in common use. That’s a lot of characters to memorize, especially if you don’t see them in context, which is where simple manga comes in.
Manga intended for younger readers usually includes furigana, a Japanese reading aid consisting of smaller hiragana and katakana printed next to a kanji (yes, even Japanese people have trouble reading their mother tongue).
A great example of popular manga that includes furigana next to virtually all kanji characters is Yotsuba to! This slice of life manga is about an energetic, curious, and a bit odd girl and her daily adventures. Not only does it do a great job of teaching Japanese characters, but it’s also a very relaxing and light-hearted read.
5. Play Japanese Video Games
If you enjoy playing video games, you don’t need to worry about running out of engaging learning material for this language. The Japanese video game industry is known for producing hit games like Street Fighter, Bayonetta, Monster Hunter World, Valkyria Chronicles, Kingdom Hearts, Sekiro, Dragon Quest, or The Legend of Zelda, just to name a few.
Japanese gamers are especially fond of large-scale roleplaying games and visual novels, which are basically interactive books with pictures and animations. There are even Japanese learning games created specifically for those who want to learn this language:
- Slime Forest Adventure: The goal of this role-playing game (RPG) is to teach learners katakana, hiragana, and kanji. If you’re wondering how to learn Japanese fast and without getting bored, this game might just be the right answer. You can download a demo version of Slime Forest Adventure for free, and the full version costs just $15, which is a bargain for one of the best Japanese learning games.
- My Japanese Coach: Do you own a Nintendo DS? If so, you should give My Japanese Coach a try because it lets you practice writing hiragana, katakana, and kanji using the DS stylus. The game provides instant feedback to help you avoid making the same mistakes over and over again, and it includes a large dictionary with thousands of words and hundreds of useful phrases.
- Influent: It could be argued that the best way to learn Japanese on your own is to first learn the words that describe the world around you, and this game makes this easy by allowing you to explore a virtual house and countless objects inside of it.
- Learn Japanese To Survive! Katakana War: As the name of this game suggests, its purpose is to help you learn the katakana writing system, which Japanese use for words of foreign origin. The game is broken down into several chapters, and each chapter teaches a new set of katakana characters. All you need to do is progress in the game, and you’ll be able to survive in Japan soon enough.
- Koe: By combining traditional role-playing elements with communicative language learning techniques, Koe delivers a fantastic introduction to Japanese that’s both entertaining and effective, allowing you to explore a beautiful rural city.
Many learners swear by massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), saying they’re the best way to learn Japanese online. Just keep in mind that you may need to purchase a VPN to get a Japanese IP address in order to play on their servers.
How to Learn Japanese Fast with Encore!!! Language Learning App?
We’ve mentioned Encore!!! app as a language learning tool that you can use to create an immersive Japanese learning experience, but we have yet to explain what really makes it the best app to learn Japanese.
Encore!!! recognizes that all learners are different by allowing them to make individualized language playlists with content they find engaging. Unlike most other language learning apps, it doesn’t require learners’ undivided attention because that’s not how immersion works.
Instead, learners can listen to playlists while getting ready for work or school, walking, commuting, exercising, cooking, or doing any other activity. On average, Encore!!! users can easily practice for 2–3 hours a day and achieve fluency much faster than they could with other learning methods.
If you want to learn this language because you would like to, for example, watch anime without subtitles or work in Japan, you can take advantage of the unique My Entries feature, which allows you to make audio recordings of the words, phrases, and entire sentences you want to learn and then use them in playlists.
To get started with Encore!!!, all you need is a smartphone or tablet and willingness to learn. The free version of this unique language learning app comes with 12 language pairs, including Japanese.
According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), it takes English speakers, on average, over 2,200 hours to speak Japanese with sufficient structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations. Of course, the number is much lower for learners who are strongly motivated and use the best methods available.
Learning Japanese can be a challenge even for those who are already familiar with another Asian language. But considering how much Japan has to offer in terms of culture, job opportunities, and amazing experiences, we think that it’s a challenge worth taking. To increase your chances of success, you should equip yourself with the best app to learn Japanese, Encore!!!