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JAPANESE classes near you: at home, at work, or online

Japanese classes near you: at home, at work, or online

Japanese pop culture has been making waves all around the globe since the 1990s when anime and manga gained worldwide popularity, and since then more and more people want to learn its language. If you count yourself as one of these Japanese-language enthusiasts, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of advantages to becoming bilingual. To begin with, you’ll be able to get closer to the Japanese-American community and learn about their culture much more deeply. What’s more, you’ll be able to make friends with people who are either native speakers or are learners just like you, so if you’re looking for a way of having a more active social life while expanding your horizons at the same time, starting a Japanese language course is one of the smartest things you can do this year. Lastly, if you’re planning on making a trip to Japan anytime soon, and you want to make the best out of your trip, achieving fluency is a great idea, as it will allow you to move around the country more independently and really get to know the locals without the need of a guide or a translator.

Now that you’re aware of the many benefits of speaking Japanese, you probably can’t wait to get started. However, before you do, take a look at this short guide and find out how to study this interesting language in a more effective way.

How Many People Speak Japanese in the World?

There are approximately 225 million people that speak Japanese around the world, and although most speakers are Japanese native speakers, there are also big communities of non-native speakers in countries like China, Indonesia, South Korea, and The United States. Although many Japanese people can speak English, especially in big cities like Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka, learning this beautiful language will allow you to truly connect with locals when you travel, and it will open up amazing opportunities to work in the country and truly feel at home there, so if your goal is to spend a gap year in Japan and you want to assimilate into the local culture, don’t waste any time and start learning Japanese today!

The Japanese Writing System

One of the most daunting aspects of learning Japanese is that you’ll have to master a writing system that’s completely different from the Roman alphabet we’re used to using in English and other European languages. As you might know, there’s not one Japanese alphabet, but actually, three different writing systems that work together: hiragana, katakana and kanji. Although you’ll need to learn all three of these systems, some are easier than others. To illustrate this, let’s explore what we use them for.

Hiragana and Katakana are two different systems that represent the 46 sounds of the Japanese language. Although you might think of them as alphabets, they are technically syllabaries, because they are used to represent sounds of syllables like ki or ra instead of sounds of individual letters. The main difference between these two systems is that we use hiragana to write words of Japanese origin like こんにちは (konnichiwa), which means hello, while katakana is used for loan words that come from other languages, like the word アメリカ which means America.

Unlike Hiragana and Katakana, Kanji is used to express a whole word or idea, so a single kanji character can mean one word. It takes a lot more time to learn them, and there are over 6,000 kanji that you can learn, but don’t worry, you only need to learn around 1,000 to understand most written Japanese materials. The good news is that if you learn Hiragana and Katakana first, you’ll be able to pronounce kanji characters and even know what they say, so mastering these two systems first will make it easier for you.

Learn Japanese Grammar

Japanese grammar can be challenging for English speakers, but if you learn some of its basic rules, you’ll understand it a lot more easily, so let’s take a look at them.

• In Japanese, verbs come last. This is because, unlike English, Japanese has a subject-object-verb sentence order, so, for example, if you want to say “I eat oranges” in Japanese, you would say “私わオレンを食べる”, which, if translated literally into English, would sound like “I oranges eat”.

• In order to really master verb conjugation in Japanese, you’ll need to learn how to differentiate the three different types of verbs that can be found in the language, which are る-verbs, う-verbs, and irregular verbs. る-verbs, as its name suggests, usually end in る, while う-verbs usually end in う, and the reason why you need to tell these two types of verbs apart is because their conjugation changes depending on their ending. On the other hand, irregular verbs in Japanese are not as challenging as they sound, because there are only two verbs that are irregular, する (suru, “to do”) and 来る (kuru, “to come”), and because they are so common, you won’t have a hard time learning how to conjugate them.

• Unlike English, which has three basic tenses that are the past, the present and the future, in Japanese there is no future tense. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about the future in Japanese, but to do so, you’ll need to use words like “tomorrow” or “next year”.

Useful Japanese Phrases

If you want to travel to Japan soon, and you don’t have enough time to actually learn the language, take a look at these useful phrases that will help you get by more easily.

English Version Romanji Japanese Version
Yes hai はい
No iie いいえ
Please O-negai shimasu おねがいします
Thank you arigatou ありがとう
You’re welcome Dōitashimashite どういたしまして
Excuse me sumimasen すみません
I am sorry Gomennasai ごめんなさい
Do you speak English? Eigo o hanasemasu ka えいごをはなせますか
I don’t understand Wakarimasen わかりません

Are you ready to master Japanese? If so, don’t waste any more time and start learning at Listen & Learn. Whether you want to expand your professional horizons, travel to Japan or need help preparing for your exams, contact us today, and we’ll help you find the perfect language course that’s completely tailored to your goals and interests.


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