7 Pitfalls of Learning English as a Japanese Student

March 6, 2023

While English and Japanese may share some similarities, they also have far more significant differences. That's why learning English might be a challenge for Japanese students. In this article, we'll explore some of the most common pitfalls of learning English that you may encounter along the way.

Reading extensively remains one of the best ways to master a broad understanding of English.

Reading extensively remains one of the best ways to master a broad understanding of English.

1. Pronunciation

Unlike Japanese, English has very different pronunciation rules. For instance, students often struggle with complex vowel sounds and the different ways that consonants can be pronounced depending on their position in a word.

Additionally, English has many silent letters, which can be confusing for Japanese students. To overcome this challenge, it's essential to practice pronunciation regularly, talk to native speakers, and work with language tutors or teachers, since they can provide feedback and guidance.

2. Grammar

The grammar in English is much more complex than in Japanese since it has many irregularities and exceptions. Many students often struggle with verb tenses, prepositions, and articles, as well as the use of the passive voice. If you want to improve your language skills, it's essential to study grammar systematically and practice using grammar structures in context.

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3. Sentence Structure

The next pitfall is sentence structure. In general, the predicate in English typically comes after the subject. This can be confusing for students from the Land of the Rising Sun. They may struggle to construct grammatically correct sentences.

To overcome this challenge, it's important to practice constructing sentences in a variety of contexts. Also, pay attention to word order and sentence structure when reading or listening to foreign text.

4. Spelling and Punctuation

There are many words that are not spelled the way they sound such as:

  • "colonel" (pronounced as "kernel")
  • "chaos" (pronounced as "kay-oss")
  • "knight" (pronounced as "nite")
  • "Wednesday" (pronounced as "wenzday")

Also, the "th" sounds are difficult to pronounce for Japanese speakers simply because it doesn't exist in Japanese.

Additionally, there are homophones such as they're, there and their. They can be confusing for Japanese students who are used to a phonetic writing system.

As for punctuation, in Japanese, periods and commas are placed outside quotation marks. In English, they are placed inside quotation marks.

To overcome these two particular challenges, it's important to study spelling and punctuation rules and patterns. Japanese students can use online resources or English textbooks to practice spelling words with silent letters, irregular spellings, and homophones.

5. Vocabulary

English has a vast vocabulary and plenty of words with multiple meanings. This makes it challenging to choose the right word in a given context. But the only thing you need to do is to build vocabulary systematically and learn words in context.

Also, consider reading books and watching movies in the original language, and listening to podcasts. Thus, you will expand your vocabulary and improve your audio comprehension.

It's very helpful to be able to talk about things from your own culture, like sushi!

It's very helpful to be able to talk about things from your own culture, like sushi!

6. Cultural Differences

English is a language that is deeply rooted in Western culture, and Japanese students may struggle to understand English expressions, idioms, and humor that are specific to that culture.

Additionally, they may find it difficult to express their thoughts and ideas in a way that is culturally appropriate in English-speaking countries. That's why it's essential to learn about culture and customs, including values, beliefs, and social norms. Thus, you will not only improve your language skills but also broaden your horizons and learn something new about the country. On the other hand, Japanese students can practise talking about exciting spots in their own country.

6. Lack of Practice

In order to master any language, we need to practice to improve. Unfortunately, at least outside of the major cities, there are not that many native speakers of English in Japan with whom students can communicate. Additionally, students may be hesitant to speak a foreign language in front of others, fearing making mistakes or embarrassment.

However, to master your skills you need to overcome this fear. You can start by joining a language exchange program or finding a language partner. This will help improve your language skills and build confidence.

To Sum It Up

Learning English as a Japanese student requires dedication, patience, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes. By focusing on the common pitfalls and working to overcome them, you can improve your language skills and achieve your learning goals to open up new opportunities and enhance your personal and professional growth.

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