Tips when starting Japanese Classes

So I’ve recently signed up for Japanese classes (level 1 beginner classes to be specific) and the first lesson starts tomorrow. Going in, I do know basic things like the writing systems & basic grammar concepts like conjugation etc.

Do you guys have any useful tips/pointers that would aid me? Also, I’m a tad worried that I’ll feel the need to compete with my classmates, do you have any advice?


You’re not competing with your classmates. You’re all in this together.

Though, I hope you’re not starting an in-person class given the current situation. If so, stay home.


Please don’t feel the need to compete. People learn and pick up languages in different way and at different rates. So long as you help each other both in and outside of lessons, your own learning will greatly benefit.

It’s always good to have a friend to practice a new language with.

Not sure what to suggest for the lesson itself as all teachers have their own style of teaching. Making notes is kind of obvious but also important and organising those notes and any hand outs you get will make it easier to review them later. Pretty generic response but I’m not sure how your teacher will teach.

Is it a remote lesson?

I took French for years in school, and all I worried about then was getting a good grade. I didn’t bother listening to audio tapes much, or try to engage much in class conversation (not that there was much), since they didn’t impact my grade.

Guess how well I speak French now. (Hint: my French-speaking coworker speaks English with me.)

My advice is: don’t worry about how you’re doing relative to others at all. In fact, if you notice you’re advancing faster, make it a point to help them catch up, trying to use what little Japanese you know. It’ll help both of you.


Thank you for your advice. And yes, it is a remote lesson temporarily due to the current situation.

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Compete. :man_shrugging: It’s a fun motivator.

But rather than compete with your classmates, I would suggest to compete with yourself.

I used to be like that, until I figured everyone had their own reasons, time available, capability, etc., for learning Japanese, it’s not a race.

Maybe make it your goal to understand everything well enough so you can help your classmates out if they need it. :slight_smile:

For advice, do your homework.

Do it properly, and look up the things you don’t understand so you have questions for the teacher.
Ask a lot of questions and you’re set.

Also: Have fun.


Doesn’t beginner classes in Japanese language starts with teaching the writing system and the basic of the basics of grammar (は、が、の、etc)? If you know them already, maybe this class is already below your level.

I experienced something like that. The sensei taught the mnemonics on how to remember hiragana and katakana for the first half of semester while I already memorized them by heart. It was fun interacting with classmates though.

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speak, participate, volunteer, be active in class

Use the target language as much as possible. If your teacher has office hours, use them (be a regular). Take full advantage of whatever the class gives you.

And lastly, classes are very good at guiding you, providing structure, and correcting you when you make mistakes, but they aren’t always efficient in terms of speed. Interact with the language outside of class too (keep up your WaniKani, etc.).

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One thing that I can say from the many years of Japanese class I took in school is that the learning pace is much slower than you would ever expect it to initially be (unless it is a very immersion-oriented course). So if you’re not going to Japan, be prepared for possibly MANY years of learning in a typical-style class, since Japanese is a category 4 language for English speakers after all. What I’m saying doesn’t mean classes are bad in any way, it’s just that patience is likely necessary if you want to quickly see gains out of a standard class.

I believe that by learning kanji and vocabulary in WaniKani you will find that immersion will become the best way to learn, as you will likely start to understand a lot of words very rapidly. And the fact that you are deciding to potentially learn 2000 kanji (and all the vocab that comes along with it) while starting a level 1 class likely means you will very rapidly surpass all classmates within a month or two, so there’s not much you’ll likely have to compete against in that scenario. Good luck with your studies!

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Use the class as an opportunity to listen and speak as much as possible. Like don’t be the person who is scared to speak Japanese because you’re afraid you’ll be bad at speaking Japanese. That’s the main benefit of a classroom setting.


Don’t see it as a competition, you’re all on the same page wanting to learn a language. Use it as a chance to make friends and practice with each other etc :slight_smile:

But as others have said try to speak in class whenever possible. Don’t be afraid to speak or make mistakes, whatever, as long as you speak or say something. It will help you with your confidence in the long run. That is one of the things I regret doing in my Japanese class is not talking enough because I was nervous about making mistakes. But it’s okay to, you’re learning!

As my sensei used to say when seeing who will answer a question “who wants to make mistakes?” Not because she wanted us to do bad but because she wanted us to make a mistake if we had any and learn from them! :smiley:

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I definitely agree. Even though I did Japanese classes I did feel it was really slow due to the class setting. I progressed and learnt much more when I was studying by myself.

I’m going to echo what some others have already said - speak up in class as much as possible. Be that person that’s always trying to answer the question or volunteering for an exercise. Be ready to be a bit embarrassed when you make a mistake, but don’t let that stop you, it’s part of learning! You’re in a class (that I’m assuming you’re paying money for) with people that only want to help you get better, so use it!

Also, try to branch out as much as possible with the grammar you’re learning. Play around with it a bit, try to make your sentences more complex and not just the grammar formula that’s being taught. (For instance, try to create 2-3 sentences around your target grammar point that expand on the topic using what grammar you’ve already worked on.) I’ve found that’s helped me in the long run have a better ability to use the grammar and not just memorize and forget.

Best of luck! You got this! :smile:

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That sounds like a class for kids. :eyes: We’re doing hiragana for a semester with them, but we learned it in a week or two.

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It was actually a beginner Japanese class in the university :sweat_smile:

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Fits right into that category then! :wink:

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