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Immerse yourself: Set your computer to Japanese

When I learn a new language, I generally change the language of my phone and computer to the language I am learning.

Why does it help?

Obviously, to immerse oneself in Japanese, you have to surround yourself with as much Japanese as possible. But if you buy a Japanese magazine and do not read it, it does not help, does it? Switching the language of your computer has the great advantage that you will be sure to use your computer anyway, so you will be confronted with the language, if you want it or not.

At the beginning, you may just learn little words here and there but these are little words you will remember very easily. For example, the word 共有・きょうゆう is the word used to say “share”. No need to say that this is a word you will see often and won’t even need to think about.

Not only does it help you remembering words, but changing the language of your devices provides a strong reward when you realize that you are actually using your phone in Japanese. Especially at the very beginning of your study. I remember that I was so thrilled to be able to read the weekdays in Japanese or understand some of the weather forecast!

Set Siri to Japanese

This is a very funny way to check if your pronunciation is correct and if your sentences are understandable. If what you say is understood correctly by Sir, then it means that your pronunciation is not too extravagant. Siri also provides examples of what to ask it, this can be a good way to learn to say simple things like “show me the video I filmed yesterday”.

No turning back

What may happen is that: I change the language on every device, Windows is in Japanese and every software I use, too, from iTunes to Edge. I am quite satisfied of myself because I understand most of the words or short messages that are presented to me. And then one day, I want to change from Onenote to Evernote and I am overflowed with information in Japanese on how to use Evernote. And I think: “Oh no, I forgot, my computer (or was it Edge?) is in Japanese, let’s switch back momentarily…”. And I loose the biggest benefice of setting everything in Japanese: to force me to read Japanese.

In fact, the advantage of setting your computer to Japanese, is that you will read in Japanese not to read or practice Japanese, but to achieve something else (in this case, taking Evernote in hands). You will then use Japanese as a tool, exactly like Japanese people do. You will also learn new expressions and see in context words you learnt but never used or didn’t know they could be used like that, and so on… And if you do the effort to read something long and seemingly technical in Japanese, you will end up realising that it was not that hard after all.

So if you change the language of your device, you really want to play the game and never switch back.

Conclusion

Set every device of your daily life in Japanese and stick to it! It is when you will be presented with a long or difficult message or when you will have to search for information in a big menu all in Japanese, that you will really make progress. Even if it requires some effort at the beginning, you will get used to it and it will eventually become natural to handle things in Japanese. That’s a part of becoming familiar and be at ease with the language.

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