Avoiding Common Mistakes

I'll wrap up this course by mentioning some common Japanese pronunciation mistakes, along with how you can avoid having ugly-sounding Japanese.

Don't stress too much about making some or all of these mistakes. It's not a big deal, and most Japanese people don't care if you're good at pronouncing Japanese or not. That said, people will treat you like a fluent speaker if you sound like a fluent speaker. Knowing thousands and thousands of vocabulary, grammar points, and so on is not enough to make Japanese people think that you're good at speaking Japanese. Pronunciation is the most important tool for accomplishing this.

Every now and then throughout your studies, you can come back and look at this section and make sure that you’re not making one of these errors.

Before we start, please keep in mind that, fundamentally, improving pronunciation is a slow process that can be achieved by:

  • Listening to repeated loops of words and phrases spoken by native speakers.
  • Noticing differences between native and non-native speakers' intonation and pronunciation.
  • Shadowing, ideally with specific repeated phrases, checked by a native speaker (a luxury many of us do not have).
  • Patience and commitment to attaining flawless pronunciation in time.

Of course, we can speed all of that up by looking at the common mistakes I'll be introducing next...

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