Learning the Japanese language is no more, nor no less difficult, than learning any number of other different foreign languages. Now when it comes to learning a given method that works best for a certain language, the methodologies are as individual as the person(s) who are learning it. One prevailing fact, which is a reliable constant when it comes to learning any form of language, is to know ahead-of-time what mistakes not to make during the initial language learning process.
Listed below are five of the most common learning mistakes that new students of the Japanese language tend to encounter:
1. Doing it alone
There is very rarely a self-taught western linguist fluent in Japanese. The complexities of the ancient language make it anti-conducive to self-teaching. Compared to many other European languages, Japanese has very little to relate to. The formal and informal variations that are so important culturally with Japanese are hard for native English speakers to initially grasp, along with its lack of 2nd and 3rd person pronouns that are so prevalent in western languages.
2. Ignoring Japanese Culture
The Japanese language is deeply steeped in culture and tradition. It is practically impossible to ignore its people’s way of perceiving daily life, and still properly grasp its language. There is a strict air of cultural politeness that is especially manifested in its language, knowing when and where to adhere to its impeccable rules of manners when speaking Japanese, is paramount to speaking it correctly.
3. All I need are books and videos
Learning Japanese is a very “hands on” language to master. Books and videos are good for the basics and fundamentals, but sooner rather than later, one must put what they have learned so far to the test with diligent practice, by actually speaking and interacting in Japanese with people who speak the language fluently. They are the ones that can instantly and accurately point out to you where you are going wrong, and more constructively, what you are doing right.
4. Obsessing over writing kanji before perfecting spoken language.
Focusing on Japan’s written language before being somewhat proficient in the spoken aspects of Japanese first is like trying to make an omelet without any eggs. Wait until you go to the market to buy your eggs before attempting to make an omelet. Japanese script is a combination of two systems, Japanese and Chinese characters, with three different scripts intertwined. The number of Kanji needed to efficiently write in Japanese is 2,136. They usually have to be learned one by one in a Japanese language course, and their complexities are best left to after one learns some proficiency in spoken Japanese.
5. Perceiving that learning a foreign language is work
Having the right mindset when learning a second language is paramount to how your brain is going to react when processing all of that foreign conceptual data in a positive and productive manner. The linguistic journey should be interesting, adventurous, and mentally stimulating in a way that far outshines a chore that needs to be accomplished before you can have fun. The normal entertaining things that one usually does in their off-time: Reading, music, talking with friends, or even watching a movie is all transferable when doing them in Japanese. There is no better way to learn a new language than to make it part of your normal enjoyable routine. Thinking about learning Japanese in the same context as going to work for the day, just simply won’t work.
This brings us back to the #1 mistake that most foreign language students run into – Thinking that they can go it alone when it comes to learning a second language. The professionals at the Language Centers can get you on the path to the right language course for you. Simply in order to get started on your new language adventure today.