[Easy English Blog] How I learned Japanese

When I started learning Japanese 18 years ago, I didn’t have a computer. There were no apps, or language learning websites. I studied the “old way”. I started with a textbook called Japanese for Everyone.

Here it is. It was published in 1990.

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It was a good book. It was easy to understand and I enjoyed the exercises. At the time, I wanted to take the Japanese Langauge Proficiency Test (JLPT) (日本語能力試験). My goal was 1st grade. So, I bought textbooks for 4th grade, then 3rd grade, then 2nd grade and then 1st grade. I passed 1st grade in 2003 after studying for three years.

I also used books called Basic Kanji and Intermediate Kanji. I wanted to be a translator, so reading and writing was important for me. I started to read children’s books, manga and newspapers. I read every day. Of course, I didn’t understand everything, but reading helped me so much.

At the time, I was teaching English at a language school. I studied for three hours every night after work, and for eight hours on my days off. I always went to the library to study. It was quiet, and I could concentrate.

I was also lucky because I had nice Japanese friends. They would let me practice conversation with them, and help me when I didn’t understand some things. I think that conversation practice is very important. When I spoke to my friends, I tried to use the new words I had learned from my textbook. This helped me to remember the words.

For listening, I used to listen to CDs while I slept! I put a Japanese CD in my portable CD player, and played the CD all night while I was sleeping. Sometimes, I left the TV on while I slept. Did this help? I don’t know, but I got a good score on the listening section of the 1st grade test.

Now, I study other languages, but I don’t make much progress. I think my motivation level is different. I live in Japan, so I need to speak Japanese. Motivation is so important when learning a language.

I continue to study Japanese. I am a translator, so I read Japanese every day. I also read Japanese novels and non-fiction books for fun. I said before that I like Matsumoto Seicho. I also like Nakamura Tempu. I have read most of his books. There are still kanji and words I don’t know. Studying a language is a lifelong hobby!

How do you study languages?

Heather@ I Talk You Talk Press