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But immersion doesn't require moving overseas
You probably already know that "immersion" (being surrounded by the language all the time) is the best way to learn Japanese.
But here’s what you might not know. You don’t need a plane ticket, new zip code, or classroom to immerse yourself in Japanese.
With the right methods, materials, and attitude, you can reach a high level of fluency anywhere in the world.
Master Japanese shows you how to create an immersion environment almost as good as being in Tokyo, even if you’re in Tacoma or Topeka. The book empowers you to:
Learn where you want.
Learn when you want.
Learn how you want.
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You are not alone! Most Japanese learners spend years “studying” the language but never reach fluency. Why? Here are the six most common causes. Sound familiar?
Not having a strong enough “why”
The path to fluency isn’t necessarily complicated, but it DOES take consistent practice, day after day. You need to get crystal-clear clarity on your reason for learning Japanese, the “WHY” that keeps you going on the days where you feel bored or unmotivated.
Not spending enough time
To reach fluency, you need thousands of hours of "input" (listening and reading) and "output" (speaking and writing). That might sound impossible in your busy schedule, but there are many ways to squeeze in time each day through “habit stacking” and “hidden moments.”
Putting off speaking too long
Most people don’t practice speaking enough due to fear of making mistakes. They busy themselves instead with memorizing vocabulary, tapping away in language apps, or watching YouTube videos. These activities can help, but they won’t teach you to actually speak Japanese.
Not practicing skills directly
A lot of learners get stuck studying ABOUT the language rather than actually practicing IN the language itself. Many language apps and classes focus on indirect skills that don’t build fluency and won’t help you in actual human-to-human communication.
Using boring materials
Fun gets done, so you need to select methods that YOU will enjoy. It’s natural for language learners to sometimes feel bored and not want to keep going. This is why it’s extra important to use materials that are fun to use and fit your unique interests and goals.
Getting stuck in “analysis paralysis”
On the other hand, many language learners feel overwhelmed when considering all the materials they could use, and as a consequence, they never actually get started. Finding just a handful of tools you love to use, and sticking with those consistently, is the antidote. Less but better.
Building a personalized immersion environment right where you are.
If you can avoid the above mistakes and put in the required time and effort, you will reach fluency in Japanese.
The key to all of this is creating a fun, immersive environment right at home.
It is this environment—and all the exposure and opportunities for practice it provides—that will actually get you to fluency.
Nope, your environment holds the key.
And you have more power today than anytime in human history to control and build your learning environment.
By leveraging the power of modern technology and media, you can create an amazingly effective immersion environment wherever you are:
This is the power of Anywhere Immersion™️.
Discover the proven method that unlocks Japanese fluency anywhere in the world
You used to have only two choices if you wanted to get fluent in Japanese:
Take expensive classes.
Move to Japan.
Today, anyone with an internet connection and a little creativity can learn Japanese anywhere in the world.
While Japanese classes and living abroad can be great, they no longer have to be a barrier to entry for Japanese learners.
Master Japanese shows you how to create what I call an “Anywhere Immersion” environment that brings Japan to you right where you are.
Not only can you learn from the comfort of home, but this approach has many advantages over traditional classroom and textbook-based learning:
How I will help you get fluent in Japanese
Hi, I’m John Fotheringham, a linguist, teacher, and the author of Master Japanese.
Like most Japanese learners, I really struggled to learn Japanese through formal classes. But once I realized that I could learn faster and have more fun by creating my own immersion environment, my progress took off.
I now teach others how to learn through the same immersion-based approach, no matter where in the world you are.
I’ve been learning and teaching languages for over two decades, including studying Linguistics at Western Washington University, teaching adults in the U.S., Japan, and Taiwan, presenting at multinational companies, working as a translator and interpreter for the Japanese government, and now blogging, podcasting, and publishing books on independent language learning.
I have dedicated my life to empowering language learners, making language acquisition more fun and effective, and helping others avoid some of the mistakes I made along the way.
See what Japanese learners are saying about Master Japanese
“Master Japanese is the most helpful book I’ve found in my two+ year effort to learn Japanese. This is a very comprehensive book. The author provides learners with helpful strategies to approach the learning process, which can be overwhelming unless you can figure out how to make sustainable progress continuously.”
"I now work in the sales department of a Japanese company. The only reason why I got the job was because they were very impressed by my Japanese level for someone who recently started learning the language. It’s all thanks to your book Master Japanese. Thank you for your great work and kindness."
"Master Japanese is packed with tips, concrete steps, advice, suggestions, links, and other resources that, if you actually follow and use them, will make your Japanese learning not only much more effective and efficient, but also actually FUN and enjoyable. I LOVE Master Japanese and I love John’s work."
"John has the patience—that I don’t!—to really take you by the hand and walk you through the resources you will need.
If I were clueless and confused as to how and where to approach a self-directed Japanese learning project, I’d definitely want something like this that laid all the tools out in one place.
Experienced geeks like me tend to lose sight of how bewildering a new language and electronic resources can be. John has not lost that sympathy for the beginner."
A how-to manual for independent language learners
It’s a navigation system for independent learners that shows you:
How to learn Japanese through "Anywhere Immersion."
What methods and resources will speed your progress and increase your fun.
What common mistakes and pitfalls to avoid so you don't waste time.
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See what's inside Master Japanese
Next, I lay out your map to fluency and what joys and challenges you can expect in the journey ahead:
Why you are a hero on a “hero’s journey.”
The peaks, valleys, and plateaus of language acquisition.
How to progress all the way from sounds to sentences.
The four stages of learning competence.
How to go from “zero” to “hero.”
Where you should focus your time and effort if you are a beginner, intermediate learner, or advanced learner.
How to master each of the four core language learning skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Mastering a language starts with optimizing your time and timing. In Part 3, you will learn how to make more progress in less time by:
Creating effective goals and daily systems.
Creating an ideal learning schedule that fits your unique needs, lifestyle, and "chronotype" (your natural biorhythm and time preferences).
Developing powerful habits instead of relying on willpower.
Leveraging the power of social and financial stakes.
Tracking your progress and measuring what matters.
As memory master Tony Buzan said: “Learning how to learn is life’s most important skill.” Part 5 will arm you with the "metalearning" (learning how to learn) skills and strategies you need to master Japanese:
How to maximize your exposure to Japanese wherever you are.
How to learn through fun activities and resources you choose.
How to build "myelin" (the neural insulation that drives skill acquisition) through deep, deliberate practice.
How to work with online tutors to get the speaking practice and personalized feedback you need to speak Japanese fluently.
How to optimize memory through "mnemonics" (memory tricks), spaced repetition, and effective note-taking.
Lastly, you will select your personal cache of “weapons,” the tools and resources you will use to build your Anywhere Immersion™️ environment and learn Japanese the fun, effective, natural way detailed in the book. You will also learn where to find the best Japanese resources, including:
Apps and reference tools
Podcasts, music, and audio programs
Anime, TV shows, movies, and video games
Comics, books, eBooks, and audiobooks
Newspapers and magazines
When you get the Master Japanese Digital Bundle, I throw in 3 additional books (How Japanese Works, Conquer Kana, and Conquer Kana), 8 expert interviews, and 12 cheat sheets to help you learn the language the fun way right from home.
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My How Japanese Works provides an easy to read deep dive into the words, patterns, and rules that make Japanese tick, including:
The origins of Japanese and its unique characteristics.
Japanese adjectives, adverbs, particles, pronouns, proper nouns, and verbs.
How formality, respect, and humility are expressed in Japanese.
How numbers, counter words, and dates work in Japanese.
How Japanese writing works, including text direction and punctuation.
My Conquer Kana guide shows you exactly how to master Japanese kana (including both hiragana and katakana), complete with stroke order diagrams and links to pronunciation recordings and animated GIFs online.
You will learn:
How to pronounce every kana symbol
How to write every kana symbol
How to keep look-alike kana straight
Which tools and resources to use for effective self-guided kana study
My Conquer Kanji guide shows you how to learn the meaning, writing, and pronunciation of the most common Chinese characters used in Japanese, using a fun, effective, adult-friendly approach that leverages stories and mnemonics instead of tedious repetition and ineffective rote memory. You will learn:
The many good reasons you should bother learning Chinese characters
Why roumaji (Japanese written in Latin letters) is helpful, but not sufficient
The power of phonetic (“sound”) and semantic (“meaning”) patterns in kanji
Why “imaginative memory” and story-based mnemonics are much more effective and robust than “visual memory”
Get inspired with over 3 hours of interviews with linguists, polyglots, and language experts:
Dr. James Heisig, author of Remembering the Kanji
Dr. Jay Rubin, author of Making Sense of Japanese
Khatzumoto, creator of the popular blog All Japanese All the Time
Steve Kaufman, founder of LingQ.com & author of The Way of the Linguist
Benny Lewis, creator of Fluent in 3 Months & author of the Language Hacking series
Dr. Victor Ferreira, professor at UCSD & head of the Language Production Lab
Simon Ager, polyglot and creator of Omniglot.com
Randy Hunt, polyglot and creator of Fluent Every Year
As part of the Digital Bundle, you get 12 print-ready PDF worksheets and cheat sheets to help you apply what you’re learning and optimize your language learning time:
Goals & Systems: Create specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound goals and then translate them into effective daily systems.
Study Plan: Get ideas about how to integrate Anywhere Immersion activities into your life and then create your own personalized study plan.
Deconstruction Dozen: Unlock essential patterns with Tim Ferriss’ famous 12 sentences. Think of it as the “80-20 Rule” applied to grammar.
Self-Intro: Create a personalized self-introduction in Japanese to build confidence, easily meet new people, and help put native speakers at ease.
Most Common 500 Words: Learning these high-frequency words will empower you to understand over 70% of the Japanese you will see and hear day to day!
Conjugation: Quickly check how to conjugate common verbs and adjectives, including verbs tenses, commands, passive constructions, and more.
Hiragana & Katakana: This kana cheat sheet includes all the sounds of Japanese in one handy resource, including hiragana, katakana, and roumaji.
Jouyou Kanji List: A comprehensive list of all “common use” kanji approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education, including when each is taught in Japanese schools.
Remembering the Kanji List: A complete list of all kanji included in James Heisig's classic Remembering the Kanji, including kanji, keywords, and frame numbers.
Pronouns & Demonstratives: Learn which pronouns to use (and which can be offensive), plus how to indicate location, direction, type, manner, and more.
Honorifics: Japanese expresses formality, respect, and humility using a complex system called "keigo." Use this cheat sheet to be respectful and avoid offense.
Onomatopoeia: Japanese has tons of “sound symbolic words” (words that imitate sounds). Use this cheat sheet to master the essentials.
Time to stop studying and start mastering Japanese the fun way.
Learn the natural, effective way. Rote memorization and artificial approaches don't work. But immersion does. Learn Japanese the same way humans have been acquiring languages for hundreds of thousands of years. But with a little extra help from modern technology.
Learn the fun and affordable way. Let's face it: textbooks are boring and classes are expensive. Fortunately, you don't need either to master a language. You can get all the exposure and practice you need online, often for free! And best of all, you get to choose resources and tools that fit your exact interests and needs.
Learn the convenient way. My Anywhere Immersion approach allows you to learn anytime, anywhere. You don’t need to travel to a class or move abroad. You can immerse yourself at home, during your commute, as you do chores, while walking or doing chores, even while at work if you keep it on the down low... 😉
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Still have a few concerns, qualms, or quiries? I got you covered!
Will this work for me if I’m not good at learning foreign languages?
Lots of people think they “aren’t good at languages,” but the truth is that they’re just using the wrong methods. Instead of studying ABOUT the language by reading a textbook on grammar or taking a class at your local college, when you create an immersion environment for yourself, your brain does the heavy lifting and picks it up over time FOR you. (Exactly like how you learned your first language!)
I feel overwhelmed with all the resources out there. I have so many already. Why should I buy this, one too?
In today’s world, most of us are already swimming in books, apps, and audio programs. Instead of thinking of Master Japanese as an addition to your resource pile, think of this as a tool to help you use your resources better. With Master Japanese, you’ll be able to pare down to only the essentials―those that will actually help you improve your speaking, listening, reading, and writing and learn in a way that fits your unique personality and lifestyle.
I’ve heard Japanese is one of the hardest languages in the world and takes decades to learn. Are you sure this is going to work for me?
Lots of people like to say that Japanese is the hardest language, but really, it’s just very different from English. And it will become more and more familiar as you expose yourself to the language! Sure, it has totally new characters you have to learn (which can be intimidating for new learners), but it is totally doable with the right approach. People with less smarts and fewer resources than you have taught themselves Japanese, and you can, too! With enough time and consistency, you’ll be able to begin having basic but flowing conversations in a matter of months, not years.
Don’t I need to move to Japan if I’m going to learn through immersion?
While moving to Japan would of course be ideal, with the internet, it’s possible to create an immersive environment right where you are right now, and surround yourself with the sights and sounds of Japanese everywhere you go! I teach you exactly how to do this in Master Japanese. You can listen to Japanese podcasts, talk with native speakers in another country, watch YouTube videos, listen to music in Japanese while you’re tidying up around the house, and even change your phone and computer’s display to Japanese! (And don’t worry, I’ll teach ya how to turn it back, too―just in case. 😉)
I know I’m supposed to practice speaking with native speakers, but it’s so scary. It’s the one part of learning I neglect most. How can I speak more confidently?
You’re right; it totally is scary. And this is where most people get hung up and quit. So many people struggle with being afraid of speaking, and let it keep them from fluency, that I’ve dedicated a whole section of this book to overcoming fear and unhelpful thought patterns that hold us back. These are proven methods that have helped other people learn to speak freely and with confidence, and they will help you, too!
How will I get access to the book, worksheets, and interviews once I buy them?
When you buy Master Japanese, you’ll be able to instantly download all the materials right to your computer or smartphone. You will also get an email with a link you can click to download the materials in case you click away or want to refer to it later. Since all the materials are digital, you could go from checkout to reading Master Japanese literally in the next minute. No need to wait for the mail carrier to deliver you a package. (Hooray!)
Please stop wasting your hard-earned yen on expensive language classes; save it for ninja stars and salmon onigiri.
Stop killing yourself with boring textbooks; use them instead for ninja star practice.
And for the love of all that’s Ninjetic, stop trying to use those tired, traditional methods from high school Spanish class to learn Japanese!
There’s a reason you don’t remember any Spanish from high school. For starters, you were busy trying to look cool in front of Veronica.
But more importantly, those tried and not-so-true methods simply don’t work for most people.
Master Japanese shares the tools and resources you need to learn languages the fun, modern way, leveraging technology instead of drudgery, intelligent use of psychology instead of sheer willpower, and fun, free, modern, online resources instead of boring, expensive, back-breaking, budget-busting books.
Most importantly, it empowers you to learn whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want.
But please keep in mind that Master Japanese is not a textbook or course that will “teach” you Japanese: no book or teacher can ever get a language into your head. This is not The Matrix, Neo-san.
Only you can acquire Japanese by getting enough exposure to—and enough practice using—the language.
Fortunately, the modern learner has more chances than ever to do just that. The problem today is not a lack of resources, but an over-abundance. It can be hard to know where to start.
That’s where Master Japanese comes in. I have designed the guide as a navigation system for independent learners, with the aim of saving you time, money, and frustration, while maximizing both fun and efficacy. The guide shows you exactly how to learn and precisely what resources to use.
I’ve been learning languages for over two decades, and have poured everything I’ve learned (and everything I wish I had known when starting out) into the book.
If only I had a time machine…
Cool beans. Now let’s get busy Japanesing!
Author, Master Japanese