Three Reasons Why You Should Learn Japanese And How To Do It As A Foreigner In Japan
Are you planning to move to Japan? Or are you already living in Japan and looking to engage with your local community by learning Japanese?
Would you like to begin studying Japanese, but are unsure where to start?
We've listed our top 3 resources to jumpstart your learning journey. We've also included the three most common reasons investing in Japanese learning is a good idea!
Why should you invest in learning Japanese?
First, let’s understand some benefits of learning Japanese as a foreigner living and working in Japan.
#1. Understand Japanese culture and customs
Learning Japanese provides a gateway for you to understand Japanese culture and customs.
Japan is rich in culture, history, and tradition; which the Japanese work hard to preserve and incorporate into present-day society. Japanese people are raised to follow many rituals and traditions, which they learn from their families and while attending social institutions such as schools, social clubs, and the workplace.
Hence, immersing oneself in Japanese culture is important for foreigners who did not grow up in Japan, but wish to live a fulfilling life there. To do this, understanding the Japanese language is key.
#2. Earn more job opportunities
Japan’s national language is Japanese. Even though English is included in the Japanese education system, it is not a compulsory subject. Also, Japanese people show loyalty to their language by mainly speaking Japanese in the workplace and at community events.
Therefore, if you'd like to participate in daily activities, work in Japanese firms, or enjoy traveling and socializing, it’s best to learn Japanese.
If you aren’t looking to learn how to write Kanji – one of the Japanese writing systems – and you’d rather focus on your speaking skills, you can utilize our recommended resources mentioned later in the article Making an effort to engage in conversation with the locals is always a good place to start.
#3 Build a gateway to the Japanese business market
Are you planning to start or bring a business to the Japanese market? Then we highly recommend you brush up on your Japanese language skills.
By being able to speak Japanese, even at a conversational level, you can show that you respect Japanese people and are willing to do the work to earn Japanese customers' trust. Having a strong Japanese language ability will help you find local business partners who are not fluent in English or other global languages.
In addition to this, having a phone call or a business meeting without always having to have an interpreter is convenient, and can often save you or your company money.
How do you get started?
# 1. Find a Japanese tutor
Having a Japanese tutor to guide you through the learning process helps you stay on track, practice your speaking skill, receive personalized advice, and stay motivated to achieve your goals.
An ideal Japanese tutor would be someone who can provide you with learning resources based on your needs and level.
For instance, if you are a beginner and are looking to learn conversational Japanese, look for a tutor who can explain vocabulary and grammar in simpler terms and in relation to how they can be used at a conversational level. Someone who can speak your preferred language to some extent is also ideal. As you're just starting, talking to a tutor who cannot communicate effectively with you can be a challenge and discourage you from continuing to learn Japanese.
You can use different channels to look for a tutor, such as online websites, language centers, or international centers.
If you’re looking for a tutor via the internet, some websites that we’d recommend are:
Reply - Online Japanese tutors and teachers for private lessons.
Italki - 1-on-1 lesson and language community.
Verbling - Find a teacher platform.
Amazing talker - Finding and matching students' & tutors' platforms.
#2. Japanese textbooks and online materials
In addition to having a private tutor, you can find a variety of textbooks and online learning resources available on the internet and in bookstores.
We've compiled a list of easy and simple textbooks for beginner learners:
Nihongo Alive - a real-life conversation Japanese textbook for beginning and intermediate learners (read more on Nihongo Alive book review).
Tobira 1 - a comprehensive textbook packed with information for beginner-level learners (read more on Tobira 1 book review).
Tofugu - A useful and reader-friendly blog about Japanese learning and culture.
If you’re a visual or an auditory learner, you may find videos and podcasts more interesting:
#3. Watch movies and anime
Japan is known for its anime industry. Manga (Japanese comic books), anime (Japanese cartoons), video games, and light novels are not just an integral part of Japanese pop culture, they’ve also become a major part of pop culture abroad.
Watching Japanese drama and anime can significantly boost your listening skills. However, in addition to listening, you can also gain a basic understanding of Japanese culture, slang, and how to use Japanese in daily life. They are a great source of learning if you prefer something less academic and more fun.
Read more if you’re interested in:
What is your favorite way of learning Japanese? Why would you want to study Japanese?
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