Tag Archives: learning

Why does Japanese have so many loan words? (外来語, “gairaigo”)

Anyone who has studied Japanese knows that the language contains loanwords called 外来語 (“gairaigo”), which words ‘borrowed’ from another language and imported into Japanese. As part of this transition, the works take on a new spelling and pronunciation, which can be a shortened version or one containing syllables from multiple words. The meaning itself can… Read More »

The Art of Conversation (in a foreign language)

Of all of the activities we do on a daily basis, I feel that the act of communicating with another person using spoken language and a series of back and forth exchanges, what we call “conversation”, holds a very unique place. If you think about all the things involved in this process, and how closely it is… Read More »

Using a summaries in your foreign language study to increase retention and understanding

In a previous blog post I discussed how the element of necessity makes the brain more active in the learning process, increasing retention and understanding of foreign language. One little trick I discovered is that if you are planning on giving a summary to someone about some media you are consuming (article, podcast, movie, etc.)… Read More »

Simple expressions with そう and a few particles

「そう」 is a very simple word in Japanese that is used extremely often for a variety of situations. It’s meaning is similar to the English “so”, as in the sentence “I told you so”. It’s a mix of the concepts “that” and “true”. This word is commonly used as a light acknowledgement to a question.… Read More »

The diversity and “domainness” of language

When studying any foreign language, there are many things one has to learn and grow accustomed to: pronunciation, grammar, and characters, to name a few.  In my study of Japanese I feel that I have a fairly good grasp of many of these things, not necessarily to the degree of what I would call ‘fluent’,… Read More »

The right way to use subtitles when studying Japanese

In a recent post I commented how bad of an idea it is to use English subtitles when watching Japanese TV shows. When doing so, your brain gets lazy and stops trying to process the stream of Japanese, or at least reduces focus on it. Having said that, there is a way to use subtitles… Read More »

Words are bursting at the seams with meaning

When studying a foreign language, we have no choice but to resort to dictionaries time and time again to help comprehend new words and search for ways to express ourselves more effectively. Having said that,after many years of using dictionaries as a reference, I’ve learned to not over rely on them, sometimes even going as… Read More »

Learning resources for experienced learners [advanced]

For those Japanese learners who understand a good amount of Kanji, grammar constructs, and vocabulary, your options for study materials are drastically increased. Thats because you can use sites and books that native speakers would use. I’ll introduce a few of my favorite resources in this post. 1)教えてgoo (http://oshiete.goo.ne.jp/) This site is extremely valuable for… Read More »

We learn language best from our peers

During my study of the Japanese language, oftentimes I cannot help but think fundamentally about how humans learn a foreign language, or any language for that matter. Some years back when I was more actively studying linguistics, I read a very interesting book called “The Language Instinct” by Steven Pinker (see wikipedia page here). As… Read More »

Age-related expressions in Japanese [Beginner / Intermediate]

This time we’ll learn some age-related expressions in Japanese. Age is dealt with a little differently compared to English so it’s good to make sure you have the basics down. The simplest way to say “age” is とし(年)which also means “year”. Here are two common expressions when asking age (remember いくつ means “how many”): お年、いくつですか?… Read More »