Studying another language can be a challenge, especially when you’re busy. Even just sitting down for even 20 minutes a day can be hard! But it’s really not impossible. Here are some tricks to help study Japanese when you’re busy.
1. Label Everything
This is a great trick when you’re starting out. Label all the objects in your house/office in Japanese. Don’t write the English, just the Japanese. That way you can read the Japanese for those objects every day.
It doesn’t take long to label things and it’s great practice.
You can even cover the labels with another label and try to remember the word for the object before you reach it. If you can’t remember the word you can quickly lift the flap and have a look.
Make sure you say everything out loud to help you remember.
2. Shower and Walk Thoughts in Japanese
When you’re in the shower or out for a walk is a great time to try and think in Japanese. If you’re a beginner it could just be trying to remember vocabulary you recently learnt. It’s also a good time to try and think up random sentences. Imagine you’re having a conversation with someone and try to think what you’ll say to them.
Similar to the label idea, I find it helps to point at random things and try to remember their Japanese name.
Again, try and talk out loud, it will help with the memorizing process.
3. Study While You’re Waiting
Apps are great. Frequent readers of Japanese Talk Online already know how much I love Memrise. If you have an app you like to use to study Japanese then whip is out every time you find yourself standing around not doing much.
When you’re waiting for the bus/train (when you’re on said bus/train); When you’re waiting for food to cook; When you’re waiting for your BF/GF to get ready.
Find an app you like and use it when you have 5-15 minutes spare.
4. Write Notes
When I started I would sometimes try to write sentences or words on the side of my note book during lectures at school. Doing this can be a great way to activate your memory.
Even short sentences about what’s happening around you is great.
If you find you don’t remember or don’t know how to say something, make a note of it and look it up later. Or you can ask a native…
5. Ask Others
It’s so easy to get in contact with people learning Japanese or other languages. You can post questions incredibly quickly about the language you’re studying on apps like italki and HiNative. Natives and Japanese learners will often post replies fairly quickly.
6. Makes Friends with Japanese People
The first one is LINE. Every Japanese person has LINE, it’s basically the WhatsApp for Japan. (Japanese people are more likely to have LINE than Facebook too).
HelloTalk is similar to HiNative, but it’s more focused on communication than asking questions.
Of course italki is also a great place to meet people and exchange LINE and/or skype information.
7. Carry a Book With You
Similar to apps, having a book with you and reading it whenever you have a few minutes to spare is a GREAT way to keep up with your Japanese!
I don’t just mean for advanced learners either. There are books out there for lower level Japanese too! Such as イッキによめる！ Ikki Ni Yomeru (Stories You Can Read Smoothly). This is a 6-volume series of stories designed to be read smoothly in 10 minutes. These books are unique in that each contains a collection of both old and modern tales. Each book contains nine stories aimed at Japanese elementary 1st graders with short quiz questions to check your reading. The stories contain furigana for difficult kanji and explanations for some words in Japanese.
If you have time I strongly recommend you watch this interview.
When you start studying a language you often get in this mind-set that you need to sit down and study. But that’s really not the case. Yes, sitting down and studying, or working with a teacher help you learn. But it’s not as effective if you’re not using it regularly.
Even just 10-20 minutes in bursts throughout the day build up a lot more than sitting down for 1 hour a week.
These tips can be a fun way to practice Japanese when you have a busy schedule. Each of them only takes a few minutes and you can do them multiple times throughout the day.
They’re also fun! When you turn studying into a chore you begin to put it off. So make it fun, quick and easy and you’ll find yourself picking it up quickly!
Let me know if these have helped you, or if you have your own tips for studying when you’re busy!