Tag Archives: foreign language

Foreign language trick: use misunderstandings as a hint to refine your speech

Once you get to the point in your foreign language studies where you are able to start having frequent conversations, you’ll probably start to notice times where the person you are speaking with has difficulty understanding what you are saying. Rather than say “I don’t understand you”, they may be more indirect and try and… Read More »

A few tricks for increasing your reading speed in a foreign language

When studying a foreign language, one of the more difficult things to achieve is a reading speed close to that of your native language. Unless you were lucky enough to begin studying the foreign language at a very young age, processing and understanding each sentence will take much more effort and time, even assuming you… Read More »

Using online searching to uncover natural expressions in a foreign language

Learning the basics of a foreign language, while a time-consuming activity, is generally relatively straightforward: memorize the alphabet(s), pronunciations, grammar rules, and of course loads and loads of vocabulary words. With these fundamentals under your belt, you’ll surely be able to express a great many things in that language. The challenge comes when you want to… Read More »

“Fushigi”, a decidedly mysterious Japanese word

The word “fushigi” in Japanese, written in Kanji as 不思議, has several related meanings including “strange”, “miraculous”, and “odd”. It can be used as both a noun or a na-adjective. I always like to look at words’ definitions in Japanese to try and get closer to the root meaning. Here is the word’s first definition in… Read More »

Searching out opportunities to think in a foreign language

Sometime ago I wrote a post on thinking in a foreign language, which to me is one of the milestones of true fluency. Near the end of that article I briefly mentioned how I sometimes “pre-cache” Japanese phrases in my head before speaking, though I downplayed it at the time, and felt it was more… Read More »

Some uses of the Japanese verb 限る (kagiru)

This time I’d like to talk about a few uses of the Japanese verb 限る (kagiru), which means “to limit”. The first use is to mean “not necessarily”. Here is an example sentence. 美味しいとは限らない It’s not necessarily tasty Literally 限らない is close to “do not limit to”, but in this case the meaning matches up… Read More »

Shiritori: Japanese word game

Quickly getting bored with academic learning materials, I always search for new ways to use Japanese without actually living in Japan. Typically, the more fun the activity is the more positive feedback there is and the more likely it will continue. One game which is entertaining and requires no physical props or materials is game of… Read More »

Expressing interest in Japanese

In Japanese, you can use the word 興味 (‘kyoumi’) to talk about interest in something. It is typically coupled with the が or は, plus the verb for inanimate existence, ある (‘aru’), or some derivation of it (negative form, polite form, etc.). Let’s start with a simple example: それは全然興味がありません。 I am not interested in that at… Read More »

Spoken language vs written language

When learning a foreign language, it’s usually assumed that in addition to spoken language studies (listening and speaking) there will be a focus placed on written language (reading and writing). At first you might think the only difference is learning characters vs sounds, but there is much more involved. As a result there are some differences in… Read More »

Short Particle Quiz: Explanation of a tricky question (に vs を)

For my short quiz on Japanese particles, there was one question which was not answered correctly nearly half the time. In this article I’d like to go over that problem which appeared as #3 in the quiz. (For those who want to take the quiz before reading the answer and explanation, you can do so here: testmoz.com/449328)… Read More »