How I learn Japanese どうやって日本語を勉強していますか

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So it’s been nearly a month since I posted on here .. again I’m taking my time ..

This month a lot’s happened here and there. Rainy season’s started a while ago and we’re still in the middle of it.. which isn’t very pleasant I have to say but it sure does beat constant heat wave. The humidity doesn’t change actually.

Anyway today I thought I’d make a post on ‘how I learned Japanese’ since lately everyone’s been asking me this.

One thing to clear up though: I’m still learning, I don’t think I’m as good as I want to be or have to be yet, so I don’t want to sound like a know it all. But because everyone asked, I’ll just make a blog post about it.

I’m … actually not going to explain when I started because it’s quite a long, probably boring story so to make it brief – I started when I was 17, on and off, 8 years later here I am and still learning­­-.

Okay history over. Now let’s get on to how I learn.

A lot of the methods I use is from and influenced heavily by another British born chinese lad named Danny Choo. His article on this is on the bottom of this article.

His methods are listed below which I’ve took the privilege of modifying it a bit with my own. Only slightly mind you.

1) Setting a Japanese radio/podcast on play during the early hours of the morning, or, before sleeping so when I doze off I subconsciously take in the grammar… Basically brain washing myself a bit. Not sure if it worked or not so I can’t say much about it. Feel free to try it. It actually kept me up a lot than helping if I’m honest with you but that’s just me.

2) Writing kanji/grammar notes, then sticking it on the back of the toilet door. Or … wherever I’m mostly at in the house/room. This way when I for example go to take a massive [blank] I’m always looking at that direction and making myself a little revision session. You know when you go to the toilet you just suddenly feel interested in reading the back of a shampoo bottle? well, there you go.

3) Whether you’re in your house alone or you’re outside, pretend you’re talking to someone on the phone in Japanese. This way, you feel comfortable when you actually do speak to someone in Japanese on the phone later on. Another way is just talk to yourself. You can either make up a conversation with yourself, read a book/article/sample sentance out loud and that way you can perfect your grammar and pronunciation. If you’re one of the few types of people who are not sure how you sound, just record a sound clip or make a video of yourself.

At one point I made a video blog (which I never released publicly) and noticed I tend to smile unnecessarily, or blink a lot. So to correct this I kept recording myself every now and then. I don’t do it anymore but I probably should keep doing this still. If you’re also insecure about your native language pronunciation mixed in heavily with Japanese, this is also a good method to fix that.

4) As everyone knows, being in the country helps a lot with your language learning. Back in Uni I never had the privilege of studying out for one year as part of my course because Japanese wasn’t my major. (Off course now I’m in Japan but I’m not part of any sort of uni program)

So to make up for it I brought as much of the culture to my home. Basically, you immerse yourself as much as you can:

1)  Change every social network and website I used into Japanese, maybe even join a few Japanese sites which I don’t use very often.

2) Change my PC, phone, every gadget I have into Japanese. When you go to Japan, navigating your way around and/or using certain machines or … other stuff … is quite basic. So you have to prepare yourself for this sort of thing especially if you’re in Tokyo.

… Actually, a lot of signs and machines do have English translations next to the Japanese instructions. But, in maybe rural areas they might not have any. I don’t know, but just do this anyway and you can feel good that you don’t need that level of help.

3) Give yourself some time and make a task every day whether it’s only 15 minutes of revision or a whole day of watching Japanese dubbed American movies.

Anime without subtitles is … well it’s good for beginners to get a grasp at pronunciation and a slower way of speaking. But for a more native approach you need to dive yourself into the deep end.

In my case I lost interest in anime so I focused on Japanese drama and the news. Reading the news took me years to finally understand what each article is trying to say. There is a lot of kanji and there’s no real shortcuts to this method (unfortunately) so you have to just be patient, practice kanji (refer to the toilet notes tip) and eventually without realizing it, you’ll just get there.

Also write Japanese journals. I like to use a language exchange site called ‘Lang-8’. What you do there is write yourself a blog, someone else will come along who is native in that language and will correct your grammar… or make it better.

Not to mention it’s free!

The point of this is, you keep using the language. Don’t just use it a few times a week. That’s a horrible way of thinking. Keep using it. Immerse yourself. I’m not saying use it every day every minute of your life. It’s impossible to study everyday for long hours. Your brain needs a break at some point. It’s okay to go back to your native language for a while and read something or watch a movie etc but don’t make it a bad habit and go on hiatus for a week or something.

Another important element in my learning is failure.

You’ll fail at making something make sense, and look stupid or even look like a really horrible person. And I’ll tell you now I’ve done plenty of that and still do. Worst case I probably laughed at someone who died. Which feels horrible by the way. But because of that I’ve learned to grow and learned when to use this and that during each situation. A text book won’t tell you everything, but it’s a little manual that’ll help a small bit. The real challenge is being practical & being creative.

Expect failure. You’ll lose confidence, and you’ll feel like giving up. I know soooooooooo many people who don’t have any confidence

even though they’re very smart and can get along fine reading and writing Japanese, but they can’t speak much or at all because they’re afraid they’ll get embarrassed, and look stupid. I’m not talking about anyone in specific by the way so don’t assume I’m talking about someone or a group that you might know. I’m talking about the people I’ve observed through the years back at home. Danny Choo also explained this part in a lot of detail so you can check out his article on the bottom.

So basically to summarize everything – don’t give up. Expect failure (and lots of it), don’t be lazy and work hard.

In time you’ll realize how far you’ve progressed. I hope this helped a little. At least this is my experience so I hope many people will benefit from this, if at all.


2ヶ月間ほど前梅雨が入りましたね。今のところ湿気が高くて蒸し暑くてイギリス人のボクにとって、率直に言わせてもらえればキツイです 苦笑



私が長年間参考にした資料、手法、そしてまた主に影響を受けたのはもう一人のイギリスに生まれ育った中国系、Danny Choo(ダニー・チュー)という男のおかげでした(サイトのリンク先は以下にあります)。以下の手法は彼によるものです。私はただ、ほんの少しだけ変えて実践しました。

1)          毎晩寝る前か早朝にiPodに入った日本語のPodcastを流しっぱなしにしました。Danny Chooの理論では、睡眠中のあなたは無意識的に新しい文法や言葉を脳に入らせて残ります。簡単に言い換えれば「軽く洗脳する」というわけです。その後はいつの間にかまた無意識的に学んでいた言葉や文法を使えるようになります。

2)          今の学んでいる漢字や文法をノート・メモにしてトイレのドア(裏側)に貼っておきます。そうすると、例えばあるときにものすごく @#”!?\ したいから長時間便座に座ったままずっとドアの裏側に面するでしょう。それからなんでも読む興味を持つでしょう。シャンプーに何が入ったか裏に書いった材料を読んでチェックするといったときが殆どあるでしょうか。少なくとも私にはこのような場合がありますが、みんなはたぶん違いますね 苦笑

3)          家中あなた以外誰にもいないやら外出中あなたは一人にいるやら(私の場合は日本語でしたけど)英語の相手と電話で話すふりをしてみます。いつその相手と話して実践できるか準備としてもよいでしょう。もう一つの方法は独り言そのものだけです。自分で会話を考えて話すやら新聞・記事・本の断片を読み上げるやらなんでもいいんです。こうすると自分の文法や発音にはどこでおかしいかどこで間違っているかわかるでしょう。もしあなたは「自分の文法や発音には何が違うか全く識別することができない」のような人だとしたら動画や音声ブログを記録してみたらいかがでしょうか。実に言うとこの方法が好きです。でも保存したファイルは絶対公開しません。なぜかというと他の人はこうみるとよく楽しめるためではなく、むしろ自分の成長のためです。私は何回もこうしました。おかげでどこで間違っているかどこでおかしいかだけではなく、必要以上笑いすぎる顔をしたことも、まばたきもよくしていたところも認識することができました。今のところこうした練習はしませんが、またやりましょうかとも今考えています。

4)          知っている通り、あなたの学んでいる言語のもっとも相応しい環境はまさにその国でしょう。例えば英語を学んでいる方は英国やアメリカに留学します。私は大学に入ったころ日本語は私のメイジャーではなかったのです。主に専攻したのはソフトウェア・エンジニアリングでした(コンピュータをプログラミングすること)。だから当時の私は留学することができませんでした。その環境に入る代わりにして自分のもとへその環境をもとらそうとしました(←理解できるかな?)。要するに、まるで日本にいるかのような環境を作ろうとしました。例えば:

l  よく使っていたソーシャルサイトを英語から日本語に設定します。それを超えて日本に開発されたサイトにもアカウントを登録しました。今のところあんまり使わないんですけどね。

l  自分のパソコン、ケータイ、ほかのいかなる携帯装置を日本に設定ました。もし私はいつか日本へいけば基本的な操作説明を身につける必要があると考えていました。もちろん行きたいところにはサインや説明は英語に翻訳されていますが、自分の価値を高めるために私が学んでいる言語に設定して馴染むれようとしたら「あー やっぱり私が翻訳を抜きにして理解できるんだ!」という気持ちが自分のなかに生まれます。そしてスッキリするでしょう。だから私はこうした練習もお勧めします。

l  毎日課題を考えて実践して少しずつやってみましょう。15分間だけ勉強するか、一日中英語・日本語の映画(吹き替え版)をみるか、なんでもいいんです。目標としては「ネイティブレベルまで理解しょうとする」ことです。







本当のチャレンジはその場で使うことです。というわけで、失敗を期待してください。自信をなくして虚しく感じるときがいずれきます。そして諦めたいと何回もしたくなります。何人かがそうしたことがあります。成績は並外れて高いのにもかかわらず自信がないから話すことがほぼ無理です。ところで私は特定の人達について意図的に語っていません。もしあなたが知っている人だと思ったらその思いを無しにしてください。大学のころこのような人達は多数いました。また、Danny Chooのサイトには詳しく目を通してください。



P.S. Sorry for mistakes, I’m tired now and pretty hungry

追記: 苦労した一日中だったためミスしてしまったところが多々あり、申し訳ありませんでした。

English →

日本語 →


Off to Japan!

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Almost set for Japan now. Decided to make this blog all english since I already have a Japanese one. And besides, I already told my family & most of my friends so I’ll use this more to update everyone back home, rather than writing separate E-mails back & forth. I think this should be better.


Some of my family and friends already know this but to those who don’t, Today’s the day I’m finally going to Japan to study for a year. Have been wanting to do this for a long while since uni but I couldn’t because of my degree (which was software engineering BSc)  and that got in the way with my minor degree. At that time (2009) it was impossible to do a year out in Japan. Although I think now Oxford Brookes University made it possible. I’m not sure, just a word of mouth so someone can correct me.


The school I’ll be going to is called NILS. If you’re interested in going too, then here’s the website: 

Ok I have to make this entry quick cause I still have left over stuff to pack then check, and then a friend is coming over to drop some stuff off and then I gotta skype some friends. Rush rush rush ……. Why in the world did I think it was a good idea to start packing 2 days before I would leave the country?!