But unfortunately it really isn’t. Japanese has the appeal and struggle of being considered the hardest language for a native English speaker to learn. And not for the reasons you might expect. Sure there are two alphabets with 46 characters in each. But once you learn these sounds they almost never change.
Of course there is also kanji, the 3000+ symbol writing system. Memorising this lot is quite the challenge, but with each one you learn you are safe knowing that it’s done, the meaning of that reading will not change.
The problem is Japanese is a high context language. You can know all the words but unless you are in the situation good luck guessing what the topic was, cause that will be said once at the beginning and then dropped for the rest of the conversation. In English we like to state everyone quite clearly. Even when we are being ambiguous there is still only so much guesswork that’s needed. Japanese is closer to 50% understanding the language and 50% paying enough attention to figure out if we are talking about your house and friends house or a house you once visited ten years ago on holiday.
That being said I think it is a beautiful language and the challenges are exciting and interesting. Living here certainly helps my interest, as being able to actually order food rather than pointing and looking hungry is quite a rewarding experience.
I’m particularly pleased today as I passed my first language test, and I’m now studying harder lessons. So yay for more language but oh dear for the complexities and confusion that is bound to follow. If you are also interested in learning this delightfully challenging language, aside from taking lessons I can really recommend two apps to help you along. First is kanji study. This one helps learn kanji (surprising I know!) as well as teaches you how to write them and gives you a good bulk of vocabulary too. It’s a flashcard style teaching app and quite effective in my opinion.
The other is memrise. This app deals with a few languages but I’ve only tried it for Japanese and I’ve really noticed a jump in my learning since I started using it. It’s fun and simple enough a tool that I actually want to use it every day, and have done so for nearly a month now.
Both apps have a good free to use section, but have the option to pay for more features. I’m still on the free versions but would not consider it a waste of money when I’m done with those to upgrade to the full versions. (This is not a sponsored review, I really do just like them.)
That’s all from me this week, happy learning!