When I went home with two friends of mine this week, one of them asked: „How come your Japanese is so good?“ Fact is I couldn’t really speak any Japanese when I came here. But now I can easily have a normal conversation in Japanese. Of course I study a lot, but I don‘t think that’s how I or anybody becomes fluent in a language. That‘s why I‘m now going to show you how to become fluent in Japanese or any other language.
How To Become Fluent
How does a baby learn to speak?
It doesn’t study, does it?
A baby spends all day long listening to its parents and trying to imitate them. After being born it can’t speak at all, but as time passes it learns more and more words and inevitably becomes what we call a native speaker.
Study Abroad To Become Fluent
„We wouldn’t need French class if only we could go to France for half a year“ used my French teacher to say.
I didn’t believe her. But now I totally agree with her.
Before coming to Japan I could barely speak any Japanese. But now I have almost no trouble understanding and also using everyday Japanese. Of course my Japanese is nowhere near perfect. But it made immense progress by being surrounded by Japanese 24 hours a day.
But learning a language isn’t the only perk of going on exchange. It’s also going to be the most fun and exciting thing in your life. You will have to adopt to a completely different culture, and learn how to deal with that. But you will also make many new friends and learn a new language. That’s why going on exchange is my number one tip on how to become fluent in Japanese or every other language (read more).
Link to my agent.
Watch TV To Become Fluent
Do you want to sound just like a native?
Then you‘ll have to watch many hours of native content.
In my High School, there‘s one guy whose English is one of the best I‘ve heard in Japan. He spends almost all of his free time watching some weird American reality TV show. He then tries to imitate what they’ve said and also use it in real life. Although he uses almost only swear words, he sounds totally natural. Sometimes he calls me just to ask what somebody in the show has just said and what it means.
When I was in fifth grade of elementary school I started watching English videos and movies. And eventually I stopped watching German stuff completely. This greatly improved my English and made my pronunciation sound almost native-like (at least that’s what people say to me). But recently I almost completely banned English from my life and now try to only consume Japanese media.
Non-scripted content is by far the best. I noticed that the conversations in dramas and non-scripted shows like テラスハウス (terrace house) are quite different. People make mistakes while talking – even natives. But to sound like a native you have to make mistakes in the same way as a native. And you will only get that in non-scripted content.
Now matter how fluent your Japanese is if you say: „Uhm…“, you will sound unnatural.
Watching native content is key to becoming fluent in a language.
Novels are the best way to study vocabulary.
Novels have to describe everything using only words. This means you will come across much more words than you would by watching a movie or TV show. You will also learn how things get described in the language you are learning.
Recently I bought myself a Kindle and started reading books in Japanese. In the beginning it was extremely difficult. But the more I read the more I understood. And I learn so many new words on the way. A kindle allows you to read wherever you want, look up words and somehow makes reading fun.
Listening To Podcasts
What are you doing while commuting?
Are you wasting time on social media?
That commute could be time you spend becoming fluent! As I said earlier, a baby spends almost all of its time listening to its parents. And you have to do almost the same. That means you have to listen to the language you’re learning all the time – while you’re going to school or work, working out at the gym, doing laundry, cooking dinner or shopping.
Podcasts allow you to spend even more time being surrounded by the language you want to learn. Podcasts are especially useful when the only thing you can do is listening. I myself listen to Japanese podcasts now everyday on my way to and from school, at the gym, while preparing my bento (read more) and whenever I do something where I can’t be surrounded by Japanese in another way.
Be surrounded by the language you want to learn as much as possible!