6 Effective Ways (8 sites) to Improve Your Japanese Speaking Skills
Few days ago I posted an article “5 effective ways (& 8 websites) to improve English speaking skill” in Japanese language. And soon I got questions from some foreigner friends.
“Shen, how did you improve your Japanese speaking skill? Tell me some effective methods you have tried.”
I tried to recall my Japanese learning journey, and it surprised me that I actually tried out many different ways and had a hard time to improve my Japanese speaking skill. Sometimes I think that It’s a miracle being able to speak Japanese as only 5 years ago, I could not even recognize a single Hiragana.
So in this post, I would like to share some of the effective ways (I think) to improve Japanese speaking skill. And some of them are still my favorite, even becoming my habits. Hope it will help you grasp a new idea of learning Japanese.
6 Effective Ways (8 sites) to Improve Your Japanese Speaking Skills
Here are some methods that I have used to improve my Japanese speaking skill.
#1 Watch Anime, movies, TV program and do shadowing
In the previous post, I also highly recommended shadowing method in learning a foreign language. With no exception, if you want to improve your Japanese speaking, try shadowing![note]FYI, Shadowing means (roughly explanation) while watching movie or any other digital contents, repeat what the actors or the characters said right after the lines. For example, after the character said “Ogenki desuka?”, follow and repeat the same line.[/note]
Many researches have proven that shadowing is an effective method when learning a new language. By shadowing, the muscle of your mouth will be trained to get used to the pronunciation of 1 language. Also at the same time, you will get used to thinking in Japanese after an amount of shadowing. Check out on google if you want to know more about the effect of shadowing.
Here I would like to introduce some websites that I use to watch Anime, TV series, TV program, & movie.
[browser-shot width=”300″ url=”http://kissanime.com/”] Kissanime.com has most of the famous Anime collections and it’s free to watch! Don’t worry, most of the videos have English subtitle. So now, go pick some interesting Anime ans start shadowing. If you heard some words of phrases that you are not familiar with, PAUSE! and check the subtitle English meaning, then look up the dictionary online. I will introduce some good online dictionaries in No.2 section.
[browser-shot width=”300″ url=”http://junkch.com/”] Same as AnimeCrazy but this site is a Japanese oriented site. More Anime sources so that you can more easily find what you want to watch.
[browser-shot width=”300″ url=”http://dramaview.blog112.fc2.com/”] If you are looking for Japan TV drama or movies, here is the place you should check out. DramaStyle updates regularly after the TV drama was broadcasted. So you can make sure you are watching the latest TV drama.
p/s unfortunately most of the video links are in Chinese subtitle or no subtitle. So challenge yourself to watch a Japanese TV drama without looking at the subtitle 🙂
[browser-shot width=”300″ url=”http://gyao.yahoo.co.jp/”] Gyao! is a movie site under Yahoo Japan. Movies, TV drama, TV shows are all free to watch and many of them with Japanese subtitle! BUT…..you cant make it full screen unless you pay for the monthly package. lol
For a Japanese language learner, it is a good place to visit as you can shadow with Japanese subtitle, or see how they translate other language into Japanese subtitle.
Owarai movie link
[browser-shot width=”300″ url=”http://owaraimovielink.blog136.fc2.com/”] This is a site which collects Japan TV shows video links. Here you can find the latest Japan TV show video links and watch it for free!
TV show can be a better option to improve Japanese speaking skill as it is real. The way they talk, the phrases they use, are all ‘happening’ trends. Make sure you pick some good TV shows regularly to learn how local Japanese talks.
#2 PAUSE and CHECK dictionary!
So now you have started your movie shadowing journey. But sometimes you will find vocab or phrases you haven’t heard before. Then it’s time to PAUSE & CHECK dictionary!
Here are some awesome dictionaries I’m using whenever I have trouble with Japanese words.
[browser-shot width=”300″ url=”http://google.co.jp”] Cultivate a habit to visit Mr.Google whenever you have trouble. It’s not only for dictionaries, any problems you faced, try to ask Mr.Google before you ask someone else.
I usually will search for example, “すし 英語”.
My formula while searching the meaning of a Japanese word is ” word + 英語”
Then you will see million of search results. Just pick 1 online dictionary to check the English meaning of the word.
[browser-shot width=”300″ url=”http://ejje.weblio.jp/”] This dictionary provides examples, pronunciation (only for English), alternative words. It is a very convenient dictionary. I use it the most.
[browser-shot width=”300″ url=”http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/”] Goo Jisho is another big dictionary like weblio. The search results of these two dictionaries always come 1st. Just check either one, or both when you want to know more details of the word.
#3 Make Japanese friends OFFLINE or ONLINE.
Go to the place where you can find Japanese people. A travel spot, a Japanese restaurant, a Japanese street, a Japanese owned shop, a Japanese related club and etc. If you are living in a big city of your country, it would not be difficult to find Japanese people. Make friends with them, and ask them out!
If you are living in an area with no Japanese people around, then you are lucky to be born in a technology era – internet. Use skype, facebook, twitter, line, whatever you are using for social networking, find Japanese people and add them as friend.
I still remember when I just started learning Japanese, I added few Japanese friends on skype. Facebook was not popular in Japan at that time and twitter (popular in Japan) was not popular in Malaysia. so the only way I could find Japanese was through skype. I called them to introduce myself and we became online friends. Finally I met some of them after I came to Japan! We are still keeping in touch even it started online, which sounds unreliable.
When I was studying in Tokyo, I used to go to Izakaya (Japanese drinking restaurant) and talk to the Japanese people next to me. I did not have Japanese friends so that was the only way I could do to meet Japanese people. It really taught me a lot by talking to the real Japanese.
So there are many ways to meet Japanese people. All you need to do is just pick a way no matter offline or online, start meeting people!
#4 Do NOT be shy or scared that your Japanese is not good enough.
If you can read Hiragana & Katagana, and introduce yourself in Japanese, then your Japanese is good enough to impress any Japanese people.
Think in this way. If you hear a foreigner introducing himself in your mother tongue, what would you think of them?
“Hey your English is too bad, just shut up!” ?
“Wow, he is trying so hard to learn my language! I don’t even know how to say hello in his language. That’s impressive!”
I suppose most answers will be the 2nd. Learning a foreign language is a very encouraging process.[note]World is getting multilingual and multicultural, the language ability does not mean everything, but the mind willing to communicate with people from different backgrounds matters.[/note]
So what are you still scared of? You already took a big encouraging move following the globalized world. Nobody will laugh at your Japanese language ability, rather than that, your open-mindedness is worth award.
#5 Try to make phone calls to your Japanese friends instead of texting
So if you are living in Japan or you have chances to interact with your Japanese friends in daily life, try to make phone call instead of SMS. Phone call is the hardest thing while speaking a new language. Because you can’t see the person, you can’t understand their feeling through observing their expressions.[note]When your making phone call, all your concentration will be on merely language. It makes you focus more and try harder to express yourself in Japanese.[/note]
I usually call my friends directly to ask them out, instead of texting a long essay msg. So get your first call now! (not to me though lol)
#6 Write in Japanese
Your blog, diary, facebook status, twitter, lecture note, anything just try to write in Japanese. Usually, we will think in our mother tongue before we speak Japanese. It takes time to arrange the sentence and find words in our mind. By writing in Japanese, your brain will be trained to think in Japanese.
I have started my blogging in Japanese 3 months ago so I know the effect very well. Now, it could be easier for me to think in Japanese, rather than Chinese (my mother tongue). I love English, and I want to improve it so much. That’s why I decided to write my blog in English as well. Because I know the more I write, the better speaker I will be .
#7 Some great links to learn Japanese online for free (suggested by Hamyo, added on 22,April 2013)
[browser-shot width=”300″ url=”http://www.tofugu.com/”] A very interesting site providing everything about Japan, like language learning (they have awesome free courses and tips), culture experience, news, Japan tips and etc. Check it out 😉
[browser-shot width=”300″ url=”http://www.youtube.com”] As I said before there are thousands of individuals making channel on Youtube. Hamyo suggested some great channel to learn Japanese on Youtube. They are:
Puni Puni Japan – A channel which Japanese materials are taught in Animation. It’s quite cute. and you can tell that the narration is a Japanese. xD
JapanSocietyNYc – Compared to puni puni, this is a reporter style channel. Introducing Japan culture and Japanese lessons as well.
Japanesepod101 – You can find multilingual lessons in this channel. And the announcers are all beautiful ladies. Check it out 🙂
Nowadays, there are more options to improve language skill than before. Internet really changes the environment of language learning. Take sometimes to think about what methods you could use. Waiting is just wasting. Don’t just read, but make sure you take action after reading.
Let’s Ganbatte to improve our Japanese speaking skill!
If you have any other good methods, please don’t be shy to share it with us in the comment section ^^ Any questions are welcome.