[6] Remember Words in Order of Necessity

Words Are Tools to Get What You Want

Most language teaching materials start with an explanation of the grammar. Students are told to patiently memorize this and are made to believe that that is what language studies are about. However, you see babies mastering vocabulary without using textbooks. This happens because they use words as tools to realize their desires. And, by combining words, they come to understand that they can express themselves in more detail.

Studying Japanese, but Not Getting your Point Across

In fact, we often hear from Japanese learners who say that although they studied Japanese with traditional teaching materials, they could not get their point across to Japanese people at all. That is quite natural. Words useful in daily life are seldom found in standard teaching materials. Their content is focused on grammar, making them more akin to materials covering “Japanese linguistics.” The most important thing – communication – which involves remembering words, is left for students to study themselves.

The First Word to Remember: Toilet

When you come to Japan, what is the first word you ought to remember? It should be “toire wa doko desu ka?” (Where is the toilet?). For a foreigner who cannot speak Japanese at all, it would be quite difficult to express that in Japanese. In an actual conversation, “toire ha doko?” would be sufficient. By just saying “toire?” (The toilet?), you can make yourself understood.

Starting from Basic Words for Survival

The quickest way to study things is by starting with words that you really need. Following on from toilet, you should progress to hotel, station, department store and other words concerning destinations. Next, you should study words to do with meals, food and drink. Then, you will need words for shopping, including products, sizes, and colors. Numerals and dates and other words used in daily life will be required too.

Adding Other Words Used in Daily Life

After you have memorized words for survival, you ought to remember words that are generally used in everyday life. Among these, you should remember words concerning the principal means of transportation in Japan and how to get on and off them. If you have remembered them, you will be able to get by using Japanese. Probably the best way would be to start with words to do with finding an apartment, then going on to matters concerning your daily life; work and money, travel and recreation.

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