It doesn’t matter how well you did in school, it is entirely within your reach to learn another language, and if you’re looking for the best way to learn Japanese, then this is the post for you. In this post, I’m going to outline a few tactics that work for most people across most languages.
What works for you is not the same as what works for someone else. In fact, what worked for you in school may not be the best way for your mind to take in a new language. However, it is a very good indicator of what methods are most likely to result in success in learning a language.
When it comes to the best way to learn Japanese, you need to first define your preferred learning style. Learning style refers to the method used to teach a subject. There are four main styles:
- Visual – you learn more from what you see
- Auditory – you learn more based on what you hear
- Kinesthetic – you learn more based on doing something
- Tactile – you learn more based on touching
While most people actually work best with a combination of these styles, one approach tends to be more efficient than the others in helping you learn. You should know which method works best for you so that you can learn faster and retain more. Of course, in my opinion, the best way to learn Japanese is to combine all of these styles to different extents.
Language Learning for Each Style
The following ideas gives you tips to help you learn based on your most efficient learning style.
As the kind of person who prefers to look at a book rather than to listen to it, you like to be able to see examples and proof. You are also in a large majority – roughly 65% of the people around the globe are visual learners. Pictures, maps, and visual representations of what you are learning boost your learning and memory retention. So when it comes to Japanese, if you’re a visual learner, the best way to learn Japanese might involve familiarizing yourself with the Japanese character sets.
You probably have a harder time when you are expected to learn without visual aids, such as lectures in which the professor talks for the entire hour with few or no visual supports.
If this sounds like you, there are several things that will come more easily to you by using these tips.
Learn vocabulary first. You can associate images and pictures with the words, making it much easier to grasp the meaning behind words. As you listen to people talk, you will be able to pick up on the words faster, making it easier to follow the grammar (which is much harder to create visuals for).
Make time for visual reviews often throughout the day. The quicker you retain words, the easier it will be to hear them in conversation. Spend a lot of time learning grammar through books. Japanese grammar is very different from English grammar, so one of the best ways to learn Japanese is to understand its underlying structure.
Rote memorization is probably easier for you with all of the visuals. It means you can make time for learning over the course of the day, so make the most of technology and flashcards to make progress.
Reading and writing are far easier for you, so use that to really study vocabulary and grammar by using them.
The biggest draw back to being a visual learner working on a language – language is largely a spoken medium. Learning grammar later will mean it takes you much longer to be able to speak because knowing grammar is essential. It will be a lot of work, but really making the most of your learning style will push you along faster than if you try to learn in a way that doesn’t work for your learning style.
If you can sit in a class and soak up what the professor is saying and find that it makes perfect sense (even without visual aids), you are probably an auditory learner. You listen to books in the car and know exactly what is going on in the story. So when it comes to learning Japanese, there are some very obvious benefits to being an auditory learner taking on a new language – you can hear it all the time and really soak it up. Here are the learning tips that will help you maximize the benefits of your learning style.
Find audio programs that will give you something to listen to every spare opportunity you get. They will give you vocabulary and grammar listens while you are driving home.
Make sure that you choose programs that emphasize grammar as much as vocabulary. Many programs focus on vocabulary and short-change grammar. This can be detrimental as your learning will be word heavy but content thin.
Listen to radio programs and podcasts as soon as you know the basics of the language. You will be able to start learning more from conversations about how to apply what you have learned.
The downside is that you will be a lot weaker when it comes to reading and writing the language. You are going to have to work that into your schedule, and you will need to really focus. If you can pair it with a tape or auditory information, you are much more likely to retain what you learn during these sessions.
Kinesthetic and Tactile Learners
These two learning styles are really similar, and many people don’t necessarily understand the difference. The kinesthetic learner needs to move, usually it is best when it is full body activity. The tactile learner does fine as long as touch is involved – they are usually your best note takers in class.
If you are the kind of person who learns best by doing, then you are in the right section. Active learners are not as common as visual and auditory learners, but when given this approach, they typically learn much faster than from the other learning styles, at least when it comes to languages.
This is because learning a language requires you to be active. If you are a kinesthetic or tactile learner and you use that style to learn a language, you are already engaged from day one. Everyone else is soaking up the vocabulary and grammar while you are actively using it. As they start to use the language outside of books and tapes, you are already well on your way to talking with native speakers.
Use that to your advantage.
If you are a kinesthetic or tactile learner, then the best way to learn Japanese is by action. For example, you might want to act out dialogue and discussions in a way that is natural or memorable. This will help you get the meaning of words and grammar more quickly. If you need someone to work with, check out meetups, Facebook groups, or use CitySocializer. You can find others who are learning the language so that you can work together.
Find a native Japanese speaker who is willing to help you. This ensures you aren’t reinforcing incorrect information. You will also be able to start interacting in a way that is more natural early in your learning process, taking care of being self-conscious before it becomes a block.
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