Speaking Practice for Self-Study - Try this!Aug 01, 2023
Your dream is my dream！
Thank you very much for learning Japanese! I decided to make this thank-you-gift for your better learning experiences. I especially focused on speaking practice for self-study learners as many of you requested on the questionnaire.
Thanks to your warm support, my academy continued for the last 8 years. This gift is mainly for you to equip your learning method to enrich your life, not just giving the popular tools today.
I created this gift with my knowledge 1) as a Japanese linguist, 2) from my 17 year teaching experiences as a Japanese teacher and 3) from my English learning experiences from zero to working level.
I understand the Japanese language is challenging for you because it is different from any other languages. So, it was challenging for me to master English and vice versa for you.
Mastering the learning mentality is essential before taking action. Therefore, my gift covers the two learning tips, A) learning attitude as the solid foundation and B) how to practice to improve effectively.
The tips are for all levels for any learning purposes but the examples are beginner level.
LERARNING TIP - (A) 'Successful Attitutes'
This is the way of successful Japanese language learning!
👉Devote yourself for learning
Make a bit of time every day to learn Japanese. 5 minutes is great enough.
Choose the way to continue every day and make it your habit.
👉Learn step by step
Steady steps are not just effective, but make you feel more confident and more motivated to continue.
The KEY for SUCCESS is to learn a bit every day for a long period.
But you must have a busy life. So, how can you continue? Simply,
(1) keep asking WHY you want to achieve your goal and
(2) keep visualising your life after achieving it.
Imagine your ideal life after achieving the goal and feel the happy moment with a smile; for example, working in Japan or speaking with your Japanese friend with confidence. You do not want to live the life without achieving it and you cannot skip your study today when you feel busy.
But please have enough rest when you are unwell. Your healthy body is the foundation of any study!
LERARNING TIP - (B) 'Self-Speaking Practice'
Native English speaker can speak French just with the knowledge. But it’s different in Japanese and they often struggle and take my lessons. Because you need lots of self-practice with the knowledge before speaking with a Japanese person. Imagin football player needs to practise running with a ball before playing at a match. I teach my students how to do this by themselves.
How can you apply the ‘Learning attitude’ into the actual self-speaking practice?
👉Set your time to continue
Choose the way you can learn day by day. See the examples below.
- change the mobile wallpaper/screen saver with the screenshot of the new Japanese expression daily or weekly. And say it aloud every time you see it.
- Use your alarm app for setting your learning time every day on your mobile phone.
- Choose a few minutes at the best time for your lifestyle, such as after waking up, after dinner, after the shower etc.
👉How to practise speaking
Check which step blocks you from speaking well.
Step 1 ▢ Do you understand similar grammar & expressions crystal clear?
Step 2 ▢ Do you have enough vocabulary?
Step 3 ▢ Do you understand what the Japanese person says?
Step 4 ▢ Do you know what message/information you want to express?
Step 5 ▢ Do you know how to select and put the appropriate grammar and
expressions together to express (in step 4)?
Now, let’s step forward!
Understand the grammar by understanding the Japanese mind-set and perceptions. Japanese mind becomes the Japanese expressions.
< Example 1 > ‘ね ne’ & ‘よ yo’
‘ね ne’ ‘よ yo’ at the end of a sentence come from the Japanese group oriented culture and the society, the importance of the sharing information with others.
あした、テストですね。（Teacher knows. And student knows. And now sharing the information again.）
あした、テストですよ。(Teacher knows. But student does not know. And now sharing the information. For the first time)
< Example 2 > ‘Particles’
Also understand how to use particles such as ‘でde’ and ‘にni’. Mastering particles at the really early stage of your learning journey makes everything easier.
This is the example of how to differentiate‘に ni’ and ‘で de ’usages.
[Destination+に] go/come/return. Destination ⇐に
[Venue+で] do something. Venue⇓で
*Never remember like ‘place に’ and ‘placeで’. The category of ‘place’ will make you just confused.
Select the only expressions you need to remember. Be efficient to reach your goal and do not waste your time for learning unnecessary words.
If you like or work in fashion, you should select more fashion related expressions, because you will more often talk about it than politics or history.
Then, use as many physical and emotional senses as possible for learning them. This is more stimulus and makes it easier to keep the memory in your brain.
< Example 2> ‘温泉 おんせんhot-springs’
See the word (eye), say it aloud (mouth), listen to it (ears), write it out(hand), and imagine the smell of it (nose) and even feel it (heart)!
You know enough grammar and expressions. Now you need to understand it by listening. The pronunciation, the speed and the context can be challenging.
<Master the Vowels>
Many advanced learners still struggle with the Japanese vowels and pronouncing an unclear vowel changes the meanings.
‘ka-wa-i-i (cute)’ vs ‘ko-wa-i (scary)’ are the typical examples. The main problem is to mix [a] and [o] together. There are many words which change the meanings like this.
Please practise the pronunciation from my YouTube lessons.
Repeat after listening. You can definitely listen and understand if you can say it aloud.
Search similar expressions of audio file or video clip available on the apps and social media.
Then, listen to it and repeat it until you can say it all smoothly. You can set the speed low if it makes your repetition easier.
Now you can listen and understand what you hear. But responding is quite a challenge.
First, make sure what you want to say.
Avoid something culturally not appropriate such as a too personal topic.
Then think which grammar and expressions are appropriate to express it.
Basically, use the same sentence pattern as the question and minimalise it when you answer.
Q:会議は どこで ありますか。Kaigi wa doko de arimasu ka.
A:(会議は) あらいホテルで あります。 (Kaigi wa) Arai Hotel de arimasu.
Now you know what you want to say with your understanding of social manners.
Then, put the appropriate grammar and expressions together in a natural word order. Remember the Japanese perception is to look at the whole picture first and shift to more details.
So, a sentence starts from the whole picture and ends with the most specific and important information.
< Example 1>
When you ask something, question ‘か ka’ is the most important and it comes at the end of the sentence.
Q: ここで写真を撮ってもいいですか。Koko-de shashin-wo tottemo iidesu+ka?
< Example 2>
‘How many’ is mentioned only if the number is important, such as ordering drinks. And the number is the second important information after the request phrase ‘please give me’ = ‘onegaishimasu.’
⇐ less important more ⇒
I covered the most important points for self-study speaking practice; learning attitude as the foundation, how to continue learning and 5 steps to practise speaking by yourself. Please apply it into your level, learning purposes and the situations.
I hope my thank-you-gift is beneficial for your better learning experiences!!! Thank you very much for your warm support as always. Let’s grow together!
Mineko Arai 新井峰子
Managing Director of Arai Academy of Japanese Studies
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