Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

Remembering the Kanji Update

Last month I created a post about my goal to learn all 2042 kanji in the book Remembering the Kanji. I set a goal of December 31 as my finish date. With only two months to finish, I had to learn about 35-40 Kanji a day in order to make the deadline. With only 12 days to go will I finish in time?

The simple answer is no. I currently sit at about 1300 kanji and will have learned about 1500-1600 by the end of December. Unfortunately, there were days I wasn’t able to study and that put me behind schedule. Am I disappointed? Definitely not. In fact, I think this is a great example of why setting big goals and falling short can be a lot better than setting small goals and achieving them.

Learning 35-40 Kanji a day is a huge task. Instead, let’s say that I had been more reasonable and tried to learn 5 or 10 kanji a day. Still a formidable project. Even if I had succeeded I would only have learned 300-600 kanji. Not to mention that 10 kanji a day would take 200 days, and 5 a day would take over a year. I would be much more likely to give up.

Being at 1300 kanji, and knowing that I am over halfway there is a great feeling. It gives me the motivation I need to keep going. I’m nearly 70% there. Had I done 10 a day I would only be about 25% of the way.

Set goals that you have to strive for and try your best to accomplish them. In the end, even if you don’t achieve them you will be much further along than if you had chosen a much easier goal.

Here are some things for you to try. Just fill in the blank with a number that seems too much and try to accomplish it.

Study ________ new Japanese words a day.

Watch _______ hours of Japanese TV/Movies a day.

Speak to a native Japanese speaker _________ hour every day.

Learn _________ new Japanese phrases every day for 10 days.

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Calling a Business in Japanese

If you are just learning Japanese or maybe even are an intermediate speaker, making a professional phone call (a call to a business or company) can be a little bit intimidating. This article contains a few tips you can use, as well as some Japanese words and phrases that should help you out.

The difficulties

Speaking on the phone adds additional communication barriers. First of all you can’t see the persons face and gestures. This means you have to have a greater understanding of the language. It is also possible that you could get a bad connection or have  times when the phone cuts out. That is difficult enough in your own language, but more so in a second language.

But probably the biggest difficulty to speaking on the phone in Japanese has to do with the use of Keigo. For those who don’t know, keigo is an honorific form of Japanese and actually has a completely different set of words. It is the common method used in any kind of professional setting.

Lastly, you will be dealing with your own nervousness. Worrying that you might misunderstand or not be able to speak adds additional stress that can make your mind go blank. I have experienced this many times.

Make Japanese phone calls with ease

1. Don’t be afraid

If you are nervous you will have difficulty speaking. Just remember it is okay to make mistakes. If they don’t understand what you mean, then just explain it a different way (even more practice). It can be scary, but the more you do it the easier it gets.

Each phone call you make is a chance to practice. Don’t pass it up. It can be easy to ask a friend to make the phone call for you, but it will be much more helpful for you if you try and do it yourself. Once you realize you can do it, you will gain a lot of confidence.

2. Getting past keigo

There are actually two ways around this. The first is to practice and become familiar with using keigo. If you plan to live in Japan for a an extended time this is a good idea.

The second is much more simple. Just ask them kindly to not use keigo. Also, don’t feel bad about asking them to repeat or slow down. It is very common for support to speak very fast because they are basically saying the same things to each customer. Just keep asking them to slow down.

3. Speak slow and clear

When speaking on the phone silence can be a bit scary, and you may feel that you need to reply immediately. Take your time and think about exactly what you want to say. It is better to speak slowly and concise with good pronunciation and make sure they can easily understand.

It is also very helpful to plan out exactly what you need to accomplish before you make the phone call. Even to the point of planning out the phrases you want say. The more your prepare the better things will go.

Give it a try

If the opportunity presents itself, give it a try. The more you do it the easier it gets.

When I was working in Tokyo as an admissions counselor, I occasionally had to speak to parents who only spoke Japanese.  At first I was a bit intimidated and asked my co-workers to make the calls for me. Eventually though, I decided that I would only get better if I did it myself. What I found, was that it was not nearly as difficult as I thought.





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Learn Japanese Through Anime and Manga

If you are learning Japanese there is a good chance that you are into anime or manga. At least this seemed to be the case when I studied in Japan, and also when I worked as an admissions counselor at a Japanese University. The great thing is that Japanese anime and manga can be used to supplement your Japanese studies. And thanks to the Japan foundation, there is a free source. anime-manga.jp


It looks like the site is still in the works, but already has an expressions module, which includes the expressions, the grammar, and pronunciation.

There is also a word quiz module with a beginner, intermediate, advanced, and phrase section. If each section contains it’s own words then there are a total of 1,700 Japanese words to study altogether, plus a number of Japanese phrases.

It looks like they will also be adding an expressions by scene module and a kanji module in the near future. So as long as they keep ading to the site, this will become a great tool for you to study Japanese.

Check it out and don’t forget to leave a comment here with your impressions of the site.

anime-manga

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Japanese Words with Sound

The open old book - the dictionary on a white ...

One of the main focus of Japanese Words has always been about learning new Japanese words. In the beginning you need to know a certain number of words to communicate in Japanese and as you get to a more advanced level you will need to more words to express more complex ideas and feelings.

Today I stumbled across a site that has a number of common Japanese words such as numbers, colors, common Japanese phrases, animals, and other Japanese vocabulary. They also have sound.

You can check out the Japanese page here. In case you are studying another language as well, you can find other languages here.

Good luck and let me know what you think!

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JapanesePod101

ipod dark

So far we have covered tools for memorizing Japanese words and phrases, learning and reading kana and kanji, and of a great dictionary. Today we are going to talk about a program I used to use quite a bit when I first started working in Tokyo, JapanesePod101.

When I first started using JapanesePod101 is was basically a podcast, and a pretty good one. It had interesting (sometimes odd) conversations in Japanese, with explanations of the meaning and culture in English. It was very helpful for both hearing spoken Japanese and learning a lot of new words. I had a long commute so it worked perfect to help fill the time and keep me learning Japanese.

Since then, JapanesePod101 has expanded into a much more complete Japanese learning suite. There is still a free podcast, but if you choose the premium membership you also get an audio dictionary, a kanji dictionary, a grammar section, video lessons, transcripts for all the lessons, and a scheduler to make sure you stay on track with your goals.

The JapanesePod101 is a great podcast for practicing your Japanese listening skills. It has gotten even better as a full Japanese learning suite. You can check it out at the link below:

JapanesePod101

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