We have now arrived at the final lesson for the free online course Master the Sound of Japanese. Today I am going to talk a little bit about how emotions affect sounds, and then I am going to provide you with a resource to learn beginner Japanese.
I’ll explain what specifically I mean when I say “beginner” and what I think the best way to approach it is.
After that you will be ready to take the next steps on your journey to learning the language.
How Emotions Affect Sounds
One of the tricky things about sound is that a native speaker might modify it, change it, or just play around with it and it won’t change the meaning of what they say, but it still might cause some trouble for students of the language.
There aren’t any rules, but there are some common patterns that appear.
It could be that a stop sound is added into the word to give it more punch. Or it could be that a vowel is changed into a long version to show the speakers’ excitement.
The trick to understanding the words when these kinds of things happen is to understand that the person speaking is very emotionally charged (positively or negatively), and to focus on the feelings or the message they are trying to convey.
For example, the word とても means “very” in Japanese and is a common target for emotional alterations.
You might hear とっても or even とうても used instead of the standard form when a person wants to say something like “It was veerry good!”
Emotions are also a time when Japanese contractions are used even more often than normally.
This isn’t limited to just individual words however, it can also come into play for entire sentences. For example, it might make a person speak even faster than normal which increases the difficulty of understanding what they say.
The point here is to keep in mind that a native speaker might choose to change how a word sounds in order to express their feelings more strongly.
What Are The Basics Of Japanese?
There are quite a few ways to break down a language, but I like to use five primary categories when it comes to learning.
- Writing (Typing)
The first four are widely recognized as the four skills of language learning, but I like to also include culture in there because it has a very powerful effect on the rest.
As a beginner, you’ll get exposure and practice will all of the above areas, but there are a couple specific things to learn when you’re first getting started with Japanese.
When it comes to reading and writing (or typing) there are three systems that you need to learn. The first two are collectively called “kana” and are phonetic scripts – each symbol they contain represents a sound, but no meaning.
The first one is hiragana which we covered in previous lessons. The second one is katakana which has the same sounds, plus a couple more since it’s used to represent non-Japanese words.
Learning both of these is something that should be done in the beginning stage, but the third writing system, kanji (Chinese characters), is really something that fits more into the intermediate level of Japanese.
The next thing to focus on is learning vocabulary and grammar.
Vocabulary is pretty straightforward, there’s just a lot of it!
It’s best to learn the common words first since that will allow you to understand more material that you run into.
It’s also a good idea for Japanese in particular to learn about the different forms of words, such as how a word will change in a casual situation or a polite one.
As for grammar, there are a lot of aspects to it so it’s best to learn the most common parts of each section. Here are some of the important things to learn:
- Word order
- Politeness levels
- Verb conjugation
- Adjective inflection
To take one category and expand on it a little, when it comes to particles there are dozens of ones you can use.
But at the beginner level it is really just important to learn about the top 10 most commonly used ones since they will appear in nearly every single sentence.
Then once you get to the intermediate level, it would be appropriate to learn even more to expand your understanding.
That same reoccurring pattern is how I see this part of the language learning journey. Get your toes wet in all areas and build up a solid foundation.
Then we get to speaking the language. Once you can start understanding the language fairly well, you can practice speaking simple phrases and sentences that will allow for basic communication.
This can be great when you have a nice chat with a Japanese friend, or even just talking to someone you run into.
What’s The Best Way To Learn?
The truth is that there are a lot of fantastic resources out there for learning Japanese.
Many of them are similar, but some are really unique and teach the language through a specific medium (anime, manga, video games, etc.).
I think that the best way to learn beginner Japanese is with a good quality course that uses a structured approach to learning Japanese where each lesson builds upon what the student learned in previous lessons.
I also prefer courses over textbooks since a good course will have audio of real natives speaking. This allows you to learn how the new words and phrases sound and the correct way to say them.
Thankfully we live in a digital age where you can access these materials online at anytime you want to. Even better is that a lot of these courses continually update their materials to make them better, or simply add more cool stuff.
That last thing that makes a course better than another is when there is the ability to set up one-on-one sessions with a tutor.
If you can do that, then you can not only get expert advice on your questions, but you can also practice conversations with them.
Beginner Japanese Recommendation
There’s like a handful of courses I’ve tried out over the years that provide the kinds of services that I’ve outlined above, but I think that the one I like the most is JapanesePod101.
It’s really easy to use their site and find interesting lessons that teach a lot of different parts of Japanese.
They’ve got several levels of material, so that you can easily find the right stuff for where you’re at currently.
- Absolute Beginner
They’ve also got specialized lessons that focus on things like passing the JLPT, Business Japanese, Everyday Japanese, and a lot more.
The free course I created here on my blog was really only intended to help people learn the sounds of the language so that the part, learning words and grammar, becomes a lot easier.
I think that a good next step for anyone who is interested would be to check out JapanesePod101 and get started with their free lessons and resources.
That way you can start learning the aspects of Japanese that will allow you to talk to other people in Japanese, as well as learn how to read the language for things like novels and manga.
Your Feedback Is Appreciated
Well, that is all for this course on sounds!
I would appreciate any feedback that you are willing to provide about any part of it.
If there was something that you found helpful, awesome! Please let me know so that I can make more stuff like it in the future.
But even if there was something that you didn’t like, I am also interested in hearing your thoughts on it so that I can make improvements to both the course and also all the lessons I create here on the site.
Other than that, thank you for reading and I will see you next time!
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Further Resources for Learning Japanese: