What Level of Japanese Is Required to Have a Business Conversation?

You may be worrying that the success of an impending business meeting could be hampered by your limited Japanese language proficiency.

You will undoubtedly need to be able to follow what is being said in the meeting, but as long as you have the vocabulary necessary to respond in a knowledgeable way, you should be able to function in the meeting.

Having conversational Japanese means that you can speak at natural speed, or at least close to it so that native speakers are not forced to speak too slowly.  Even if a few words slip through, many people will consider a level where basic material is understood to be conversational.

How Long Will It Take to Learn Conversational Japanese?

Learning Japanese at the conversational level will take at least three months of concentrated study depending on how quickly a person picks up a language and how much time they have available to study. You will have a repertoire of phrases to use while speaking to people far sooner than three months, but this is ineffective if you must participate in a meeting where significant decisions will be taken.

It’s crucial to enjoy studying Japanese and not put pressure on oneself to be fluent in the language for a specific occasion. If you already know a language with comparable syntax, such as Korean, or are familiar with kanji, learning Japanese will be simpler.

The Best Method for Learning Japanese

You will need to master the grammar and expand your vocabulary to speak Japanese. Reading and writing are will not be the most effective ways for you to start to communicate in Japanese; listening and speaking are.

Some ideas to make learning Japanese easier are:

  • Set yourself realistic goals for speaking Japanese
  • Break down your goals into small chunks
  • Start speaking with a Japanese language partner 
  • Find an entertaining Japanese resource such as games or movies
  • Immerse yourself in the Japanese culture

Don’t obsess over the specifics of your voice or if you’re doing everything exactly right.

How Is an English Conversation Different from a Japanese Conversation?

Even though every language has a different alphabet, syntax, and vocabulary, the need to communicate is the same regardless of language. Understanding others and communicating with them in a way that causes you the least amount of discomfort or difficulty is of utmost importance.

The degree of formality necessary when speaking Japanese compared to English is one of the main differences. The vocabulary used in meetings is frequently informal in English, however that is rarely the case when speaking business Japanese. The degree of formality may also be influenced by the positions of those in attendance, as well as your understanding of their backgrounds, cultures, and expectations for the meeting.

Honorifics in Japanese

Japanese has honorific suffixes which are similar to Mr., Mrs., Ms. in English but are much more varied whereby Mr., Mrs., Ms. are considered around the same politeness level. Examples of  Honorifics in Japanese are kun, chan, san , and sama. 

  • kun is normally used when someone of higher rank addresses a younger man or child 
  • chan is used to address for young girls and children
  • san is the general Japanese equivalent of Mr., Mrs., Ms.
  • sama is a very respectful honorific and is often used in business 

What Japanese Phrases Can I Use for Small Talk?

Comparatively speaking to the west, small conversation is far less significant in Japan. You’re not expected to start the meeting with small conversation to get to know each other better because many Japanese individuals are not accustomed to conversing casually with strangers.

Just try to keep things pleasant and light if you find yourself trying to strike up a conversation with a Japanese person. Try discussing a popular topic such as the weather, food, sports, or a hobby.

How to Conduct Appropriate Japanese Conversation

In most instances, Japanese etiquette and civility regulations are tighter than those in the west, and this includes Japanese conversation. When conversing in Japanese, keep this in mind, but bear in mind that the other person will likely be forgiving if you miss some of the smaller details.

Meeting Someone for the First Time

In Japan, conversing with someone you are not likely to run across again is quite unlikely. There are several aspects to consider when meeting someone for the first time, including the fact that you should be more cautious about what you say and how you say it the higher the rank of the person you’re speaking to.

Practice Japanese Conversation is Essential

When someone attempts to learn a new language, they frequently attempt to master grammar, sentence rewriting, and verb conjugation. When they finally must utilise the language, they realise they have no idea what they are doing. Japanese communication needs to be regularly practised, just like any other language.

If you are not afraid to make mistakes, Japanese conversations can be had lot more quickly and enjoyably. To do this, you must develop your self-confidence, which you can do by engaging in activities like singing, comedy, recording oneself, and using artificial intelligence (AI).

Pronunciation of Japanese

You should listen to native Japanese speakers if you wish to sound like one. You should listen to Japanese and mimic a Japanese speaker’s pronunciation to sound as natural as possible. People who study and work overseas typically improve their language abilities because they become more used to the culture.

Beginners should become familiar with the fundamental Japanese sounds before advanced students concentrate on honing that real native sound. Working with a tutor will help you pronounce words correctly.