Since I get more translation and interpreting work lately, I wanted to share my method for studying Japanese.
When one’s been working mostly in Japanese for almost five years, one’s Japanese level is more than OK. And when I say I have JLPT level 1 most Japanese think my Japanese must be awesome, but JLPT’s top level isn’t actually that high. In contrast with other Japanese language qualifications, JLPT is only for people who don’t have Japanese as their mother tongue. This means most Japanese people haven’t ever heard of it, and also its aim is set to certifying one’s ability for communication in Japanese up to a regular employment level.
Some books I use as Japanese textbooks
But knowledge areas appearing in any job are limited and without motivation and interest in many different things your Japanese learning could stall. That’s where I was saved by this studying method.
First, once we’re in this level we have to stop thinking as a foreign student and think about someone who understands Japanese. We probably need to use books made for Japanese people. The ones in the picture above explain useful bits and pieces of Japanese which you won’t find at exams.
For example, Yasuo Kitahara‘s Mondai na Nihongo show us many expressions and usages that aren’t perfectly correct but more or less widely used in nowadays Japan. I think it’s not good to ignore them, but it’s not good either to adopt them without even noticing. I prefer learning to understand and detect them, and not using them myself.
Shigesato Itoi‘s Otonago no Nazo is a compilation of corporate and business jargon, explained with some criticism and even sarcasm. If the previous book was a bit serious, this one is quite fun to read.
There are many books like these, but I think it’s also important to read fiction and manga. Lately I’m hooked on Bakuman, a comic which gives us the perspective of the people making manga.
And before finishing, I’d like to ask you to disregard possible imperfections in my redaction in Japanese and English. When I work with translations I always have a native specialist to check the texts, so quality is guaranteed. But I like writing this blog on my own as a way to practice and learn.