Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Great Flutterscape Experiment

From Nijigaoka With Love

Alright I'm going to be in Japan until mid July. I'm also going to have a lot more time on my hands. So while I'm not hooking into my manga and preparing for the JLPT, I'll be shopping for unusual and exciting products from Japan.

You can join in the fun also. Let me be your personal shopper for a month. If there is anything you thought you would like from Japan but never knew how to get then now is the time to ask. I've started up a Flutterscape account under the name nijigaoka (that's Japanese for @rainbowhill)

What is Flutterscape?


Flutterscape is a social shopping service that helps people outside of Japan get what they want from their own personal shopper. Plenty of you have wanted to know how to get authentic manga and other products from Japan, now is your chance to ask me to find it for you.

Here is how it works.

  1. Sign up for a Flutterscape account: You can use your Facebook login if you like. If you are anywhere other than Japan then you will be given a buyers account.
  2. Browse for goods: You can browse through the gallery of over 3000 items that people have posted for sale in nearly 20 categories. You can also find the newest, top favorited, most discussed or best seller items.
  3. Post a request: If you can't find what you are looking for make a request. You might have a request that know one else has thought of. There might be something special for an obscure hobby or interest you have.
  4. Make your purchase: At the bottom of each item on offer you'll find the big red "Oh, I want one!" button. The price is right next to the button in your currency, you can also view shipping fees before you add the items to your cart.


How does it get from Japan to your place?

When the transaction has been confirmed on Flutterscape, I pack the item for you and run down to the Post Office. The folks at Japan Post ship it to Flutterscape's logistics partner who then forward the package on to you.

Flutterscape aim to make shopping safe and fun, they take care of all the shipping and transaction processing so you don't need to worry about a thing.
"Unlike traditional marketplaces, FlutterScape brings sellers and buyers together in a fun, casual and collaborative way that allow sellers to share a real narrative of their product discoveries and buyers to expose to an adventure and obtain unique products from abroad."
I had a brief exchange with Takehiro Kakiyama (on Twitter @hirrro), Co-founder and CEO of Flutterscape just the other day and this is what he had to say;
"we want to focus on more social side which is to share your product discovery"
For me this works both ways, I get a chance to share the things I discover in Japan. You get the opportunity to shop for things that would normally be out of your reach.

P.S. If you are happy to buy stuff from friends on Facebook, I'll be posting this stuff there too. You'll also notice that the Flutterscape fan page is huge!

P.P.S. If all you need to know about a product can be summed up in 140 characters you can follow me on Twitter.

P.P.S. I've also set up a Tumblr From Nijigaoka With Love to give you a bit more background on each product, mixed up with other random stuff.

Thanks for following, I really mean that!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Top 10 Motivational Mistakes Every Japanese Learner Makes

To learn Japanese make sure your heart is in the right place first

Koichi wrote a great piece on finding your Flow in learning the other day. Flow is all about putting yourself in the place where the challenge meets and extends your abilities. Too much challenge and you can lose the motivation to continue. Not enough challenge and you easily risk losing interest. In this third post in the three part series "Top 10 Mistakes Every Japanese Learner Makes" we look more closely at motivation. You can catch the first and second posts here and here.

Harajuku graffiti
Harajuku graffiti

Choosing to learn a language is a challenge, but you wouldn't expect to master Japanese in a few days any more than you would expect to become a professional golfer overnight. Developing the stick-to-it-ive-ness required to learn Japanese involves being able to choose the right challenges and commit to making progress in small ways every day. Once you build up the momentum then everything else will flow.

Top 10 Motivational Mistakes Every Japanese Learner Makes

  1. Choosing the wrong goals: Why do you want to learn Japanese? To impress the girl in your Japanese class? To understand anime and gain credibility in geek forums on the internet? These goals won't provide you with any kind of enduring motivation in the long run. Winners motivation - performance - doing the next thing in front of you to the best of your ability.

  2. Being motivated by extrinsic factors: Closely related to the first mistake, this operates in the short term. If you are focused on competition and good grades, rather than self mastery then you risk discouraged when things don't go your way and the rewards are removed. Again focus on mastering the language and being in control of your own performance.

  3. Not balancing input with output: Too often we fall into patterns of over consumption, not only with food but also with information. When we never have the chance to become completely absorbed in something then we lose. Learning is about shifting our focus to creative output. Focus on production.

  4. Having too much garbage input: Not all information has the same quality. A lot of what determines the quality of information is how easily it is transformed by your understanding into knowledge. For this to happen you need to be active in your consumption of it.

  5. Not reflecting on what is being learned: It is said that Archimedes discoved the relationship between volume and density when he was filling his bath, and was so excited he ran through the streets naked. Newton aslo discovered gravity half asleep under an apple tree. To let your mind wander, you need to find a quite time and place with no distraction. The glass must be empty before it can be filled.

  6. Not putting it into practice: You may have heard of the 7 P's, in sport these are "Perfect Prior Practice Prevents Piss-Poor Performance". I wish I could attribute this quote to somebody because it is pure genius. Practice isn't just thinking about it, it's doing it, on a daily basis. Just going through the motions each day is not enough. You must be comitted to making your practice perfect so, that when the opportunity presents itself to perform, you are fully prepared.

  7. Not making time for learning: Make time now. The one thing that separates successful people from unsuccessful people is how they devote time to what is important. You decide wether language is important to you or not. Make sacrifices if you have to, but make the time. Can you harness the power of saying no today?

  8. Procrastinating: Do it now. There is not time like the present. You have heard these platitudes before, probably said you were going to do something about it too. What are you going to do about it now?

  9. Listening to the negative self-talk: Your mind is like a garden. You have flowers and tress that will bear succulent fruit. But only if you keep the pests and weeds out. Be the gardener of your your own mental orchard.

  10. Believing you will find a silver bullet: If what you are using hasn't worked thus far, may be you haven't given it enough time. Perhaps you are just inches from gold. There are no silver bullets, only hard work will pay off in the end.

It was a little tougher to follow on from the previous post, ironically because some of you found it inspirational. I'm glad you did. Now can you go out there and show someone else how it's done? Can you lead by example?

I'm off to Japan for four weeks rest and relaxation. I'll be able to give my family the attention they deserve 24/7. Beyond that posts to this blog may be a little more erratic, as I focus on immersion and one other project the subscribers to the newsletter would know about.

Follow me on Twitter for despatches from Summer in Japan. じゃあまたね!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Top 10 Conceptual Mistakes Japanese Learners Make

Getting your head straight to learn Japanese

Once you get over the initial hurdles of learning Japanese you might find yourself in a situation where flawed thinking sets you off on a tangent from your goals. Making sure you have your head screwed on straight is often more about what you choose to ignore rather than what you pay attention too. In this 2nd post of a 3 part series we take a look at erroneous thought.


Top 10 Conceptual Mistakes Japanese Learners Make

These 10 common mistakes could easily apply to any language or be extended to any field of learning. One of the joys of learning a language for yourself is that you are in fact learning how to learn. When you grasp that meta, then there is really no limit to what you can do.

  1. It's difficult to learn Japanese: Yes it is, but no more difficult than any other language. Nothing worthwhile doing is ever easy. Enjoy the process of learning, it's better than nothing. Lesson: Get started now.

  2. You have to find the best method and stick with it: There is no one method that is best. Everyone is different and as you progress some things will work for you better than others. Lesson: Find what works for you and experiment.

  3. You can do it by yourself: I don't know how truthfully I can say I am self taught. Sure I have done the hard yards in selecting the learning material and putting it into practice, but everyone who has cared to speak to me in Japanese has been my teacher. Language is about community, and as you become part of the Japanese speaking community you will find many teachers. Lesson: Keep an open mind because you can't learn in isolation from others.

  4. You know everything there is to know about Japanese: You might as well give up now! Go on, nothing I could say is going to change what you think. Lesson: Keep the beginner's mind.

  5. It is possible to learn Japanese without being interested in the culture: That's like saying it's possible to learn how to surf without getting wet. It doesn't work, and anything you do learn while distracted by this illusion will be a charade. Lesson: Adopt parts of the culture as your own, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

  6. That you won't change in other ways: Not every one becomes a yukata wearing, tea sipping, brush artist and archer, but to think that you won't be changed slightly by the experience of embracing another culture is naive. Sure you may not notice it now, but a couple of years from know you'll be slipping the odd えっと into your sentences. ("etto", is kind of like an English "um"). Lesson: Be open to change and personal growth.

  7. Someone will teach you: Are you waiting for the right teacher? If you don't take responsibility for your learning, no one else will. There is an old Buddhist saying that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. Are you ready, primed for learning? Lesson: Be receptive to learning first.

  8. You won't improve: Some times improvement happens more slowly than moss forming, sometimes it comes like a torrent from the skies. The idea is to vary your learning enough to unlock hidden areas of potential. We are all capable of learning a second language, just as we are capable of learning the first. Lesson: Notice the small improvements first, and improve upon them.

  9. You can learn Japanese through reading/watching/listening alone: Every one learns different ways, some by sight, some by sound, and others by movement. It isn't until you hear yourself speak, see yourself talk and feel your mouth make the movements that create speech that you are capable of closing that feedback loop. Lesson: Move into production as soon as humanly possible.

  10. It's enough to learn the spoken language without learning how to read and write: This is only half true. You're not getting the whole story. If you only believe half of what is read and even less of what is said, how can you come to "know" anything? Lesson: You already knew this, because you're reading my blog. Learn to read and you won't have to take my word for it.

I hope you enjoyed that minor rant from me. It wasn't directed at anyone in particular, except maybe the person who thinks none of it really applies to them.

You really have to own your thought patterns, be disciplined in your thinking if you ever want to improve and create. I welcome alternative viewpoints in the comments. Is there somewhere you screwed up along the way? Was there some failed way of thinking that set you back as a beginner? I'm sure someone reading this could benefit from you sharing.

In the next post in this 3 part series we tackle motivation head on.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Japan Foundation Under Attack Over New JLPT Format

Publishers drop reference to the JLPT from their products.

As you probably know from reading this blog, a big part of what I do is helping people prepare for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test through my lessons on eduFire and newsletter. You would also probably know that toward the end of last year The Japan Foundation released details of the new format JLPT to be held in 2010, minus the test content specification. At the time there was an uproar from bloggers and test hopefuls. Behind the scenes also publishers were scrambling to establish their relevancy in a rapidly changing test environment.

When Deer Attack, Miyajima, Japan
When Deer Attack, Miyajima, Japan 

As an affiliate of White Rabbit Press I was able to gain a small insight into this struggle from independent publisher Max Hodges, who was kind enough to share an email exchange he had with a representative of The Japan Foundation Center for Japanese-Language Testing. Here for your benefit I have redacted the conversation.

It starts with Max expressing his disappointment in October 2009 with the decision by the Japan Foundation not to publish the test content specification.
As a producer of Japanese language learning materials, we are very disappointed by the upcoming changes to the JLPT. In past years, a "test contents specification" was produced, which allowed educators and publishers to create content designed to prepare people for the JLPT. But since the Japan Foundation has now decided to keep the contents a secret, we can no longer say that our products "provide preparation for Level X of the JLPT" for example.
Books specifically targeting preparation for the JLPT are among the most popular books on White Rabbit Press and stores like the The Japan Shop. White Rabbit Press' Japanese Kanji Flashcards series is also the top-selling product of its kind in book stores across Japan and in markets like White Rabbit Press have now redesigned their Flashcard series removing any reference to the JLPT. Max explains;
The reason is because without a test-contents spec, we no longer have any confidence that our material provides appropriate preparation for any specific level of the JLPT.
Max also argues that without reference to the JLPT on his products and and similar materials from other publishers the Japan Foundation loses a valuable source of free advertising and good will.
I think it is a disservice to educators and publishers like me, who now lose the ability to confidently prepare people for the test, and it's a disservice to the students who will now have a harder time structuring and prioritizing their limited study time. Also, as I mentioned above, I think it will hurt the popularity of the JLPT itself.
In reply nearly 5 months later the Japan Foundation copied sections of the FAQ (QA8 and QA9) from New Japanese-Language Proficiency Test Guidebook: An Executive Summary.
The new JLPT is to measure communicative competence required to perform tasks. In the new test,“communicative competence” stands on both practical Japanese communicative competence AND knowledge of the Japanese language.
Though we don’t publish “Test Content Specifications”, we offer enough alternative information to prepare for the new JLPT. “New Japanese-Language Proficiency Test Sample Questions” has all the types of test items for all the levels. Even “Test Content Specifications”, past test items will still do as the former test levels (KYUUs) and the new levels correspond to each other.
Seeing both sides of the argument

I would argue that a paper test really doesn't offer any measure of communicative competence. I can clearly say that 4 out of 5 test levels bear some resemblance to former levels. Those of you that are preparing for the N3 have the difficult task of deciding what to study between the two extremes of the old levels 3 and 2. I don't believe the Japan Foundation offers enough information for people attempting this new level, nor any specific information about test content for other levels.

For me this seems counter-productive. I thought one of the main reasons for providing a new intermediate step between the old 3 and 2 was to bridge a very difficult gap for intermediate students. It certainly doesn't make things any easier for people who are considering moving on to more advanced levels of Japanese.

I can appreciate Max's position, having taken the decision to redesign his products without reference to the JLPT. I can also see that the Japan Foundation may have acted without any consideration of the impact it would have on publishers, and the good will that they had shown up to this point. What do you think? What impact on test popularity do you think this going to have if publishers no longer carry any reference to the JLPT on their products?

How does it affect your approach to test preparation?

As a test taker and educator, it has made things a little more difficult for me. I have decided to see the problem as an opportunity in disguise and apply some creativity to my approach. You can find out more about it in my newsletter.

Tell us what you think about the the lack of content specification in the comments. Perhaps you have a view that differs from mine. How have you found test preparation with out a test content specification?

If you'd like to ask the Japan Foundation about their decision to keep the test content specification secret their email address is

Top 10 Technical Mistakes Every Japanese Learner Makes

Getting off on the right foot when you start to learn Japanese.

To err is human. I've had a lot of people ask me recently about how to get started learning Japanese. And when you're a self paced learner getting the right kind of feedback about the mistakes you're making can be kind of difficult. There's no need to cut yourself if you're making any of these errors, even the most seasoned Japanese learner can lapse sometimes.

Chopping off my little finger
Chopping off my little finger

It's hard sometimes to see things with the beginner's mind, so I took the opportunity to ask some of my friends on Facebook and Twitter what they thought the ten biggest errors every beginner makes. I got such a good response, that pretty soon the list of 10 mistakes I had ballooned to over 30. Today I'll cover the top ten technical errors everyone makes, before moving on to the more cultural or conceptual in the next post and finishing off with something more motivational.

Top Ten Technical Mistakes Every Japanese Learner Makes:

The following 10 mistakes fall into the technical category because they are mostly concerned with what you say and how you say it when you speak Japanese. They are the type of mistakes that if captured early present no real difficulty to overcome, but it left alone they persist and make things much more difficult later on.

  1. Particles: The most common type of error you're likely to make when just starting out revolve around the correct use of particles. It's important to remember that there are no equivalents in English. Take the difference between は and が for instance, which are sometimes referred to topic and subject markers respectively. If you try to define 'subject', and compare that with 'topic' you've just hit the edge of a very slippery semantic slope. You're better off learning how they are used in the context of a Japanese sentence than applying rules from your first language that don't fit. Grab a good book, like Sue A. Kawashima's A Dictionary of Japanese Particles, or Koichi's Japanese Particles Cheatsheet.
  2. Word Order: Contrary to popular belief this does make a difference, if not to the meaning of your message, then the impact it has on the listener. It also goes hand in hand with particle use, you can't expect to manipulate word order with any skill if your particle use is inaccurate. Take the stock standard これは美味しいです (this is tasty!) compared with 美味しい!これは。。, forget the は which dangles tantalisingly on the end of the sentence and you risk sounding abrupt. Use any other particle and you end up confusing your dinner partner. Would you believe there are only 3 Japanese sentence types? Naoko Chino explains how to use them and their variations in A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Sentence Patterns. Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar Guide is another awesome free resource.
  3. Pronunciation: There aren't many sounds in Japanese that pose a problem to English speakers. The Japanese "R" is one, and つ (tsu) is another. The best way around these is to use appropriate model of a native speakers voice and to sound out each character as you learn hiragana and katakana. Other problems with pronunciation stem from the lengthening of certain vowel sounds and the sing-song rythm that results. Japanese conversationalists refer to 相槌 (あいづち) as the sound of a good conversation. We call them listener responses, but they are literally the sound of hammers meeting the anvil. Use's Hiragana and Katakana goals to hone your pronunciation, and then move on to sentence length models in the NHK Japanese Podcast.
  4. Intonation: English is characterised by a wide range of intonation which changes the meaning of certain utterances, even when they contain the same words. Japanese however is a pitch accented language where different words with the same morae (sound units) are identified by shifts in pitch. Take はし (bridge) and はし (chopsticks), for example. The mistake most beginners make is to vary pitch unnecessarily. Practice makes perfect, and in much the same way as pronunciation must be modelled on authentic sources, preferably longer than sentence length.
  5. Vocabulary: It's not just a matter of learning enough words, real word power comes from learning how to use words in the right way.You may have heard of core vocabulary, essentially in any language there are about 1500 words that make up 80% of the most commonly spoken words. Learn these words first, but also learn them in context. may give you a strong foundation, but it largely lacks context. Contextualise your vocabulary by delving into your interests.
  6. Politeness: Japanese is a highly contextual language, so how you speak and the words you choose depends very much on who you are speaking to. Good speakers are able to quickly make an assessment of their position in respect to the listener and choose the most appropriate level of politeness required.You can make yourself understood by selecting dictionary forms out a phrase book, but you won't endear yourself to people without an understanding of social heirachy and a good choice of words. Err on the side of caution and learn polite forms from the beginning.
  7. Talking too much: Japan is a society with values the harmony of the group over the needs of the individual. It is also a society with high power distance between individuals in any interaction based on heirachy. A westerner sensing silence in a meeting takes it as a bad sign and attempts to fill it with sweetners and small talk. The Japanese sees this as arrogance and an attempt to rush negotiation before a business relationship is established. The Japanese are much more comfortable with silence than you might expect. Silence can express more than words sometimes.
  8. Starting every sentence with 私は(watashi wa): Western culture is individualistic so we are always leading with what 'I believe' and responding to others with 'self' expression. Japanese culture seeks the harmony of of the group and talking about yourself too much is discouraged. Once you have opened conversation it is best to keep this to a minmum. Listening for what others are talking about, and add only when you have something valuable to add to the group topic.
  9. Hesitation devices: In Japanese hesitation devices are used both to prepare the listener for the next utterance and allow the speaker time to compose their thoughts. Without knowledge of these hesitation devices beginners often lengthen the sounds of the last word spoken unnaturally. Hesitation when used well can provide you with the time to get your sentences straight, while maintaning the interest of the listener. Watch some comedy (お笑い) where timing is everything.
  10. Using romaji: Romaji is not a logical stepping stone to reading hiragana and katakana. Romaji fell out of favour with educators about 20 years ago and it's rare to find book published recently that still uses it. Cut straight to authentic input with hiragana and katakana. Use mnemonics if you have to, whatever you do, commit the kana to memory now.
Now I can't even pretend to have all the answers here, and I'm sure that some of you might disagree with my choices here. If I'm leaving anything out please tell me. There'll be someone reading this for the first time and you just might be able to point them in the right direction. In the next post in this series we'll look at the conceptual errors every beginner makes, so don't go too far.

If you think I could describe these errors in less than 140 char, follow @rainbowhill

If you like this and give it the thumbs-up, join in the conversation on the Rainbowhill Language Lab Facebook Page.

Now for a little light relief. Pakkun Makkun demonstrate how important it is to be able to laugh at yourself as a beginner.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Learning Japanese Through Music

How Listening To Pop Music Can Save Your Japanese

A guest post by Lauren A.

One of the most effective ways of learning a language is listening to music in the language you are studying. It is not only fun, but sets up the correct atmosphere in which language acquisition can occur. If you engage in some of the techniques outlined in this article, you will find yourself learning lots of Japanese quickly.

Pop Music Saved My Life
Pop Music Saved My Life

People that study language acquisition agree that language is best acquired in the context of meaningful, real-life situations. Since song lyrics are usually written on a single theme, and written based on the events and emotions that are experienced in real life, learning through music provides an excellent opportunity for language acquisition to occur. Songs are not a made-up dialogue in a textbook created to teach you a specific grammar point, but rather individual emotional accounts of the human condition, available in a wide range of topics.

The language found in song lyrics is the real language used in everyday life, not the stale language taken out of a textbook designed for foreigners to learn. Idiomatic and slang expressions are frequently employed, along with plain and expressive forms. Learning through songs is not your basic これはペンです (this is a pen) language learning experience. This is the kind of language learning that one can hear in real conversations. Beware of using it in formal situations!

Emotional Involvement and Active Listening

The more you like a song, the higher the chance that you will acquire the language used within the song’s lyrics. When you become emotionally involved with a song, the task of figuring out what its lyrics mean and the grammar behind it becomes an exciting quest for meaning.
  • You listen to the song again and again creating the repetitive listening “input” required for language acquisition.
  • You sing along with the song, creating the speaking “output” required for language acquisition.
  • You learn new words by figuring out their meanings based on context.
You learn new words by figuring out their meanings based on context. Because it is so fun, your brain does all the hard work without you realizing that you are actually learning. In a short time, you are remembering and using the vocabulary and grammar infused within the songs you are “studying.”

Before now, you probably already knew that learning a language through listening to music was a great method. But how can you do so in the most effective ways possible? It’s possible to passively listen to music without thinking about it and acquire a language, but this takes a very long time to reap results. To achieve the most benefit, you must actively listen to a song’s lyrics, thinking about the words as they are being used in context, and in what manner they are being used. Here are some suggested activities for actively learning Japanese through music.

Eleven Essential Activities for Learning Japanese Through Music

  1. Choose a song to study: Choosing which song to study depends on what you would like to accomplish. You can choose a song that has meaning for you, such as your favorite song, the one from your favorite show, or the one that you heard while on the train to Tokyo. You can choose a song that has a particular educational goal, such as one with a particular verb tense you would like to practice, or one based on a specific theme in which you would like to increase your vocabulary. You can choose a song based on length and/or difficulty level, such as a short and easy children’s song or a more longer and difficult ballad or rap. Ultimately, however, it really does not matter which song you choose; you will acquire language no matter which one you study.

  2. Find the lyrics to the song: Search for the lyrics online, preferably in Kanji. Choosing a song whose lyrics have already been translated will be less challenging to study than one that has no translation available.

  3. Look over the song’s lyrics: After choosing a song to study, look over the lyrics and point out all the words you already know. This serves to reinforce the vocabulary you already have acquired and helps to seal the vocabulary you have up until now only partially acquired. Listen to the song a few times and list the words you recognize from listening to the song. Say the words out loud for speaking practice. Look at the grammar being used in the song. Point out to yourself the concepts you already know well, as well as the new ones that you have not seen before, and are curious about. See if you can figure out the meanings of unknown vocabulary and grammar based on their context within the song.

  4. Study the song’s lyrics: Look up all the words that you don’t know the meanings of with a dictionary. Identify the different grammar points by performing a search in books and online. If you are using a set of lyrics with a translation, use it to see if you are using the correct definition for a word or phrase. Identify idiomatic expressions and phrases that are not translated directly from one language to the other. Create a list of the new vocabulary and grammar learned from the song for referencing and studying later on. Do this with as much of the song or as little of the song as you feel driven to do.

    Rikaichan ( is a pop-up dictionary plug-in for Firefox that works really well for looking up song lyrics. You can hover your mouse over the Kanji, and the program identifies the definition, the part of speech, and which form is being used along with its plain form. You can also copy and paste the definitions that you find while searching.

  5. Study the meaning of the song’s lyrics: As you are looking up the words to the song, analyze the non-literal meaning of the lyrics. Observe the way the words are ordered in each sentence and how they are being used to convey their overall meaning. If you are using a set of lyrics with a translation, use it to compare how things are being said in Japanese versus how they are said in your language. Use more than one translation of the song to verify the meanings, and if you speak another language, it is helpful to look up the lyrics’ translation in that language too. Notice the cultural differences between how each language expresses different ideas.

  6. Learn to sing along with the song: Listen to the song while looking at the lyrics, and learn to sing it out loud. Singing is a form of “shadowing,” a process whereby you acquire language quickly by repeating what a native speaker says at the same velocity. Have the vocabulary and grammar list you created available for the words you need to learn nearby to look up when you forget what something means. Listen to the song over and over, until you eventually learn to sing the song without looking at the lyrics.

  7. Sing the song again and again: Speaking output and repetition are the keys to acquiring a language, so sing along to it whenever you can. Bring the song with you on your personal music player when you travel outside of the house, and rotate it in with all of your other favorite songs. Enjoy your newfound ability to sing along with many parts of the song. Do not expect to remember the entire song the first time you sing it without the lyrics. You will need to listen to it many more times before you learn the whole song. Actively try to remember the grammar and vocabulary you studied while singing the song’s lyrics.

  8. Study more: Realize that acquiring a language is a gradual process. Some words need to be heard and recognized in different contexts many times before they are acquired. Periodically go back to your list of vocabulary and grammar from the song and look it over. Put the words you want to remember in a spaced-repetition system like Anki ( or Make new sentences with the words and grammar from the song that you still need to learn, and have them checked by a native speaker on Use whatever study method works best for you in order to move things into your long-term memory.

  9. Study with friends: Since the goal of language is communication, studying language makes more sense when done socially. Study song lyrics together, sing karaoke together, and speak to each other using the new words. Attend classes online with others, such as the “Japanese Through Anime Music” class found at, where you can learn to sing a popular Anime song together with a wonderful group of Japanese-learners.

  10. Listen for newly acquired language in other places: When hearing Japanese outside of the song you studied, such as listening to other songs, watching TV programs, or hearing native speakers’ conversations, try to actively listen as much as possible. Bring the language you are hearing to a conscious level, where you are listening to the individual words being used, recognizing and figuring out their meanings, analyzing the grammar being used, and trying to understand their meanings on a holistic level. As you do this, you will start hearing the words you learned in the lyrics of the songs you have studied prior. When hearing specific expressions, you will most likely be able to remember exactly from which song you learned it, since the brain is designed to remember things it experiences relatively and emotionally.

  11. Be creative: Realize that this article’s proposed methods are only suggestions. Be creative in coming up with your own method for studying though music and you will be learning lots of Japanese in no time! A. is a formally trained language teacher with over two years teaching experience on eduFire. Her much loved classes, Japanese Through Anime Music : 皆さんの一番好きな音楽 are always well attended and free! Follow her on Twitter (@Vircocha1) or check out her profile on eduFire.

Do you listen to any Japanese music? Do you have any recommendations for good music to study with? I'd like to hear it! (ed)