I live in a small college town with a virtually non-existent Japanese population. Actually we hardly have any Asian population at all: there’s one small Mandarin-speaking church and the Korean mart went out of business last year. I just finished finals (thank goodness) for the semester and now I’ve got four weeks until my Japanese 1020 class starts. Does anyone have any resources to help a fledgling student practice speaking in the absence of any other Japanese speakers?
There are several online comunitites that will allow you to talk with other language learners.
talk to yourself that is a joke but I do it bc I have no friends
I agree with the others; talk to yourself or join language learning forums/apps. I use HelloTalk and have a couple of people I chat with at least once a week. If you’re too nervous to chat, you can always just post a couple sentences for native speakers to correct your grammar. It’s kind of like Twitter. It has a built-in function to correct each other’s grammar, so every conversation is a learning opportunity.
Another thing I used to gain confidence in speaking is Pimsleur’s absolute Japanese course. The Japanese can be simple if you’re in the intermediate level or above, but even then it helps to practice thinking and responding in Japanese without fear of embarrassment.
Try Shadowing! That’s what I’ve been doing. I do live in Japan so I actually do have opportunities to talk. But I like to squander it.
The book I’m using is Shadowing: Let’s Speak Japanese! Beginner to Intermediate Edition・シャドーイング 日本語を話そう 初~中.
Try some Shadowing! (like lopicake already said) What I did when I was learning english was to learn some songs by heart and sing along with them which I guess is a kind of shadowing. You might not become particularly good at conversing, but at least you’ll develop a better accent and learn a lot of new words !
I’ve started Pimsleur a couple days ago and so far I think it’s pretty nice, so that would’ve also been my recommendation! We do have a couple more Japanese people here in Berlin, and thanks to Pimsleur I finally got a few (simple ) sentences in the last time we met
That being said, Pimsleur is just a form of shadowing (combined with spaced repetitions; you’re supposed to do one 30 minute lesson per day), so i guess any other form of shadowing might work well too!
That looks nice and has quite a few good recommendations on Amazon. And you like it too, I guess? Does it feel natural from what you can tell? (And a review mentions that the male speaker is much too fast to follow - is that true?)
I have finished the first book (currently using the second one).
I don’t think he is too fast. However, when you start practice a new section, it can be a little difficult to keep up at first. But your speech should become more fluid by the end
How are you finding it? It’s been in my bookshelf for like two months (But it’s only because I haven’t gotten my hands a CD-drive to get the audio files I swear…)
I would say I’m intermediate and wasn’t sure whether to get this or the next one (intermediate to advanced). Ultimately decided to get this since it’s probably better to focus on simple sentences, pronunciation and rhythm. In the case of the next book being too difficult it would have been a disaster using it.
A funny thing to do: try shadowing a movie or anime (without the subtitles). You won’t know what you’re saying but it helps internalizing sounds an patterns a lot. Makes me laugh every time and small things do add up.
The suggestions above are great, but here are a couple of other tips. Switch your Siri (or voice assistant of your choice) over to Japanese and ask it questions.
Dictation is good too, although with AI getting better and better it’s getting more slack about what constitutes good pronunciation.
Also, literally in the last five minutes, whilst looking for something else I found an app called kaizen which uses voice recognition and AI to allow you to practice conversations with it’s bots. I’ve only spend a couple of minute playing with it but it seems worth a deeper exploration.
It feels/sounds very natural. The speed is normal conversation level, so it’s definitely faster than any textbook audio would be. I first used it just as listening practice and went through both books and I really think that really boosted my listening a lot!
For Shadowing, yeah it’s pretty tough to follow. I’m on Unit 2 Section 2 of the Beginner/Intermediate one and it’s a bit frustrating to be not be able to keep up with the most basic of sentences. But I think that’s just what proves it’s worth.
I just need to remember that speaking, itself, is a separate skill that I have not trained really well so far, so I WILL have to start at the basics. But over time, if I keep practicing everyday, just like Kanji and Reading and Listening, I WILL get better. It’s funny how easily I forget how hard it is being a beginner at something. I know I had the same hangups when I started Kanji.