Are you trying to learn a second language during these difficult times, but you are finding it challenging? And to add extra pressure the current covid-19 situation seems to be worsening day by day, and the looming national lock-down for Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa is about to add even more pressure on our daily lives.
As an English teacher living and working in Yokohama, Japan, I have found it difficult studying Japanese over the past ten months due to not being able to attend my Japanese lessons in a café. I had a wonderful teacher who was always incredibly supportive and offered me a lot of advice on how to improve my spoken Japanese. Recently I have found myself unmotivated and forgetting even the basics I have learnt over the past years. Therefore, I have taken the time to create a strategy that will help myself and students who wish to study a second language.
Over the next few months, I will try my best to follow my own simple guidelines that I offer all my English students and try to adjust it to learning Japanese. During this time, I will share my experience, progress, and advice on what helped the most.
Let’s look at the simple graph below and follow the steps.
First, decide which language you would like to learn and why? I personally decided to learn Japanese because I am married to a Japanese lady and living in Japan. Currently I find myself mainly using English in my day-to-day life due to my work, family, and staying at home, but I would like to challenge myself and be able to communicate more with neighbours and friends in my community.
Why are you wanting to learn a second language….?
1. Connect with friends and family.
2. Advance your career.
3. To travel.
4. Live and work abroad.
Method of learning and your personal aims.
What is the best method of learning for you?
Everyone is different and we all find different ways of learning a second language, personally I find it easier and more effective to study once a week with my private Japanese teacher as she guides me through the process, she is constantly offering me valuable advice. But due to the current situation it has been difficult to meet in person, therefore I am planning to use online lessons and self-study.
What are your options?
2. Private lessons online.
3. Group lessons online.
4. Private lessons at a school.
5. Group lessons at a school.
6. Applications and learning software.
What are your personal aims?
We all have different aims to achieve, but in general we all are aiming to be able to have a conversation in the language we are learning. Before starting to learn a second language I would seriously plan what your aims are. Are they…?
4. Speaking (communication).
5. Combination of 1 to 4.
6. Test etc.
Personally, I am not interested in taking any tests to prove my Japanese level but that maybe important to you for different reasons. My aim is to be able to read basic Japanese, but mainly be able to support my younger students and to have a conversation with friends and family in Japanese. Therefore, I plan to learn skills 1 to 4, as it will make my daily life easier.
Nowadays we are spoilt with a variety of different learning materials, but I have personally found it best to use a variety of different options. I am using a Japanese textbook that was introduced to me via my Japanese teacher, it is called “Marugoto”. This text offers a blend of materials that can be used in the classroom and at home, for example it offers reading, writing, listening, spoken Japanese, apps, and online learning.
Here are a few other materials that you may like.
1. Listening – With a teacher, textbooks, TV, Radio, YouTube, Podcast, music.
2. Communication – With a teacher, friends, family, students, and social media.
3. Reading and writing – With a teacher, textbooks, internet, new papers, books, and social media….
4. Notebooks take notes – write down the new vocabulary and grammar you learn and make new sentences daily.
Now we just need to decide when, where and how often you are going to study. Just remember to have fun and find as much time as possible to study, you need to find the correct balance for your needs and aims.
Personally, I aim to have one Japanese lesson a week with a private Japanese teacher, during a weekday morning online and to self-study most evening before relaxing, normally after 8 p.m. And lastly, I plan to find a Japanese TV program I can enjoy and hopefully understand.
Thank you for reading, I hope it helps and please comment below your own idea’s on how best to improve learning a language.