Being able to speak and hold a conversation in Japanese is often a major hurdle many learners struggle to overcome. But it’s an important one because once you start to speak Japanese more, your language skills will be much more complete.
It’s not always easy though, especially if you’re not living and studying in Japan. But there are always opportunities to practise – you just have to know how to find and utilise them. Read on for some practical tips on how to speak Japanese more as a Japanese language learner.
Make the most of class time
If you’re studying at a Japanese language school, whether in Japan or elsewhere, you have the perfect opportunity to speak Japanese more by simply going to your classes. Actively participate in your lessons, ask and answer questions and interact with your teachers, school staff and classmates in Japanese as much as you can.
If you’re not studying in Japan, this is one of the best chances you’ll get to speak Japanese in real life with actual Japanese speakers, so don’t waste the opportunity!
Go to language exchange Meetups
Check sites like the Meetup website to see if there are any Japanese language groups in your city. Or do some research in your area to see if there are any groups that have regular meetups. Going to these meetups is a great chance for you to practise your Japanese, as well as meet new people, especially native Japanese speakers.
Since many of these types of groups are conversation-focused, you’ll get to learn more about how to speak in a more natural way, rather than what you learn in a textbook. Beginner learners may not gain as much out of these conversation meetups at first since you’ll be limited in your language skills. But once you get your confidence and skill level up, you should find these opportunities much more worthwhile.
Consume more Japanese-language media
If you’re not doing so already, try to watch and listen to more Japanese-language media. For example, movies, television series, podcasts, the news, etc. This will help train your listening skills, confirm what you learn in your lessons and help you expand your vocabulary.
A great exercise is to mimic what you hear as you watch and jot down some notes if there are words that you don’t understand. But be aware that sometimes how characters in a show speak isn’t necessarily how Japanese people speak in real life. A prime example of this is anime – much of the language you’ll hear in anime isn’t actually what people use in reality. If you’re unsure, you can ask your teacher if you have one, or see if you can find answers by searching online.
Join a club
This is more relevant for those living in Japan – see if you can find a club or a group based on your hobbies and what you enjoy doing in your spare time. Since English probably won’t be the common language, you can practise your Japanese and make new friends while doing something you enjoy.
This might seem daunting for beginners, but it will pay off in the long-run in terms of helping you improve your language skills and integrating into Japanese society.
For those outside of Japan, you may be able to join a group near you that is run by Japanese people and/or focuses on Japanese cultural activities. For example, local Japanese societies may offer events and activities like taiko drumming and tea ceremonies for you to experience in your home country.
Get private lessons
If you’re looking for a more private way of practising your speaking, you could pay for a private tutor or do online Japanese language lessons. This way, you can have someone to practise with, who can also help you correct mistakes or offer feedback and suggestions.
Go! Go! Nihon partners with Nihongo Online School, which offers 1:1 online Japanese lessons with anyone in the world over Skype. The lessons are private and flexible, with each lesson costing 4,500 yen. Visit our website for more information.
For those who prefer to learn in a group, there is the option of GenkiJACS Online, which offers online group lessons. They were one of the first language schools in Japan to teach communicative Japanese for everyday life. With just 6 students maximum per class, you’re guaranteed to get highly interactive, inclusive and personalized lessons. Get more information on our website.
Do you have your own tried-and-true tips to speak more Japanese? Leave them in the comments below! Don’t forget to follow our blog for more insight into life in Japan and learning Japanese.