Study Ideas

Practicing Conversational Japanese

Japanese Textbook As with learning any language, if you want to learn how to speak it, you actually have to practice speaking it, ne? Below are a few groups you could join to practice speaking Japanese:

  1. University clubs: Check to see if you have a "Japanese Conversation and Culture Club" on campus.
  2. Form a study group with your classmates. You can meet up in person, or try a "virtual" study group via Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, etc.
  3. Check out "Japanese Language and Culture Meetup Groups"
  4. Become involved with your local Japanese community association. The Calgary Japanese Community Association is pretty active and many of the older members are helpful when you try to speak Japanese.
  5. Youths can check out the Japanese Youth Association of Calgary.

Although many of the links are Calgary-specific, you can check online to see if there is a similar group in your area.

Haiku wo dekita

Sensei had us write haiku last class. Our assigmnent wass to write a haiku for our upcoming winter festival.

You just have to remember two things: 5-7-5 syllable pattern and include a seasonal reference. Piece of cake.

Sensei says it's a great way to study Japanese and build our vocabulary.

I'd have to agree. I can't stop at one.


Levelling Up My Japanese

When I first sang a Japanese song at karaoke, I read off a sheet that I printed with the lyrics in Romaji. It was truly a magical moment last year, when I cracked open my Inuyasha music book and could actually read the lyrics to one of my fave songs: I did the happy dance when I realized that I could read the Japanese characters to one of my favourite songs in real time (that is, in time to the music). Photo by R-M Arca.

What a difference a year makes! Now that I'm in Level 2, I have truly levelled up. These are the chords and lyrics to a song that I will be performing in the near future:

This year's challenge: Can I read the kana fast enough to sing the lyrics AND play the music in tempo? Photo by R-M Arca.

Now I could bring the Romaji and keep it close by. However, that defeats the purpose of being able to perform music in Japanese. Go big or go home.

The next challenge of course will be comprehension [Must work on vocabulary!].

Incorporating a New Language into Daily Life

They say that one of the best ways to learn a new language is to completely immerse yourself  into the language and the culture.  I would  love be in Japan for six months to learn Japanese, but I can't. For many of us, it's impractical to drop everything and go live in another country for an extended period of time. The challenge then becomes "How can I immerse myself here?" For me, I've found some success with  writing more "everyday" items in Japanese. First, I started by writing short, simple notes to family and friends who were taking Japanese classes with me. Then, I tried writing my students' names in Katakana on my schedule and planning lists. I've graduated to writing out my "To Do" List and grocery list in Japanese.

The first time I went shopping with a grocery list in Japanese (pre-Smartphone) was extremely challenging. Photo by R-M Arca.

The "pièce de résistance " is my waterproof keitai. I labelled all my folders in Japanese:

Labelling things | look at everyday in Japanese helps me study when I don't have time to study with my workbook.  Photo by R-M Arca.