The Japanese language is known to be one of the most difficult languages to learn. In fact, the Foreign Service Institute named it one of the top five hardest languages for native English speakers to acquire. However, despite it’s sentence structure, which is practically the opposite of the English language sentence structure, Japanese is not impossible to learn. Kevin McDonald San Rafael spent four years in Tokyo teaching English and studying Japanese. The teacher of more than 20 years recently offered his top tips and tricks for learning Japanese.
“Many people stop attempting to learn Japanese when they start really struggling,” Kevin McDonald San Rafael said. “But this is a language you must put in serious time and effort to learn. It’s such a beautiful language that the time and effort certainly pay off.”
Kevin McDonald San Rafael acquired a number of tips for learning the Japanese language while studying it in Tokyo. His first piece of advice is to seek a qualified teacher. He explained that this isn’t a language that’s easy to learn by picking up a textbook and studying. Kevin McDonald San Rafael explained that it’s important to learn the basics with supervision. He stated that developing proper skills from the get-go is essential.
“Having a unique style of writing is not frowned upon in most English-speaking countries,” Kevin McDonald San Rafael said. “However, in Japan, writing in a unique or odd style is seen as lazy. It’s important to learn to write with someone who knows how to do it correctly.”
Kevin McDonald San Rafael explained that many people attempting to learn Japanese only learn what’s easy and skip over the more difficult parts. He stated that this isn’t a language with which cutting corners is possible. Kevin McDonald San Rafael explained that learning lessons in order is essential, and the process begins with knowing family titles, understanding particles, and telling time. He emphasized that nobody should move onto new skills until those are mastered.
“One of the ultimate learning tools for Japanese, or any language, is television,” Kevin McDonald San Rafael. “It’s not often in life that you’re urged to watch more TV, but movies, cartoons, and sitcoms can help students understand terms that are common in everyday circumstances.”
Kevin McDonald San Rafael explained that watching TV and listening to music are ideal ways to learn grammar patterns, common slang terms, and pronunciation. He added that another way to acquire these skills to find a Japanese-speaking conversation partner. Many Japanese speakers will gladly trade English conservation lessons for Japanese ones. This can be an ideal way to learn conversational Japanese, which includes a lot of skills that are more difficult to learn via textbook.
Kevin McDonald San Rafael stated that the most important part of learning Japanese is to not give up when you reach a speed bump or plateau in the learning process.