Japanese for Beginners

How to Get Started Learning to Speak Japanese

Japanese woman with phone


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Do you want to learn how to speak Japanese, but don't know where to start? Below you will find lessons for beginners, writing lessons, information on pronunciation and comprehension, where to find dictionaries and translation services, information for travelers to Japan, and audio and video lessons.

Try not to be overwhelmed. The Japanese language will seem very different at first from your native language, but it is not as hard to learn as many people think. It is quite a logically laid out language and once you learn basic reading skills it will be easy to pronounce any word you can read.

Introduction to Japanese

Are you new to Japanese? Familiarize yourself with Japanese and start learning basic vocabulary here.

Learning Japanese Writing

There are three types of scripts in Japanese: kanji, hiragana and katakana. Japanese does not use an alphabet and all three systems are commonly used. Kanji has blocks of meaning and thousands of characters. Hiragana expresses the grammatical relationship between kanji symbols and katakana is used for foreign names. The good news is that hiragana and katakana have only 46 characters each and words are written as they are pronounced.

Pronunciation and Comprehension

Familiarizing yourself with the sounds and rhythms of the language is a good place to start. Audio and video lessons can help. Hearing someone speak in Japanese and being able to answer appropriately is very rewarding for the beginner.

  • Audio Phrasebook
  • Japanese Language Videos: Use these videos to see how to pronounce sounds from Hiragana and to use different expressions. You may learn better by seeing as well as hearing a person speak in Japanese.

Japanese for Travelers

If you need quick survival skills for your trip, try these.

Dictionaries and Translations

Choosing the right words for a translation can be difficult. There are many ways to look up Japanese words and to translate from English to Japanese and back again.

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Abe, Namiko. "Japanese for Beginners." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/japanese-for-beginners-4079667. Abe, Namiko. (2023, April 5). Japanese for Beginners. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/japanese-for-beginners-4079667 Abe, Namiko. "Japanese for Beginners." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/japanese-for-beginners-4079667 (accessed June 8, 2023).