Today one of my Twitter followers asked me, “How did you learn Japanese?” That’s quite a big topic, of course, but I thought I’d offer some suggestions. I learned Japanese at San Diego State University, and I certainly think a formal study program is a good way for anyone to approach nihongo. That said, there are many alternative ways to study a language these days, including some innovative books and other items we sell as well as online study methods — heck, you could even start a Twitter account and tweet in Japanese and see what feedback you get. Another bit of advice is to approach the language from many different directions. In my own case, I watched anime (this was back in the days when it was never subtitled or dubbed), read manga in Japanese, listened to and translated JPOP songs, memorizing the songs for singing at karaoke, and kept a diary in Japanese. Another good suggestion is to find a rival. Back when I had a Chinese friend who was taking level 1 of the Japanese Language Ability Test (JLPT) at the same time as I was, and I made up my mind that I was going to beat her score. For a white guy like me, this was quite a goal, since Chinese people have a natural affinity for kanji (they can read nearly anything written in Japanese using the characters, although they can’t always tell how it’s supposed to be pronounced). Having someone to “beat” helped my Japanese studies and pushed me to get a higher score on the test.
Want to learn Japanese? We have some suggestions.