This is a question particularly aimed for those, who speak English as a second language, and also mastered Japanese:

When studying words & phrases, did you found it more efficient to study it with the english translation, or translation of your original language?

(If length of use is a parameter, I've been using english, and been living in english-speaking countries for >8 years; but used my mother language, and been living there for 20)

1 Answer 1


Well, I wouldn't say that I have mastered it, but I have come a long way learning Japanese almost exclusively through English material.

My first language is Swedish, but English is mandatory in school from the 4th grade. Most Swedes have a more-or-less fair command of English, enough to consider it our second language.

Anyway, my experience of learning Japanese through English and not Swedish has been quite a pleasant experience. The resources available online in English for learning Japanese are just nothing short of excellent. There is simply no comparison when you search for the same in Swedish. Occasionally, some language construct names, such as volitional will stump me. But then again I am not sure I know the name for it in Swedish anyway.

  • Thank you for your kind answer! There is no question in terms of learning material, that english-written ones outnumber most other languages by an order of magnitude. My question was specific to the word associations: I can create a Japanese Anki deck with either English, or my mother language, or both on the backside; which one do you suspect would help me gain mastery of words in the least amount of time? Dec 23, 2015 at 16:56
  • 1
    @SilverDragon I wonder if that would depend on what your mother language is? If your mother language were Mandarin Chinese the answer might be different than if it were French?
    – Keiki
    Dec 23, 2015 at 17:11
  • Well, since you are mentioning it. I spent a couple of years in my youth in South America and my father is from Spain, so I happen to know Spanish fluently as well. It surprises me sometimes that some Japanese phrasings are almost identical to those in Spanish. As far as whether using your first or second language for Anki decks, I guess either one will work just fine. I think if the word/concept is already hard-wired into your brain in either language, it shouldn't matter.
    – Daniel
    Dec 23, 2015 at 17:30
  • @Keiki As a Mandarin and English speaker, I find myself using material in both languages relatively frequently. I find that, as far as grammar books and textbooks are considered, ones in Chinese are more helpful to me because they help to highlight a lot of pitfalls that Mandarin speakers make when speaking Japanese. But as far as online materials are concerned, I find English to far eclipse Chinese in both terms of quality and user-friendliness.
    – user6595
    Dec 23, 2015 at 23:23

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .