Improve Your Japanese in 3 Easy Steps, From the Comfort of Your Home

In the English-speaking world, Japan is most famous for both its anime and sushi. But how many foreigners can claim that they know about Japanese cinema, or that they understand the complex writing system of the Japanese language? If you are serious about both learning Japanese and impressing your Japanese-speaking friends, follow the three steps below. You’ll improve your spoken and written language skills, and you’ll be sure to surprise your Japanese connections with your knowledge of the lesser-known aspects of their culture. And best of all, you can do it all in your own home!

Step 1: Laugh, cry, and learn new words by watching Nobody Knows

JapaneseSteps_image1Image via She Is Watching / WordPress

Nobody Knows (in Japanese, Daremo shiranai) is one of the most successful films of renowned Japanese director, Hirokazu Koreeda. It tells the story of four children who live in a cramped apartment with no parents. This deeply moving drama is at times side-splittingly funny, as well as tear-jerkingly touching. And throughout the emotional rollercoaster, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice Japanese grammar. The title itself, for instance, features the negative suffix –mo, which attaches to dare (“who”) to mean “nobody”. The film was wildly popular in Japan, so try talking about it with your Japanese friends — they’ll be amazed that a foreigner is so familiar with the cinema of their country. Full review of Nobody Knows

Step 2: Practice your speaking by singing along to some J-Pop

If you’re a fan of Karaoke — or even if you’re not — you ought to learn the words to “Cherry,” one of the most famous songs in Japan. It’s a popular choice in karaoke bars, so the next time you’re with your Japanese-speaking friends, surprise them by showing off how well you know the lyrics. You’ll also learn emotionally-laden phrases such as aishteru (“I love you”). Once you’ve memorized the words to the song, make sure to sing along so you get in some valuable speaking practice! Check out our full review of “Cherry”, as well as other J-Pop suggestions.

Step 3: Learn how to write like a native with A Guide to Writing Japanese Kanji & Kana

The Japanese language is notorious for having an extremely complicated writing system. Indeed, learning the intricacies of Kanji and Kana is a daunting task for any learner. But the experts behind A Guide to Writing Japanese Kanji & Kana understand the challenges that these two alphabets present to learners, and explain how to use them clearly and effectively. Being able to read and write in Japanese is important, and there’s no easier way to perfect your skills than to read the sage advice within the pages of A Guide to Writing Japanese Kanji & Kana. Full review of A Guide to Writing Japanese Kanji & Kana

Whether you’re traveling to Japan for business or just want to learn Japanese for your own edification, take these three easy steps to improve your language skills and help you forge connections in the Japanese-speaking world. And if you’re feeling brave, test your skills with a free Japanese level or listening test. For more Japanese language practice, see the rest of our movie and course book reviews. Of course, the best, fastest way to learn Japanese is to take classes from a qualified native speaker: check out our course and package options here.