Tell someone that you are studying Japanese and you will most likely see that person’s eyes widen. The individual has just:
- Remembered that the language uses symbols and not Roman letters, assuming that this is what makes the language difficult to learn
- Realized how smart you are because you are be able to study such a difficult language
- A & B
The Japanese language consists of three different sets of characters: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Hiragana is a phonetic syllabary, while Katakana is another syllabary used primarily for foreign names and words of foreign origin. Kanji consists of Chinese characters as used to represent words of both Chinese and native Japanese origin – most of which have at least two readings. Written Japanese normally makes use of all three of these systems.
It’s unfortunate how intimidating the Japanese language has become for many people simply because of its writing system. However, that’s no excuse – here’s why: there is another writing system called Romaji. Romaji is a widely used system of spelling Japanese using the Roman alphabet. Japanese is sometimes written in Romaji for the convenience of foreigners (for example, certain train stations or signs will be written in Romaji instead of Kanji). This writing system is generally used in teaching beginner and/or conversational Japanese. So you CAN learn Japanese (however, eventually, you’ll want to start familiarizing yourself with Kana in order to progress more effectively)!
Japanese, as with any language, will require tremendous amounts of discipline, time, and dedication to master. You may find that Nihongo (Japanese) is difficult to study on your own. It can all seem a bit overwhelming without getting a little help. If that’s the case, then why not take some Japanese classes?
Maybe you aren’t looking to earn a degree, or enroll in a university – after all, college isn’t cheap – that’s okay! If you prefer affordable options in NY, then you can visit the Japan Society. Japan Society offers more than 10 different levels of Japanese from Beginner to Advanced. Classes take place on evenings or on weekends for affordable prices. There are even intensive courses available for those who just can’t wait to get a handle on the language. There is even a great multimedia series to get you started!
If you prefer affordable options in NJ, there are Japanese classes at the Adult Schools of Princeton or Chatham. These locations offer classes from Beginner to Advanced for less than $150!
Congratulations! With these resources, you can now fearlessly begin the exciting journey of learning Japanese!