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How to Learn Japanese

Simon Reynolds
Why learn Japanese?
Japan has a fantastically rich culture, wonderful people and the latest technology to say nothing of the great
food and shopping. You may already be set on going to Japan and know that learning Japanese is what you
want to do. Others may just want to visit for a short time. It's possible to enjoy a very comfortable life in
Japan even without English but learning some of the language will definitely improve the experience a great
deal.
Even those who for some reason do not intend to visit Japan may still gain from studying the language. I
believe that almost everyone can benefit from learning a foreign language and that budding linguists could
do a lot worse than choose to learn Japanese. It will certainly give you a whole new perspective on English.
Your CV will stand out from the crowd of Spanish speakers. I use my Japanese to communicate with my
wife, follow martial arts, read and watch manga and even to read basic Chinese signs. It's surprising how
useful it is.
Learning Japanese is immensely rewarding and not as difficult as people think, providing you approach it
correctly. When I went to Japan to work as an English teacher in 2001 I remember expecting to pick up
Japanese within 6 months or so. With hindsight, this was rather naïve of me considering I had never gotten
very far with the languages I had studied at school (or most of the other subjects either!). I was confident that
before long I would be impressing everyone with my new-found language skills and that upon my triumphant
return to Britain I would be able to answer “yes” to anyone asking if I spoke Japanese.
6 months later and my Japanese had not progressed much. Little wonder; I was battling with long working
hours, English speaking friends, lack of academic discipline, expensive yet inefficient Japanese classes and
general linguistic ineptitude. I did have two things in my favour: I liked studying kanji and I refused to give up.
Eventually, I found study methods that worked for me and went on to pass the Japanese Language
Proficiency Test level 1 in 2005. If I had known in 2001 what I know now, the journey would have been a lot
easier.
With this book, it is my intention to pass on this hard-won knowledge to help you avoid the many pitfalls of
learning Japanese and give you the tools to reach a high standard much quicker than I did. The Japanese
themselves do not usually wish each other luck but rather say ganbatte (do your best). Ganbatte and good
luck on your quest!
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