Do you want to learn how to speak Japanese fluently, but don’t know where to start and what to do? Or are you looking for another insights to strengthen your Japanese learning process to make it even more effective?
Then, this article is all you need. We’ re going to give you 11 simple steps you can take to learn how to speak Japanese with confidence. While you might find it a bit difficult at first due to the differences with your first language, soon after starting this learning process, you can find that learning Japanese is not as difficult as you imagine.
Once you learn the basic skills of Japanese, learning the next steps will become even more fun.
- 1. Learn how to pronounce hiragana, katakana and kanji
- 2. Learn simple Japanese conversations
- 3. Read out loud
- 4. Find the resource to listen
- 5. Write and read what you have learned
- 6. Shadowing
- 7. Join Japanese conversation class
- 8. Sing Japanese songs
- 9. Find the friends
- 10. Speak with confidence
1. Learn how to pronounce hiragana, katakana and kanji
The 3 essential systems that every Japanese learner must know are hiragana (平仮名/ひらがな), katakana (片仮名/カタカナ) and kanji (漢字/かんじ) as well.
As the first step, you can simply start by learning hiragana. Learn how to pronounce each hiragana character. Hiragana will also help you to read the Kanji. Japanese sentences are generally made up of hiragana and kanji, and also katakana.
Please click on the links below to find out more about these 3 important characters as well as romaji which is also used in colloquial Japanese. As long as you can consistently repeat it, you will soon master it.
2. Learn simple Japanese conversations
In order to speak Japanese, you need to find resources that you can read, watch or listen to. The vocabulary used in the readings, videos or music, for example, can be repeated and used as a practice for speaking Japanese.
Although in practice, the written language and the spoken language in Japanese are different in some situations. However, the basic vocabulary and grammar are not much different.
Especially for Japanese speaking practice, you can start by learning how to have a Japanese conversation first. Do you like the process of learning by watching videos? If yes, then we would like to recommend you to learn Japanese conversation with Erin below.
There are also conversation scripts that can help you understand the Japanese vocabulary in each situation in the scene. This way, you can imagine how it would be used in real situations.
3. Read out loud
One trick that will help you remember Japanese vocabulary quickly is reading aloud. Apart from helping your memory, this will help you to check your pronunciation as well. This will have a very good effect on improving your Japanese speaking skills.
If you have a tutor who is a native speaker, this will also help you. You can have your tutor to check your pronunciation. Then, what can you read to practice Japanese? You can read articles, books and news in Japanese.
For beginners who are just learning Japanese, reading aloud provides several other benefits. For example, it builds familiarity with new Japanese vocabulary. Thus, it helps your brain to process the vocabulary and the meaning at the same time.
4. Find the resource to listen
Listening is the very first perceptive ability that develops in every person. Listening improves your ability to understand and communicate better.
This is the case in Japanese language learning. Try to listen to a lot of information about Japanese through Youtube, Podcasts and other platforms. Listen to various topics regularly and repeatedly. This will help you understand Japanese quickly.
Listening to these media repeatedly and continuously will make your Japanese speaking skills better and more natural.
Listening skills are also one of the aspects tested in the JLPT exam, so honing your listening skills is really important.
5. Write and read what you have learned
Have you ever heard that writing can improve your study performance significantly?
This was certainly true for me when learning Japanese. The process of writing word by word and even character by character kanji really helped me to remember them well. I can directly conceptualize each lesson. Then, the process of digesting the lessons to grasp them became faster and easier.
That way, the process of learning Japanese becomes very pleasant.
If you want to improve your Japanese speaking skills, don’t forget to write down every lesson you learn. This will really help you to remember and store the lessons you have learned.
Have you ever heard of the term “Shadowing?”
Yep, this is one of the practical tricks and was recommended by my teacher at JASSO-Tokyo in the past. Shadowing is imitating the speech of another person (a native Japanese speaker) and repeating what they said after 1-5 seconds of them starting to speak.
Shadowing really helps us to concentrate on practicing good and accurate articulation in Japanese pronunciation. In addition to articulation, the shadowing technique can also help you to practice intonation like a native speaker when speaking Japanese. This technique will really help you to achieve a beautiful and correct level of fluency.
What is the step-by-step of practicing shadowing? You can start as below:
- Find an audio/video to practice with.
- Listen to the audio/video at least once. This is to acclimatize yourself to the native speaker’s accent, rhythm and intonation.
- Start the shadowing exercise by repeating what the native speaker says as quickly and accurately as possible. Just follow the native speaker’s voice and speaking style.
- Record yourself and listen
- Compare and assess your own shadowing recording with the native speaker. Then, find the flaws and improve them.
Now, please give it a try! Then, don’t forget to share your experience practicing shadowing in the comments section below.
7. Join Japanese conversation class
Although you can find countless Japanese speaking practice materials offline and online and practice on your own, attending a conversation class is essential.
And these conversational activities are always a must-have at any Japanese language school. In fact, there are even Japanese language schools that specialize in Japanese conversation-only courses.
Because this is your gateway to winning company interviews, Japanese speech competitions, qualifying for company scholarships in Japan, getting part-time work opportunities in Japan and various other golden opportunities.
Therefore, don’t forget to find and join a Japanese conversation class. Wait for our recommendation of the best Japanese tutors and native speakers for Japanese conversation classes.
8. Sing Japanese songs
According to recent studies, music can stimulate parts of the brain and even improve memory in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. The melody in the music can help us to remember and record every vocabulary we hear. This happens by involving both the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
Therefore, listening to and singing Japanese songs is highly recommended. Singing Japanese songs can train your fluency, help you remember and retain the vocabulary, sentences and meaning of each new Japanese word in the song very quickly.
In addition to having fun learning, you can also refresh your spirit for activities while listening to Japanese songs.
Here are the best and most popular Japanese songs that you have to listen to!
9. Find the friends
In learning a foreign language, including Japanese, we need to engage in meaningful interactions. Interaction can be used to evaluate the implementation of the Japanese language materials that we have learned. Therefore, we will need friends as interlocutors.
If you can find a native Japanese speaker friend or a friend from a community who also loves Japanese, you can get various benefits that will certainly support the performance of your Japanese language skills.
Studies have shown that learning together with a friend leads to a higher motivation to learn and better retention. Sharing tips, tricks and experiences will also help you learn Japanese better. And this can only be achieved by studying Japanese with friends.
But how can you find a Japanese study partner? Don’t worry. You can find your Japanese study partner just by joining an active community of Japanese language learners on social media or well-known chat/video applications such as Discord.
There, you can simply find servers or communities that actively share various Japanese language materials and have a regular conversation class schedule for all members. It’s very interesting and definitely a must for you!
10. Speak with confidence
One of the other contributing factors to the Japanese learning process is self-confidence. Confidence will help you to communicate clearly. There is no need to be quick in pronouncing every vocabulary phrase. All you need to do is to try to make your pronunciation clear and understandable to the other person.
In the beginning, pronunciation may be difficult and stuttered. However, if you can try to be confident and sure of what you want to say, then you can speak more smoothly and clearly. On the other hand, if you are not confident, your pronunciation, intonation and articulation will certainly sound unclear and at worst can be subject to misunderstanding.
Even though you may mispronounce the vocabulary in each sentence, if you are confident, the other person can still hear you clearly and will give you feedback to correct your mistakes. There is no need to be embarrassed in this case, pronunciation mistakes like this are very common.
Again, try to speak confidently so that your pronunciation is clear. Remember, even if it’s wrong or inaccurate, at least you’re not making your interlocutor guess what you’re saying which will lead to misunderstandings.
There you go, the 10 simple steps to learn how to speak Japanese. As a reminder, it’s worth reviewing these 10 very simple steps. What are they?
- Learn how to pronounce hiragana, katakana and kanji
- Learn simple conversations
- Read out loud
- Find the resource to listen
- Write and read what you have learned
- Do shadowing
- Join Japanese conversation class
- Sing Japanese songs
- Find the friends
- Speak with confidence
What do you think? Which step have you done and how did it go? Please share your experience in the comment section below and see you in the next article.