Learning Japanese

You may be wondering why I want to learn Japanese. You might conclude that, since I watch and love anime, I want to learn Japanese because of anime. INCORRECT!

What some of you may not know about me is that I love languages. My first language was French and I started learning my first words of English in Kindergarten (when I was 5 years old). Ever since, I’ve had a fondness for learning new languages. When given the opportunity in high school, I took a German class. German was never on my list of languages to learn since it’s not extremely relevant to my life. I did love that class nonetheless because I get a satisfaction in knowing I can carry on basic conversations in a language I’ve never conversed in before.

For more information about why I believe learning languages is something everyone should do and to see a few links I’ve gathered over the Internet in my pursuit to learn Japanese, please click on “continue reading” or the title of this post.So why am I so interested in Japanese, if it’s not just to watch anime? Clearly I must have a reason to learn Japanese, since I just mentioned I didn’t plan on learning German.

  1. The writing system looks awesome. 火事で死ぬ移動します。Isn’t that the best-looking “go die in a fire” you’ve ever seen? Okay, maybe it doesn’t really say that since I used Google Translator, but you get my point. I love the look of Kanji (which is originally from Chinese) and the two Japanese syllabaries: Hiragana and Katakana.
  2. Pronunciation is easy. No really. All the syllables always sound the same and there’s only around 46 to remember. Of course, there are minor differences in how to pronounce them based on dialect and whether to pronounce the u in su (as in desu). But they’re really minor differences.
  3. Sentence structures are different from English. And different is good. It’s nothing too confusing and it’s great to exercise the brain.
  4. Communication. There is a lot of Japanese influence in our world. Remember Japan the next time you ride in your Toyota, Honda, Suzuki, or Subaru, to name a few. The next time you pull out your Nintendo or play Pokemon. Zelda, Mario, Donkey Kong. Or how about watching Yu-Gi-Oh, Akira, or Ghost in the Shell? Playing music on your Yamaha instruments… As I’ve said, Japan has a lot of influence in our world. Learning Japanese would be useful when reading manuals that are solely in Japanese. Or watch anime before it’s been translated, or play games that can take a very very long time to get translated, if ever. Each new language learned helps remove limitations on what you can or cannot do.

Those are reasons I want to learn Japanese specifically, but this can apply to any language, for the most part. Learning languages is a great way to expand your knowledge of the world and to make new friends and get access to material you wouldn’t normally have access to. It also gives you nice places to go without fearing lack of communication.

So now that we’ve established why I want to learn Japanese, how will I go about doing it? I’ve looked into it a lot and found some very useful information pertaining to learning Japanese.

First and foremost is this very helpful guide. It was written by a guy called Tae Kim and it seems like a fantastic guide to learning Japanese. His introduction explains clearly how he’s going to be teaching the basics of Japanese and how his guide is different from others. I highly recommend his guide to anyone interested in learning Japanese!

Next I need to mention the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). It’s a semi-annually held test to measure your proficiency in Japanese. There are test centers all over the world. There are currently five levels of tests you can take, from N5 being the least proficient to N1 being the most proficient. The official JLPT site can be found here. This is a great way to find out how your learning has been going, as well as getting an official certificate.

There is a list of Kanji that a ministry in Japan says must be used in publications, and memorizing these will greatly benefit anyone wanting to learn Japanese. The list currently holds 2136 Kanji, and they are known as the Joyo Kanji. 1006 of them are called Kyouiku Kanji, and they are taught in elementary school (grade 1 to 6). The rest are taught in secondary school if I’m correct. Googling Kyouiku Kanji or Joyo Kanji will bring up useful lists with descriptions and pronunciations, etc.

As always, thank you for reading. If you’re interested in learning Japanese, I hope my post has given you valuable information. See you all next time!


3 thoughts on “Learning Japanese

  1. bigbrother

    Nice. I’ve always been fascinated by the German language, but other then Ist Hier and Hier Ist, I can’t remember anything from the learning tapes I had borrowed at the library.

    It’s great to learn new languages indeed, the immensity of documents not translated found on the web too. I’ll just take french for example: alot of my friends only speak french, and when they Google something, often they fall on too few sources or non at all. If they knew english, they’d have so much to fall onto. So imagine THREE languages (or more). Good luck!

  2. bigbrother

    Sorry for bumping posts:
    But, just between you and I (and the whole world wide web), you are justifying yourself and only learning it for anime, right? :P

    1. Zalgryth Post author

      This is a long overdue reply – but the answer to your question is complicated.

      There is no doubt that anime is a big influence in me learning Japanese. I quite enjoy anime, as well as manga, light novels, and music from Japan. They may have sparked my interest, but afterwards I could say that even without those, I would still choose to learn Japanese for the reasons above. It is a fascinating language.

      So, in response to “only learning it for anime” – the answer is no. But I do have watching anime as one of my many goals in learning the language, which is nothing but a benefit when learning any language.

      As for this post, I have since taken learning Japanese a bit more seriously and have found resources better than the ones I mentioned here. But that is for another post for another day.


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