(If you don’t have Japanese installed on your computer, some characters may display as squares or unreadable symbols)
Japanese is spoken by over 130 million people across the world with an ever increasing amount of Western schools and colleges now teaching it.
The Japanese written language is comprised of three different writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana are both referred to as the Kana symbols.
Hiragana is used to write native Japanese words or to spell words or part of words that don’t have their own Kanji symbol. Kanji symbols are the busy looking characters derived from Chinese. Katakana is used mainly to write foreign words that have made their way into Japanese.
There is also Romaji, the romanized version of Japanese which is basically just the plain old alphabet we use in English everyday. The primary usage of rōmaji is on computers and other electronic devices that do not support the display or input of Japanese characters and in educational materials for foreigners.
How to learn Japanese
Japanese may appear very intimidating at first but just step back for a minute and think just how complex and illogical English is.
You are already a genius. You have already mastered an incredibly tricky language and create 1000’s of complicated and unique sentence structures everyday without even thinking about it.
Imagine how hard it is for a student of English to learn the difference and correct use of through, threw and true. Or that a performer recites a play but plays at a recital. Or that you fill in a form by filling it out.
Same with our writing system. Yes, some Japanese Kanji characters are incredibly busy looking and with many individual strokes but consider how versatile, intricate and just plain confusing cursive written English can be. Look at these two words; email and entail. If the tip of the ‘t’ was removed the two words would look very similar but everyday you read write and distinguish 1000’s of words in a variety of styles and typefaces.
Dr. Moku teaches you the first steps of Japanese in just one hour. You will be able to read and write and Hiragana and Katakana TODAY without tedious rote memorization.
Tips for learning Japanese
Learn Japanese with Anime and Manga?
A lot of people’s first contact with Japanese culture and language is through Anime or Manga. ( Japanese animation and comic books) And there is some debate about how useful or even damagingusing Anime and Manga is in learning Japanese but we at Dr. Moku are in favor of it!
Yes you will need to study the technical aspects such as grammar and verb usage but when you start to pick out a familiar word or phrase from your favorite Anime or Manga it will really empower you. Anime is great for training your ear to pick up the nuances and pronunciation
of spoken Japanese. Grab a Japanese dictionary and start reading some Manga and you will be amazed at how fast you will learn.
Only a few years ago, the eager student of Japanese would need a desk full of text books, dictionaries and piles of boring language program cd’s. Now we can fit the same into a mobile application and carry it our pocket.
There are 1000’s of mobiles applications of varying quality to help you learn Japanese. The problem is quality, most feature sloppy design and bad content. We’re biased of course but the Dr. Moku series of apps are some of the best! Check out Our Products to see for yourself, why spend days forcing yourself to learn the Kana when you can do it in a couple of hours?
Japanese Audio courses?
Audio courses such as Linguaphone, Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone are popular ways to learn Japanese but besides their high price tag, they focus more on learning phrases than the core essentials. They are a great introduction to learning Japanese but limited in their versatility.
We have developed a low priced talking phrasebook app if you want to immediately master Japanese Essentials.
Face to Face
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the technical side of learning a new language that you can lose sight of the purpose…communication. We study languages to communicate with other people.
You can memorize verb charts and Kanji all day but if your verbal skills are neglected then you are seriously hindering your development. Try find a native Japanese speaker to talk with or even fellow students. You need to get out of your comfort zone.
This is by far the most effective method for learning Japanese. If you can afford it and have the time to commit to it you can travel to Japan and study. There are many websites that offer full packages including flights, accommodation and courses. Being immersed is the best way to learn. It’s sink or swim! When you get lost in a Tokyo subway station you will either be amazed at well how well you speak and understand Japanese or it will give you the push you need to get serious about learning!