Japanese Language Classes

By Shailen Lakhani - Last update


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Japan is doing something right. With one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, it is a country to both envy and admire. Though well-known for its research credentials, having produced 15 Nobel prize-winners in various scientific fields, it is also a world leader in technological advance, boasting several industrial giants such as Sony, Nikon, Panasonic, Honda, and Yamaha, to name but a few.

Yet Japan is also unique in a way that such facts can only hint at. Perhaps it is the sense of isolation an archipelago of 6, 852 islands, Japan remains separated from mainland Asia or perhaps it is down to the people s determination to retain their cultural identity in the face of the West s assistance during the rebuilding project of the Postwar years. Whatever the cause, every aspect of Japanese endeavour seems to express the desire for autonomy: from the woodcut art of Hokusai to the anim of Miyazaki; from the film-making of Kurasakwa to the strange, dreamlike novels of Murakami; from sumo wrestling and karate to the theatrical forms of Noh and Kabuki. And let s not forget the cultural gift that is karaoke

Of course the most effective way of understanding another people and culture is through integration, and what better means of integration is there than learning to speak in that people s native tongue

While learning to speak Japanese Language may seem a daunting challenge to initiates, it is somewhat easier than you might think: words are quite easy to pronounce thanks to a relatively narrow range of vowel and consonant sounds and a simple syllable structure. Also, due to the unavoidable influence of the West, there has been a considerable amount of English words assimilated into the Japanese vocabulary, thus aiding any attempts to bridge the language divide.

However, there are, inevitably, plenty of other challenging aspects to come to grips with (but isn t that part of the fun ) the Japanese Language grammatical system, for instance, is a large one, though this too is the result of a fascinating aspect of Japanese psyche; namely, the deeply entrenched need to observe formality, politeness, and respect towards others. The language reflects this through a system of honorifics that expresses the relative status of the speaker, listener, as well as those being spoken of. Register is entirely dependent upon the relationship between speakers in short, the greater your understanding of the language, the less likely you ll be to cause great offence or embarrassment, either to yourself or to others!

Whether you re looking to brush up on your Japanese language skills, or seeking to pick up a few words for a holiday or business trip, there are a range of part-time, evening, and night courses available for all levels, some of which offer tuition on the cultural aspects of Japan as well as on its beautifully picturesque writing system.

 


Shailen Lakhani

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