On Japanese Part Three: Strategies

Unlike the other two posts, this last part of my mini-series on studying Japanese is kind of broad and general: fun, and somewhat obvious, strategies for working on your Japanese when you’re sick of staring at textbooks.

Assorted Japanese songs. All excellent, by the way.

Music
Most people interested in Japan are already here, but mix Japanese music into your listening habits. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it allows for both active and passive learning. Song lyrics are actually pretty hard to translate, but it can be a good exercise just to try. And, on a more basic level, regularly listening to music in your target language is a good way to develop your feel for the pronunciation and cadence.

Movies/TV
Watch movies and TV shows in Japanese. If you’re at at a beginner level, use English subtitles at first, but really pay attention to what you’re hearing. Later on, switch to Japanese subtitles; even when you don’t know all the kanji, you can start making connections. Also, watch kid’s shows. The vocabulary and grammar are much simpler and you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll understand without help.

Books
Read books (or manga, if that’s your preference) in Japanese. Stick to things you’ve read in English, so you’ll be able to gauge your comprehension. And, like with the movies and TV shows, start with stuff meant for kids. Kid’s books have furigana, which makes it easy to look up unknown words. It will be the slowest you’ve ever read, but I promise you’ll get better.

Obvious? Of course! But it really never hurts to reiterate this sort of thing. And I will leave you with a very pretty, simple Japanese song, courtesy of YouTube: Okitegami (おきてがみ) by Maaya Sakamoto (坂本真綾).

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