learn japanese

Is My Child Ready to Learn Japanese? A Guide for Parents

learn japanese

Want your son or daughter to learn Japanese, but not sure if he or she is ready? Here, Montgomery, TX language teacher Emily G. explains how you can determine if your child is ready to begin Japanese lessons…

Even though I teach several languages, Japanese lessons are my favorite lessons. I love to see parents encourage their children to learn Japanese, however, this doesn’t happen too often, and I can understand why. Between the writing systems and the pronunciation, Japanese can be intimidating for a beginner. Many parents may think their son or daughter is too young to learn Japanese. I’m here to tell you why your child is ready to learn Japanese, now!

Children Learn at a Rapid Pace

One of the first things you will notice about spoken Japanese is that it’s really fast!  Japanese clips along at a rate that some studies show is faster than Spanish. You may think that this is too much for your son or daughter to handle, but it’s not too hard for children, at all.

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Children learn language at their own natural pace, regardless of the nature of the language. If you’ve ever tried to rush a nine year old, you know it doesn’t work. With Japanese lessons, a child can work gradually, at his or her own pace, rather than tackling everything at once.

Additionally, children are full of energy, so they can easily adapt to a fast-paced language. In fact, studies have confirmed that children are able to learn things very quickly, which means it may be beneficial to begin language studies at a young age.

Finally, let’s consider what a child can gain from learning Japanese. When you learn to speak a fast language, your brain is forced to think and function faster. It’s essentially the same concept as timed Sudoku, Speed Chess, or a speed round in a memory game.

Children Can Learn Respect Through Language

The Japanese language has a specific honorifics system that dictates how someone should speak and behave. Honorifics are words like “Sir” and “Ma’am,” or “Mr.” and “Mrs.” At first, honorifics can be very confusing to new learners. A beginning Japanese speaker may not know which honorific to use when or with whom. The benefit though, is that through Japanese lessons, a student begins to pay more attention to personal relationships. The honorifics system can be seen here, when describing members of the family in Japanese.

By studying Japanese, your child will learn how to address others with respect, and how to speak to people using proper etiquette. When a child learns Japanese, he or she is forced to see relationships in a new light. This is a huge benefit for young students.

The Writing Systems are Based on Pictures and Symbols

Many parents are concerned that the Japanese writing systems will be too hard for their child to comprehend. While the writing systems can definitely be challenging, they’re not impossible to learn. There is a huge benefit to learning Japanese writing systems, especially kanji.

In Western cultures, writing is similar to a math equation; you have a set of letters, and you add them together in the correct combination to form a word. Kanji is different. When you use a kanji character, you’re drawing a representation of an idea.

is my child ready to learn japanese

photo from japan-guide.com

You can see this above in the characters for “one,” “two,” and “three,” but did you notice that the kanji character for airplane includes one of the same characters as the kanji character for “to go”? Also, notice how the character for “river” looks a little like the lines a child might draw to show running water.

Associations are one of the primary ways children learn. This is why we use picture books to teach kids new words, and it’s why so many children love to draw and color. Japanese writing can be difficult, but it encourages artistic development and analogical thinking in a child.

These are only three examples, but I hope you can see how learning Japanese is very feasible and beneficial to a child. Learning Japanese encourages a child to expand his or her learning, and helps him or her develop in new ways.

Want to get your son or daughter started today? Find a Japanese tutor near you!

Emily GPost Author:
 Emily G.
Emily G. teaches Japanese, Latin, and Greek lessons in Montgomery, TX. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Classics from Texas A&M University and later went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Ancient History from the University of Nottingham. She has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Emily here!


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