Ever wanted to learn Japanese?

ted to For my trip to Japan in 2019 I’ve decided to try and learn basic Japanese, just enough to get me by in case I need help.I can speak basic French, but asking the way to the hospital or rugby ground in Japanese would be too much for me at the moment..so where to start.

If you look online you’ll find a thousands of sites offering online training for a price, but you’ll be surprised to find a number of sites offering free language training.

Japanese language facts

– Japanese is the official language of Japan, which has a population of over 125m. There are also around 2.5m people of Japanese origin, many of whom speak Japanese as their first language, living in Brazil and the rest of the Americas, particularly the United States.

– Japanese doesn’t use articles as prolifically as English does and there’s no way of showing whether a word is singular or plural. E.g. the word 友達 [tomodachi] can mean a friend, the friend, friends and so on. Sounds confusing, but once you get the hang of it, this actually makes things a lot simpler.

– Getting used to Japanese grammar can be a bit tricky because of the word order, which is Subject Object Verb. Great if you’re used to other languages, such as German or Turkish which have similar word orders, but possibly a little confusing for English speakers unfamiliar with it. So, the verb is placed at the end, meaning a simple sentence like “I watch television” would be “I television watch”. This also means that you have to be patient as until the speaker reaches the very last word of the sentence, you won’t know whether they’re coming or going, agreeing or disagreeing and so on!

(For more information visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/japanese/facts.shtml

So, I’ve started with 20 simple phrases, which I downloaded for free from the BBC Languages website. If you want to try them out click here. 

If you think you have mastered those simple 20 phrases, try the Japanese challenge here. 


As it’s my son’s and my birthday in Feb, I intend to learn Happy Birthday in Japanese. If you want to have a go watch this

Once I’ve completed these phrases (and learning Happy Birthday), I’ll build on it and intend to find a Japanese penpal to help keep my learning moving on an upward curve.

If you know of any great free learning tools leave a comment below!