Category Archives: Japanese Study: Beginner

Japanese word “sonna” (そんな) and related expressions [sonna koto nai (そんな事ない), etc.]

In this article I’d like to talk about the Japanese word “sonna” (そんな) and a few related expressions. The word “sonna” is a close equivalent to the expression “sono you na”, which in English translates literally to “like that”. However, we will have to look a little deeper into this word in order to understand how… Read More »

Japanese expression highlight: “ああ言えばこう言う” (aa ieba kou iu)

In this article I would like to talk about an interesting Japanese phrase: “aa ieba kou iu” (ああ言えばこう言う). This, like many of the phrases of expressions I write about on this blog, is a phrase that I have heard used in conversations with native speakers as well as used myself. This expression is interesting because… Read More »

Some thoughts on “aisatsu” (挨拶): greetings that make relationships smoother

If you pick up a Japanese textbook, for example the popular Genki series, you’ll find a chart of “aisatsu” (挨拶). This is a list of formalized expressions that are used in daily life and include things like: こんにちは   (konnichi wa) おはようございます (ohayou gozaimasu) こんばんは (konban wa) はじめまして (hajimemashite) いらっしゃいませ  (irasshaimase) よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku onegaishimasu) Fortunately… Read More »

Google suggest: a surprising supplement to foreign language learning

I think for a majority of students learning a foreign language in modern times, using Google as a search tool to find word meanings is a pretty common activity. Even for translating––although it often isn’t my “first line of defense” when trying to understand a word or phrase––often I’ll end up doing a search just to… Read More »

A confusing Japanese loanword in English: “Hibachi” (it may not mean what you think it does!)

Sometime a while ago I wrote an article about confusing Japanese loanwords which originally came from English words, and then a week or so ago I wrote another article about the reverse: a confusing English loanword that came from Japanese. Very recently I learned of another word that falls in this second category, so I… Read More »

Language learning pitfall: Learning similar words at the same time

There are surely as many techniques to learn languages as there are languages, if not many more. And a majority of the techniques you read about online or in a book will likely provide some benefit for at least a fraction of language learners. But there are a few things I’ve learned over the years… Read More »

“I’ve lived in Japan for X years and am still not fluent in Japanese!” –– 13 tips for language learning

I think we have all met someone who has lived in a foreign country for some time but hasn’t yet mastered the primary language of that country; maybe you are one of those people. In this post I’ll give some tips for language learning, targetting especially those immersing themselves in that language. While I will… Read More »

Japanese loanword spotlight: 「ナーバス」(naabasu) [It doesn’t always mean “nervous”]

Loanwords from other countries, called gairaigo (外来語), make up a significant part of the Japanese language, and learning their nuances is a key part of being truly fluent in Japanese. Many of these words, for example seetaa(セーター, meaning “sweater”), are used in a way that is very similar to their original language. However, some loan words have… Read More »

Japan Trip 2018 (Tokyo/Hokkaido): Part 7 – Japanese Elementary School Experience

This article is part of the series on my July 2018 trip to Japan. Please see the table of contents page for other articles in this series as they are posted. I was very lucky to be able to have the opportunity to observe first grade elementary class for an entire day in a school… Read More »