[1] Change the Way You Think about Language Study!

“Japanese is the Most Difficult Language in the World”

Japanese learners often say this, but is it really true? If it is so difficult, why can three year old children speak it? There isn’t a single Japanese person who isn’t capable of speaking Japanese. The ability to acquire a language is fundamental to human beings. So why is there this perception that it is so difficult? In fact Japanese is an easy language.

Language is not an academic discipline

Language learning generally begins with grammar, that is the rules that govern language use. For instance, with Japanese you will study in great detail things like the fact that a verb comes at the end of a sentence and the difference between “watashi ha” and “watashi ga.” In addition, you must memorize many characters and words. The never ending tedious work of learning grammar and vocabulary has been considered key to Japanese study.

Can students understand a more direct method of teaching?

These days most Japanese teachers give lessons completely in Japanese from the start. This is called the “direct teaching method” and is generally practiced in Anglophone language schools. In Japan too, it is said to be the most efficient way to study, but is this really true? Do you really think that a student learning from scratch can understand grammar if it’s only explained in Japanese?

Japanese is not the same as English

English is an international language as you know, so it is studied in almost all countries. Therefore, many people have a basic knowledge of English vocabulary and simple grammar. So in English language schools, they take advantage of this existing knowledge and use it to introduce additional information. However, the situation for Japanese learners is different. Beginners can’t understand their teachers at all.

So how do little children become able to speak?

Little children learn only in Japanese. When a baby cries, the parent talks to them, saying “Milk (miruku)? Do you want some milk?” before giving them some milk. As this is repeated over time, the baby memorizes the word “miruku.” It takes an enormous amount of time to naturally acquire Japanese and adults have neither the time nor the requisite environment to do so. However, it’s possible to apply this principle to learn it in a short amount of time.

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