How to get better at expressing myself in japanese?

Every time I have to write something in japanese my brain goes blank and I have a hard time to express what I want to say. I make lots of dumb mistakes and even get some easy things wrong. To improve I got the Genki textbooks and workbooks and I’m slowly working through them doing all the exercises.

What seems to help is hearing japanese people talk and memorizing useful phrases. I already learnt some things that way. But is there something else I can do to become better at writing in japanese?


I hang out on JP Twitter. It’s very educational, and I sometimes get into short conversations.


Writing, like any other skill, gets better with intentional practice and lots of feedback. There are a few threads here I’ve seen about writing, some like the sentence a day or links to other services (free and paid).

Hopefully you can find something to suit you!

Best of luck :slight_smile:

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Getting better at writing in Japanese (essays, articles, stories) is something I was focusing on.

One approach that helped me was to write what you actually want to express in English and then translate it into Japanese with a tutor. It’s very nice for learning native ways of telling an idea.

And another one is writing in Japanese right away and then reviewing it with a tutor. This is good when you have a general idea of how to write a specific thing.

And of course you should read things similar to those you want to write. If you want to write a movie review then read various reviews etc.


It takes a while, especially if you’re still at the beginner level. I would continue with finishing both books of Genki, preferably with a native tutor, and then get into an intermediate book like Tobira. That’s where it really took off for me (though I still have a lot of work to do), but having a good teacher is an important part of it.

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I’ve found sentence patterns the hardest thing to master because the word order is so different to English. But as you say, learning key sentences can really help. I post on HelloTalk regularly to have my sentences corrected by native speakers. Where they’ve corrected the word order, I’ll try to go back and re-use a sentence a week or two later but changing one noun or one verb in it and then keep doing that until I feel I’ve got it nailed. I also make flashcards of sentences I’ve read on Instagram, and then also try to use those on HelloTalk with one or two components changed. This helps me to actually be expressing myself in Japanese, rather than in English translated into Japanese words (if that makes sense).


Thanks everyone I got lots of useful advices I will use them to improve my writing.

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Might be a little bit late to the topic, but I had a lot of difficulty with this when I was studying in Japan. The biggest trick I learned was to think around things. What often tripped me up was trying to express myself in the same complex way that I can in English: and in Japanese my language skills just aren’t there yet.

So when I was trying to ask my Japanese friend what a frog is called, I asked her [ケロケロ の動物はなんですか?] (read as: kerokeor no doubutsu wa nan desu ka?]. This translates, roughly, as “What is the ribbit ribbit animal?”

When I was talking to my roommate about my major at school, I didn’t know how to say ‘creative writing’ – so I said [物語を つくる] (monogatari wo tsukuru) or [物語のつくりかた] (monogatari no tsukurikata), meaning “to make a story” or “the way of making a story”.

It’s not perfect, of course, and sometimes you’re left feeling like you haven’t perfectly gotten your thought across. But when you don’t know the word for something and you’re trying to just keep going and not stop for a dictionary, it’s a handy habit to have.


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