Read and Write Better in Japanese: 3 Fun & Creative Ideas

Reading and writing in Japanese is notoriously difficult. Students of Japanese must learn three completely different alphabets, including an astronomically high number of kanji characters, which are infamous for being especially complex and hard to memorize. Faced with such a daunting task, it’s easy to avoid reading and writing at all costs.

But mastering your Japanese reading and writing skills – yes, including kanji! – isn’t as hard as you might think. Indeed, there are several engaging and even fun ways that you can practice reading and writing. Not only will this vastly improve your overall understanding of Japanese, but nothing will impress your Japanese friends and colleagues quite like a foreigner who correctly uses kanji.

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1. Watch movies and anime with subtitles

Watching Japanese-language movies and anime is a great way to get exposed to how people actually use the language in realistic dialogues. However, you can utilize movies for more than just listening practice. Indeed, turn on your subtitles, and suddenly you can practice your reading, too. Watching movies with subtitles is an especially useful way to work on your reading skills as you can easily associate certain texts with their corresponding sounds, which is an excellent way to optimize memorization.

For a fun writing task, try pausing your movie or anime mid-scene and writing down how you think the scene will progress. This will give you a chance to exercise your creativity and get in some writing practice.

2. Write your own J-Pop songs

J-Pop has gained international fame, and its catchy tunes are listened to by millions worldwide. Like watching movies, loading up your iPod with J-Pop is a good way to practice your listening skills. However, it’s easy to turn it into a fun writing exercise, too. Try writing your own J-Pop lyrics – they can be as simple or as complex as you’d like.

Need some inspiration? Check out our Japanese song reviews, and write alternative lyrics to one of the melodies that you like the most. For an added challenge, try to use kanji as much as possible, even though it’s easier to stick to hiragana and katakana!

3. Learn kanji with an excellent course book

With over 2,000 characters needed to read a newspaper, learning kanji is an intimidating task. Fortunately, scholars realize this, and have devised useful memory strategies to learn the most important kanji characters. The recent book Japanese Kanji Made Easy contains 1,000 essential kanji characters, complete with clear explanations, fun illustrations, and useful information. Read our full review of Japanese Kanji Made Easy to see why it’s a must-have on any Japanese language learner’s bookshelf.

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Watching movies, writing your own J-Pop, and learning kanji with cute illustrations –practicing your Japanese reading and writing doesn’t seem so bad now, does it? Indeed, while nobody would argue that it’s easy to become a proficient reader and writer in Japanese, it’s certainly doable, and it doesn’t have to cause you stress or misery. And learning to read and write well will be of immense value to you, whether you’re traveling to Japan for business, or just want to impress your Japanese-speaking friends. Of course, the best and fastest way to learn Japanese is to take tailor-made Japanese classes from a qualified native speaker in your area. If you really want to maximize your Japanese skills, send us a quick inquiry today!

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