One of the fastest ways to gain and maintain a language skill is to use it whenever possible. If you have started learning Japanese, consider installing a Japanese language plug-in in order to type Japanese on your English-language keyboard. By doing so, you will have access to all the hiragana, kanji and katakana that a Japanese keyboard provides, while still using your English-language keyboard.
Installing on Mac:
Installing any language typing system for your English-language keyboard follows similar steps for any language. Under System Preferences, click on Language and Text. From there, select input sources. Scroll down to “Kotoeri”, check this box and the boxes for hiragana and katakana. Now, in the top right corner, you can select which alphabet your computer is writing in. Type out your Japanese words by using the romaji pronunciation.
Installing on windows:
Windows has a similar straightforward method to add Japanese to your English-language keyboard. Start by selecting your Control Panel and then clicking on “Clock, Language and Region”. On the “Region and Language” menu, select “Change keyboards or other input methods”. On the “Keyboard and Languages” tab, select “Change keyboards” and “Add”. From here, you can scroll down and add Japanese.
If you do not want to install anything onto your computer, there are also online Japanese keyboard websites available.
Should you consider buying a Japanese keyboard?
Even though you can easily add Japanese to your English-language keyboard, you might be considering purchasing a Japanese keyboard if you use it quite frequently. Will this considerably save you time if each hiragana has a designated keyboard key? Maybe not, as even native Japanese people prefer to type by using romaji, the same way you would type Japanese on an English-language keyboard.
“In my Japanese school, I was taught to use a keyboard in the same way you would type Japanese using an English keyboard: by typing out the romaji and change the text into kanji, hiragana and katakana as appropriate. Even though the Japanese keyboards provide the option of typing out hiragana directly, I was not taught this way and don’t think many other Japanese use it either. In my opinion, an English-language keyboard works just as well and there aren’t many differences between how an English speaker and Japanese speaker type,” Yukiya Numano, a senior from Waseda University, says.
Do not worry about making a Japanese keyboard purchase anytime soon; your regular English-language keyboard should suffice. Instead, try out your keyboard’s new function!
How many languages do you have loaded in your keyboard?