8 Easy Strategies to Learn Japanese from Home

September 11, 2020

Photo by  Dominik Gehl  on  Scopio

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This is a guest post by Minh Thu Hoang from That Foreign Girl.  Follow her blog for tips and tricks on studying abroad. Over to Hoang for some simple strategies you can use to learn Japanese from home!

We all know the easiest way to master Japanese is to live in Japan. You will be surrounded by Japanese everywhere. You will be forced to use and memorize vocabularies without having to sit down and write the same word 20 times.

Your reaction to speaking Japanese would improve since you have to speak Japanese on a daily basis. You can listen, speak, read and write Japanese everyday without having to go to class.

Wouldn’t it be so amazing?

Well, for most of us, living in Japan is just not an option. But the good news is, there are always ways and strategies you can use to learn Japanese effectively at home.

Yes, you heard me right, you CAN learn Japanese at home.

Here’s how…

1. Buy Japanese textbooks

For the past 6 years since I started learning Japanese, I have always had Japanese textbooks. By now they can probably fill the whole shelf.

Textbooks will make it extremely easy to follow your progress. They break down lessons according to different levels. They design exercises right after you’ve learned something new. It’s just convenient and necessary, so having Japanese textbooks is a must for me.

I recommend starting with Genki (げんき) even though I started with Minna no Nihongo (みんなの日本語). I think they are both good, you can buy from Amazon or your local bookstore. 

Note: I have linked to the Kanji book for Minna no Nihongo, but there are also other volumes like listening and reading available in the series. Similarly, Genki also has volumes for different proficiency levels. I have linked to the beginner volume.

2. Be consistent and write it down

You really need to be consistent, especially in the beginning because your brain will forget new words and grammar easily. I believe we all understand the importance of consistency when learning a language, so I will leave it to your self-discipline. 

Japanese has its own unique writing systems like hiragana, katakana and kanji, which requires intense writing practice. 

Always practice writing and write down your new words, vocabs and more. I’ve never seen anyone learning Japanese successfully without having to fill their notebooks with Japanese.

3. Make a good schedule

Yes, you will need to practice different skills like grammar, vocab, speaking, reading, listening and kanji. Don’t mix them up.

That’s why it is important to divide your schedule. You should only focus on one skill at a time. Remember to always practice too.

Learn how to create a language learning schedule here.

4. Talk to yourself in Japanese

I found this trick extremely useful when I first started learning and my confidence was too low to even speak with anyone else. 

Yes, I know you will look like a total idiot but who cares. Remember what your goal is and keep going 🙂

5. Start watching anime

This is probably not a big deal for so many people, but I couldn’t stand anime (no offense), but I changed my mind after a while.

Anime is not only a good source of entertainment, but also helps you memorise Japanese words significantly. You will also have a better idea of how Japanese people really speak.

I recommend anime from Ghibli Studio, Tokyo Godfathers and Attack on Titan. If you want something more childish, Doraemon is a must watch.

These are recommendations from a person who couldn’t stand anime at first, so you know these are good ones.

You can watch some Studio Ghibli movies on Amazon Prime Video. Try a free trial here.

6. Look for Japanese learning communities

Communities always help. There will be people who have the same goal as you, who have been through the same struggle you have. 

Joining a Japanese learning community will not only help you make like-minded friends, but it will also help you find tips and advice from other students.

After 15 years of being a student, I’ve realized that learning from a friend is more effective than learning from a teacher. So yes, always make friends who have the same goals as you.

Besides, you can always practice speaking with one another and improve together.

7. Surround yourself with Japanese

Write your notes in Japanese, listen to Japanese music, watch Japanese films, set your phone to Japanese (only when you’re familiar with Kanji).

Also, you can try your hobbies in Japanese. For example, if you like cooking, try looking for recipes in Japanese (try Cookpad or Rakuten Recipe), if you like listening to podcasts, game shows, sport… try doing so in Japanese.

It might feel overwhelming at first but the goal here is to make you familiar with hearing and seeing Japanese everywhere. 

8. Relax and make it fun

I know Japanese could be a difficult language to learn. Trust me, I gave up on it so many times. The lesson I got from it was: when learning Japanese, don’t rush.

Especially when you learn at home, the goal is to make you get used to being surrounded by that language, you don’t have to do quizzes or tests, so it’s less stressful and oriented like in classrooms. Try to make it fun and entertaining. 

You don’t have to master it, the point is you live with it and immerse yourself in it. 

So relax and make your Japanese learning time an enjoyable hobby.

Minh Thu Hoang

Minh Thu Hoang is the founder of That Foreign Girl, a blog dedicated for personal growth and the life of a foreign student. She writes about her knowledge and experience of being young and away from home. Check out her blog posts to find out about study abroad tips, financial management for foreign students, scholarships and more. Subscribe to her newsletter and follow her on Pinterest to receive That Foreign Girl’s newest tips and tricks on studying abroad and personal growth.

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