Learn Japanese?

I’ve gathered some tips if you want to learn Japanese in an efficient way.

For beginners
    • Do you want to learn basic phrases?
    • To get around and be able to ask for directions?
    • Learn the difference between women’s(女) and men’s(男) bathroom(お手洗い)?
Japanese language
My favorite books for learning Japanese!

There are many ways of learning a language and I think there’s no better way of learning Japanese than going to Japan! If you are already here but doesn’t know anything yet, or if you are going soon or can’t go there  just yet, here are some tips for beginners:

Start learning to read and write hiragana and katakana, then move to kanji. Hiragana & katakana are a phonetic alphabet that you can learn relatively easy. Knowing this before coming to Japan is really helpful!

Kanji(漢字) is an entirely different story, they are so called ideograms. To read a newspaper you need to know at least 2000 of them! Where each character has a different meaning and can be read in at least two ways. The first hundreds are quite easy to learn, with no complicated stroke-order and you can squeeze them into your memory without much problem.

I used the books Genki 1 and 2 for the basic grammar and Basic kanji book vol. 1 and 2 for the first 500 kanji.

For intermediate
Kanji door
Kanji’s on my door!

If this doesn’t quench your thirst and you want to become even better or you are more ambitious and want to learn more complicated Japanese or want to score higher on the JLPT tests. You will need a different approach. Speaking from own experience, those first hundred kanji you just learn will start blurring and get mixed up in your mind.

I believe there  are many good tools to sharpen up your Japanese at an intermediate level.

Something that worked for me while learning kanji was a combination of:

  • Remembering the Kanji: A Complete Course on How To Not Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters
  • Reviewing the Kanji – A webpage for reviewing Kanji
  • Anki A flashcard app for android and iPhone.
  • Kanji Ninja (漢字忍者) is a fun app for Japanese schoolkids to master the first 1000 kanjis.

Remembering the Kanji is a book by the author James W. Heisig who is a Professor of Nanzan University. The book explains a method of using ones imaginative memory to remember thousands complex Japanese characters.

Reviewing the Kanji is a website design as a substitute for flashcards and more important; a database to share each other’s stories.

Anki is a program and an app to iPhone and Android devices. This is a substitute for physical flashcards and I always carry it with me on my phone and use all my dead-time on reviewing the kanji.

I used the book 新日本語の中級(Shin Nihongo no chuukyuu) to learn intermediate grammar.

Beyond that

Does it feel like impossible to cram in any more kanji ? Do not worry, you are not alone! I continue to persistently study with the three tool mentioned above. Using them every day and reviewing at least 50 Kanji per day. : This is something that has worked great for me and allows me to efficiently study Japanese at a higher level. My goal is to master all the 2136 Joujou kanjis and pass JLPT N1 or at least pass JLPT N2 with the decent score before leaving Japan.  In Japanese job-ads where Japanese proficiency is needed. it’s a normal requirement to show that you have passed N1 or N2.

Another strong tip is to get a part-time job in Japan if you are a student. This as helped my spoken Japanese as well as my understanding of keigo a lot!

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