learning

Learners beware! Even Japanese people agree that their language can be really ambiguous

Un! Uun! Un? Three words that sound awfully similar but have totally different meanings.

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10 Japanese phrases for travelers that will help, amuse, or just plain confuse

Travelling in a foreign country can be daunting, especially if you don’t know the language. While a one-year preparatory course isn’t necessary for just a week or so in a foreign land, learning a few key words and phrases is certainly recommended.

Some time ago, travel culture website Matador Network put together a list of “10 Extraordinarily Useful Japanese Phrases for Travelers“, a mostly tongue-in-cheek collection of phrases which, while at times giving some useful material, is probably more suited for those looking to jazz up their Japanese than it is for the average traveler. For that reason, perhaps, the list recently caught the eye of Japanese net users and has been garnering a lot of attention in the language’s homeland.

Check out the list below and see what you can use!

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Seven “frogging” adorable kids belting out the F word!【Videos】

When was the first time you uttered a “bad word”? We all probably grew up with adults telling us not to say certain words, and that there were words that only adults could speak of. As a kid, blurting one of those “forbidden words” felt like something cool and thrilling, but now that I’m well beyond that age, such words have lost their significance as a big taboo.

Some kids, however, seem to be blurting out the F-word even before they’ve reached the age to be told that it’s an “adult word”. Of course, they’re not saying it on purpose, and that’s exactly what makes it so amusing and adorable! Frog it, we’re going straight to the videos after the break!

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Put away your textbooks, kids – the key to learning Japanese is Minecraft

We’ve talked countless times about how to learn Japanese. Heck, we’ve even brought you lists of essential applications and resources to help you in your quest to master the language. But we’ve always maintained that the best way to learn Japanese, or any language for that matter, is to make practical use of it and make it relevant to your own life.

And what better way to use your newly acquired Japanese than making friends all over the world while avoiding being crushed to death by spiked ceilings or knocked into a bottomless pit?

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Six (and a half) essential resources for learning Japanese

As we’ve said before, Japanese isn’t actually as hard to learn as it’s often made out to be. Unlike English, for example, Japanese follows its own grammatical rules far more rigidly, pronunciation is easy because there is only one variant of each vowel sound to choose from (none of this tomayto/tomahto business), and it’s possible to create entire, perfectly meaningful and valid sentences without uttering a single pronoun or bothering to conjugate a verb.

Nevertheless, the language will not magically seep into you through a desire to speak it alone — you still need to encounter and study it as often as possible. With that in mind, we’d like to present to you the six and a half resources that no dedicated student of the Japanese language should ever be without. Oh, and the good news is some of them are completely free.

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Foreigners in Japan vote for the best-looking katakana character

When it comes to Japan’s three writing systems, kanji, hiragana and katakana, it’s the most complex of the lot that usually gets the most attention. The numerous lines and strokes involved in kanji pictographs are so revered that people nominate one at the end of every year to represent the mood of the nation. Even foreigners across the world are taken by their meaning and beauty, with many committing a patch of skin to their favourite (sometimes completely wrong) kanji in tattoo form.

But what about the least utilised member of the group, the katakana characters used for foreign words? Well it looks like they’re finally getting a bit of love, with a recent survey being conducted among foreign residents in Japan to determine the coolest looking symbol in the katakana syllabary. Place your bets now for which one comes out on top!

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Play video games, learn Japanese: Crowdfunded JRPG “Koe” reaches its goal with cash to spare

I’ve always maintained that, while the method may work for a very lucky few, drilling lists of words and kanji characters is like trying to commit blocks of random numbers to memory – that is to say painfully hard work, time-consuming, and not in the least bit natural or fun. Rather, a better way to approach language learning is to encounter words in context so as to easier form cognitive connections and assimilate them into that which we already know.

So when I stumbled upon Koe, an upcoming role-playing game designed to help people learn Japanese as they play, I couldn’t help feeling a twinge of excitement.

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