Advantages Of Learning A Foreign Language At A Young Age Why Japanese Isn’t As Hard As It Looks

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Why Japanese Isn’t As Hard As It Looks

Just mention to native English speakers that you’re learning Japanese and you’ll get raised eyebrows, looks of amazement, and comments about how hard it is. You’ll always hear stories about how they wanted to learn Japanese, but gave up when they realized how insurmountable it was. While learning Japanese as a second language is certainly not easy, it is not an impossible task.

There are a few common areas that are considered particularly intimidating for a new student of Japanese. Areas that look like giant mountains to climb from below. The first is written language. Standard Japanese is written using Chinese characters called kanji, over forty thousand of which are infuriatingly similar. Compared to English, with a paltry twenty-six character requirement, it seems rather complicated. Another fact is that Japanese has completely different languages ​​for formal and informal speech and different vocabularies for men and women. Prospective students are often discouraged when they learn these and other facts about the language. But tackling Japanese in small doses and armed with a few facts can be easier than you think. Like any language, Japanese can be divided into four learning areas: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Although there is considerable overlap between them, we can consider each of these areas separately.

Many beginning students claim that they only want to speak and understand spoken language and that reading and writing using the kanji system is too difficult. Forty thousand characters seem beyond their grasp. However, the Japanese use a number of written alphabet systems in addition to kanji. This may seem like it makes things more difficult, but it actually makes things easier. It is called the basic alphabet that young Japanese children learn hiragana. Hiragana is a phonetic system of only forty-six characters, each character representing a spoken sound in Japanese. Every sound that can be pronounced in Japanese can be written in hiragana, and the entire hiragana system can be (and often is) learned in a matter of weeks. To make things even easier, each hiragana character has only one sound for each letter, not many pronunciations you’ll find in English (such as the constructions gh in hard and though comes to mind or worse e in heart, beard and i heard). One of the main benefits of learning hiragana early when learning Japanese is the great confidence students gain from being able to read and write basic Japanese sentences. By first learning the simpler hiragana system, the student can quickly reach this level. This is exactly how Japanese children learn to write in school. Beginning with hiragana, young students slowly add kanji to their written lexicon over several years. Even local Japanese high school students are required to learn about two thousand kanji characters by the time they graduate, far short of the terrifying forty thousand.

The availability of written material on the Internet is a rich resource for the student of Japanese. Due to Japan’s technologically savvy culture, and compared to many other languages, Japanese is quite common on the Internet. This makes it much easier for students to find inexpensive reading practice materials and teaching aids. japanese manga (comic books) are available online and are a popular way for beginners to learn casual written Japanese. Since many manga are aimed at young readers, they are written often FuriganaCombination of kanji with small hiragana characters written above to make learning kanji easier.

Fast-paced conversation in Japanese may seem impossible to decipher, but Japanese speech is simpler in many ways than spoken English. The English language consists of more than thirty vowels and twenty consonant sounds. These are combined in various ways to create the hundreds of syllables we use every day. Spoken Japanese uses about a hundred syllables, making pronunciation much easier and less ambiguous. One of the most amazing things about Japanese grammar is that a complete, grammatically correct sentence can be constructed using only one word, the verb. The rest can be taken out of context. This can be used to great advantage by a new language learner. Much of spoken communication in Japanese is understood by meaning and context; in everyday speech, sentences are often interrupted, both subjects and particles are dropped, and meaning is gathered by inference. If approached correctly, this can be a great asset to a foreign speaker. By using a smaller portion of the language as descriptive words and being economical in speech, it is possible to convey meaning with almost native syntax.

But the student will be called upon to listen more than to speak, and developing listening and comprehension skills may be the most challenging of the four areas. Because of the way Japanese verbs are conjugated, often a verb used in one tense or mode will sound completely different from the same verb said elsewhere. It’s really no different from English (and many other languages), and Japanese verb conjugations follow almost invariable rules. All verbs are divided into two types: from iodine and from within, and follow the rules for each type. Unlike English, these conjugation rules can be learned, which allows you to conjugate verbs that you have never heard of before. Conjugation in English seems like random chaos at best! For an enlightening example of English craziness, read the poem “Chaos” by Gerard Nolst Trenite (also known as “English is a difficult thing”). It can be experienced through Japanese TV shows, movies, music, and other media that come out of the country. As with written material, the modern student of Japanese will never run out of things to learn about their subject. listen.

Finally, Japanese has different levels of politeness that correspond to conversational, polite, and honorific conversations. Many newcomers to Japanese are overwhelmed by the formality of speaking in social situations and worry about using the correct honorifics, but even native Japanese have trouble consistently remembering the correct etiquette. In Japan, it is called polite speech keigo and is a source of much confusion for both foreign and native speakers. Although it can be complex at an advanced level, keigo in general is reminiscent of military protocol in the West. Superiors should be addressed as “sir” or “ma’am” and certain ranks and positions carry certain speech and manners. It can certainly be difficult to learn, but it is not impossible.

There are several other reasons why Japanese is easier for non-native learners than English: English has hundreds of irregular verbs, while Japanese only has two; Japanese has no singular or plural, the same word is used for both; Japanese verbs are not conjugated for person and number (one of the more complex aspects of English grammar), etc. While learning any language as a non-native requires commitment, Japanese is not particularly complicated. The language has a logical structure that is quickly apparent to intermediate students, so learning new vocabulary and grammar becomes second nature. Don’t let the myth put you off as a potential Japanese speaker. Mastering this ancient and cultural language is within the reach of any disciplined and determined student.

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