Welcome to another addition of Benkyou Blog! So, you’ve been studying through JapanesePod101, but you think you’re ready to add a little extra something to your routine. If you feel you’ve got a decent mastery of basic Japanese, there are a few ways you can add snippets of Japanese popular culture to your routine that will build your exposure to the language. Building exposure through music, television, and other forms of media is a great way of helping you learn Japanese. Case in point: me!
Before I went to Japan, I was obsessed with Japanese pop music. It’s all I listened to. GLAY and Utada Hikaru dominated the airspace in my bedroom. I was also your typical anime nerd (though not anymore – remember, this was when I was in 8th - 9th grade) who always had her nose in the latest episode of Card Captor Sakura or clips from the Japanese version of Digimon.
…Yes, I was a total nerd.
Anyway! When I went to Japan and began actually studying Japanese, I discovered that my pronunciation was excellent and my accent was minimal at best. I received compliments all the time on it, so I could safely assume people weren’t just being nice because I heard it from so many people. I credit this to the intense exposure I had to the language before actually learning it.
Exposure can build your vocabulary, teach you colloquialisms, and improve your pronunciation, too. It’s a great way to learn, not to mention fun! Here are my favorite ways of gaining exposure:
Japanese television – If you can, download Japanese TV shows or watch clips from various shows via YouTube. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you recognize a word here and there, or maybe even understand a sentence or two.
Anime – Yes, it’s nerdy. It’s just cartoons, almost always created for children’s entertainment. But, there are some good ones out there. I highly recommend anything by Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, etc.) because the animation is top-notch and the stories are compelling. If you watch these films with the subtitles and Japanese language track on, you might find yourself picking up new vocabulary.
Japanese film – You’ll learn much the same way you would through anime – by watching the subtitles and hearing the audio. There is some excellent Japanese cinema out there that can be found at your local Blockbuster. Don’t know where to start? One word: Kurosawa. Look him up.
Children’s books or manga with furigana – This way, you can practice reading and look up new words in a dictionary as you go along. Again, it’s great practice that’s entertaining to boot!
And as always, benkyou de ganbatte ne!