In preparation for our upcoming trip to Japan, I started learning how to speak Japanese. It’s been 2 months exactly since then, so I thought I will share some of my thoughts, and my progress.
My #1 Tool
Although I have had a few small gaps of a day or two, I have been able to keep up the habit! It is largely thanks to my effort in the beginning to make it easy to pick up, and to change my mindless browsing time into learning time.
Instead of loading up the browser or email when I pick up my phone, I try to get myself in the habit of loading the Memrise app instead! Even if it’s just 5-10 minutes, that’s enough to learn quite a bit. The daily habit is more important than a single concerted effort, and every minute of learning adds up.
If you’re looking for a way to learn a language, Memrise is the tool I’d recommend, after having tried out several other options. The app is easy to use and has extensive courses, so you can learn it all in one place.
Another Great Tool
I would also recommend Earworms for starting to learn to speak a language. It’s an audio learning tool that utilises repetition and rhythm to help the words stick in your mind. It’s an excellent place for absolute beginners to start, as it will immerse you in the language so that you can get more of a feel for how it is spoken.
The downside to Earworms is that there are only a couple of levels so far, so you will need to use another learning tool once you have finished with it (like Memrise). I still would recommend it as it definitely kick-started my learning, and the words really stuck with me.
My Progress So Far
So in the past few months I have been learning on a near-daily basis, with around 5-10 minutes per day.
In total I have learned…283 words! I am quite happy with this number, and I feel that I have made great progress in beginning to link sentences together.
So far I can:
- Count to 100
- Greet someone formally or informally, and based on the time of day
- Say goodbye
- Say where I’m from or ask where they are from
- Say that I speak English, or a little bit of Japanese
- Go to a restaurant, request a menu and order from it, and request a bill
- Get in a taxi and ask them to take me somewhere
- Say I am hungry (very useful, I’m sure haha)
- Describe some things (“tall”, “short”, “cool”, “smart”, “big”, “small”, “delicious”)
It may not be the super-fast learning that other people can undertake, but for a few minutes a day, I am so happy to have reached this level. By the time we leave for Japan, I think I will be ready for almost anything!