So, I’ve been living in Japan for close to 5 months now and unfortunately haven’t picked up nearly as much of the language as I’d hoped. I’ve got the greetings down and can order simple food but anything past that (let alone a conversation) is out of the question. I thought that since I was living with a Japanese girl and working at a Japanese company the language would come naturally. That hasn’t been the case, so I’ve decided that some studying/learning might be a good idea.
I’ve come up with a plan to learn basic conversational Japanese in the next 3 months. I’ll be documenting my progress bi-weekly and sharing what works (and doesn’t work with all of you). The inspiration for this was partly an insistence by my place of employment and partly a post by Tim Ferriss with information on rapid language learning.
So, here’s my plan
Learning Japanese Master Plan Part 1:
Learning how to speak Japanese
- Memorize the 100 most common words (Approximately 50% of all written words in Japanese)
- podcasts for the commute
- Human Japanese app (iphone and computer)
- practicing on co-workers, housemate, randoms, etc.
Japanese Word Memorization
I’ve got a list of 100 words and a little mini notecard flashcard thingy. I’m writing the words in Japanese (roman and hiragana) on one side and in English on the other. My goal is to memorize 2 new words every day. This should take me just under a month and a half as I already know a few of the words on this list. Once I’ve got these down I’ll work on the 200-500 most common words which should bring me close to 80% basic Japanese comprehension.
Learn Japanese Podcasts
I’ve got a 30 minute commute to and from work 5 days a week.
This equates to an hour or so of potential learning time which I’ve thus-far been squandering playing angry birds and listening to Kanye Wests latest album.
I’ve found a few “Learn Japanese” Podcasts that I’m going to try out on my commute and see if I can get anything out of them.
I’ll report back on which ones are worth spending time with.
The podcasts I’ll be trying out initially:
Human Japanese (computer and iPhone app)
I picked up this iPod app a month or so before I came to Japan.
It’s a great app that teaches you Japanese in a very friendly manner.
I ended up buying the computer version as well so I can access it in its bigger screen glory. I’m planning on going through this app in much more detail than I did previously and using it to help me learn the basics. This will teach me word structure, how and when to use different phrases and how the language works and fits together
Practice Speaking Japanese
They say practice makes perfect so I’ll be practicing on co-workers, housemate, randoms, etc.
Since I’m living in Tokyo I’ll have plenty of opportunities to put my new found language skills to the test.
Learning Japanese Master Plan Part 2:
As you are probably aware, Japanese words are not written using roman characters. This makes reading Japanese and learning new words somewhat more difficult. The fact that there are 3 different vocabularies in everyday use complicates things even further.
My plan is to learn Hiragana (used for writing Japanese words that don’t have a Kanji) and Katakana (used for writing foreign words) first with the help of the Human Japanese App and lots of practice and then tackle Kanji (based on Chinese characters and a huge biznatch) at a later date.
48 hiragana characters
51 katakana characters
To learn them all in 3 months means I’ll have to learn and master approximately 8 characters per week. Once you get going there are a number of similarities between the characters so this should be an attainable goal for me if I work hard at it.
I’m hoping that by publicly announcing this on the blog I’ll be motivated to keep at it. I’ll be posting every two weeks with a progress report with how I’m getting along and what’s working and not working.
Until Next Time,
p.s.Want to learn Japanese yourself? Join me on this quest to language domination. Leave a comment below saying you’re in or offer words of wisdom if you’ve already mastered Japanese (or any language other than your native tongue)
p.p.s. If you’re here from Stumbleupon, thumbs up XD
You guys are awesome! Check out some more great resources suggested by readers in the comments.
http://learnjapanesepod.com/ (Thanks John, checking these out now)
Interactive Flashcards (my co-worker used these to learn Hiragana in 3 hours!)- http://www.zompist.com/flash.html
Basic Phrases: http://www.learn-hiragana-katakana.com/japanese-phrases/ (Thanks Cookie!)
Hiragana Stories: http://life.ou.edu/stories/ (Thanks Kuros!)