We have heard it many times, Japanese is difficult and impossible to master. How on earth do people, whose native language is not Japanese manage to ever communicate?
Surely you have met a non-Japanese before whose language skills exceeded everybody’s expectations. That person was able to express practically anything he or she wanted to, or at least it seemed. You were wondering, ‘He/She is surely half-Japanese!’, or ‘He/She is probably married to a Japanese national’. Another explanation might be, that person lived in Japan for many years and, therefore, was able to master it.
Wrong! There ARE many foreigners, who are half-Japanese, married or stayed for a dozen of years and STILL just know some basic phrases or words, so this is not always the answer. Various factors play a great role when it comes to acquiring a total foreign language. Here are the main three reasons, a lot if students of the Japanese language struggle to improve their skills.
Ideally, the student forgot the initial aim and decided unconsciously to become a ‘translator’. First, they think of what they want to say and translate. Word by word. There is no approach that could not be any more mistaken. It is crucial for beginners to forget the “translating system” and start using phrases and sentences they learned. There is so much you might want to say and so little knowledge to support that wish. Be patient. Be patient for a long time. At the very beginning you will practically not being able to response correctly anyway, so try to focus on simple and basic structures, rather than building Rome in one day.
Though people are aware of the deep connections between language and culture, only a few really apply that fact to reality. They think they ‘understand’. Let me tell you one thing: you know nothing. Once you understand this, you are one step closer to improvement. Next tip: if you are really serious about learning Japanese, learn about wabi-sabi (侘び寂び). If today is the first time you have heard of it, google it NOW.
Showing emotions and explaining emotions is difficult but important. When someone invites you to his/her house and asks you something in Japanese, i.e. ‘Ocha wa ikaga desu ka?’ (お茶はいかがですか？ – Would you like some tea? ) you probably should not refuse. No matter how many cups of tea or coffee you have had or how much you need to avoid running to the bathroom, even if you do not like tea, you should kindly reply with ‘hai, onegaishimasu’ (はい、お願いします – Yes, please). Try to see it objectively, try to understand why being honest is not always the best policy. Be serious about studying the Japanese language. Then you will improve your language skills, too!