Autodidactic Japanese language learning step by step

  • There are a lot of people interested in the Japanese language for various reasons. I myself, want to learn Japanese because of anime and manga. Honestly, I was confused of how I should start learning Japanese as there is no time for me to take Japanese classes, but slowly I started to understand how the language works after surfing on the internet a little.

    1. Make yourself interested in the language

    Just like I said before, there are many reasons why people would need to learn Japanese. It can be interest or obligation. When you are learning something, it will be easier if you like it. So, try to find anything that makes you interested in it!

    2. Learn Kana

    The basic writing system of Japanese is Kana, including katakana and hiragana. Try to practice the 46 basic letters of hiragana. After you are done with hiragana, continue and practice your katakana. It has many similarities with hiragana so you can learn it easily. To strengthen your knowledge of kana, try to write and read some Japanese words, this way you will also improve your vocabulary.

    3. Practice Pronunciation

    When we speak Japanese, we should pay attention to the marks on the characters such as long vowels and double consonants. Learning pronunciation will be more efficient if you can write and read Japanese words (previous step).

    4. Understand Grammar

    After you understand some Japanese words, creating sentences is the next step, but you need to know the grammar. Japanese is simple and flexible, there is no difference between the singulars and plurals, or grammatical genders. The most important things that you should understand are:
    – Verbs do not change no matter if the noun is first or third person, plural or singular.
    – Particles, the word which always follows the word related to it. For example, “wa” indicates topic sentence, “ka” indicates question, “ga” indicates subject and so on.
    – Understand the suffix. Male, Female, people with higher position have different suffix. For example, a male use “-kun” in the end of his name (usually close friends or kids) and “-sama” for a person in higher position (similar to Mr. or Mrs.).

    5. Work with Paragraph

    You have learned Japanese words, made a sentences, now it’s time to try building a simple paragraph. Before you do it, make sure you understand the grammar because that is the most important part in writing a paragraph. Begin with a simple paragraph, such as your daily activities from waking up until going sleep. Your ability of Japanese will improve as you write more and more.

    6. Learn Kanji

    The last and the hardest part is Kanji. There are approximately 2,000 to 3,000 characters commonly used by the Japanese out of the total of about 13,000 characters available. You need a lot of time to understand all of them, but it is still possible. There are several tips you may use to learn Kanji:
    – Kanji that are used in Japanese have different levels from JPLT N1-5, with the easiest being N5. You may learn it by the order, but some people prefer to learn Kanji by the characters they like most.
    – Imagine the character, some kanji have shapes similar to their meaning such as kanji for “person” looks like a person and “stop” looks like someone extending an arm in front of them.
    – Use flashcards or anki applications. You can find a lot of flashcards sold on the internet such as ebay and amazon.


    The key to learning Japanese is reading, practicing and writing. You won’t be able to understand Japanese as well without doing those three things. Try to do it at least once a day, so your Japanese flows!