Tactics

Use Japanese Conversation Phrases to Learn

Your brain is amazing. It’s been said that you only use about 10% of the total potential of it during your lifetime. What this means is that you have an incredible capacity to learn and improve in any area of your life, including Japanese.

And one of the best things that you can do on your journey to fluency is to use Japanese conversation phrases to learn it.

Learning a phrase vs. a list

One of the main problems with traditional language learning is the way it is presented to the students. For example, it is common for students to have a list of words to learn at the end of each chapter in a textbook in a format like this:

  • いとこ(itoko) = cousin
  • です (desu) = is
  • どこ (doko) = where
  • は (wa) = the topic marker particle
  • か (ka) = the question particle

This simple example was only five words long, but most lists in traditional classes consist of ten to twenty different words to study and memorize. The main problem with presenting new information in this manner is that, there is simply not enough meaning or association to the words.

When you read, you don’t just read the individual words, but rather you read the sentence as a whole. This is because when words are combined with others into a sentence, a sense of cohesion is created.

Using this knowledge is vital for accelerated learning. Rather than learning words individually from a list, you will learn words together with one another in a complete sentence. Using the same list of words we can create the following sentence:

いとこはどこですか? (itoko wa doko desu ka) = Where is (my) cousin?

There are several other reasons why it is much faster and easier to learn words within a sentence rather than alone. One of them is visualization. When you say a WORD, you may or may not picture it in your mind. But when you speak a SENTENCE, you actually visualize the entire scene which can include colors, movement, and sound.

This combination of sight, sound and movement, even if it’s only within your mind, is what’s known as “multi-sensory learning” and it is a very powerful way to learn.

Another reason is because sentences have a rhythm, and sometimes a rhyme to them. Both of these aspects help your brain to remember. Read over that Japanese sentence again and pay special attention to the rhythm of the sentence and the rhyme of the words.

And to make things even better, when you use and speak sentences over and over again, you actually learn the grammar of Japanese automatically. Your brain inevitably compares and contrasts the different sentences and is able to naturally determine how the grammar works.

The point of all this is that whenever possible, you should learn new words within the context and structure of a sentence, rather than by just memorizing a list of words.

What these scripts are about

These scripts have been creating on the basis of two things:

(1) The first thing is what we’ve been talking about so far: learning Japanese through the use of sentences, rather than by memorizing a list of words.

(2) The second is based on the fact that you generally have the same sort of conversations with each new person that you meet. For example, every time you introduce yourself to someone for the first time, you generally tell them the same sort of things about yourself: where you’re from, what you do for work, what your hobbies are, and so on.

By using these “scripts” you can quickly and easily learn the phrases and words that you will be using in any kind of reoccurring situation such as meeting someone new or ordering food at a restaurant.

I realize that not everyone is at the same level of skill with their Japanese, so I have repeated the same scripts in both Romaji (for beginners) and the normal Japanese writing systems of hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Please feel free to use which ever one works best for you.

As a final note, these scripts are meant to be printed out, written on, and generally used in whatever way will help you the most to learn and understand Japanese.  Please “wear them out” and have a lot of fun while doing it.

*Click the picture below to download your free Japanese Scripts now*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are three (3) scripts in this. All of them are for when you meet someone for the first time, but one is in Kanji, one is in Romaji, and the last in in English.


Now I want to hear from you! Do you like the idea of learning whole phrases rather than lists of words?

What kinds of reoccurring situations do you think scripts would be useful for? Let me know with a comment below!


 

6 Comments

  • Zbigniew

    Hi!

    It’s great advice to always learn new words in context. I’ve learned quite a few foreign languages in my life. Since I usually learned by myself, the hardest part for me was the active command of a language. Sometimes I was discouraged by the fact that I understood (almost) everything people were saying to me, but I wasn’t able to express my thoughts quickly and fluently enough.

    I’ve never tried to learn Japanese, even though I am fascinated by the culture of Japan. I am especially attracted to the game of ‘Go’ and it’s etiquette.

    Your site makes me want to start learning Japanese. If only I had more time…. 😉

    Keep up the great work!

    Zbigniew

    • Nick Hoyt

      Hey Zbigniew, that’s pretty sweet that you already know several different languages. I also found it difficult at first to talk smoothly. Being able to produce organic material in a new language is of course most people’s goal and what they think of when they think “fluent.”

      Just gotta keep at it I guess! Thanks!

  • Jaden Terrell

    Nick, thank you for this clear and detailed lesson. It’s obvious you know a lot about learning languages and Japanese in particular.

    What you’re saying about learning through sentences rather than individual words makes a lot of sense, and your emphasis on focusing on the kind of conversation you’d be most likely to repeat is very helpful.

    • Nick Hoyt

      Hey Jaden, thanks I appreciate the complement! 🙂

      My goal is to help as many people as possible and the best way to do that is to focus on what’s more useful. Enjoy!

  • Barbara

    I am so glad I found your site. I love learning new languages–not that I have been successful at it, just wish I was. I never tried to learn Japanese, because I have been hard of hearing my whole life and I know Japanese will take what looks like the same word, and change the tone at the end just a little and it changes the whole meaning of the word. I was afraid I would be unable to distinguish between the two sounds.
    I have downloaded the PDF and plan on reading it.
    I am also going to bookmark this page and put it in my G+ collections of Great Websites.
    Thank you for offering your skill set to help others understand another language and broadening their potential circle of acquaintances.
    I especially like that this fits into one of my hobbies, Japanese embroidery, using silk threads that were bought from a silk (house?) dating back to the 1930’s, with real platinum, gold, and silver threads which are today just as beautiful as when they were manufactured in Kyoto, Japan.

    • Nick Hoyt

      Hey Barbara, it is my pleasure to help!

      And Japanese embroidery is a super cool hobby! I can’t believe you have threads that are almost 100 years old, that’s incredible!

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