Keigo IV – Word Beautification

“I find it really hard to remember Keigo”  I have previously gone over sonkeigo (respectful keigo), kenjogo (humble keigo) and even covered some general rules for using keigo. But there is one large aspect of keigo that I missed out which is “bikeigo” 美敬語 or “word beautification”. Bikeigo is something even beginner Japanese learners have probably come across with words like おかね, おちゃ, おなまえ, おさけ, ごはん, all of these basic words can be said without the お or ご at the front of the word, such as かね or ちゃ but then the word becomes harsh, crude and if said taken as … Read More…

Understanding ばいと敬語 Shop Japanese

Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan – A guide to understanding shop Japanese バイトけいご When you go to a shop or restaurant in Japan, even if you’ve learnt you basics of Japanese, it can be hard to understand what the shop assistance are saying. Not only are they saying sentences they’ve been saying all day everyday which makes them more like automated lines, but they also use a mutated form of Japanese they you would not have learnt in lessons. Even if you’re learning up to JLPT N1 level “shop speak” isn’t a topic that’s normally covered in conventional lessons. This … Read More…

Japanese Sign Language – 手話

If you’d like to try something different but keep learning Japanese I strongly recommend shuwa (しゅわ・手話), Japanese sign language. I’ve found learning Japanese sign language to be a really enjoyable experience, not only because it’s fun to learn something new but learning it from Japanese people who use Japanese Sign Language (JSL) is also a fantastic experience. I find them to be incredibly friendly and outgoing people and you will often find some people wanting to learn foreign languages or about foreign culture. So if you’re living in Japan and want to make some new friends I learn JSL. It’s … Read More…

Telephone Calls in Japanese

I find that in the day and age where we use email and texting all the time, using the phone can be a daunting experience. Even worse if it’s in another language! The first time I talked on the phone was to a possible WWOOF (volunteering on farms in exchange for food and lodging) host family. I had the possible phrases I would need written in front of me with my Japanese teacher on stand-by. I was so nervous I probably sounded awful and rude! But I’m sure they understood my Japanese wasn’t that great as a foreigner. Even so, … Read More…

Japanese Textbooks for Teaching Yourself Japanese

“What text books should I use for teaching myself Japanese?”   Using text books to learn Japanese can be tricky business because they are often made for class studying rather than self study, but it doesn’t mean they’re not useful if you can’t afford the time or money for classes. First of all when studying Japanese it’s good to know the answers to these questions: Why are you studying Japanese? What’s your goal? It could be to read manga, watch anime without subtitles, to be able to read/speak it while on holiday or for a possible career. Your answer will … Read More…

Keigo III – Rules for Using Keigo

“I find it really hard to remember keigo.” There are many websites that cover the basics of keigo and special vocabulary, but I find not many that give a clear rule on when to use which keigo in different situations, and very many people with questions and confusions. I myself have these same confusions and in my research came up with the following rules and situational examples. If you need a recap on kenjougo (humble Japanese) and sonkeigo (respectful Japanese) you can do so here: Keigo I – Sonkeigo Keigo II – Kenjougo When Should You Use Keigo? Politeness Levels … Read More…

Getting Translating Experience II

“I want a job in translating but have no experience, and I can’t get any experience without a job…”   The catch 22 of the job world. This problem is even more prominent in translation as almost every position I have ever come across for Japanese/English translation demands at least 3-5 years experience. Many young graduates of Japanese related fields run into this problem. I find that many might not have the necessary Japanese skills to go into translating right after graduation and so often turn to teaching positions in Japan. Myself, and others, are stubborn and resist this approach until it’s … Read More…

Getting Translating Experience I

“I want a job in translating but have no experience, and I can’t get any experience without a job…”   The catch 22 of the job world. This problem is even more prominent in translation as almost every position I have ever come across for Japanese/English translation demands at least 3-5 years experience. Many young graduates of Japanese related fields run into this problem. I find that many might not have the necessary Japanese skills to go into translating right after graduation and so often turn to teaching positions in Japan. Myself, and others, are stubborn and resist this approach until it’s … Read More…

Business Japanese – Keigo II – Kenjougo

“I find it really difficult to remember keigo.” (To recap from the previous post on Keigo) Keigo 敬語 literally means “respectful language” and is used in formal situations (but mostly business). If you are studying Japanese at university you will go over this. So this entry is to help with people who will go to work in Japan (teaching English or other business) and for university students.  There are several different types of keigo which are used in different ways depending on the situation and who you’re speaking to, and who you’re talking about. When I learnt keigo the teacher decided … Read More…

Things I Learnt Studying Japanese

Tips for Studying Japanese Here are a few lessons I’ve learnt over the years studying Japanese. I hope these come in handy with your own study. Just because you feel like you should know something doesn’t mean you do.  There have been many times when I’ve been studying and gone “I already know this I don’t have to do it again.” But just because you’ve studied it doesn’t mean you actually know it. This caused me to waste more time going back over something I felt I should know but when I came across it outside of studying. I knew … Read More…

Business Japanese – Keigo I – Sonkeigo

“I find it really difficult to remember keigo.”  Keigo 敬語 literally means “respectful language” and is used in formal situations (but mostly business). If you are studying Japanese at university you will go over this. So this entry is to help with people who will go to work in Japan (teaching English or other business) and for university students.   There are several different types of keigo which are used in different ways depending on the situation and who you’re speaking to, and who you’re talking about. When I learnt keigo the teacher decided to combine all of these together into one … Read More…

Reading Novels – Breaking into Japanese Literature Review

“I want to be able to read Japanese novels”  (If you’re not yet convinced that being able to read Japanese novels is worth it check out this article). When I picked up my first Japanese novel I think I managed to get about 3 pages in before giving up. It was Kino no Tabi and I must have read the first page a billion times trying to get through my first novel. So I thought maybe I should try an easier novel. I got 7 pages into that one, and then 13 pages into my third attempt! But each time … Read More…

J-Talk Online Memrise Courses

So in the last few weeks I came across the flashcard program Memrise. I’d heard about it before but never really checked it out. It had been so long since I’d used AnkiDroid that I decided to try it out, and it is amazing! I entered in some vocabulary I was studying and managed to go over about 220 of them in a single weekend! When I hadn’t been doing much before hand this was a big confidence booster! So why is Memrise so great? Well for one thing putting vocabulary into a flashcard deck and getting other people’s is SO much … Read More…

Japanese Signs – Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan

In a previous post Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan I explained about phrases that would be essential for visiting Japan. Especially if you were staying with a Japanese family. So this post is about signs you’ll see around Japan, especially the common ones that are important to know. To make it easier to learn them I have images that show examples of the signs you’ll see in Japan along with explanations for the kanji. The kanji explanations show where the words come from and how they’re read on their own in comparison to a kanji compound (when 2 or more … Read More…

Learning Kanji – From Beginners to Advanced

Kanji is an interesting part of Japanese that is not to be taken lightly, but not to be intimidating either. There are 2136 official regularly used (常用 / じょうよう) kanji, each with one to three or more readings but there is a pattern and a way to work out which readings to use. 1006 of the kanji are taught in Japanese primary schools, and the other 1130 are secondary level. After learning all 2136 you should be able to understand Japanese on the same level as a native 16 year old. But it’s important to start with small steps. The … Read More…

Motivation Studying Japanese

“I am having trouble studying. I want to study but I just don’t feel motivated to any more.”  Blaaaarrrrrrggggg…I hate feeling unmotivated. There are times (like recently) where I just haven’t wanted to study, resulting in me barely touching Japanese for well over 3 months 4 months! That is bad (and hypocritical) especially when I keep saying how important it is to use and study Japanese every day. I think, “I’ll sit down and do an hour of Japanese today….juuuuuust after I watch this episode of The Following”…4 hours later and nothing has been done! I’m sure other people have had this … Read More…

Cooking Japanese II – Practice With Recipes

“I want to be able to read Japanese cook books and online recipes!” Ever wanted to be able to cook Japanese food? Ever wanted to be able to read Japanese cook books? I certainly have. I love cooking Japanese food. You can find so many recipes online but some of the best are from native chefs. It’s difficult when you’re not in Japan with access to the ingredients, but there are ways to replace the ingredients and places in stores and online you can get hold of them. Cooking Japanese Part I – Customs and Vocabulary Japanese Recipes The following … Read More…

The JLPTs

If you are studying Japanese, even if you are doing so for fun, you should do the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (or the JLPTs). Many people learning Japanese have heard of the JLPTs but don’t know what they are. They are 5 Japanese language exams that are held twice a year in July and December across the world. They test learners Japanese skills for vocabulary, grammar, listening and reading (no speaking or writing). Tests are multiple choice. JLPT N5 is the lowest and N1 is the highest. Beginner levels test your hiragana/katakana reading skills and higher levels test kanji. But all … Read More…

Emails and Letters in Japanese

Have a penpal, Japanese friend, old host family or co-worker you want to e-mail in Japanese? This guide should be a great reference to impress your Japanese friends. That is, at first at least, but you can also use it to build up your studying to help towards fluency (at least when it comes to messaging). I find that having a reference to is invaluable, especially because most e-mails, letters and messages you receive from Japanese people are written with lots of complicated kanji. So this guide is written with all that kanji. Don’t panic! Even if you’re not an … Read More…

Practising Japanese with Natives

“It’s so hard to learn Japanese without practising it with someone who knows Japanese”   Believe it or not there are many ways you can meet native Japanese speakers and practice with them! Some are free and others can get pretty pricey, but all are worth it if you put the time and effort into it, and you might even make some good friends out of it! italki.com italki is a fantastic website for meeting Japanese people! You can pay for teachers or find language partners for free! Skype is necessary so you can chat to people. Full review of italki.com here! … Read More…

Using Japanese Popular Media in Self Study

“Studying Japanese can be so boring sometimes and I just don’t have the time for it” Japanese can be fun and you can make time for it if it’s fun. Many people who want to study Japanese, or are studying Japanese, are doing so because they have come in contact with some form of Japanese popular media and it inspires them to learn Japanese. This is not a bad thing and I think it’s really unfair when people of high Japanese level (often professionals) criticise young people for being interested in Japan and Japanese because they “only like manga and … Read More…

Retaining Your Japanese

“I’m trying to learn Japanese, but I keep forgetting what I’ve learnt!”  I hate it when I go to use a word in Japanese and I have to stop myself and think “I just learnt this! Why can’t I remember it!?” *Flips table* Well over the years I’ve found that you cannot retain information as soon as you’ve read it (if you’re like me; if you’re like my boyfriend and can then you can f-off right now because I am very jealous of you). So learning does take a bit of practice and although you might find it takes a … Read More…

Apps for Learning Japanese

If you have some form of small portable computer having apps on for Japanese practice is invaluable. They allow you to practice anywhere at (almost) any time. If you often find you don’t have time to set aside time to study Japanese using an app to practice if you’re commuting, or between classes, or even just in bed and can’t be bothered to move, is a great way to get that practice in every day so that you don’t forget too quickly. Use them for long enough and you’ll soon notice that you’re reaping the rewards. I only recently got … Read More…