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What is MISJ? What is Japanese? For the Prospective Teachers
Fundamental Features
Cultural Background
Japanese Pronunciation
Japanese Numbers


What Is The Language?
Not only Japanese but all languages are made up of words which themselves have meanings.

The words can be divided at least into the following three categories.
NOUN apple, book, coffee, etc.
VERB eat, read, drink, go, feel, etc.
ADJECTIVE delicious, interesting, hot, happy, etc.

Then what are the differences among so many languages used in the world?
We can point out three big differences.
1. Each language has its own combination of sounds.
2. Each language has its own letters or writing system to show these sounds.
3. Each language has its own rules to assemble words into sentences or to make expressions.

What is Important

Studying & Understanding
  What do you think about the sentence below?
I yesterday go son school meet teacher.
It is not good but is understandable English, isn't it?

If your aim is simply to allow yourself to be understood or to just understand what your counterpart is trying to say, only the sounds and the letters, which are the first two differences previously pointed out, are important.

However, if your aim is a little higher, the third point becomes very important because you cannot make reasonably good sentences if you don't know the fundamental rules of how to assemble words into sentences or how to make various expressions in each language.
I went to my son's school to meet his teacher.
Now you have got a good English sentence that reflects your intelligence.

Of course Japanese has its own rules. These fundamental rules are called "grammar" in the MISJ program. The grammar is so unique that it is not easy to naturally understand it in a short period of time. However, it is not so complicated. Thus, you can rapidly learn it if it is introduced systematically.

  There is a big difference between listening and speaking. You can understand the meaning of the words and expressions when you hear or listen to them even if they are half-memorized. However, to be able to verbally use them, you have to memorize them perfectly.

  You cannot speak the language unless you can verbally output the memorized words and expressions. To get used to new sound system, you have to thoroughly train your brain and tongue.

In the academic world, the main topic of discussion has always been "which is the most important; grammar, training or conversation?" Iwasaki believes that not only one but all three are important to achieve speaking ability.

What You Should Do

Pick a good teaching system at the beginning
  There are many schools and textbooks with which you can study Japanese.
However, few of them can teach fundamental grammar clearly and systematically.
Starting with a good teaching system is very important because it takes far more time and energy to remedy the bad habits.

Practice verbally
  Everybody should admit that repeating the same thing is not very interesting but is the most effective and efficient way to achieve the fluency of conversation. How much time should you devote for verbally practicing? It differs from person to person. You may need more time than others no matter how smart you are.
Please remember the important fact that no one but you yourself can memorize or practice verbally for your own sake.

Preserve the memory
  You have to keep on practicing until you feel sure that you will never forget the things you have once memorized.

What You Should Not Do

Expect Too Much
  At the beginning, you should not expect that you would soon be able to understand what ordinary Japanese people are saying. It is after you have obtained a certain volume of vocabulary and enough knowledge of grammar used in natural conversations. In Japanese, it takes at least about 100 hours of lessons to become able to understand 60% of natural conversation among native speakers.

Thinking with Your Mother Tongue
  At the beginning, you should not think how you could say such and such things in Japanese. You should rather concentrate on thinking what you can say using the limited knowledge of grammar you have learned.

Missing Opportunities
  Whenever you have a situation of speaking Japanese, do not miss the opportunity. Try using expressions and check your ability. If you cannot use them fluently, practice them at home preparing for your next opportunity.