When I requested to learn Japanese, to fulfill my foreign language credit in high school, my teachers just laughed at me. They said Japanese was too hard to learn, that it would take to long, and offered a different language for me to learn. Since then, I have set out to prove those teachers wrong.
Today I want to explore some common myths and misconceptions about learning Japanese, in the hope of helping anyone else that may be thinking about learning Japanese.
Myth #1- Japanese Is Impossible for English Speakers to Learn
Learning Japanese will be harder for some people than others. Each of us learns differently, some learn better through reading, some prefer audio courses, and some of us choose a combination of reading, writing, and audio using interactive online courses. From the English speaker’s perspective, it will be hard because of the grammar differences. However, pronunciation and conjugation, which are normally the hardest things to deal with in a European language, are easy! What makes it harder is the writing, but nothing is impossible.
Myth #2 – All Japanese Words Sound Like Gibberish
Japanese is not a bunch of gibberish. Indeed, there are very few sounds, and all of them are very manageable. There is only one final consonant, five vowels, and a small number of consonants. These simple sounds make learning Japanese easier. If you have no mouth defects, you should be able to pronounce all Japanese words sufficiently.
Myth #3 – Learning Japanese Takes a Lifetime
Learning a language is a life long commitment. Think about it. Do you really know EVERY English word? That said, if it takes you 10 years to learn Japanese and you’ve been trying hard all that time, you are either being facetious. I heard this one guy that has stayed in Korea for 8 years and sounds just like a native speaker. But, it didn’t take him all those 8 years to get that way. Even without total geographical immersion, it still should not take more than 4 years to become really competent.
Myth #4 – Learning Japanese From Anime Will Make You a Great Japanese Speaker.
Some people think that simply listening to Japanese for hours and hours can immerse you in enough of the Japanese language to make you fluent. However, without speaking, writing and reading in Japanese as well, you are just not going to be fully immersed. You may not even be able to catch the words right without having a script in front of you, especially if you are a beginner.
Myth #5 – Japanese Can Only Be Learned In A Formal Classroom Environment
Wrong! Just like any language, you can learn it on your own. The internet abounds with great resources like imabijapaneselearningcenter.com and Rocket Japanese Language Software. A classroom is a metaphor for any environment that helps facilitate learning. Your car, home, computer, or ipod can be your classroom!
The Key To Learning Any Language, Including Japanese
If you want to learn Japanese, or any other foreign language, for that matter, they key is consistent practice. Whether you choose to learn Japanese, or another language if you don’t practice writing it, speaking it, listening to it, and comprehending it, you’ll never learn it.
What other myths have you heard about learning Japanese? Leave your comment below.
Photo by: Xesc Arbona