12 Tips for Learning Japanese

12 Tips for Learning Japanese

November 29, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


I think the best thing about learning Japanese outside of everyday communication of course is being able to appreciate the music. It’s so cool to be able to listen to a song in Japanese and allow the lyrics to resonate
with you on an emotional level. That in itself is as good a reason
as any to learn the language so when you turn on your TV to the music channel you can not only enjoy the music
but feel a real sense of achievement as well! Yeah on second thoughts don’t bother! Hello and welcome to Ask Abroad, the show in which I answer questions sent in by YOU the viewer whilst propping up my table with cardboard! Due tu uneven flooring. The topic of this video is “Learning Japanese” Most of the questions will be about Japanese but few random ones will be thrown in, including comment of the week and most annoying comment of the week. Learning Japanese has been a really big part
of my life for the past three years and I hope in this video my many experiences and failures will help you on your journey to learning the language. So without further a due, let’s dive in! What’s the biggest problem with learning Japanese? Uh, everything! But it’s such a major undertaking that you need to become good in many different fields. My 3 biggest problems when I started learning were a lack of self discipline and motivation. A horrific memory. Working out where to begin. I more or less overcame the first one by reading philosophy books. And everyday when I would walk to and from school I would listen to an audio tape on self discipline. And I think over a period of weeks and months
that had an effect It was a bit weird it felt like I was brainwashing myself. “You will work hard!” “You will work really really hard!” As for my memory I bought a few good books on memorization techniques, my favorite of which I put in the description box below. And thirdly, fortunately I had lots of friends in Japan who were one step or two steps ahead of me who gave me lots of invaluable advice, particularly my anonymous friend: Canadian Guy. To summarize though I find the most difficult aspect of learning Japanese are personally traits Your own personal flaws You have to be very self-critical and work out where you’re going wrong. But that’s a really great skill to have! To quote my favorite English textbook: “Are you aware of your own defect?” Ask yourself that very question! So here are 4 casual interjections or phrases that are very common in Japan, particularly the first three you hear in every other sentence, but I’ve never been taught them in my textbooks. First is “Majide” which literally translates as “Seriously” And it’s used pretty much in the same way that we would use “Seriously” to express surprise or amusement. The second is “Uso” or “Uso Desho”, literally translates as “It’s a lie, you are telling a lie”. It’s used in the same way in English that we would say “No way!” again, to express surprise or disbelief. The third one is “Yabai”, which I struggled to translate but it’s usually to highlight something as being very good or very bad. And finally the phrase “Shouganai” which means “It can’t be helped” or there’s nothing that can be done. You hear it a lot in Japan, as people tend to have
a fatalistic perspective because Japan is a collectivist society, it’s a bit more difficult to feel empowered as an individual. And so people are more willing to give in to circumstance and accept things that are outside of their control, so you hear this expression “Shouganai” quite often. Yeah he is actually! I asked my friend Yuki the other day what he thinks about Benedict Cumberbatch and
here’s what he had to say on the matter: Eggs Benedict-Cumberbatch I don’t know if that sinister voice was necessary but two things that ruin my day the most are: first off, particles like “wo, de, to, ha, ga” At first when you learn Japanese they seem relatively simple as to what they are but the more you progress through learning the language the more complicated they become and the more difficult it becomes to know which one to use. So I get halfway through saying a sentence then I don’t know which particle it is and then I get confused the whole sentence is derailed and I start to cry there and then. The second thing is verb conjugations, so at the end of the verb in Japanese it changes depending on the tense of the verb and whether its causative or passive. So for example with the verb “to eat”: “taberu” Here’s all the list of endings that you’d find with that verb, it can be difficult in conversations sometimes to quickly and fluently say those conjugations. The more difficult ones like “-saseru”,
“to be made to do something” But still when you’re speaking it can be
difficult to get them out sometimes. I mean look at “taberareru” It took me like two years to be able to say that when I was first doing it it was like “oh, taberaberaberababaru” “I’m in trouble, I begin to like you.. You’re sarcastic. You’ve sat too close to my favorite YouTuber, Sharla in Japan And your accent is not American which I’m familiar with. Yet strangely enough I find myself liking you.” Wow what a wonderfully frank compliment, thank you Yoshi I think that’s the nicest comment I’ve had in 4 years of doing YouTube! And I’m glad that my proximity to Sharla, who’s also in Japan, has not stood between us! After all, Sharla and I have been at least this close Maybe that close. Once or twice now. Fun fact about Sharla of course: I’m actually ranked more than her on Famous Birthdays.com I think I’m around 1318 and she’s something like 4000 and something…something ridiculous. I mean you can hardly call that famous. Yes she may have more subscribers on YouTube, but I think we know which statistic is more impressive. So…yeah.. But, thanks again Yoshi I’m very grateful! All the learning resources and tools mentioned in this video can be downloaded, bought or watched anywhere in the world. The only hurdle that remains is being able to speak and use the Japanese you’re learning. And one of the reasons I didn’t really feel motivated to learn Japanese before I came to Japan is: I knew I wouldn’t be able to use the things I was learning there and then. It’s not commonplace to find a Japanese native speaker walking down the streets of rural England. Fortunately these days there’s lots of services and things online that you can use to get around the problem Last year in a video I mentioned a website called iTalki where you can find a tutor or a language partner to talk with, it’s so convenient and good that I actually used it for a time while I was in Japan! For example when I got here I started going to a Japanese language class in the local community center with various other learners of Japanese, and I had to sit there and wait for my turn, as we went around in a circle listening to people say: Uh it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t good, and I didn’t really learn or practice anything, and I don’t think classroom environments are very good when it comes to learning a language. But fortunately we live in a time where time and space no longer have to get in the way of learning a language you can pick a tutor from a list, schedule a time to talk to them and then have a Skype call wherever and whenever you want. And because no one has to spend their pocket money going to and from a community center or a classroom it’s cheaper as well! So if you live outside Japan or even inside Japan, and you want a tutor, I do recommend italki! Because I mentioned them in a video last year, and lots of viewers liked the service and gave excellent feedback italki have generously given vouchers to anyone watching this video. It’s not often you get things for free on this channel except laugh at my occasional misfortune. So if you do book a class with a tutor on italki, at the link in the box down below, you’ll get your second class absolutely free! It is pretty good and worth checking out for anyone looking to practice with a native speaker of Japanese. So, yeah, check it out! This isn’t black it’s a kind of purple isn’t it? Still yeah you’re right I do wear black shirts like, 90% of the time, the reason is it makes me look thinner, and I like to look thinner That said I did buy a pink shirt recently, so don’t worry I’m moving up in the world, the game has changed! First off it’s a lot easier to memorize 2200 characters if you’re able to write them. As well as read them. More importantly, if there’s a word or a character that you don’t know or can’t understand you can just take out your dictionary and draw it in. But to be able to do that more often than not, you need to know the stroke order and how to actually write it. So, it is very important! Get a Japanese boyfriend… …or girlfriend! I’ve already covered this topic in detail in a past video be advised it is presented by a hot-dog! But if you can get past the disgusting exterior, it is nonetheless an insightful hot-dog! So check that out, but there are quite a few videos on learning Japanese on this channel, and I’ve put them in all into a nice
convenient playlist just for you and you can find them at the link here: Actually I can’t be bothered to do that. A lot of people do that don’t they? Whoosh, and then the link comes up like theyre some kind of magic wizard but I can’t be bothered really. Just click on the card, there,
that’ll save me like 10 minutes of putting that effect in. Definitely! 20 minutes a day, for 300 years and you’ll be a master of Japanese and quite possibly dead! It depends on what stage you’re at
of learning Japanese. To give you an idea of how much time I put in, in the first year, I think I put in about 2 or 3 hours every day. And after 3 years of learning the language now, if I would to set aside 20 minutes a day to learn the language I would probably be able to learn 20 new words
or 3 items of grammar because I’m accustomed to the language and its pronounciation and its grammar structure already. The key thing is laying down those solid foundations which would be difficult to do on just 20min a day. Or think of it like a puzzle, when you start a puzzle it’s a fucking nightmare to work out where to begin. But the more you progress, the quicker it becomes to put the pieces into place and fortunately I lack a puzzle to aid this visual metaphore but I think you get the idea. Right at the start! As soon as you’ve learned Hiragana and Katakana. Start to learn how to draw out the characters and what they mean Don’t worry about pronunciation just yet as that takes quite a long time to learn. I think it’s better to learn them separate although there is some debate on this I’ve already made a video on this and I still stand by the technique that I described in the video. But if you’re struggling with Kanji, check it out! And hopefully if you learn the method and do it, you’ll find learning kanji as pleasant
as I have over the last few years. Go fuck yourself! Aaaah that’s pretty cool! If you’re not familiar with Akinator it’s one of those websites where it guesses who you’re thinking about. I think it asks like 50 questions
and it can guess who it is. “It took a long time, but I guess the most helpful answer was yes to..uh… Is your character chubby?” Brilliant! Go fuck yourself! I focused on lots of different aspects of Japanese everyday and because I’m a very visual person I’ve drawn it out, for vocabulary and grammar, I used Genki 1 and Genki 2, the textbooks, they’re really good. I recommend them. For Kanji I used “Remembering the Kanji” For memorization and reviewing which is really important if you wanna remember the things you’ve learned, I used Memrise and Anki And for listening and speaking I had various friends and colleagues to practice with,
as well as the tutor to ask questions to. On top of that I got hooked to a TV show
called “Kekkon Dekinai Otoko” or “The Guy Who Can’t Get Married” it’s a sitcom about a grumpy guy who lives alone. Doesn’t wanna get married, doesn’t really like people, and yeah it’s really really hilarious. Particularly as I can relate to the character. So yeah, highly recommend it! Make some Japanese friends! Get hooked to a Japanese anime or Tv Show Fall in love with someone who’s Japanese Use game-ification and try to set targets you have to hit every day like learning a 100 words. Focus on why you really need Japanese, is it to start business, is it to move to Japan? But get a big A3 sheet of paper and write out your vision or dream on that, you can stick it above your desk and can focus on it everyday as I tend to do. And you find your life tends
to gravitate towards that aim. As time goes by. But do those things and they’ll prevail, good luck! Yeah I have that, I do find it difficult to be
myself when speaking Japanese, it’s like my personality has to shift gears. First off that’s because I lack so much Japanese still, lots of idioms and colloquial expressions that I still don’t know. Hold me back from expressing myself fully in Japanese. The second reason is Japanese has lots of fixed expressions though, the whole language seems to revolve around
showing appreciation towards things, so when people have their first sip of beer they’ll say “oooh oishii” or “umai!” and when there’s something beautiful or pretty before someone they’ll say “oooh sugoi!” “Subarashi”, “it’s incredible, it’s amazing!” This is not an understatement you’ll hear this quite a lot and anyone that’s lived in Japan will know I’m not exaggerating. But I’d like to point out I’m not against it, I quite like the way Japanese people share appreciations towards everyday situations and objects and things. But, to me I struggle to do it, because it seems quite superficial, I find it difficult to point at things and go: Oooh it’s brilliant! Ooh it’s amazing! Oooh it’s delicious! I can’t do it! It’s especially difficult if you’re a grumpy sarcastic British person who spends most of their time winging about the weather, but I have found that as time as gone by this problem has become less of an issue. And hopefully you’ll find the same, the more you study! And that brings us to the end of the video, I hope you’ve found something of use in the last few minutes there’s been enough tools and resources
in this video to sink a small yacht. I’m off now to make a video about the new apartment,
a sort of tour guide video. As that’s what all vloggers in Japan do. It’s what we do we make videos about apartments. But thanks for watching guys,
I hope you enjoyed the video. I’ll see you next time, take care! Winking! Let’s winking!