Learning Japanese involves mastering four writing systems and thousands of characters, wrapping your head around obscure grammar, and navigating the tricky waters of hierarchy.
I’m sure you’d agree with us:
Japanese is a really difficult language.
But is it?
Well, it turns out hundreds of thousands of learners just like you pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) every year, and they didn’t have to do anything extraordinary to reach their fluency…
…they achieved results through discipline, and insights from those who’ve been through this before. There’s a proven path to success, and you can follow it too.
Below we’ll share some of the exclusive insights you’ll find in the LinguaLift course, and convince you that Japanese is far easier than you’ve been led to believe.
You can learn Japanese (with the right approach)
Here’s the deal:
Get your approach wrong, and learning a language is unreasonably difficult.
Surprisingly, the secret to success is not hard work and regular practice.
There are many people who, after years of learning, go to a Japanese restaurant and struggle to make a simple order. They wonder whether the results really justify their time and effort.
Not to mention, they can’t let their personality shine in Japanese.
It’s terribly frustrating.
Their biggest goal is to communicate and understand real-world Japanese as it’s actually used. But all they’ve got are random words and abstract grammar patterns.
Hard work alone does not lead to success, and we have data to show it. Study data of LinguaLift users who have learned enough Japanese to start a new life in Japan.
Surprisingly, these learners weren’t the ones who studied non-stop, all day, every day. In fact, one of them only ever studied for 15 minutes every morning.
They didn’t study hard*. *They studied smart.
There’s a huge difference.
If you’re not using the right method, you’re not only wasting precious time, but forming bad habits that will prevent you from ever achieving fluency.
Every hour of study time has the potential to unlock brand new possibilities.
But it’s all to easy to waste that same hour mindlessly clicking on picture flashcards.
It’s all too easy to mistake the illusion of progress for actual improvement, and we’re sad to see some of our competitors take advantage of people new to digital language learning.
LinguaLift students who have followed our clear and sensible approach to learning Japanese have found they can fit studying in even the most busy of schedules.
From company CEOs to Ivy League undergraduates, to single parents of four children—we’ve seen that you can be a successful language learner even if you don’t have much time to commit to studying. You just need to study smart.
You’re probably wondering what our solution is.
The LinguaLift course is divided into a clear, step-by-step curriculum, where each lesson teaches you Japanese characters, words, and phrases relevant to real-life situations.
But we don’t stop there.
In addition to teaching you the nuts and bolts of the language, we provide cultural insights and tips from natives so you can not just speak, but act like a local.
We also make use of a memory approach recommended by the Harvard Medical School called spaced repetition.
“one of the most remarkable phenomena to emerge from laboratory research on learning” — WIRED
Our team of friendly study 🤖 robots keeps note of all you learn, and they’ll ping you when you’re about to forget it.
(They don’t cease to amaze us with how well they can predict that moment based on your past performance!)
Our method allows you to go out and start using the language sooner, and makes you remember the material more effectively. 👍
We gear you up for long-term success
It’s cool to know a few phrases, but it’s so much more impressive to switch between Japanese and English with ease.
This may seem like a distant dream, but there are hundreds of thousands of English speakers who have reached this level. Many of them used LinguaLift as part of their journey.
The way to get there is to not focus on short term wins, but rather allow your brain to think in Japanese. 🤔
To do this, you need to completely adopt a Japanese way of expressing your thoughts and ideas, and a Japanese-like sentence structure as soon as possible.
This doesn’t usually come naturally to English speakers, but the right exercises can kick-start the process.
Unlike our competitors, who teach you Japanese using the English alphabet, with LinguaLift you’ll be using the native Japanese script from the get-go.
This way you’ll read real Japanese sooner, grasp new grammar with ease, and most importantly start thinking like a native Japanese speaker.
Core vocabulary is the key to success
The easiest way to become fluent is to have a vast vocabulary.
Even if your grammar is wonky, pronunciation imperfect, and sentence structure mixed up, you’ll be able to get your point across with the right words.
This is equally true when you listen to native speakers.
If you can pick up vocabulary items you know, you’ll usually work out roughly what they are saying. 😊
To pass the top level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), you must know over ten thousand words.
But the truth is: The JLPT list is full of words you won’t come across in daily life.
The average educated Japanese speaker uses just 5,000 words. These words are enough to communicate about a wide range of topics, and express a variety of ideas.
What’s great is you could master these words without breaking a sweat, by learning just 10 words a day for 18 months.
By learning just 5,000 words, you’ve got a vocabulary sophisticated enough to speak at the same level as most native speakers. And you can get there in less than two years!
Basic conversation in Japanese is possible with just 1,000 words. You can learn these in just 6 months at a leisurely pace of 5 words a day.
We’ve got the data to show it too! It takes LinguaLift students just half a year to acquire enough vocab to get around Japan and chat to natives. 🎏
We leverage your knowledge of English
The task is easier than it seems.
If you can speak good English, you’re at a huge advantage in learning Japanese. After all, you already know at least 25% of words Japanese people use every day!
Japanese is unique in how it can effortlessly absorb foreign words.
In English, we use a few Japanese words such as sushi, tsunami and karaoke. In Japanese, this borrowing is taken to a whole new level!
The Japanese use thousands of English words every day. 😲 All you need to learn is the Japanese way of pronouncing them.
The word for ‘engine’ is en-jin. ‘Camera’ is ka-me-ra. Hotel is ho-te-ru.
You can tell a su-to-ri (story) of going through a *tu-n-ne-ru *(tunnel) on your ba-i-ku (bike) drinking o-re-n-ji jyu-su (orange juice) out of a gu-ra-su (glass) using exclusively words of an English origin.
Once you’ve learned the basics of Japanese pronunciation, you’ll be able to say any English word in Japanese, and be understood most of the time.
Japanese sounds follow a simple rule:
A consonant must always be followed by a vowel.
So the word ‘mike’ (like microphone) becomes 🎙️ ma-i-ku. The word ‘business’ becomes 💼 bi-zi-ne-su. The word for ‘driveshaft’ is ⚙️ do-ra-i-bu-sya-fu-to.
You probably get the idea by now.
What’s more, Japanese people go through six years of compulsory English classes.
They can’t all speak English (just ~5% are anywhere near fluency), but they do tend to know a lot of vocab, which they would have learned using the Japanese-like pronunciation.
So even if you say an English word not used in Japanese, there is a high chance you’ll be understood.
If you’ve forgotten the word mon-dai (problem), saying pu-ro-bu-re-mu would work just as well to get your message across.
The grammar structure is worlds apart from English.
Japanese grammar is so far removed from English it has to be explained, not just shown.
It’s completely unrealistic to expect you’ll be able to ‘pick it up’ from Japanese TV, or clicking enough pictures of apples in software designed to ‘immerse’ you like a 👶 baby.
At LinguaLift, we use patterns, rules and shortcuts to help you deconstruct Japanese. We explain in a clear and friendly way how the language works, and don’t expect you to know anything about grammar.
If expressions like ‘temporal noun phrases’ and ‘adjective clause’ fill you with excitement, LinguaLift isn’t for you.
If you value clear explanations in plain English, you’ll like our style!
(We also throw in emoji here and there, which isn’t to everyone’s taste, but we don’t care 💩)
So much grammar doesn’t exist in Japanese.
Basic Japanese grammar is surprisingly simple.
There is no future tense, no gender, no plurals, no cases, and essentially no exceptions to the few rules that remain.
In English, you can’t say “Yesterday we goed to the restaurant”, nor can you say “I went to restaurant alone”. Make a small mistake in your grammar, and you’re instantly found out as a non-native speaker.
Japanese grammar is worlds apart from the complexities of English:
1. Much of what you say is implied
You usually don’t need to state who is talking in Japanese, because it’s obvious from the context. This means words like ‘we’ ‘she’ and ‘they’ appear far less frequently.
2. Words don’t change based on what they describe
“I eat.” and “She eats.” becomes simply “Eat.” in Japanese. The rest, you work out from context. You can even create a complete Japanese sentence with just a verb!
3. You don’t need to think about plurality
In English, it’s incorrect to say “There are two sheeps in the field”, or “there is a dogs in the park”. You can’t make these mistakes in Japanese, since words don't change based on number.
4. There are no articles, or fiddly rules about gender
In French, a table is feminine, and a pen is masculine. The Japanese don’t bog you down with such nonsense. You can also forget about ‘a’ and ‘the’! Just “go to restaurant”.
5. Past and present is all you need
Is it ‘ate’, ‘have eaten’ or ‘had eaten’? ‘Eat’ or ‘will eat’? In Japanese, you only have two options: the past, and the non-past.
All this means that:
- I eat pizza.
- We’ll eat pizza.
- They eat pizza.
- Do you eat pizza?
would all be exactly the same in Japanese.
All four can be translated as: ピザを食べる (pi-za o ta-be-ru).
The nuances of when and how many people are involved, or whether it’s a question are communicated through context and tone of voice.
Japanese pronunciation is ridiculously easy.
If you’re a native English speaker, you’re in luck. There are very few sounds in Japanese you can’t pronounce already.
There are no exceptions to pronunciation rules.
Unlike in English, where you don’t know how to pronounce the word ‘live’ until you know the context, every Japanese word is spoken exactly as it’s written.
After just a few weeks, you’ll be able to read every Japanese word like a native.
The two exceptions in pronunciation aren’t even that tricky:
1. The Japanese R is closer to D
The Japanese don’t distinguish between L, D and R. So to pronounce the first part of 📻 ra-ji-o*,* you’ll need to move your tongue closer to ‘la’, while making the same mouth shape as if you were saying ‘da’.
This is why many Japanese can’t distinguish 🐜 lice from 🍚 rice when spoken.
After a day or two of practice, you’ll be saying ラジオ just like a native speaker!
2. English doesn’t have the sounds ‘tsu’
To say the first part of 🌊 tsu-na-mi, you need to push the air through your teeth a little like a beatboxer would make a cymbal sound with the word ‘cats’. See if you can mimic the sound: 津波
Other than these two exceptions, all Japanese sounds have English equivalents!
Small tricks for big wins
You may think of learning grammar as the unfortunate chore, but it’s what’s most exciting about the Japanese language.
Japanese grammar is really simple.
But the best part is:
The few patterns there are make you really expressive without all the vocab and set expressions you’d have to use in English.
Let’s see how expressive we can be about cake:
To say “I ate cake”, you use:
ケーキを食べた (ke-ki wo ta-be-ta).
But add special verb ending, ‘cha-t-ta’:
ケーキを食べちゃった (ke-ki wo ta-be-cha-t-ta)
and you get “I didn’t really mean to, but I ended up eating cake”.
That’s two phrases to convey what Japanese does with one syllable! And you can do the same with all verbs—no exceptions.
There are loads of other useful verb endings, and they’re super rewarding to learn as each makes your Japanese much more expressive.
Rather than just saying “I went to a nightclub”, why not say “I gave going to a nightclub a try”? Adding ‘te-mita’ to the verb ‘went’ does that.
Instead of “I put a pen in my pocket”, how about “I made preparations for something in the future by putting a pen in my pocket”? Simply end the verb with ‘te-oku’.
Smart learners leverage these simple but powerful endings to speak well beyond their abilities. 😏
(And you’ll learn countless more in the full LinguaLift course)
Vagueness and formality make Japanese easier
It’s rare that the customs and culture of a country can make language learning easier, but this is certainly true for Japanese.
In Japan, it’s unusual to communicate in a direct and frank manner, so even when your Japanese isn’t as precise as you’d like it to be, you can still come across naturally.
It’s up to the person listening to try and fill in the blanks in what the speaker is saying, and work out what will be the most harmonious solution for both parties.
This makes Japanese the rare language where beginner learners tend to say too much, not too little.
You received a party invitation from your best friend, but unfortunately have to decline.
Your teacher mentioned there could be a retest on Friday morning, and you’re not sure if you can go as there’s a chance you may have to stay up late studying.
It’d be entirely inappropriate to say all of this information to your Japanese friend! 🙊
All you’d need to say is:
“So, I received your invitation, but…”
Your friend will understand from the word ‘but…’ that you probably have a reasonable excuse, and are unlikely to come to the party.
You only need to be able to say one short sentence, and you’ve managed to communicate effectively and naturally in Japanese!
Use set phrases for shortcuts to fluency
Common Japanese interactions are based on formulaic exchanges that follow predictable patterns.
Some conversations at school and in the workplace are so rigid, they read like a movie script!
Learn these set expressions, and you’ll be able to participate in conversations well above your actual level.
Many expressions used dozens of times a day by Japanese people have no direct English equivalent, as they fit countless contexts and can convey different shades of meaning.
You can say:
Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.
I request that you treat me well.
to express many feelings, from “please do this for me”, through “I’m sorry I messed up, I’ll try harder next time” to even “I hope you’ll let me join your party”.
It’s a perfectly natural thing to say in so many contexts, you can use it in any conversation in which you can’t quite find the right words.
When you’ve got a sense of how these expressions are used, they really take your language to the next level.
You can use them to make the conversation flow even if you’re not entirely sure what’s going on. 👍There are dozens of them, and we cover the most useful ones at LinguaLift from the beginning.
Japanese people love talking about their country
This isn’t something most people think about when deciding whether to learn a language, but the Japanese are unusually willing to help foreigners learn 🇯🇵 Japanese.
There are countless apps and forums where native speakers offer their time for free to help you learn the language.
There are relatively few foreign-born people living in Japan, and many Japanese are excited to mingle and learn from international visitors when they get a chance to.
This means you’ll have no trouble finding language exchange partners and making friends, adding extra fun to your learning journey.
It’s a really fun language
For anyone who likes problem solving, puzzles and visual thinking, Japanese is a thrilling language to learn.
It is far removed from English, giving you plenty of creative ways to build sentences.
It also opens doors to film, literature and incredible cultural experiences completely off limits to those who don’t speak Japanese.
Learning Japanese is not easy, but it is possible. We know the path successful learners take, and can’t wait to guide motivated learners like you.
Ready to learn smart? Then try a free Japanese lesson today.