Tag Archives: self-taught

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 »

Text-to-speech: a useful tool for the foreign language self-studier

Thanks to the Internet, a person studying a foreign language without a formal study program can look up answers to the many questions they will surely have along the way. One place where your typical internet searching doesn’t work too well is matters of pronunciation, since it’s hard to convey sounds using just text. There… Read More »

Japanese phrase: “yokatta” (よかった)

Oftentimes, words and phrases break out of the boxes that define their literal meanings and become something more. “Yokatta” (よかった) is the past test of the word “ii”, which means “good”, and therefore “yokatta” means “was good”. Since subjects are often omitted in Japanese this phrase can mean “it was good” or can refer to… Read More »

Language Learning Trip: think meaning, not words

When studying your first foreign language, there are many things you have to get accustomed to: new sounds, different characters, and grammar rules, to mention only a few. During this process, the longer you study, the more tricks you pick up to help speed your journey towards fluency. One such trick I’ve learned is to think in terms… Read More »

Counting irregularities in Japanese when expressing “or”

From a grammar point of view, Japanese has several aspects that make it easy to learn including only a handful of tenses and relatively simple conjugations (the subject type is not used to determine the verbs conjugation like in some languages). On the other hand, there are a few areas where a student has to put… Read More »

Japanese grammar focus: particle “sa” and related words (saa, sate, satetto) 「さ、さあ、さて、さてっと」

In this post I’m going to go over the Japanese particle “さ” (sa) and a few related words. さ is something that took me quite some time to understand, partially because it wasn’t emphasized in any of the textbooks I originally learned Japanese from. I understand authors deciding to avoid this word because it not used very… Read More »

Can one increase conversation fluency in Japanese without a language partner?

I recently got a question from one of my readers about how to increase conversation fluency in Japanese (会話力) without having someone to actually practice with. I don’t mean to dodge the question, but in all honesty without a conversation partner (話し相手)it is very difficult to reach any level of fluency. Before I go into my suggestions for… Read More »

Expressing state in Japanese with “ni aru” and “ni natte iru”

In Japanese, the expressions “にある” (ni aru) and “になっている” (ni natte iru) are used to express the state of something. “にある” is often used with words like 状態 (joutai, “state”), 状況 (joukyou, “state”) or 傾向 (keikou, “trend). Take this example sentence: 体は睡眠状態にある。 The body is in a state of sleep. Here you can think of this… Read More »

Japanese grammar: The pattern 「〜上で」

The Japanese character 上 has a basic meaning of “up” or “above”, and is pronounced “ue” when written by itself. In Kanji compounds, it is often pronounced as “uwa” (上着, uwagi) or “jou” (上陸, jouriku). “上” does have some other usages, and this time I’d like to discuss the expression “〜上で”. This can be used to… Read More »

Expressing a state with「でいる」

In Japanese, you may have learned that the “ている” form can be used to express a state rather than an ongoing action, like ”壊れている” (broken). There is another way to express state using a noun or na-adjective, plus “でいる”. The “で” is the “te” form of “だ” (is), and “いる” is the same as in… Read More »