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The Secret to Improving Your Japanese Pronunciation

A Lady with Secret

Would you like to make your Japanese pronunciation more natural? Anyone can acquire beautiful pronunciation if they practice hard and learn the right way. In this article, we are going to show you the secrets to improving your Japanese pronunciation.

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How to Improve Your Japanese Pronunciation in a Logical Way

Why Japanese Pronunciation May Be Challenging For You

First of all, let’s think about why a lot of learners struggle to improve their pronunciation. That’s simple. For example, if we showed you a wonderful guitar performance and said, “Please play the guitar like us,” do you think you could do it? The answer is obviously no. You have to know how to play the guitar. You need to know how to use your fingers, which strings to use in which order, how to strum etc… This is unfortunately what’s happening in typical Japanese pronunciation lessons. Teachers or tutorial videos often say, “Repeat after me.” This isn’t a bad way to learn, but unless you already know how to make the sounds, it won’t work. So, what part of Japanese pronunciation is equivalent to making the right sound with an instrument’s strings? This is the root cause of the struggle to improve your Japanese pronunciation. A lot of learners are unaware how to move his or her mouth and tongue.

Difference between Japanese and English Pronunciation

You should also realize Japanese pronunciation differs from English. According to BBC, English has 44 sounds, but just five or six of those sounds are almost the same as Japanese sounds. For example, English speakers are likely not going to be good at pronouncing ら. The reason for this is also clear. The roman letter /ra/ misleads learners into thinking the sound is similar to the English sound [r]. Actually, they are completely different and you have to move your tongue and mouth in a completely different way.

The Secret to Improving Your Japanese Pronunciation

Picture describing Japanese pronunciation /r/

The picture above describes the movement of the tongue for the Japanese sound; ら. As you can see, your tongue needs to touch your upper gums, unlike when you pronounce [r] in English. ら is called an “alveolar-flap”, thus when you pronounce ら, you are going to flap the tip of your tongue at your upper gums. This might be closest to the English [d] sound. Does this explanation make sense to you? After this basic knowledge is understood, pronunciation lessons like “repeat after me” should be done. This way, your pronunciation will improve dramatically. This is one of the secrets to improving your Japanese pronunciation.

How do You Know How to Move Your Mouth and Tongue?

Now you understand what you should know. But, one question probably comes to your mind; “How can I know how to move my mouth and tongue?” Don’t worry! We have created Wasabi pronunciation lessons specialized for showing how to move them. Since this is provided at no-fee basis, anyone can utilize the secrets for improving your Japanese pronunciation. 

Needless to say, languages are used between people, thus we recommend you to practice pronunciation with native speakers. That way, you can interactively ask and answer questions and learn proper pronunciation by trial and error. Native speakers may show you good examples. If you’re interested in our online Japanese lessons, please check our Curriculum as well. 

We hope that this course will be helpful for a lot of learners. If you have any question, please feel free to ask us on our Facebook Page or this Contact Form. べんきょうがんばってください!

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Since we are providing online lessons, you can learn Japanese with native speakers and our well-designed curriculum from anywhere in the world. Our lessons are;

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