Category: Learn Japanese


Conversational Japanese vs Business Japanese: Which is Better?

Introduction

Just like any language, there are various areas to cover when one decides to pick it up. The Japanese language is huge. There are various tiers and each tier comes with special words and grammar that are applicable plus useful. A Japanese learner might find this intimidating and be more demoralized than motivated, but don’t be.

Technically, there are multiples types of Japanese ranging from the most basic to the most complicated, the informal to the polite and formal. These can all generally be classified into two categories of Japanese — conversational Japanese and business Japanese. You can go either way and depending on which one you choose, they come with their own perks and benefits. 

Before starting to pick up the Japanese language, or even for those who have, it’s best to decide which direction to go for. Let’s take a look at these two categories and break them down to help with the decision making process.

The Basics of Conversational Japanese

Conversational Japanese is exactly what it sounds like — the kind of Japanese that you use in daily conversations and day-to-day interactions. This type of Japanese is more casual and often consists of less formal vocabulary, sentence structure, and grammar. Sometimes, the grammar and sentence structure is so flexible that there’s no right or wrong to them!

Conversational Japanese is the one that’s most often heard in television shows, dramas, and movies. It’s no question that you’ll hear them being used when you walk past a group of people on the streets of Japan as well. This type of Japanese is used among friends and family as well as close and casual colleagues. Don’t worry if you’re not sure who to speak conversational Japanese with. The Japanese people are very understanding and appreciative of those who are learning the language and appreciate all sorts of efforts!

Why Learn Conversational Japanese?

The most obvious question is: why should you learn conversational Japanese? There are various reasons as to why. First and foremost, it is the easiest choice of the two. Conversational Japanese is usually just basic and lower-intermediate Japanese grammar and vocabulary. Once you’ve got the fundamentals of the language structure down, you’re as good as anyone at conversational Japanese! If there is a word mentioned by another person that you don’t understand, the explanation of the meaning is often always using simple words — so you’ll definitely be able to grasp it. Don’t get too caught up in grammar and sentence structure as well when it comes to conversational Japanese. In this type of Japanese, you can structure your sentences a few different ways to say the same thing and no one will penalize you on it!

The second reason why you should learn conversational Japanese is because it’s what you’ll most often use in Japan. If you’re meeting a Japanese friend, it’s more natural to speak in conversational Japanese because it’s informal and more casual. The vocabulary words that you pick up in conversational Japanese will probably pop up again in the future, so it’s extremely useful. On top of it all, you’ll be able to watch a Japanese drama or movie and be able to follow most, if not all, of the conversation!

Who Should Learn Conversational Japanese?

If you’re wondering if conversational Japanese is suitable for you, think about why you’re learning the language. Are you learning Japanese because you want to be able to speak to other Japanese people casually and make more native friends? If your reason for picking up the language is similar to that, then conversational Japanese is perfect for you!

The Basics of Business Japanese

The other type of Japanese is business Japanese that uses keigo (敬語), which is the honorific Japanese speech. This type, as it suggests, is the kind where you would use in a business setting. Whether it is in the office, to your colleagues or seniors, or in a meeting, it’s undoubtedly more formal than conversational Japanese. Business Japanese consists of more complicated words and phrases, sentence structures and specific grammar to use in this kind of setting. You might even require to be familiar with more kanji (漢字), the Chinese characters and also one of the three writing systems in the Japanese language (whereas in conversational Japanese, you’ll be able to pass without requiring many kanji characters).

As mentioned before, this type of Japanese is more formal than the other one. So you won’t hear it being used as often. Unless the Japanese drama or movie you’re watching is in a business or formal setting, you won’t be as exposed to it in those mediums.

Why Learn Business Japanese?

If it’s slightly more difficult and more substantial than conversational Japanese, why learn it then? Well, first of all, it’s extremely useful and important. In fact, it is crucial in the particular environment. Japanese companies and business workers expect a certain level of formality in speech. Not only is it required in situations like meetings and interactions with other colleagues in the office, but it’ll also definitely impress them with your fluency in a complicated level of the language.

It’s not just the language but the etiquette and mannerisms that come along with it. Most expect specific customs when dealing in a business environment. Some of these etiquettes include a certain way of dressing and movement. Even handing over a business card has a particular way.

Who Should Learn Business Japanese?

Business Japanese is extremely necessary for those who are planning to work in Japan or are required to liaise with Japanese clients. It is considered professionalism and the bare minimum in meetings and those of the likes. You will also want to be able to understand what the other party is talking about, since the vocabulary that comes with business Japanese is a few steps up from conversational Japanese. 

Which Is Better: Conversational or Business?

So, which is better, conversational Japanese or business Japanese? The answer is, there isn’t one that is better than the other! Both conversational Japanese and business Japanese have their perks that the other doesn’t. It is more of a matter of preference and personal choice, and what the Japanese learner is learning Japanese for. 

If you’re learning Japanese to converse casually, conversational Japanese is substantial. If you are working in a Japanese company or plan to, or have Japanese clients that you want to impress, then business Japanese is the better option. Either way, the Japanese people will appreciate every ounce of effort!

The Wrap-up

At the end of the day, whatever category of Japanese you choose should be of your choice. Because you’re the one learning it, and if you pick the right kind of Japanese, you’ll enjoy the learning process more. The Japanese language is a tricky one sometimes, but with a full heart of motivation, it’s as easy as ABC! Ganbatte (頑張って)

What To Do When You Feel Like Giving Up On Your Japanese Learning

Introduction

Trust me, I know the feeling. Not every day you wake up and feel the motivation to open that textbook. I know I’ve had my fair share of days where all I wanted to do was throw my Japanese notes across the room, and other days I just wanted to give up.

I’m glad I didn’t though because these feelings did eventually go away. Just like everything else, the bad times pass and the good ones come after. It’s all about bracing through the storm and coming back out in one piece. 

All of that motivational talk is easier said than done — I get that. So, instead of telling you to just pick yourself back up and keep going on, I’ll walk through with you the ins and outs of why you feel like giving up, and what are the realistic ways of bouncing back up from that slump. Let’s go!

So You Feel Like Giving Up…

Don’t beat yourself up for feeling that way. It’s okay to want to give up; that’s totally normal. Things get tough for most of us and the more times we convince ourselves to go back on it, the harder it gets. I’m here to tell you that probably everyone who’s ever picked up a Japanese learning textbook has thought about giving up. You and I both know it’s not the easiest language to learn.

Take a step back before deciding whether or not you want to put the Japanese books down permanently. It’s easier to just call it quits early on and just move on with your life because at the early stages you haven’t really put in much to learning the language. But there are ways you can fight and argue with yourself to stop yourself from giving up; first and foremost is looking at the causes of making you feel this way.

What’s Causing You to Give Up?

There can be quite a number of reasons that are making you feel like giving up. Believe it or not, what’s causing you to give up is quite common among other Japanese learners as well! I probably had all the reasons below. Let’s take a look at what they are.

Losing confidence

After months and months, or even years for some, of learning the Japanese language, you’re finally able to read a whole manga and watch an anime or drama without much trouble. You understood every single word and sentence — even the language humour, and that’s saying a lot! 

You switch to a different theme of drama or pick up a more serious Japanese book to read, and everything comes crashing down. You barely understand half of what they’re saying or what you’re reading. 

You travel to Japan, all excited to put all your studying to good use. The first chance you got, you messed up because you couldn’t understand what the cashier staff was saying, or what the restaurant waiter was asking you.

You went from an all-time high to an all-time low in a matter of seconds. Your mood changes and this sudden shift just brought a whole set of weight on your shoulders. You end up feeling like all the effort you put in just didn’t pay off. You lose confidence in yourself, especially your language ability. 

It’s tough to push yourself back up from such a setback, but also tell yourself that everyone’s a student one way or the other. We’re all learning, and there’s always highs and lows in everything, especially language. 

Comparing yourself to others

A comparison can be a real enemy. Whether it’s another student in the same language class as you, a friend, or just some stuff you read online, you start comparing yourself to them. Someone had learned in three weeks what you had in three months — and during that time you were really struggling as well.

There are two ways this comparison can affect a person — the first one being a good motivation and pushing the person to work harder, and the other is actually demotivating the person who ends up giving up because they don’t feel good enough. 

Just like in life and the various life stages, everyone has their own timeline. Stop comparing yourself and your progress with others. Different people have different studying habits, obstacles and timelines. You might be juggling three different jobs and using the limited free time you have to study Japanese, so don’t compare yourself with someone who dedicates their whole days to studying the language full time. Don’t run a bicycle race.

Frustration

I’ve been there, done that — getting frustrated at Japanese learning, especially when I’ve been stuck on a grammar point for a few weeks, and still not getting it! I’ve lost count the number of times I wanted to call it quits because I couldn’t grasp the structure of how the grammar works.

They say if you’re too close to something, you won’t be able to see the full picture. During times where you feel extremely frustrated because you can’t remember or can’t comprehend something, take a step back and put a pause on that specific thing. Go on learning others and get back to it when you’ve had a bit of time and space apart from it. You’ll come back with a fresh set of eyes and memory space.

Cultural triggers

This happens more often than you think, and it’s, unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons why people feel like giving up on learning Japanese. For those who haven’t been to the country, Japan is like a dream destination. Even for those who have been on holiday, it’s still a heavenly place on Earth.

There are times where Japan doesn’t live up to our expectations. There can be unpleasant bump-ins with some Japanese people, realizing that Japan is not all that it seemed or receiving unintentional condescending comments. All of these can definitely put a damper on one’s motivation to learn the Japanese language.

Times like these, you have to look at the bigger picture; why did you learn Japanese in the first place? Realistically, a country cannot be perfect in every corner; a small handful of people does not represent the whole race; comments are just comments and they won’t be able to affect you if you don’t let it. Look within yourself — are these encounters really worth giving up a whole language skill?

Ways to Bounce Back Up!

If any of the above reasons are what’s causing you to feel like giving up, I’m here to tell you that there’s a way out of all of them! I’ve been through them all, and I personally have used these ways below to bounce myself back up to feeling pumped about learning Japanese again.

Let’s take a look at what these ultimate ways are to pick yourself back up after falling down! 

Take a break

This is a way that quite a number of people neglect and forget to do. You always have to take a break, and not just a short pause in between grammar points and kanji memorization sessions. When you’re at quite a low level of motivation, it’s best to take a break from the Japanese language fully. Press pause for a couple of days. Get anything and everything Japanese out of your mind — music, manga, articles; all of it, out! 

This space between you and the Japanese language allows you to come back to the problem and fix it with a new perspective and not one that’s been clouded and affected by all the negative emotions. Even if it’s not a full 100%, you’ll definitely feel more enthusiastic about getting back into learning Japanese again with a renewed sense of energy. 

List the pros and cons of giving up 

When you’re feeling stuck between giving up and holding on, take out a piece of paper and grab a pen. Then, list out the pros and cons. Learning a new language is exciting and all, but is the language you have chosen the right one for you? If there’s not a strong reason and passion behind learning the language, the harsh reality is that you’ll always struggle with it.

List the pros of giving up — are there so many things going on in your life that you don’t have time to spare to learn a language, so giving up opens up your free time? List out the cons of giving up — do you have a strong desire in learning Japanese, and giving up your passion?

This list will be a good visual representation of what’s going on in your head with relations to your life situation. Only you have the power and the answer to make the decision based on this list. And only you know what’s best for you — you can drop it fully if learning the language is more of a negative impact than a positive one, continue if you really love it, or go for the third option and hit that pause button while you sort other things out in your life.

Try another learning approach

This is one that I highly recommend to those who feel like they can’t absorb anything that they learn. Everyone has a different learning style. Not one style fits all, so don’t force yourself to learn a language by memorization when you’re more of a visual learner. Some people learn better through audio, so go for some podcasts! 

The language learning world is your oyster, and in this modern day and age, there’s no learning tool that you can’t find to help you with your language learning using a different learning approach!

Find a study partner or group

I know that some of us are better at studying alone, but when it comes to learning a language, we all work better together! Having a study partner or a group not only motivates you to regularly pick a new learning point of the language, but you’ll also have people to practice the new skills you’ve acquired.

A study partner or group is so effective in improving your Japanese speech. Not only that, but you can also even have fun activities together like movie nights binge-watching only Japanese TV shows, movies and anime — only with Japanese audio and no English subtitles! Who says you can’t mix work and pleasure together?

Conclusion

I understand that the pressure of learning a new language can get quite overwhelming, but know that you’re not alone in this. Every one of us struggles with it at every stage of the learning process, but there are always ways to get back up! Ganbatte (頑張って)! We’re all rooting for you!

Karaoke Your Way to Becoming A Kanji Master!

Introduction

It’s already a challenge to learn the first two Japanese writing systems, hiragana and katakana, but almost everyone can agree that kanji is the real killer. There are literally thousands of them in the Japanese language — some of them even look extremely similar to each other with only a stroke to differentiate! — and for those of us who were never exposed to these Chinese characters before, it can be more time consuming than anything else in the Japanese learning journey.

There is a fun way to memorising these killer characters, and that’s through karaoke! This famous form of entertainment, especially in Japan itself, can double as a Japanese language guide by supporting your kanji learning. How, you ask? Read on to discover the learning aspect of karaoke when it comes to the all-challenging kanji.

Karaoke Culture in Japan

There’s no doubt that karaoke (カラオケ) is huge in Japan! It did originate from the Land of the Rising Sun, after all. Pretty much everyone in Japan does karaoke — from the kids in school to the working adults. There’s no age limit to this entertaining activity!

Why do the Japanese love karaoke so much? Well, what’s not to love? It’s pretty much a gathering of friends singing to their hearts’ content into a microphone to their favourite songs. That, in itself, sounds like extreme fun! While it’s more common to see a group of people in a karaoke room, it’s not unusual to have just one person singing alone. It’s such an effective method of stress relief that there’s no shame in screaming into the mic and getting out all that overwhelming emotion!

Karaoke is so greatly loved in Japan that almost every corner has at least one karaoke joint. Big karaoke companies have outlets scattered across the whole country — even in quiet neighbourhoods where you wouldn’t expect to find a karaoke joint.

Why Use Karaoke To Improve Kanji?

There’s a reason why karaoke is extremely enjoyable and stress-relieving, and that’s because it’s so easy and effortless. If it’s such a fun activity, why combine it with something serious like learning? Well, learning can be fun too, depending on the method you’re using to learn. Using karaoke to learn kanji not only improves your kanji ability but it also has various other positive gains!

Immerse in the Japanese culture

Everyone can agree that karaoke is ultimately part of the Japanese culture. “When in Rome, do what the Romans do,” they say. When in Japan, you do karaoke! Not only will regular karaoke help improve your kanji but it will also shed light on the cultural aspect of this activity. At the end of it all, you’ll definitely have a newfound appreciation for this form of entertainment.

Connect with people

While karaoke can be a solo activity, it’s arguable much more fun with a group of people! Karaoke is the bridge that brings people of the same mindset together. With a bunch of other people around, you might even be more motivated to improve your kanji. Sometimes, you can even make new friends through karaoke! This form of entertainment helps you to improve your kanji as well as expands your social circle! That’s killing two birds with one stone!

A fun alternative

Let’s face it — anything is more fun than facing a textbook to study. Who doesn’t like an alternative to the traditional methods of learning? Karaoke is the answer to all your prayers! With this, you get to sing along to your favourite tunes while still picking up a thing or two learning points. So don’t ever feel bad saying yes to a karaoke invite!

How Can Karaoke Help with Kanji?

Now that we got past the reasons to use this activity to improve your kanji, it’s time to look into the technical bits of the method. And that is how karaoke can actually help. It’s all about the combination of visual and listening aspects of learning that we don’t get from sitting down with our textbooks.

In a song, there’s often repetitive words and phrases. During karaoke, there’s a screen that shows the lyrics of the song. With songs that have kanji words in it, sometimes there is also the furigana, which is a Japanese reading aid written in the hiragana characters, on top of it. Because some kanji are bound to be repeated multiple times throughout a song, you’ll end up memorising the right pronunciation of the kanji. That’s because repetition helps our minds to remember things better. And in the future, you wouldn’t even need the furigana anymore!

On top of that, you’ll naturally be able to recognise the kanji outside of the karaoke room. As you’re more exposed to the same kanji over and over again, you’ll end up recognising the strokes and its patterns just by the visuals of the kanji.

Recommended Songs to Karaoke To

There are thousands of Japanese songs out there, how would you know which ones are the best for improving your kanji skills? Most Japanese songs go by the same style and that is repetition. But there are some that are more suited than others, especially with the kanji used in the song. You wouldn’t want to learn a kanji that no one actually uses. You would ideally want to be exposed to kanjis that are used on a daily basis. Here are some recommended songs to karaoke to that will be great for your kanji learning and improvement!

“Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana” by SMAP

One of the all-time bestselling songs in all of Japan is by a boy group called SNAP, and it’s the song called Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana (世界一つだけ). Despite being a 2004 release, it’s still extremely popular to this day, especially for karaoke! Because it’s such a big hit, everyone from children to older adults know this tune. The song describes people as flowers and how we have the potential to grow and blossom. Rest assured that the kanji used in these are extremely useful for your Japanese learning.

“Makenaide” by ZARD

What better way to motivate you to improve your kanji at karaoke than to sing along to an uplifting song? Makenaide (負けないで) is by a group called ZARD, and the song title translates to “please don’t lose”. Naturally, it became an anthem for sports, making it the Japanese equivalent of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. With such an upbeat tune and a memorable chorus, it’s definitely a fun karaoke song that features everyday words and kanji for you to pick up!

“Koi Suru Foochun Kukkie” by AKB48

Koi Suru Foochuun Kukkie (恋するフォーチュンクッキー) is an extremely popular Japanese song by the famous girl group AKB48. The beat to this song is super catchy and captivating, you won’t be able to stop dancing to it! The lyrics to this song features well-used kanji that are easy to follow, making it the perfect song to karaoke to while improving your kanji!

Conclusion

Karaoke is definitely the ultimate way to get you pumped up to improve your kanji reading and recognition. At the same time, this form of entertainment is supposed to be enjoyable. Hence, there should be a perfect balance between learning and fun so that you’ll be able to fully benefit from using karaoke as a kanji guide!

Gaming is an Underrated Japanese Language Guide

Introduction

Let’s face it, we’ve all played a type of video game at least once in our lives. And better yet, we enjoyed it. Would you believe if someone told you that video games can be an extremely useful tool in studying Japanese? You better believe it, because it is!

Those who have mastered hiragana and katakana along with basic grammar could easily use video games as a Japanese language guide. While it is not for the ultimate beginners, it is still good to take note of your future usage. Having to sit down with a Japanese textbook after a long day of school or work might not be the number one thing you would want to do. Instead, grab your controller pad or computer for some Japanese learning fun! This is your ultimate guide to making the best out of gaming as a Japanese language guide!

Gaming Culture in Japan

It’s quite common knowledge that Japan has one of the largest, most successful gaming industries in the world! I bet we didn’t even know we were playing a Japanese video game when we were little.  The Japanese market is the second largest in the whole world in terms of the game software. Everything from Nintendo and Sony Entertainment to smaller yet influential gaming companies has taken not only Japan but the entire world by storm.

Japan is flooded with gaming arcades owned by the major gaming companies — Taito and Sega are just to name a few. Compared to the US where there are only 4,000 gaming arcades, Japan has over 20,000! There are also cafes specially made for video gaming and are just as easily found all around the country.

From game consoles like the PlayStation to standard computer video games, there’s no denying that Japan has it all and is dominating the scene effortlessly.

How Can Gaming Help with Learning Japanese?

You might be wondering how something so fun can be used to learn Japanese. Well, it can! Even though most mainstream video games have been translated to English for the mass audience from overseas, the original version always exists! It might be easier to just switch to English out of convenience, but try out the original language for a change — you’ll be surprised at just how useful it can be in multiple ways, and how much better your Japanese language skill got! Here are some of the ways gaming can help as a Japanese language guide:

1. Specially-made language games

While this might be the most straight-forward way that gaming can help with learning Japanese, it is a good stepping stone to take to learning Japanese the fun way. There are some games that are made for learning languages, particularly the Japanese language. One example is My Japanese Coach and it was made for the Nintendo DS, released back in 2008. This game is from a series called My Coach which includes everything from language learning to quitting habits like smoking or even losing weight. The game teaches beginner Japanese like the writing systems, basic grammar and vocabulary words to start you off with your Japanese language learning. It truly is a game that’s a Japanese language guide — and there are more just like it out there!

2. Improve your listening skills

Like mentioned before, even though the game comes in English, there might be a possibility that there’s also the original Japanese language option. Especially if the game is made by a Japanese company, there’s a higher chance of that being the case. Instead of playing the game with English audio, why not test your listening skills by having Japanese audio instead? When there aren’t any other language crutches to help you while you play your game, you’ll automatically pay closer attention to the words the game is saying. With this constant practice, you’ll definitely improve your Japanese listening skills at the end of every day — all while still enjoying your intense (or not) game.

3. Repetitive words and phrases

Even in English video games, there are bound to be words and phrases that are repeated throughout the game. If you start a new round of a game, words like “start” or  “end” will always appear, and phrases like “let’s go!” are common as well. It’s the same in Japanese video games — if anything, they have more repetitive words and phrases! As the same things are being mentioned a couple of times, it’s easier for our brains to absorb and process them with their meanings. Because of this, gaming makes a great Japanese language guide.

4. Visual learning by reading

If you’re not that confident in solely depending on Japanese audio, why not try using Japanese subtitles with English audio? Games are surprisingly more about reading (and doing things) than it is listening. Not only will this method boost your reading speed but you’ll be able to recognise the Japanese characters more quickly. It’s better than listening to Japanese audio with English subtitles because you tend to be more engrossed in the English subtitle instead. With the roles reversed, your brain catches the English audio as you link the meaning to the Japanese subtitles.

Recommended Games to Boost Your Japanese Language Ability

The gaming industry is huge, so it might be a bit overwhelming to choose a few to be the Japanese language guides. Depending on your level of Japanese, some might not be as ideal as it can be too difficult or too easy. We’ve listed out a few video games of various levels: beginner, moderate and hard.

1. Pokémon (Beginner Level)

Who doesn’t like Pokémon? It’s perfect for people of every age and gender! This video game franchise is arguably the most popular one ever! It started off as just a hand-held gaming system back in the ‘90s but has since expanded to other video gaming systems. Pokémon is so popular that it even has animated movies and TV shows bases on the characters. The aim of the Pokémon games is as simple as it gets — you have to catch them all. 

Pokémon is perfect for beginners because everything about the game is written with small kids in mind. Hence, all the characters’ names are written in simple katakana, and the language used is basic and easy to follow with the hiragana.

2. Ni No Kuni (Moderate Level)

This video game is extremely known for its wonderful animation for a role-playing game. Ni No Kuni is a collaboration between Studio Ghibli and Level-5, a game design company, and the whole vibe is exactly what the Japanese are into — kawaii (かわいい, meaning cute) aesthetics mixed with a bit of challenge.

Ni No Kuni is perfect for those looking to improve their Japanese conversations as this game has more than a few casual conversations to follow. It uses everyday words that are useful for anyone looking to improve their Japanese language ability, making it the perfect Japanese language guide. On top of that, Ni No Kuni has a few no-risk reading comprehension that can be of use to up your Japanese reading ability.

3. Final Fantasy (Hard Level)

If you have not heard of Final Fantasy, then you must have been living under a rock. This video game franchise started off as a simple role-playing game on a small Nintendo gaming system back in the late ‘80s. It has since then boomed into a world so famous that it has multiple spin-offs and sequels as well as movies based on the game. 

Final Fantasy is perfect for those who are confident in their Japanese ability skill but just want a bit of fun revision here and there while leaving room for improvement. The characters in this game each have their own unique personality that is visible in their Japanese language. With all the slang words and accents, you’ll be more exposed to the varieties of the Japanese language and essentially decide which one you’d want for yours. Don’t be scared of Final Fantasy as a Japanese language guide, though. The dialogues all have subtitles, so if you feel stuck or overwhelmed, that language crutch is there for you!

Tips and Tricks to Getting Started

You might still be a bit hesitant or unsure about how to go about using gaming as a Japanese language guide. That’s normal — anything new can be quite scary. Especially with gaming, you might end up getting sucked into the game rather than balancing out the gaming and learning. Stick to our tips and tricks to getting started and you’ll be on your way to being guided for the Japanese language using games!

1. Pick a familiar game

The first thing is to pick a familiar game to start off. It’s definitely not recommended to get into a new game as everything can be unfamiliar and a little scary. You’ll end up being more stressed over not getting the game right, and on top of it all, you won’t be able to focus on the learning aspect. Try picking a game where you’ve nailed down how to maneuver around so the game can be more of use as a Japanese language guide.

2. Pick a game you like

At the end of the day, this is supposed to be a fun way of learning. Why trouble yourself by picking a game that you have no interest in? Decide on a game that you like and enjoy so the learning aspect can be enjoyable as well. If it’s a game that you don’t particularly like, you might end up getting bored of it too quickly, and eventually getting stressed rather than having fun. It is still a game, after all.

3. Make online friends

Everything is more fun with more people. Try making some friends on the game you’re playing and take advantage of the benefit of immersion. Plug in your headset and turn on your microphone. Take a step further by conversing with Japanese native speakers even if you’re not that fluent in the language just yet. Over time, with the right vocabulary for your game, you’ll definitely improve your Japanese at least a level up.

4. Take notes

Keep a notebook next to you. You don’t have to jot down every single thing, but it’s a great habit to have. Write down words or expressions that you don’t know or have never heard before and look it up after the game. This is a great way to build up your vocabulary list. What’s more, the game is quite likely to use the same words and phrases again.

5. Say out loud

To fully benefit gaming as a Japanese language guide, you should use it to practice your verbal communication skills as well. On top of just listening and reading, try adding in the third method as well by reading sentences out loud and copy what some characters are saying. Through this, you’ll be able to pick up on the various intonations, tones and emotions in the words. That’s an extremely great skill to have in the long run!

Japanese Gaming Words to Start You Off

Before you set off on your fun Japanese learning adventure, it might be good to have a few gaming vocabulary words under your belt. There are some that appear in almost every game. Here’s a short and brief list of Japanese gaming vocabulary words to start you off:

Menu — menyuu (メニュー

Level — reberu (レベル)

Select — sentaku (選択)

Settings — settei (設定)

Start — kaishi (開始

Save — sebu (セーブ)

Continue — tsuzuki (続き)

Quit  — shuuryou (終了

Music — ongaku (音楽) 

Character  — jinbutsu (人物)

World  — sekai (世界)

Strength — chikara ()

Health — tairyoku (体力)

Conclusion

While gaming can be used as a Japanese language guide, it’s important to remember that this is supposedly a fun way to learn and study Japanese. Hence, it shouldn’t be a chore in any way! Even if you’re a huge gamer who would want to marathon a couple of hours straight, it’s best to pace yourself so you’ll remember what you actually picked up during the gaming session. Regardless, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be using gaming of various video games as an essential Japanese language guide to your Japanese language learning journey!

Ways J-Pop Could Boost Your Japanese Language Ability

Introduction

Music is a form of entertainment, but it can also be a language learning tool. Yes, that’s right — a tool for learning languages. Focus on fun rather than formal ways of studying. Switch your Japanese flashcards with some J-pop music downloaded on your phone. These J-pop artists singing harmoniously into your ears is a definite way of boosting your Japanese language ability. 

Don’t believe us? Read on and your doubts will all be resolved!

What is J-Pop? 

J-pop is short for Japanese pop. Natively, it’s known as simply pop. J-pop is a music genre that is considered the musical mainstream in Japan. It’s an essential part of the Japanese culture as well as a lot of other people all around the world.

While the music of Japan has been around for centuries, J-pop only entered the scene in the 1990s. Even though it was influenced by Western culture and artists like The Beatles, today’s J-pop doesn’t resemble its original influence at all. J-pop has morphed into something quite unique and special. No other genre can quite resemble the essence of Japanese pop — be it in the sense of tune or aesthetics.

Music’s Influence in Japan 

Japan is all about their music. A day out in the country brings about konbini (コンビニ) tunes, restaurant playlists and even chimes before the shut of the train doors. It’s safe to say that music takes up an enormous part of the Japanese people’s life. It is in their culture, after all.

There is much evidence to support this claim, but there’s one major one that no one can deny: karaoke (カラオケ). Japan has had a massive karaoke market — ever since the 1970s. The Japanese cannot resist the urge to sing their hearts out into a mic in front of a screen with lyrics. It just goes to show that music isn’t only significant to music artists, but generally the whole mainstream population.

Why Should I Use J-Pop to Boost My Japanese Ability?

Isn’t it already a given? Music is fun! Take advantage of this form of entertainment as a means to learn and boost your Japanese ability. Why pick the traditional method of book and pencil to practice Japanese when you can have a poppy, upbeat Japanese tunes to guide you to better understanding the language!

Don’t you think it’s easier to memorise a lyric than a vocabulary word? Well, if a vocabulary word is in a J-pop song, you’ll memorise it in no time! That’s because J-pop songs are made to be easily comprehensible for everyone, locals and non-locals alike. The lyrics are never too complicated to understand or decipher. Plus, there’s always English translations readily available for your reference.

On top of it all, J-pop introduces slang and casual language — stuff that doesn’t often appear in Japanese textbooks! This is especially great for Japanese language learners because you would want to be able to hold a conversation in Japanese naturally rather than rigidly.

Ways that J-Pop Boost Your Japanese Ability

If you’re thinking there’s no way something as enjoyable as J-pop can be of help to your Japanese language learning, you’re wrong. And we’re here to prove that it can! Here are some ways J-pop boost your Japanese ability:

1. Repetition

When learning a language, the best way to remember it is to do it over and over again until it’s stuck in your head. From reading and writing to speaking and listening, this method works for all.

J-pop automatically does the repetition for you. Pre-choruses and choruses often repeated multiple times in a song. Sometimes, a single word is repeated throughout! By the end of it, you’ll be able to sing along the next time without having any referencing.

2. Reading

Whether it is singing along to the lyrics on the screen during karaoke or following the words of a web search of the lyrics to a J-pop song, this definitely triggers your Japanese reading abilities. Even if a kanji (漢字, which are Chinese characters that appear in Japanese text) pops up, there’s almost always furigana (ふりがな) that comes to the rescue, which is the hiragana pronunciation for the character. J-pop songs act as a reading practice in disguise!

On top of it all, because you’ll be exposed to the same kanji over and over again, you’ll be able to recognise it far more easily in the future!

3. Listening

It’s a given that you listen to a tune, but when you listen to J-pop, you’re subconsciously practicing your listening skills of Japanese. After a few repeats of the same song or a whole playlist of J-pop, you’re bound to pick up the essence of the lyrics.

4. Pronunciation

A textbook can’t teach you exactly how to pronounce certain words, but J-pop songs can. Singing along to a J-pop tune is bound to improve your Japanese speech and pronunciation. As you’re more exposed to the sounds of the Japanese language, you’ll have a good sense of how Japanese words sound like, as well as any future ones you may learn.

5. Metaphors

More often than not, J-pop songs use metaphors in their songs. It’s a way of flowering their lyrics — it can get silly at times.

Nonetheless, these metaphors are great learning tools to bump up your Japanese language skills another level or two. For example, a line “umi ga oshaberi wo yameru” (おしゃべりやめる) literally translates to “the sea stops talking.” But when you decipher it, it actually means “the sea waves are silenced.”

Just like how phrases in the English language levels up your fluency, metaphors in J-pop songs can boost your Japanese language ability.

J-Pop Artists That Can Help Your Japanese

Now that you know the ways J-pop can help your Japanese learning, you need to fill your music playlist with some J-pop songs. Here are the best J-pop artists with easily comprehensible songs to get you started: 

Koda Kumi

Source: https://img.imageimg.net/artist/koda/img/product_1030884.jpg via https://rhythmzone.net/koda/discography/detail.php?id=1017194

Koda Kumi is one of Japan’s most popular J-pop artists. Her songs are often featured in Final Fantasy games — yes, that’s where you’ve heard of her before. She has a deep, husky voice that’s rather unique. This J-pop artist is recommended for those of lower-intermediate and upwards. Some songs to give a listen to are “Real Emotion” and “1000 Words”.

AKB48

Source: https://www.akb48.co.jp/about/discography/detail_cd/?media_id=367

Need a little bit more of a beat to your J-pop tunes? AKB48 is just for you! This J-pop artist is a Japanese girl group with quite a large number of members. They’re extremely popular with super catchy tunes. Their songs are perfect for beginners as well! “Heavy Rotation” is a definite must-listen, and if you like that, you’ll like “Let’s Become Cherry Blossom Trees”.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

A J-pop artist list is not complete without Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. She’s the very definition of J-pop. Because of her creative fashion aesthetics, she’s often referred to as “Harajuku Pop Princess”, “J-Pop Princess” and even “Japan’s Lady Gaga.” What grand titles, am I right? Don’t miss out on her top hit “PONPONPON”, as well as some other legendary ones like “Tsukematsukeru” and “Ninja Ri Bang Bang”.

Arashi

Last but definitely not least, we have the legendary Arashi. This J-pop group can be considered one of the pioneer artists of the genre, being active since the 1990s. Their songs are easy to follow and catchy, so it’s definitely recommended for beginners. “Monster” and “Love So Sweet” are some of the top songs of this famous J-pop group.

Conclusion

The more you find fun and interesting ways to hone your Japanese language skills, the more motivated you are in learning the language. And J-pop is unquestionably an amusing way to get into the studying mood. So the next time you go to karaoke, don’t feel bad about not picking up a Japanese exercise sheet. You’re basically practicing your Japanese at karaoke anyway!

 

What is Survival Japanese?

Introduction

There’s a term floating around the English-speaking community in Japan, and that is survival Japanese. This specific term often pops up when one is asked if they can speak Japanese. Instead of replying “sukoshi” (少し), which translates to “a bit”, some might respond with “I know survival Japanese.”
 
It is neither a good nor a bad thing to know survival Japanese. It only becomes bad when you’re out of survival Japanese to get you by! Regardless, it’s best to know of its existence and what is and isn’t considered survival Japanese.
 
If you have zero clue about what it is, you’ve come to the right spot! Here’s everything you need to know about the term “survival Japanese.” 
 

What is “Survival Japanese”?

 
This can encompass basic, everyday Japanese words and phrases an English native needs to get by the average day in Japan. Some might categorize the lowest level of beginner Japanese as survival Japanese because it can’t be effortlessly used in everyday conversations.
 
Survival Japanese isn’t definite. It generally refers to the necessary Japanese skill, often the lowest level, a foreigner should at least have
 

Why is it Called “Survival Japanese”?

Rumor has it that the term came about by a tourist who gathered random words and broken sentences to get through their holiday smoothly. Any foreigner who has been to Japan would know that it isn’t an easy task to travel around when you don’t speak their native language. It’s not impossible, but it definitely would be so much more convenient when you know a word or two.
 
To survive in Japan and live a semi-smooth lifestyle, it’s best to have the basics of the Japanese language. That’s generally how the term “survival Japanese” came about.
 

Survival Japanese Phrases

Enough talk about what it is, let’s get on to using it!
 
As mentioned before, survival Japanese can consist of anything from words and phrases to a full sentence. Most of the time, they can be used in most general circumstances as it happens more often than other situations.
 
The Japanese language has pretty easy pronunciation, so don’t worry about mispronouncing the romanisation to it. There’s quite a high chance that you’re pronouncing it perfectly.
 
The survival Japanese phrases depend on the place it occurs. We categorized the different survival Japanese phrases into these common situations: greetings and goodbyes, exclamation, in a convenience store, in a restaurant and in a taxi.
 

Greetings & Goodbyes

The survival Japanese greetings can be said to anyone. It’s a pretty general section. If you’re a traveler in Japan, use some of these greetings to greet the hotel staff and receptionist on your way in or out. If you’re living in a dormitory or sharehouse, your roommates are bound to understand these greetings, too, regardless if they’re Japanese or not. After all, it is survival Japanese!
 
Good morning!
Ohayou gozaimasu! (おはようございます!)
 
Good afternoon! / Hello! 
Konnichiwa! (こんにちは!)
 
Good evening!
Konbanwa! (こんばんは!)
 
Good night! 
Oyasuminasai! (おやすみなさい!)
 
How are you? 
Genki desu ka? (元気ですか?)
 
See you later!
Mata ne! (またね!)
 
Goodbye!
Sayonara! (さよなら!)
 

In a konbini

A konbini (コンビニ) is what the Japanese calls the convenience store. There’s always a similar flow of system when it comes to ordering and paying at the convenience store. Most of the time, the staff will either gesture at what they’re referring to (like the microwave if it’s to heat up your purchase, or a plastic bag to ask if you would like one). With these survival Japanese phrases to use at the konbini, you’re bound to go in and out in a jiff!
 
Yes.
Hai. (はい。)
 
No.
Iie. (いいえ。)
 
This one, please.
Kore, kudasai. (これ、ください。)
 
Do you have ______?
_______ arimasuka? (___ありますか?)
This last phrase can be used to ask if the place has a specific product. Insert any product into the black space. For example, if you’re looking for Coca Cola, ask the staff, “koka kora arimasuka?” (コカコーラありますか?)
 

In a restaurant

You’re going to need these few survival Japanese phrases. There’s no way you’re not going into a restaurant when you’re in Japan. Be it a fancy, English-speaking restaurant or a local ramen-ya (らめんや), it’s always best to know these essential phrases to survive the time you spend in the eatery!
 
Excuse me.
Sumimasen. (すみません。)
 
____, please.
____ o kudasai. (__をください。)
 
For the above phrase, you can substitute any item you want. For example, if you want water, add mizu (水) into the blank. If you’d like to order something off the menu, just point at it and say “kore o kudasai” (これをください).
 
Where’s the toilet?
Toire wa doko desu ka? (トイレはどこですか?) 
 
Tip: you can substitute out toire for any location to ask where it’s at. 
 
One
 
Two
 

In a taxi

After a long night or when you just can’t be bothered to take the public transport, a taxi is the way to go. Don’t be scared off if you don’t know a lot or any Japanese. There are a few survival Japanese words and phrases that will get you through your experience and to your destination safe and sound.
 
_________, please.
________ onegaishimasu. (___お願いします。)
 
Here
Koko (ここ)
 
There
Asoko (あそこ)
 
Left
Hidari (左)
 
Right
Migi (右)
 

Exclamations

If you have watched a Japanese movie, anime or show, you would know that the Japanese love their exclamation. A basic remark can be applied to countless of situations. That’s the beauty of Japanese exclamations, and in that sense, it’s like English as well. Whether it is a thought that popped in your head when you see something as you walk down a street or a response to what your friend is saying, pick one from this survival Japanese exclamation phrase below!
 
(elongated) Eh!
Eeeeh! (えええ!)
 
This is probably the most common phrase you’ll hear on the streets. It can basically be applied in any and every situation and reaction to statements. For example, if your friend told you they bought an expensive piece of clothing, you can react to it by saying, “eeeeeh!” 
 
That’s nice!
Ii desu ne! (良いですね!)
 
Delicious!
Oishii! (美味しい!)
 
Cute!
Kawaii! (かわいい!)
 
You’ve worked hard.
Otsukaresama. (お疲れ様。)
 
Wait a moment.
Chotto matte kudasai. (ちょっと待ってください。)
 
I’m sorry.
Gomennasai. (ごめんなさい。)
 
Thank you.
Arigatou. (ありがとう。)
 
Good luck!
Ganbatte! (頑張って!)
 
Cheers!
Kanpai! (カンパイ!)
This last one is one you have to know. It’s often used when you clink glasses in the air at a bar or club. And in the Japanese case, in an izakaya (居酒屋), which is a Japanese-style bar.
 

Can One Survive on Survival Japanese in Japan?

Another question remains: can one actually survive on survival Japanese living in Japan? The answer is yes and no. Of course, it’s possible to live off survival Japanese for most of the time you spend in Japan. These words and phrases are essential in navigating day to day activities. It only becomes a problem of insufficient Japanese when you need to take care of official business like going to the post office, the bank, ward office, immigration office and other official situations.
 
With that said, survival Japanese is best when you’re in Japan solely for travel and vacation as that eliminates any serious business
 

Conclusion

If you think that survival Japanese is difficult, watch a few Japanese anime and shows. With the number of times these words and phrases come up, it’s bound to be drilled into your head by the end of the episode. 
 
Survival Japanese is a great step to take to integrate into Japanese culture as a beginner. The Japanese appreciate all efforts, big and small, the foreigners put in to learn and speak their language.

Learn Japanese Visually Through Netflix!

Introduction

Picking up a new language is hard work. You’ll find yourself in the routine of hitting the textbooks every morning and exercise worksheets every night. The Japanese language is one of the hardest languages to learn, but don’t be disheartened by that. Anything is possible! Think of the satisfying feeling of picking up a difficult language! 
 
The best way to keep yourself motivated in learning a new language is by making the learning process fun. What’s more fun than Netflix? If you could learn Japanese while binge-watching your favorite show or movie, would you say no to that? Of course not!
 

Netflix as Visual and Hearing Aids

Bangkok, Thailand – October 28, 2019 : Netflix app on Laptop screen. Netflix is an international leading subscription service for watching TV episodes and movies.

Netflix is a famous streaming service for subscribed users to watch countless TV shows, movies, documentaries and more. Why not use it as an innovative way to learn Japanese by immersing yourself into a world where you see and/or hear the Japanese language only
 
Whether it is having English subtitles on for a Japanese movie or turning on the Japanese dubbing for an English show (with English subtitles still on, of course), these methods trigger different areas of your brain to work on the absorbing of the new language. It’s different than reading off a page in a textbook. In fact, it’s way better!
 
It’s also best to note that using Netflix as aids to learning a language is not recommended if it’s the first time you’re hearing Japanese. A lot of the learning tools for Netflix aren’t going to teach the fundamentals and grammar, rather it is the exposure to the language itself. It’ll definitely help your listening skills and build your confidence to speak it.
 

Extensions for Netflix

White extension cord and cables on light green background.

The way you can use Netflix to learn Japanese is by using extensions. What are extensions, you ask? Well, they’re a small software program that is embedded into a specific browser that allows you to customise and enhance your experience.
 
There are various extensions out there for learning languages through Netflix. Most extensions for Netflix are compatible with the Chrome browser. Some are not compatible yet with tablets and smartphones, but they have their own perks to compensate for that.
 
To decide on which extension is best for you, you have to think about your learning style. Different extensions offer different learning tactics and methods to relay the educational factor. Choose the one that you think best suits you.
 

1. Language Learning with Netflix

What is it?

This extension is by far the most popular one of them all. Language Learning with Netflix (LLN) is known to be one of the more complete tools out there. It’s only compatible with the Chrome browser, but it’s definitely worth it. 
 
LLN focuses on introducing the new vocabulary of your desired language to learn while watching Netflix. It also helps you to break down sentences spoken during the show. The best part about LLN is that it can work with over 30 different languages! It goes without saying that Japanese is one of them!
 

How does it work?

LLN shows two subtitles at the same time — one is the native language of the show and the other one is the language you’re learning. In this case, it is Japanese. LLN offers a visual pairing of words in the two different languages.
 
There are other features included in this extension. Not only do they provide the comparison, you’re also able to highlight the words and find out their translation, pronunciation and ways to use them. There’s also a function where they introduce other less common words that are related and you can study them later.
 

Why use it?

LLN is the epitome of visual learning. Because of the two reflected subtitles on the screen, your brain is more focused on the comparison of language texts. If you’re so focused, you might even be engrossed in the learning factor than the story line of the show itself!
 
The LLN extension is also free! The free mode already has many features to assist in your language studies but there’s also the pro mode. This mode gets you more customization including saving the words you encounter and going back to them at a later date. The free version is enough enough, though.
 

2. Mate Translate

What is it?

This extension is more extensive than the previous one. Mate Translate is not only compatible for laptops but also tablets and phones — both Android and iOS. The specific Netflix extension is available for Chrome like LLN, but also on other browsers including Firefox, Edge and Opera.
 
Mate Translate covers more languages of up to 103 different languages! With that high of a number, there’s more than a solid chance that Japanese is one of them.
 
On top of Netflix extension, Mate Translate can also be used for normal web pages, articles and others. Its comprehensiveness is the winning point to this language-learning extension
 

How does it work?

Mate Translate focuses on the subtitles on Netflix, proving that the subtitles can be a primary tool for language learning. If you have the extension set up on your browser, it’s easy for you to learn the Japanese translation of any specific word that pops up on the subtitles.
 
It’s as simple as clicking on a word or even a phrase. Mate Translate will provide the learning language’s translation, synonyms and phonetic transcription. If you’d like to learn the correct pronunciation of the word, Mate Translate has that feature too! Click on the speak-out button to listen to the correct pronunciation a couple of times. Save your words to review them later.
 

Why use it?

While it may not have the comparison subtitles like LLN, Mate Translate is more than a Netflix extension. Even if you use this extension solely for Netflix, there are export functions that allow you to keep the list of words you’ve encountered. This saves you the extra hassle of manually listing it yourself. 
 

3. Subtly

What is it?

The Subtly extension works like the other two Netflix extensions. Even though the extension is able to translate to only 11 languages, it’s still an essential translating extension for Netflix. Japanese is one of them, by the way!
 
The fact that the producers of this extension is not focusing on the quantity of languages, it goes to show that they prioritise quality. Translations are more reliable for the 11 languages available.
 

How does it work?

It’s as simple as clicking on a word or phrase you’d like to translate. Subtly helps you to build a vocabulary list while you enjoy streaming your show or movie. After the episode, you can review them again.
 
This feature allows you to learn and enjoy what you’re watching without the plot information and language content overwhelm you. Subtly helps you collate your desired learning words while you finish watching the show
 

Why use it?

While Subtly is less extensive than the others,its translations and in-built dictionary are the most reliable. As there are lesser languages offered, the extension is more focused on building the most quality translations for them. What luck it is that Japanese is one of them!
 

The Power of Audio and Subtitles on Netflix

Extensions aren’t the only way to learn Japanese on Netflix. Never underestimate the power of combined audio and subtitles!
 
It may be a level up from using the extensions, but if you don’t mind the challenge and the frequent pauses of the show, these are two great ways to maximize the existing tools on Netflix.
 

1. Watch a Japanese movie with English subtitles

This is the easiest way to practice your listening of the Japanese language. If you’ve already gotten the hang of the basic grammar, exposing yourself to Japanese shows and movies will definitely boost up your language skill.
 
Without the help of extensions, there won’t be an automated vocabulary list created for you after the show. Because of that, be sure to have a pen and paper by your side to jot down all the new words you hear.
 

2. Watch an English movie with Japanese subtitles

This is an even bigger step up from extensions and the previous pointer. Take up the challenge of recognizing the Japanese words in the subtitles to the English words mentioned during the movie
 
This helps you to memorize the word you already know vaguely and also exposes you to the Chinese kanji characters in the Japanese language. This method utilizes hearing as well as reading, and with more practice, you’ll be a pro at reading Japanese!
 

Upsides of Visually Learning

 
Learning Japanese through Netflix is already too good to be true. On top of picking up Japanese through your desired show or movie, you’re utilizing many learning techniques that work different parts of the brain.
 
Visually learning activates a different aspect of your learning brain, and who knows, you’ll even discover that it’s easier to learn the language! Learning Japanese through Netflix uses a bit of audio aid as well. This helps you with your listening skills in conversation. and even exams if you have one.
 

Downsides of Visually Learning

With all good things, there are bad. But it’s not so much of a downside because it can be fixed over time. The one bad point about learning Japanese through Netflix is the inevitable distraction and loss of focus
 
You’re bound to want to watch the show at its fullest and feel like skipping the language learning that day. But with self-motivation and perseverance, this distraction can be eliminated and you’ll be even more focused than ever!
 

Conclusion

Aren’t you sold yet? What better way to study a language than learning it through Netflix? Netflix has a wide range of Japanese movies and shows, as well as anime. A good number of English movies and shows have subtitles in Japanese too. You can use the various tools mentioned above to get started on learning Japanese visually through Netflix!

Anime to Supplement Your Japanese Studies – Nov 2018

Last month we published a list of eight different anime that you can use to help supplement your Japanese studies. And apparently, you loved it so we’re going to do it again! Here is a list of MORE anime you can use to supplement your Japanese language skills.

Anpanman

Soreike! Anpanman (それいけ!アンパンマン)

First appearing as a series of children’s books in 1973 (which ran all the way until the author’s death in 2013), Anpanman made his debut as an anime aimed at young children in 1988. Since that time, it has gone on to produce over a dozen movies with the most recent one, Soreike! Anpanman Kagayake! Kurun to Inochi no Hoshi, premiering in Japanese theaters on June 30, 2018. As with most of the other series that have appeared in this article series, you won’t be getting a masterpiece of the medium when you watch this but rather basic listening comprehension skills.

Chirubii

Chirubii (チルビー)

This is another children’s show, however, don’t expect a ton from this series. It has very simple animation (it’s more of a picture book that comes with audio) but will still aid you in your studies with very simple Japanese that even beginners can follow.

sazae-san

Sazae-san (サザエさん)

You want to talk about One Piece having lasting power? It’s got nothing compared to this series! First premiering in 1969, Sazae-san has been running steadily ever since with over 3,000 EPISODES to date! Based off a manga which ran from 1946 to 1974, this series follows a family’s daily lives in the suburbs of Japan.

Crayon Shin-chan

Crayon Shin-chan (クレヨンしんちゃん)

Another series based off a manga that has a long history, Shin-chan is about a troublesome youth who just wants to have fun but in the process creates nothing but trouble for his parents and teachers. Since it’s debut in 1992, the series has aired over 800 episodes and has launched 26 movies (the most recent of which premiered in Japanese theaters in April 2018). One word of warning: Shin-chan is a very rude little boy so you would be wise to NOT copy his speech exactly unless you want to come across like a major jerk.

keion

K-ON! (けいおん!)

Finally, we come to a series that ISN’T aimed at children! Admittedly a lot of the vocab you’ll be picking up from this series is music based (it’s about a high school light music club after all) but you never know when those words are going to come in handy in daily conversation!

That’s it for this month! Do you have a favorite anime that helped you learn Japanese? Share them in the comments and let’s discuss!

The Benefits of Taking a Language Trip to Japan

In spite of its reputation for being difficult, Japanese continues to be one of the most popular languages to learn. In fact, thousands of people each year start studying Japanese not because they plan to live in Japan, but purely for recreational purposes. According to a study by the Japan Foundation, in the US alone, 50 percent of Japanese-language students said that they’re learning simply because they want to be able to enjoy manga and anime in their original language.

As with most languages, the trend today is for people to learn Japanese online through self-study courses, but if you want to become fluent, it’s crucial to practice communicating with others as often as you can. That’s why, as any language learner will tell you, one of the best ways to learn Japanese is to take a language trip to Japan.

There are different ways to take a Japanese language trip. For example, you can take an organized study trip lasting a few weeks, or even sign on at a language school for several years. Those with an adventurous streak might even want to set out on their own for a few weeks or months, immersing themselves in the language and culture of the beautiful Land of the Rising Sun.

There’s really no wrong way to go because no matter how you’ll do it, you’re sure to have a wonderful time. However, if you’re serious about becoming a Japanese speaker (and if you’d really like to learn how to read kanji), here are four benefits of taking a language trip to Japan.

1. You’ll Be Training Your Eye As Well As Your Ear

Once you get to Japan, you’ll be surrounded by a barrage of Japanese words, both audible and written. While English is a second language for many Japanese people, you can speed up your learning by making yourself speak Japanese as much as possible. Living in Japan, even for a few weeks, will accustom your eyes and ears to the continual sights and sounds of the Japanese language, so you’ll be able to hear the different inflections and nuances that you’d never be able to hear back at home. Likewise, you’ll be surrounded by written Japanese as well — whether it’s in street signs and shop windows or newspapers and menus — and in a short time, your eye should be able to recognize quite a few characters.

2. You Can Immerse Yourself in the Culture of Japan

One of the best ways to accustom your ear to the Japanese language is to go to the cinema and the theater. In traditional Japanese theater, remember that some styles, such as noh and kabuki, emphasize singing, dance, and mime rather than the spoken word. Kyogen, on the other hand, features slapstick comedy with exaggerated dialogue that’s typically easier to understand.

3. You Can Speak Japanese 24/7 If You Want

One of the best things about a language trip to Japan is you can immerse yourself in Japanese, without resorting to English unless you absolutely have to. The Japanese are famed for their politeness, and you’ll find that people will be extremely patient and even helpful as you fumble for the correct Japanese words to say.

4. Two Words: Japanese Television

Some linguists say that there’s no better way to learn than to watch TV shows in your chosen language, and Japanese television is a highly entertaining way to not only learn and memorize words but also pick up current slang and pop culture phrases.

If you’d like to know how to learn Japanese online, the Japanese website Nihongo Master is here to help. For anyone who wants to learn, Nihongo Master online offers a wide range of Japanese language lessons for every level, whether you’re a beginner or already have several years of study under your belt.

A language trip to Japan will provide an unforgettable experience, and will likely lead to many more visits to this enchanting country. Whether you make one or a hundred visits, your time in Japan will set you on the right path for a lifetime of learning and enjoying Japanese.

Ways to Say ‘You’ in Japanese (And How to Avoid the Wrong One)

How many different ways can you think to say “you” in your native language? In Japanese there are many different ways to refer to someone and choosing the wrong one in social situations can be hazardous to your social standing. In fact, just recently a school superintendent of Shibata City schools in Niigata Prefecture was forced to resign because he used the informal ‘omae (お前)’ during a parent-teacher conference. Yeah, this can be a “big deal” topic.

As anyone who has studied Japanese for any length of time can tell you, Japanese is fraught with pitfalls of politeness and while gaijin might get the occasional free pass for mistakes along the way, you shouldn’t automatically expect it. One wrong word can leave you out in the cold due to your unintentional rudeness. One of the words that can cause the most trouble seems innocuous enough but, once again, one slip of the tongue and you could find yourself in a world of trouble or at least quiet discomfort as the people around you process what you just said. That word is “you”.

So how does one avoid falling into one of these politeness holes when conversing in Japanese? The simplest way is to avoid using the word ‘You’ when it isn’t needed due to Japanese often omitting pronouns and using context clues to tell you who the subject of a sentence is. Another way is to instead use a person’s surname (remember: using someone’s first name means that you consider yourself familiar with them and they might not feel the same way towards you which can lead to awkward situations) along with the appropriate honorific (which we will discuss later on down the road).

If you absolutely must use the word ‘you’ while speaking Japanese, there are various forms of the word that you can use depending on the social situation and who it is that you’re referring to; here are just a few of them:

Anata (あなた) – While this is technically the default, polite way to say ‘you’ in Japanese, it’s still better to get into the habit of referring to people by their surname and honorific just in case. It’s worth noting that this form of the word is often used by women towards their spouses.

Kimi (君) – This form of the word is generally used by men in informal situations towards people who are of lower status. It’s also used by boyfriends when referring to their girlfriends so be absolutely sure of what your relationship status is before you use this when referring to someone else.

Omae (お前) – Another informal version of the word, this version can be seen as rude when used in the wrong context (see the poor school superintendent in the introduction above).

Anta (あんた) – Just because this is the shortened version of Anata doesn’t mean that you should use it casually. This form of the word can be seen as someone being admonished in a very rude way.

Sochira (そちら) – This is another informal, casual way to say the word ‘you’ but if you’re in a formal situation and/or speaking with an elder, you’ll probably want to add the -sama (さま)honorific just to be safe.

Onushi (お主) and Otaku (お宅) – These are relatively polite ways to refer to someone but are so outdated that you might never actually use them. Note: Otaku (お宅) is not the same thing as an otaku (オタク) (i.e. a superfan of a certain section of popular culture) though the latter was derived from the former.

Kisama – きさま(貴様), temee – てめえ(手前), and onore (己) – These are flat out derogatory ways to refer to someone else so if you use these in conversation, know that you’re looking for trouble.

Now you know just some of the many ways to refer to someone in Japanese. Should you find yourself in a new social situation, I hope that you’ll remember some of the lessons that you learned from this article to navigate those tricky waters!