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Ten tips for learning to speak Japanese

Updated on March 13, 2011

After passing the Japanese Proficiency Test with high scores I'd like to share my language learning tips. School language classes aren't my thing - how are you supposed to learn a language in a class where no one else (except the teacher) speaks it.

1. Buy a Japanese textbook like Japanese for Busy People. Don't study at home. Instead visit coffee shops where Japanese students hang out. To strike up conversations politely ask for help with pronunciation. Once the conversation is started use gestures, broken Japanese to try to carry on a conversation.

2. Advertise on Craigslist to exchange English lessons for Japanese lessons. Once your exchange partner get comfortable with you ask them out to a Japanese restaurant and so on.

3. Find a Japanese conversation group on Meetup. Try to work whatever Japanese you know into the conversation.

4. If you are a Buddhist or Christian, find a local Japanese congregation and start to attend services. Take part in the events they organize; picnics, bible/meditation classes.

5. Offer to take your Japanese-speaking acquaintances out to see a local junior sports event, nightclub and so on. Japanese people love drinking parties.

6. If you're in a major city there's likely to be a local karaoke box (karaoke club) with Japanese songs. Try to learn some Japanese songs.

7. Students often don't have very good cooking facilities. Invite them over for a Canadian meal. Ask them to teach you how to make some Japanese dishes in return.

8. Visit your local Japanese store at a quiet time. Try to use your Japanese to ask for cooking advice. Depending on how bored the clerk is, you can get into  a good conversation. Always buy something even if it's only soy sauce.

9. Borrow Japanese conversation tapes/CDs from the library.

10. If you have done all the above chances are you'll meet a Japanese lady friend who wants a more penetrating experience of Canada. Having a Japanese girlfriend can accelerate your language learning and expand your delight in everything Japanese.

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