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Learning A New Language Can Be Tough, But It’s Rewarding

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I have been studying one other language apart from English for the last six years; Japanese. Cue the gasps, confusion, interest and every single other possible reaction you could give someone, because Japanese is a rare language to start, but also a hard one to stick with.

The language of Japanese is known to be ranked as one of the top five hardest languages in the world and is considered one of the most difficult to learn by many English speakers. The Japanese language has three different alphabets/writing systems, with one alphabet having a certain symbol called Kanji for almost any word that you can think of. The language also has casual and formal structure and a lot of the sentences are in reverse sentence structure when compared to the English language.

If I am telling you all of this and it seems intimidating, then why did I stick with studying it?

I began studying Japanese in 8th grade middle school. I thought that it would be a great opportunity for jobs in the future and on my resume, but I later learned that it was way more than that. I was able to make great friendships, learn more about the culture and even become friends with an exchange teacher who was born and raised in Japan.

It became more than just an elective class and something that I would end up spending several hours on studying for the next six years. It was, and still is, so much hard work, and it will never become easy for me, because there is always something I can keep learning.

It is important to learn a culture other than your own.

A language can be very hard yes, but it is also extremely rewarding. I feel like it is extremely important to be culturally aware of other traditions unlike your own. I have learned an entirely different lifestyle that is unlike English. We all should try to learn about other languages to better understand the world that we live in and one another as human beings.

You just need to remember that it takes time and lots of practice. But, do not become too frustrated because many are in the same boat as you when they are studying a language. You also need to remember that it is never too late to start. I know teachers from my high school that were in their mid 50s and even one in her 70s studying a new language. If you are a younger student in middle school or an older student in college, do not be intimidated to give it a shot if you have always wanted to either. This is your time and it is a great privilege and opportunity to be given the chance to learn another language.

How did I get more into the japanese language?

I feel like it is really important to look at other mediums of the language you are studying to get more everyday perspectives of the culture. Also, I feel like it makes studying the language a lot more fun and interesting.

Music

Music is a great thing to do when you are studying a language. Just listening to it without much thought is still training your brain to comprehend the pronunciation the artist is using. To help me study, I made a playlist on Spotify of some of my favorite Japanese songs by artists that I really enjoy!

My Japanese Music Playlist!

TV shows and movies

Watching television shows and movies are another great way to study a language. Again, just listening to it and adding the English subtitles makes a huge difference.

Japanese artists and authors

As someone who is an avid reader and loves doing art, this also holds my interest! I like finding Japanese artists and authors, so I can gain more from their perspective and their insights. A Japanese author I am excited to read next is Osamu Dazai, who wrote “No Longer Human.” I also got really into “Rakugaki,” which is the Japanese word for Graffiti and learning more about Japanese culture through that! Try and find your personal hobbies through the language you are studying to peak further interest!

Tips and TRICKS WITH STUDYING A LANGUAGE

As a person who has studied a language for awhile, it is definitely hard to find the method that works best. I am still trying to find the best ways for me. But, here are a few ideas that I have either used in the past or my friends who are also studying Japanese or another language have used.

  1. Quizlet: This is an online way to study. It is great for practice tests and if you want to save a few trees.
  2. Tangible Flashcards: Index cards that are unruled or ruled are the way to go.
  3. Looking through your notebook at the notes you have personally written.
  4. Handwriting it over and over again. Repetition is key.
  5. If you are doing something involving speaking, record yourself and hear it back to see any errors or to memorize it. It is cringey hearing your voice I know, but it is a huge help.
  6. Converse with a friend or family member who may also be learning the language. Having a casual conversation with someone back and forth is the best way to learn faster.
  7. Consume media (like I spoke on earlier).

Again, studying a new language is supposed to be fun! Find one that interests you and do not be afraid to try it out! There are so many languages in the world and there is at least one that would fit your interests. Do not give up when it gets hard, because it is an extraordinary opportunity to be able to learn a language unlike your own, to better understand the universe around you.

Ella Katona

Kent State '26

Ella is a freshman at Kent State University. She is a Journalism major and a soon-to-be Japanese minor. Ella was born and raised in Pittsburgh and adores spending her time out in nature, reading, running and doing anything involving art.