130 million people in the world speak the Japanese language, making it the 9th most spoken language around. Although there are countless sources out there these days that help you further your knowledge, mastering the Japanese language ain’t that straightforward.
Not to mention the 3 levels of ways that the Japanese language expresses politeness: the plain form (“kudaketa”), the simple polite form (“teinei”), and the advanced polite form (“keigo”)
Despite all this, the trick to learning any language, amongst others, is to have fun with it. We’ve compiled a list of 5 unusual and quirky ways that we used to Master the Japanese Language!
1. Talk to yourself… in Japanese “HITORIGOTO”
Yes, it’s the first sign of craziness, we know. But it’s so effective!
You won’t always have a chance to practice your Japanese every day, and just like a sword, if not constantly sharpened, will become dull.
Everyday life is full of opportunities to ‘talk to yourself’ or ‘Hitorigoto’ as the Japanese call it.
Ok, imagine this. You’re in Sainsbury’s looking for bread, in this scenario we’d usually talk to ourselves.
“Ok, next is bread. Um… which isle was on again?”
instead think it in Japanese,
“Yosha, tsugi wa pan da ne. Eto… michi wa doiitsu dake?”.
Or getting your day plan together
“Alright, first I’ll hop in the shower, then have a quick breakfast… but just before that I should go for a jog. Ah but today’s so cold >.<”
“Sa-te-to, saishou kara showa shite, asa gohan tabete… demo sonno mai ni chotto jyoggu shiyou ka na. Ah sotto wa samui dakedo >.<”
Do you see? All that practice! Practical situations too!
2. Anime and J Drama Schooling
Master the Japanese language while you entertain yourself, you can’t go wrong with this one!
The great thing is that most Anime that you can watch online, is that they’re subtitled.
If you pay close attention to what is being said while reading the subtitles, it’s the ultimate (Animated) flashcard game!
Do be aware that most dramatic Anime use the same words repetitively, so the translation team tries to find more creative English translations.
So, a simple Usotsuki “Liar” can become “You lying scumbag!”
3. Practice your Japanese with others who are ACTUALLY LEARNING JAPANESE
Master the Japanese language with others who’re studying Japanese! Here’s a great counterintuitive that most people studying Japanese don’t realise, ready for it?
Japanese people here don’t want to speak Japanese, they want to practice their English!
Mind-blowing isn’t it?
If you think about it if you went to Japan, wouldn’t you want to speak Japanese rather than English? So, it’s the same for Japanese who come to the UK or other western countries.
Although the Japanese are a polite people, they will play along, hoping you’ll eventually snap out of your KY mode (aka Kuuki Yomenai – Can’t read the situation).
Find others who are studying Japanese, practice to your heart’s content! Check out our article about where to meet people who want to practice their Japanese in London, here.
4. Make speaking Japanese a Necessity Not an Option!
Most of us Nakama forced ourselves into situations where we HAD to speak Japanese!
We worked in Japanese companies in London where the majority of staff were Japanese. Being surrounded daily by a language forces you to learn it!
That’ll give you a chance to hear a real conversation between two or more native speakers in a realistic scenario. A chance to jump into the conversation and have practical use of language!
Of course, you’ll have the sympathetic advantage of being a non-native speaker, it’d be easier to forgive mistakes… like accidentally mixing up Gindara (Black Cod) and Kintama (…Testicles).
5. Change your device’s language from English to Japanese!
This will through you in the deep end of trying to master the Japanese language for sure! Go to the options setting on your mobile phone, tablet or laptop and change the language to Japanese! – No, seriously!
Most of use our devices every day, so, that’s a chance to practice every day!
Mobile phones like iPhones even have a “Voice Over” option in accessibility settings. Meaning your iPhone will speak to you in Japanese!
This includes Siri and Google Voice Search which recognises Japanese speech. We’ve often blown other Japanese people’s minds when we spoke to our phone in Japanese while on the tube!