When you want to become fluent in Japanese, you need to master phrases that make you sound natural, and you should learn how to ask for explanations of the world around you. Once you have the ability to ask questions and build your vocabulary, your confidence will grow.
When you’re nervous, it’s because you’re afraid of making a mistake or sounding dumb. But remember! Almost always, Japanese people are going to be excited to speak Japanese with you, even if you make mistakes. You may feel like a baby because there are so many things you can’t understand. But it’s important to smile and have fun when you make mistakes, and your partner will hopefully find a graceful way to correct you.
Now get out there to your nearest Japanese restaurant and gambarimashou! (Let’s try hard!)
- I’m sorry, please say it again. Please speak more slowly.
Sumimasen ga, mou icihido itte kudasai. Motto yukkuri hanashite kudasai
Practice this a lot. I promise it will come in handy.
- How do you say this in Japanese?
Kore wa Nihongo de, nan to iimasu ka?
This is one of the most useful phrases you can learn. It’s the key to becoming a fluent master in time.
You can replace “kore” with the word in English, if your friend will understand.
- How do you write it in Chinese characters?
Dono you ni Kanji de Kakimasu ka?
As soon as you learn any new Japanese word or phrase, ask your friend how it’s written in kanji. Write the phrase 10 times in your study book.
The next time you say that phrase, try to imagine how it’s written while you speak. Once you get into the habit of writing everything down until it sticks, you will be learning 10 or more characters per day!
- I understand (thanks to your explanation.)
When your Japanese friend is done explaining, you can say “naru hodo” to indicate that you understand thanks to their help. It’s a bit more natural sounding than “wakarimashita.”
- If you want to become proficient in Japanese, you must study.
Nihongo ga jouzu ni naritai nara, benkyou shinakereba ikemasen.
In Japanese, when you’re saying, “You must X” you’re literally saying, “if x does not happen, things will be bad.”
Look at the example sentence. You can use the basic form “X shinakereba ikemasen” with any verb that makes sense.
You must do laundry. Sentaku o shinakereba ikemasen.
Try making your own sentence!
- You always thank the chef after a meal, right? You probably know how to say thank you….
But if you say “arigatou gozaimasu” after a delicious Japanese meal, it’s going to sound weird.
Instead, you say “Gochisousama deshita!” ごちそうさまでした
It’s also polite to leave a small bite on your plate, to show that the chef gave you enough food. Japanese custom is to keep filling your glass and dishes until you stop drinking/eating.
Some romantic phrases….
Maybe you want to ask that cute Japanese girl out on a date. She would be even more impressed if you ask her in her native language. Here’s a few phrases that will help you break the ice. This is an informal situation, don’t say these phrases to your boss!
- Anata ni deatta toki kara, kokoro ga doki doki shita
From the first time I met you, my heart has been beating like crazy.
- Issho ni asobi ni ikou!
Let’s go on a date together! (Literally: Let’s go out playing together)
If you’re ready to make the move, just go ahead and ask her out. It will probably be extremely forward, but maybe she’ll find that charming.
- Tsuyoku dakishimetai.
I really want to hold you in my arms. This is a really romantic sounding phrase. If she likes you at all, this will certainly make her heart melt.
- Keitai bangou oshiete moraemasu ka?
What’s your cell number?
They say the best way to learn Japanese is on the pillow. If you managed to break the ice with your Nihongo skills, try asking for your new friend’s number.
If you’re struggling to find the motivation to study Japanese, think about what your goals are for learning the language. Do you want to be able to understand anime? Or do you want to make Japanese friends in preparation for visiting Japan? Be clear about your goals and it will naturally motivate you to study a little bit every day.