Why You Need to Study Japanese Before Getting a Job in Japan

Are you planning on working in Japan? If so, then you must first learn how to speak their national language. In fact, most recruitment agencies require successful applicants to go to Nihongo school for several months before they can even set foot in the country.

In this article, you will learn more about the importance of learning Japanese through the information presented by an OFW YouTuber. Read on to fully understand the significance of this endeavor.


Disclaimer: The information posted here is based on the personal experiences shared by the OFW in the video below. Please let this post serve as a guide only. If you have specific questions, you may ask the OFW by commenting on their video on their accounts.

The Importance of Learning Nihongo Before Working in Japan

In the video below, YouTuber Laurence Calledo shares why it is important to learn Nihongo, the national language of Japan, before you can work there. Click on the video link below for more information:

So why do we need to study Nihongo? The short answer is, most Japanese don’t know how to speak English. According to some statistics, only 1 out of every 50 Japanese know how to speak English. Therefore, since you are going to Japan to work there, you need to adapt to their environment and learn to speak the local language.

You can’t expect the Japanese to adjust to you and speak English when they can’t. To properly communicate with your Japanese employers, in Japan where you are working, we are the ones who need to adjust. We really need to learn how to speak Japanese.

Starting Work at a Company in Japan

Once you arrive at Japan and start working at a company, the first thing that happens is you will receive an orientation. During this orientation, you will be asked to talk to several Japanese. You will introduce yourself and you will be receiving instructions that you need to comply. They will also tell you what you need to do and orient you with the tasks you will be doing as a new worker in the company.

Of course, all of these instructions will be spoken to you in Japanese. How will you understand if you don’t know how to speak and understand their language? Therefore, at even your first day of work, you need to show proficiency in Nihongo; otherwise, you will fail to even begin working.

Representing Filipinos

What if you are the first Filipino to ever work in a certain company in Japan? How will you communicate with your Japanese work mates if you don’t know how to speak Nihongo. Again, they are not going to adjust for us, since English is not widely spoken in the country.

Tips for Caregivers

If you are a caregiver and would wish to work in Japan, then you must know that you need to study Nihongo. That’s primarily because your patients will be elderly Japanese. In Japan, the elderly are typically alone, so there is no one to take care of them except caregivers.

As a result, the elderly enjoys talking to their caregivers. They also need to communicate their needs. What if they want to eat, take a bath, go to the bathroom, drink medicines, and more. How will you understand each other if you don’t know how to speak Nihongo?

Knowing how to speak Japanese is really crucial for caregivers in Japan. In fact, they really need to reach a high standard or level of Nihongo so that they can perform their work well.

Nihongo for Daily Interactions

Our YouTuber pinpoints specific examples as to how you might use Nihongo in your life in Japan, particularly outside work. If you want to go to the department store, for example, you will find that most of the signs are in Japanese. That’s why you also need to learn how to read and write in the national language, aside from being able to speak it.

Also, when you want to eat out, and you’re not really sure what the food is because it is new to you, you need to be able to converse with the waiter to ask him what it is, or what the ingredients are. At the very least, you need to know the basic Japanese words and phrases, and work from there.

Of course, the longer you stay in Japan, the better you become in terms of communicating with the locals. There is, after all, such a thing as language immersion. By surrounding yourself with people who speak Nihongo, you will learn the language faster, and if you put studying in schools on top of that, then you will become fluent in no time.

When in Japan, you want to spend time visiting its most famous destinations. Japan is a very beautiful country, both in its nature and in with its incredible man-made structures. While you’re in Japan, you should never let go of the opportunity to visit as many places as you can.

On the other hand, there is always the slightest chance you will get lost. In this scenario, knowing how to speak Nihongo is truly helpful. You can then ask the locals for directions to your destination or to going back home.

Indeed, you really can’t rely on the English language when you’re lost and asking for directions. As mentioned above, only 1 out of 50 Japanese persons know how to speak English.

Moreover, based on his experience, he said that even if some Japanese know how to speak English, they prefer to speak in Nihongo most of the time. Also, they prefer that foreign guests know how to speak the national language as well, rather than English.


Hiragana is the main phonetic writing system in Japan. The “letters” in this writing are used to represent distinct sounds that are used in Japanese. Our YouTuber said that if you want to learn about the Japanese language, you are typically required to learn the Hiragana first.

That’s because by learning Hiragana first, you will learn how to accurately pronounce each letter of the Japanese writing system. In turn, this will give you a better understanding of how to pronounce Japanese words that you hear and say as you stay in the country.


Katakana, on the other hand, is used for foreign words. For example, the word ice cream becomes aisukuriimu when pronounced. Another word, tomato, is pronounced differently, with the letter a now sounding more like how we Filipinos pronounce it.

Another unique thing about how Japanese speak is the absence of the letter l. In fact, the letter l in Japan turns into the letter r. For example, the word chocolate now sounds like chocorito. Also, the word salad turns into sarada.

The YouTuber also shared his name as an example of katakana pronunciation. Since his real name is Laurence Calledo, the Japanese now pronounce him as something that sounds like “raurenso karedo.”


Kanji are Chinese characters that are adopted and used in the Japanese writing system. These characters were originally introduced in Japan during the 5th century through Korea. Like Chinese characters, Kanji are ideograms. This means that each character actually corresponds to a word and therefore has its own meaning.

One fascinating thing about Kanji is that if you combine two characters, their combination can form another word. For example, if you combine the characters for car and for electricity, you will get a combination for train.

Kanji is the most difficult language to learn in Japan. Even high school students in Japan can’t read or understand newspapers since they are written in Kanji. In fact, some say that to truly understand newspapers, you need to learn at least 2000 to 3000 Kanji characters.

Can You Use Japanese When you Go Back Home?

You may eventually decide to go back home after working for several years in Japan. Now that you’re home, can you still use your proficiency in the Japanese language in the Philippines? Well, the answer to this is yes, definitely.

In the Philippines right now, there are many companies that are looking for Filipinos who know how to speak Japanese. For example, BPO and other customer related services companies. In fact, the salary is quite high if you can offer this language skill to the companies.

You can even be a tourist guide and other related jobs. Indeed, the opportunities are really great when you go back home to the Philippines after staying for several years in Japan.

JLPT – Japanese Language Proficiency test

The Japanese language proficiency test measures how well you know the Japanese language. As a nonnative speaker, you will definitely be taking this test. The test measures your grammar and vocabulary, and how well you converse with Japanese locals.

JLPT has three parts. Here they are:

  • Japanese language – this is composed of grammar and vocabulary
  • Writing
  • Reading

JLPT has five levels, shown below:

N1 – this is the highest level. If you are in this level, you can understand Japanese in a variety of circumstances. You can read with logical complexity and or abstract writings across a wide range of topics, and you can comprehend news reports, coherent conversations, and lectures spoken at the natural speed. At this level, you will be tested if you understand lots of complicated information. One of the most difficult things about level N1 is that you need to learn the meaning of so many Kanji characters.

The test lasts for around 170 minutes; 110 min reading and 60 min for listening.

N2 – this is known as the pre-advanced level. At this level, you can read materials that are clearly written, and you can listen to coherent conversations and news reports, among others. You will be tested if you understand news that are harder to grasp. You will also be presented with more information that you need to understand and comprehend.

The test lasts for around 155 minutes; 105 min reading and 50 min for listening.

N3 – this is known as the intermediate level. You can generally follow people that you listen to, and you can grasp the information presented in summaries of newspapers and the like. For N3, you will be tested in your ability to understand conversations about day to day topics, like those in the news. If you want to be a nurse or caregiver in Japan, you need to pass the N3 level exam. That’s one of the requirements from Japan and Philippine partnership agreement.

The test lasts for around 140 minutes; 30 min for language and vocabulary, 70 minutes for knowledge and reading, and 40 minutes for listening.

N4 – this is known as the elementary level. At this level, you can understand basic Japanese. You can generally follow talking locals, but typically only when they talk slowly.

This is still basic Japanese, but you will be tested for more kanji, conversations are longer, but they are still spoken slowly compared to normal daily conversations.

The test lasts for around 125 minutes; 30 min for language and vocabulary, 60 minutes for knowledge and reading, and 35 minutes for listening.

N5 – this is known as the basic level. You can understand basic Japanese, but not all of them. You can read and understand certain sentences and expressions, and you can learn the relevant parts of a conversation if spoken slowly. You will be tested in your ability to write certain words in hiragana, katakana and kanji. You will also be tested in your ability to talk to Japanese.

The test lasts for around 105 minutes; 25 min for language and vocabulary, 50 minutes for knowledge and reading, and 30 minutes for listening.

The JLPT exam occurs twice every year; one during July and another in December. For the July test, you can register online from February, and the results will arrive in December.

If you wish to take the exam during December, you need to be registered as early as September, and the results will arrive in February.

In order to practice for this test, you can always visit the JLPT website and access their available testing resources.

Indeed, learning how to speak Nihongo is important before going to Japan. Are you going there? Don’t worry about learning this new language; after all, doing this is a lot of fun as well as very educational.

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