I know many Japanese learners who have reached an intermediate level, but still struggle with particles such as ha, ga, wo, ni and others. Even if you’ve learned the correct usage for each particle, it can still be a challenge to instantly choose the correct particle while speaking. If this problem affects you, here are some fun and easy ways to overcome it:
1. Watch Japanese TV
Watching Japanese television programs is an easy way to hear particles in conversation and to get used to their natural usage. By focusing on particles in context, you can learn to recognize how native speakers distinguish them from each other.
Some particles, however, can be missed because of the speed of the dialogue, and some are omitted in casual conversation--which brings us to the next step...
2. Watch the news and read website articles
After enjoying your favorite Japanese series, take some steps to improve your usage of the correct particles. Here are some websites with useful learning materials:
The first is a news program where the announcer speaks clearly and slowly: <NHK News web>. This website has video clips and transcripts, so you can read the articles and note the particles and kanji after watching the clips. Choose news that interests you and listen for and read the particles in the article carefully.
If you think NHK News is too difficult, try this website: <NHK New web Easy>. The site uses simplified vocabulary and grammar for young Japanese pupils and foreigners living in Japan. Some of the articles have a soundtrack where an announcer slowly reads out the text. There is also a dictionary function. When your cursor hovers over a word, you can see a definition or explanation in easy Japanese. So you don't need to look up each word in your dictionary. In addition, all kanji have the hiragana reading (yomi-gana), which will also help you to know how to learn kanji.
3. “Could you correct my grammar?”
Most native speakers won’t correct your grammar during conversation. Even I don't correct peoples’ grammatical mistakes when I’m not teaching, since I believe that language is a communication tool and I don't want to spoil the process or enjoyment of the conversation. And, I guess most people think similarly.
However, if you would like to be a more fluent speaker, take the time to ask native speakers to correct your mistakes. I always try to analyze learners' mistakes and figure out their weaknesses in each lesson as a teacher.
Here is one common method often used by language teachers. When learners make a mistake, teachers repeat their statement using the correct grammar. For example, to correct ga and wa:
Learner : “Kyou 'ga' tenki ga ii desu ne.” (The weather is good today, isn't it?)
Teacher : “Hai, kyou 'wa' tenki ga ii desu ne.” (Yes, the weather is good today.)
When native speakers repeat statements like this, listen carefully for the correct particle. It’s also a good idea to ask Japanese friends to correct your grammatical mistakes:
“Could you correct my grammatical mistakes while talking?”
Moshi bumpou wo machigattara naoshite kudasai.
I believe your friends will be willing to support your language learning.
These three activities can improve your proficiency in grammar, especially regarding the use of particles:
First, practice correct usage in a fun way.
Second, reinforce the correct usage through challenging content.
And third, use what you’ve learned and ask your friends to help correct mistakes.
If you need more practice or someone to guide your improvement, please book my online lessons. I welcome the chance to support and improve your language skills!
Edited by Ilene Springer