How I started learning Japanese


Back in 2017, I visited Japan for the first time. Japan was definitely at the top of the list of countries I want to go to for so long. So when I learned that there would be a month-long training by JICA in Japan, I tried my luck and got in! That trip made me appreciate Nihongo on another level. I loved hearing the train announcements, the greetings from convenience store workers, even the elevator announcing what floor are we in. But most importantly, I admired Nihongo more because we were guided every day by our Nihongo-English interpreters—Junko-san and Kaori-san. I was always in awe listening to them translate. During our breaks, I would even ask them to translate phrases for me, and they would also teach us Japanese slangs. My favorite was めっちゃ (metcha) which means “very / a lot”.

I tried self-studying Japanese after that trip. I downloaded the free version of the Duolingo app and would do some exercises. I felt that my learning at this time was very shallow. I didn’t feel like I’m absorbing these words I’m hearing. However, during a trip back to Japan in 2018 with my parents, I was able to somehow spew some Nihongo when we stumbled upon a restaurant with no English menu. I wish I could say it made me motivated to study harder, but it didn’t. I still wasn’t committing to learning Nihongo at that time.

Sometime in 2019, I realized that I should enroll in a class. I felt like I’m just not cut out for self-studying Nihongo at this point. So I went to UP Diliman and registered in the Linguistics department. Come enrollment, I didn’t push through. I realized I might not be able to commit to attending classes regularly since I had to commute to UP. But then the pandemic happened, and the department started offering their classes online. There’s no excuse for me anymore.

I started Japanese 1 in September 2020. It had been a while since I was in a class so I was both excited and nervous. I enjoyed it so much I continued enrolling in another two cycles. I’m still waiting for my exam results in Japanese 3 but if I pass, I would most likely enroll in the next cycle again.

I get excited whenever someone asks me how I am learning Japanese. So I compiled these questions I get frequently asked, in case you’re also interested.


How do I enroll in a class?
You have to create an account on UP Linguistics website first and then, wait for the schedule of enlistment. The enlistment is crucial, Japanese 1 slots usually get filled quickly. So before the enlistment starts (usually Sunday at 10 am), already decide which class you are going to reserve. If you were able to get a slot successfully, you have to pay within 2 days or else, your slot will be forfeited.

How much is a class?
Php 3,500

What is the schedule like?
A cycle usually lasts for two months. Depending on the availability, there are weekday classes that are held twice a week at 5:30-7:30PM, and there are also Saturday classes that are 3-hour long. I had weekday classes for Japanese 1 and 3, and Saturday classes for Japanese 2. I prefer weekdays because it means I would study more frequently. Also, my brain usually shut down after an hour and a half so it’s harder for me to focus when I had the Saturday classes.

What should I expect in class?
Depending on the instructor, there are usually homework, exams, and recitation. Don’t be discouraged that there is recitation though. Aside from the speaking skills practice, expecting that there is recitation motivated me to be attentive in class. The instructor will also provide reading materials so you can study in advance.

What other languages do they teach?
Korean, Chinese, Bahasa, Thai

When is the next cycle?
The next cycle starts in September and the enlistment is on August 15, 2021—this Sunday!

Do you have more questions? Feel free to message me via email or Instagram. I would love to help you get started with language learning. Ganbatte!

By the way, here’s my attempt at speaking Japanese for my Japanese 2 final project. Please be kind. Haha

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