So you want to learn Japanese? Great. That’s the very first step in learning Japanese. So how do you learn Japanese? That’s also the very first question you’ll ask in learning Japanese.
After hearing this enough times, I realize people sometimes want a simple answer. An answer that they can easily comprehend without diving into too many overwhelming and possibly discouraging details from day 1.
So here it is. 10 simple steps to learn Japanese.
1. Figure and plan out your goals and why you are learning Japanese.
2. Learn how to read, write, and pronounce the kana (hiragana and katakana), which are the 2 basic alphabets of the Japanese language. Most people use romaji (Japanese written out into English characters) as a temporary aid.
3. Get yourself a few basic intro textbooks and learn the vocabulary, grammar, structure, and sentences.
4. Use a separate source to learn the kanji (the third massive alphabet), and continually work with those thousands of kanji for several months to years.
5. Find a good Japanese to English dictionary that matches your style. Eventually find yourself a good Japanese to Japanese dictionary.
6. Use some sort of efficient tool/program/technique (ex. Anki) to organize your learning information for easy ability to review over the long term.
7. Practice speaking and writing with yourself and others.
8. As you advance through all the beginner (and possibly intermediate textbooks), you eventually move away from “learning” materials like textbooks and on to “native” materials, such as movies, anime, manga, video games, books, etc.
9. Balance work vs. fun. You will have both. But you can find ways to make your work more fun.
10. Make Japanese a natural part of your life.
And there you have it. You are fluent.
Now ready for the details? Walkthrough!