“Learning Japanese is hard. You should just give up and quit now. Don’t even try it.” – That’s what they often say if you ask a cynic about trying to learn the Japanese language. They may have even studied the language for years and made little progress, and are advising you against the same mistakes they made.
But learning Japanese is easy. It’s likely they simply studied wrong. What’s that? You can study wrong? Yes! It’s very easy to study the wrong way!
>> Don’t Learn Through Memorization <<
Learn through your likes.
Too many so called experts in learning a foreign language will promote systems of memorization that simply are not effective for most people. Even the standard of spaced repetition systems (SRS) are really just a new way to memorize things through constant repetition. But here’s the truth: memorization sucks! Human brains are not designed to take input as lists of data and then regurgitate those lists.
How does memory work?
Memory works because of the way the human brain works. The human brain consists of neurons that reach out and form connections with other neurons. These brain cells are what really make up our memory storage, and its been an effective way for organic life to build memories for ages. Why change it?
If the brain works on connected-cells, then memory does too!
So the best way to create a new, retainable memory is by associating it with something you already like. For a simple example, learning food words can be great for someone who loves food!
A more sophisticated example is the creation of mnemonics. A spelling mnemonic is “BECAUSE: Big elephants can always understand small elephants.” Because the sentence is fun and easy to remember, it is easier to remember the actual spelling of this word. So by associating words you are learning with sentences and phrases you are more likely to be able to spontaneously recall and use them in sentences.
Here’s an example.
Tomodachi means “friend” in Japanese. Tom and Moe dodged cheese thrown at them by a friend.
Tom and Moe dodged cheese thrown at them by a friend. To-Mo-Dodge-Che. Tomodachi!
Often mnemonics require a terrible stretch of the imagination – but it fucking works.
If you ever stumble across something you just can not memorize, create a mnemonic and it will stick forever!
Pratice These Mnemonics to Learn Japanese
Sakana, Fish – Suck on a fish.
Ookii, Big – A big ol’ key opens the big door.
Kani, Crab – Can he eat the whole crab in one sitting?
Mizu, Water – Miss Sue, can I have some water?
Isha, Doctor – Ish ya mother a doctor too?
Abunai, Danger – A bun? Nah, I will eat dangerously with my hands.
Fuben, Inconvenient – F.U., Ben, this route is super inconvenient!
Kantan, Easy – Can’t anna pass algebra? It’s easy!
Benri – Ben, read a book and learn the convenient way to get here.
Kirei, Beautiful – Give me the key, ray, to this beautiful and clean AirBnB.
Shimpai, Be Worried – She ate shrimp? Ay, you should be worried she has allergies to seafood.
Semui, Cold – Sam, you should put on your jacket.
Now continue with the beginners lesson to Japanese.