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FAQ

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Q: Which character set is most used in Japanese - kanji, hiragana, or katakana?
A: Most Japanese sentences contain a mixture of kanji and hiragana with katakana used as needed (mainly for foreign/borrowed words). Kanji is the primary character set for nouns and the beginning of verbs and adjectives. Hiragana is always used for particles and verb/adjective conjugation. Kanji is a very difficult subject but necessary if you want to learn to read Japanese fluently.

Q: How do you say "I love you" in Japanese?
A: This would be "Anata o ai shite imasu" (polite form) or "Anata o ai shite iru" (plain form - spoken form would be "Anata o ai shite ru") BUT be advised that the Japanese typically don't use the Japanese word for love ("ai") when talking about their feelings for someone else (not even a boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, child, parent, etc.). They would typically say "Anata no koto ga suki desu" or "Anata ga daisuki desu". "Suki" means "like" and "daisuki" means "favorite". This may seem strange but this is just what they say for "I love you" in Japanese.

Q: How do you convert English words to Japanese or Japanese words to English?
A: You can't. Japanese is a completely different language with no similarities to English. The grammar, alphabet, vocabulary, etc. is all different. Many people think an online translator, like BabelFish, will do the trick. Truth is, machine translations such as that make absolutely no sense. The only way to "convert" English to Japanese, or visa versa, is to be fluent in both languages and translate between the two (not an easy task) or find someone to do it for you.

Q: Will you teach me Japanese swear words?
A: No. We are trying to bring people together by teaching the Japanese language and teaching people how to swear in Japanese can only have negative results.

Q: Will you teach me Japanese slang?
A: No. We teach plain form and polite form. There are forms even higher than polite form. Polite form is critical because this is what you would use on someone near your age or older that you don't know well. Once the other person switches to plain form it is ok for you to do so as well but only with that person. Plain form is the most common form of speech in Japan but should only be used with friends, family, and those much younger than you. Slang is only spoken by teens and children but most Japanese teens and children will not talk to foreigners and slang is highly offensive if used in most any scenario with an adult so we do not feel it appropriate to teach here.

Q: I want to move to Japan to work, go to school, learn Japanese in Japan, etc. Is this easy to do?
A: The Japanese as a whole aren't all that welcoming to foreigners living in their country. Especially if they don't know the language - most Japanese don't speak English. Most foreigners living in Japan end up only making friends with other foreigners living there (even if they do know the language). There aren't many foreigners living in Japan. Those in smaller cities are stared at like aliens and those in larger cities (where there are more foreigners) are typically ignored.

Imagine half the population of the United States living in a country around the size of California but with livable space around 1/3 the size of Utah. Most Japanese just want to go about their day and feel they are too busy to meet new people. With how crowded it is, who could blame them? Most are less interested in meeting people from other countries. Those that are typically move to those counties.

The government also makes it difficult to stay longer than 3 months. You would either need a work visa, student visa, or have a Japanese spouse. Work visas are incredibly difficult to get if you aren't fluent in the language. The only real option in this case is to teach English but these are very sought after positions. Japanese fluency is definitely required to get a student visa and you must also be accepted to the school (which isn't easy by itself). Japanese universities require JLPT level 2 (the second highest proficiency level) just to apply but the coursework would be quite difficult without JLPT level 1 (the highest proficiency level). It generally takes at least 3-5 years of pretty intense studying to achieve JLPT level 1.

If this is something you really want to do then don't let this information discourage you but know that it will not be easy - especially to try and fit in and make Japanese friends.

Q: I love anime. Is this a good way to learn Japanese?
A: Unfortunately, no. Anime uses a lot of regional dialects. This can be quite confusing since each dialect typically has different rules for verb conjugation. For instance, villains typically use the Kansai dialect. This is considered one of the lowest forms of speech and is very rude outside of the Kansai region (Osaka, Kobe, etc.). This is one reason anime doesn't make a good tool for learning Japanese.

Another is that most of what is spoken in anime is over the top and unrealistic. A lot of slang and low-level speech is used as well. If many phrases used in anime were repeated to a real Japanese person (especially a stranger) it could be viewed as quite strange and/or offensive.

Q: What is my name in Japanese?
A: See the What is my name in Japanese? lesson.

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