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Explore Japan with JapanesePod101

I knew essentially nothing about Japan when I made the decision to study in Tokyo for my Fall semester. Fortunately, in the 2 months I’ve been here, my lack of preparation hasn’t stopped me from enjoying all that Japan has to offer.

shibuya

Of course, Tokyo is a good place to be for the ill-prepared, English speaking 外人. I’ve been getting around fairly well, but lately I’ve felt that maybe I would get more out of my experience if I knew at least basic Japanese.

Plus, I have to leave Tokyo every once in awhile, or else I’d miss out on things like this:

Sengawa Shrine

My biggest problem with learning Japanese was always my perceived lack of progress. It just never felt like I was learning anything applicable to everyday life, and even when I did, other sites would get bogged down in the technical aspects of language such as grammar.

Fortunately, JapanesePod101.com turned out to be exactly what I needed. Every part of the site is made to make learning Japanese simpler, and more fun!

How, you say? Well…

  1. Start Talking Immediately
  2. So, right away I liked that the site was clearly separated by skill level from Absolute Beginner all the way to Advanced. So, being the Absolute Beginner I am, I chose accordingly.

    You have the choice of both Audio and Video Lessons, along with a PDF of notes for each lesson. I chose the audio lessons first because I found that that works best for me. The first lesson is about “indispensable words”. Already, you can see that the goal is to get you speaking as quickly as possible.

    The words and phrases I learned here are some of the most useful I know thus far. It’s very basic, but I can order food in a restaurant, say thank you, and apologize for bumping into people on the subway. I get through many conversations using just these phrases, and I learned them in less than a day!

  3. Review
  4. Even after you are done a lesson, you will need to review so that the information sticks in your head. Luckily, JapanesePod101.com has a Word Bank and Flashcard features to help review vocabulary and grammar points.

    At the end of each lesson, there are flashcards to test your Kanji reading and pronunciation, and quizzes that do the same. They are specific to each lesson, so it’s easy to learn incrementally before you test yourself on 100 kanji at once.

    There is even the option to make your own decks. This was great for me because I could focus on specific words that gave me trouble until I was confident I had them memorized.

  5. Keep Going!
  6. Every lesson has a progress bar to show how much you have learned, and to show you how close to completion you are. This pretty much took care of my motivation problem completely. I can physically see the progress I’m making, in addition to all the new vocabulary and concepts I am able to incorporate into my life everyday.

    I also signed up for the Word of the Day just in case I didn’t have time to study as intensely as I’d like. And since I also downloaded their app, I never have to worry that I’m not exposing myself to Japanese at least once everyday.

So, will JapanesePod101.com work for you?

I say yes!

Even if you think you don’t have the time or energy, even if you’ve tried to learn before and it just didn’t stick…

Sign up!

I’ve surprised even myself that I have managed to stick with any kind of self teaching tool this long, but JapanesePod101.com makes it easy and fun to just keep learning!

The simple joy of being able to order food in Japanese, and to be understood by a native speaker, is something I’ve never experienced, and I am grateful that I can now say I have.

So check it out, and travel Japan confident that you can get around with your Japanese!

Why Sapporo is my favorite city in Japan

Why Sapporo is my favorite city in Japan

わや*!That was a hard decision to make Kyushu? Okinawa? South Korea? Taiwan? No… I made it to Hokkaido and have to start this article by talking about Salmon Ikura Don (raw salmon with salmon fish eggs on rice that I ate in Sapporo), in honor of the best dish I’ve ever eaten.

First, If you want to travel in Japan and don’t know where to start, I suggest you to take a look at this list: here

So…why Sapporo?
Well, my two closest Japanese friends are living there… What better reason to fly north?

First of all, I love big cities. Tokyo is massive and I enjoy it. However, I’m still a Swiss girl from the Alps… So I was actually really excited about this trip. The image I had of Sapporo is pretty similar to the one foreigners can have of Switzerland, I guess.

There are a few things you should know about Sapporo. It’s not only a beer brand, this is also the fifth largest city in Japan, and almost 2 million people live there! The 1972 Winter Olympic Games were hosted there and it’s famous for its yearly Snow Festival as well.

Now let me tell you why the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture has became my favorite city in Japan, and how I managed to escape from the real world for 4 whole days (I didn’t even realize that Google had a new logo!)

  • Incredible Atmosphere
  • I’ve lived in Canada, England, and Switzerland and have been able to travel around, including to Japan. But Sapporo has something that other cities clearly don’t have! There is still that urban vibe with areas such as Susukino, as well as a Western touch with the Former Hokkaido Government office and the area around that building.

    The enormous park around the Hokkaido University reminded me of those I could relax in when in was in Toronto. The Maryuyama Park area has many bakeries, small cafės, and restaurants. I would describe this spot as fancy but cosy at the same time.

  • Beautiful Natural Surroundings
  • It is part of the atmosphere, but it needs its own paragraph. My friend took me to Mount Moiwa and the night view was breathtaking… Sapporo is a large city, so seeing all those lights sparkling from the mountain was magical, and I will simply never forget it.
    It might seem insignificant, but the city is full of flowers and greenery, and this is what is missing in Tokyo. Almost every sidewalk has colorful flowers, and you can also find them in parks and even outside people’s front doors. It’s a small detail but it makes a big difference.
    My other friend took me to Otaru, which is by the seaside north of Sapporo. It’s a small and picturesque city intersected by a river and many small boutiques.

    Finally, wherever you are in Sapporo, if the weather isn’t foggy, you can see mountains! It really reminds me of where I am from. Now I can’t wait to go back to Hokkaido during the winter time and enjoy the snow up there!

    Mount Moiwa

  • Kind People
  • The hospitality in Japan is no secret. But in Hokkaido, I was touched by the people’s kindness, generosity, and enthusiasm. I guess life is more peaceful there, so everyone takes the time to do whatever they have to. I felt relaxed from the beginning to the end. And of course, I am so thankful to my friends who were my reason for spending my precious time there.

  • Delicious Food
  • I started with food and I am ending with food. If you do love Japanese cuisine, this is a no-brainer – you just have to go to Sapporo. Curry soup is famous there. I also had the chance to eat えび味噌ラーメン (ebi miso ramen)、うに (uni), and 鮭 いくら 丼 (salmon ikura don), which as you know tasted like heaven.
    If you like cheese and milk, you won’t be disappointed in Hokkaido – just trust the girl from Switzerland, AKA ‘cheese land.’
    Food quality isn’t a problem in Sapporo, and the prices are affordable too.

    Salmon Ikura Don

    If you want to know more about Japanese food, check out this audio lesson: The 5 most popular foods in Japan

    Before visiting this northern part of Japan, I’d heard many times that Sapporo was a great city to live in. Now I totally understand why and if you are planning to go to Japan, drop by Hokkaido, because you can find pretty good deals online to get there ;)

    * わや waya is popular slang meaning ヤバイ (yabai) in Hokkaido-ben.

    Don’t forget to discover more about Japanese culture and language on http://japanesepod101.com

    How JapanesePod101 makes learning grammar easy and fun - JapanesePod101 Review

    理解することはまあまあできるけど、話すのは難しい!
    Understanding is alright, but speaking is hard!

    Hi, my name is Noemi and this is what I have been saying for over a year whenever someone asks me about my level in Japanese.

    I have tons of learning books, and I think they are all good but just too heavy to carry. My Japanese friends are helping me, but it is impossible to remember everything they are teaching me, especially in a more casual context. I also took Japanese classes for 2 years, and those are generally a great option, but not so much for my wallet.

    In other words: I was stuck at my let’s say lower intermediate level and this needs to change. I am in Japan now, so it’s time to learn.

    Basically, what I need is something light and inexpensive that allows me to learn at my own pace.

    I started using JapanesePod101. I was afraid I would give up, but I have now been learning by myself for a few weeks and I enjoy it!

    The three main reasons I like learning with JapanesePod101 are:

    1. Audio Lessons
    Commuting in Japan or anywhere in the world can be quite long and boring. I am getting tired of my iTunes playlist so I’ve decided not to waste my time and listen to those lessons while I’m in the subway.
    What about when I don’t have any data in the subway? It doesn’t matter, because if I download the lessons I can listen to them anywhere at anytime!
    I can always check the script if there are words I couldn’t catch or kanji I am wondering about.
    I am not only learning Japanese, but also about important cultural points, which is really important to me in such a unique country.

    You can find them here:
    http://www.japanesepod101.com/index.php?cat=Introduction

    2. The Grammar Bank
    Grammar has always been my nightmare – in English, German, and even my native language French.
    Of course, this is also my biggest problem in Japanese and the reason I can not talk fluently for more than 20 seconds. “Grammar” is therefore the first word I looked for when I signed up to JapanesePod101.
    Filters can be used to study grammar points by JLPT level, category, series, and more. For each item, there are examples in both romaji and kana. Audio and explanations are also available. The Grammar Bank is an extremely useful tool for everyone struggling like me with grammar. I promise you that you will progress!

    But first of all, you should check this introduction to grammar:
    http://www.japanesepod101.com/japanese-grammar-introduction/

    3. The Practice Tests
    Checking my progress and realizing I am actually learning new grammar points, words, or kanji is one of the most important things overall.
    I can make my own statistics and it actually helps me to set weekly objectives, which maintains my motivation to learn.
    I like printing sheets to practice my kanji or check if I can finally reach that JLPT4 level.

    There other points that I really appreciate as well:

  • If you don’t like wasting your time on complicated websites or waiting forever for a confirmation email, well JapanesePod101 is amazing, because everything is simple and fast.
  • Do you have a question? Just ask it and a JapanesePod101 staff member will answer you!
    The vocabulary. Although it’s not what I am currently focusing on, there is a 2,000-word dictionary, with examples, that you can study by subject.
  • You can easily find what you are looking for. The website is well organized by subject, level, JLPT or alphabetical order. You won’t do the same lesson twice ;)
  • It is very entertaining. As I mentioned, I am learning new vocabulary and grammar points, but at the same time, I am discovering more about Japan.
  • Kanji learning. They are my second biggest nightmare and as they are just everywhere in Japan, it’s very frustrating to understand only 20% of them. JapanesePod101 is helping me to increase this percentage though ;)
  • I am still learning, and I will keep you updated on my level in a few weeks, but I can already feel progress. This is at the same time very exciting and challenging.
  • There are other points I could talk about, but I think that everyone who is learning Japanese or wants to learn will find what they need on JapanesePod101.

    Learning languages doesn’t only look good on a resume, I believe it makes us richer too, so if you are interested in learning Japanese, definitely check JapanesePod101 out!

    Click here:
    http://www.japanesepod101.com/

    JapanesePod101 Review - How JapanesePod101 Helped Me Prepare for the Trip of a Lifetime

    How JapanesePod101 Helped Me Prepare for the Trip of a Lifetime

    I was always interested in traveling to Japan. The culture, people, and natural beauty of the country were what drew me in. I knew that it was definitely a place that I wanted to visit in the future and something that would be on my bucket list. But for one reason or another, I had never really had the opportunity to travel across the Pacific. I was either too broke or too busy. That changed last summer when I decided to put an end to my procrastination and fulfill my dream. I purchased my ticket to Japan online and celebrated with a triumphant cheer. However, I soon came to a realization. I did not speak one word of Japanese.

    Flight to Japan

    I had one month until I embarked on my adventure and I wanted to learn as much Japanese as I could, so I decided to look into my options. While perusing the internet in search of a Japanese language program that would fit my needs, I kept finding myself at JapanesePod101.com. Admittedly, I was a little skeptical at first as I had tried similar language programs in the past with no success, but with hundreds of positive reviews as my reference, I decided to give them a shot. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that JapanesePod101 not only offered affordable prices, but also a free 7-day trial of their Premium plan. With nothing to lose and a whole new world to gain, I signed up for the Premium plan. The sign-up process was quick and simple. It may have taken me 2 minutes at most to submit my information and receive my confirmation email. After that, I was immediately able to log-in and start my studying.

    The layout of the site was beautiful and I was able to use it on my Macbook, iPad, and iPhone without any trouble whatsoever. Due to the fact that I had no previous knowledge of Japanese language, I started my journey at the “Absolute Beginner” level. Instantly, I found myself eyeing over a curriculum that I knew would be beneficial to my trip. Topics such as survival phrases, introductions, shopping, and ordering food each had their own individual lessons. I began my studying that night with the goal of learning basic travel Japanese before I left. JapanesePod101 made it easy to track my progress and that helped me stay committed to my studies. I studied every single night for one whole month.

    Asakusa

    Here are some of the features of JapanesePod101 that I found the most helpful:

    Lessons by Native-Speaking Instructors
    Throughout my years, I’ve noticed that those who do not learn a language from a native-speaker tend to pick up an accent that derives from the teacher’s mother tongue. That’s why I think that this is one of the best things about JapanesePod101. Why learn from someone whose native-language is something other than Japanese when you could just as easily learn from someone who has been speaking it from birth? JapanesePod101 offers real dialogue from real Japanese speakers.

    Printable Notes Available to Download
    For me, this was a deal-breaker. Though I love the convenience of being able to study online from any of my devices, sometimes I just like to keep it old school and have my notes on a piece of paper that I can physically touch and write on. Fortunately for me, JapanesePod101 offers easy to print PDF notes and transcripts for each of the lessons in the curriculum. Printing them out only takes a few seconds!

    Japanese Word of the Day
    I think that this is helpful for those lazy days when you may not feel like studying. JapanesePod101 will send you one word per day from their Japanese Core Word List. This ensures that even on your days off, you’re still getting a healthy and relevant intake of Japanese language!

    Check out the Japanese Word of the Day widget!

    JLPT Practice Tests
    As someone who is thinking about learning Japanese language seriously in the future, this feature really stood out to me. JapanesePod101 offers a large number of practice exams for the N4 and N5 JLPT tests, exams which test your proficiency in Japanese and are required by many employers who look to hire foreigners. This struck me as extremely valuable for someone who might want to find work and live in Japan.

    Japanese Flashcards
    Last but not least, JapanesePod101 offers flashcards that make learning Japanese fun and easy. Users can select the set of flashcards that matches their current lesson in order to enhance their studies!

    Other Things to Think About When Considering JapanesePod101:

    Affordability
    JapanesePod101 offers a high-quality product at a fraction of the price of its competitors. For what you get, JapanesePod101 is a complete bargain.

    Different Levels for Different Learners
    I think that this allows the student to grow and mature as a learner. Students can advance from one level to the next as they improve. On the other side, if you already have some knowledge of Japanese, you can easily start at a higher level without having to re-learn things you already know.

    Available on Any Media Device
    This was a really big plus for me! I was able to use JapanesePod101 on my cell phone, tablet, and laptop. They even have their own apps!

    Study When You Want, Where You Want
    JapanesePod101 gives you the best of both worlds. Rather than taking a scheduled class, why not get the same benefit while studying in the comfort of your own home on your own time?

    Tokyo Tower

    In the End:

    I used JapanesePod101 to study for one month and then left for Japan. I stayed in Tokyo for 2 months and had the time of my life. There were definitely tons of things I couldn’t understand, but I was really surprised at how much I had learned! I was able to order food, go grocery shopping, and even order drinks at a local bar! I had become very comfortable with both hiragana and katakana and could actually read a lot of the signs and posters I saw. I can honestly say that I would have had a completely different experience without JapanesePod101. Without my studies, I wouldn’t have known how to ask for directions, get food by myself, or even thank someone for opening door for me! My time in Tokyo was one of the best times of my life…and I owe a large part of that to JapanesePod101.

    Click here to visit JapanesePod101!

    JapanesePod101 Review - 6 Reasons Why I LOVE JapanesePod101!

    JapanesePod101 Review - 6 Reasons Why I LOVE JapanesePod101!

    Hello Everyone!

    Ai-chan here! Just a random guest who was given the opportunity to write on JapanesePod101’s blog! ヽ(*⌒∇⌒*)ノ

    First off, a big round of applause to JapanesePod101!

    Why, you ask? Cause they are awesome!

    I started using JapanesePod101 about two months ago and I LOVE it!
    To be honest, I was never the type to learn from websites or apps because I always find myself giving up halfway (too boring). So I took the Japanese classes offered in my university and learning it directly from a teacher was the best. Unfortunately, it had to come to an end when I graduated last year. Unable to give up on my passion for the language, I tried all sorts of method to keep learning Japanese…from playing Japanese games to reading Japanese novels. I think that this is good practice but it feels like something’s still missing. So I talked to a close friend of mine, and she recommended JapanesePod101.

    I was reluctant to try it out at first because I was expecting it to be the same as the things I had before, but since my friend was going on and on about how easy and fun it is, I gave it a shot. Guess what? I was so WRONG!

    Here’s why I LOVE JapanesePod101 :

    1. They have TONS of resources! I learnt a lot because they cover a wide selection of topics. I find it really useful that they try to use daily life experiences as examples, because you can actually use them and apply them in real life.
    2. They have really awesome audio lessons! I love how their teaching is not limited to just telling you how it is pronounced and what it means, but also some interesting cultural facts related to the topic.
    3. The hosts from the lessons are very entertaining! That’s definitely one of the reasons why I have been using it for two months. The lessons are never boring! It’s what keeps me going back and wanting to learn more! If it had been like the lessons I used before, I wouldn’t even last a week.
    4. Their app is so useful! It’s also really easy to use, and being able to learn Japanese wherever and whenever using my iPhone at my own pace is just awesome! I take the train for an hour every day to get to work, and listening to the podcasts just makes commuting enjoyable.
    5. The dialogues for each lesson comes with the Japanese characters (hiragana/katakana/kanji), English translations, and also the romanji. I find this really helpful because I can learn word by word, including about what each one means and how it is spelt and read.
    6. They update their contents very regularly. There’s always something new to learn! (I followed their Twitter and Facebook as well, which means more updates and more to learn!!)

    There’s actually so much more that I could say about how great it is but rather than just listening to my side of the story, why not experience it yourself? It’s free to sign up anyway, so why not? ┐(´∇`)┌

    Click here to visit JapanesePod101!

    Thank you so much for the awesome opportunity and I hope everyone enjoys learning with JapanesePod101 as much as I do! :D

    Onomatopoeia List - What Are Some Fun Japanese Onomatopoeia Words?

    Onomatopoeia List - What Are Some Fun Japanese Onomatopoeia Words?

    Hello everyone! Ai-chan here!

    I was talking to my Japanese friends recently and realized how much they use onomatopoeia in conversations. Onomatopoeia in English never amazes me as much as it does in Japanese because in Japanese, it feels like they have a word for everything! Unlike English onomatopoeias, Japanese has words to describe not only the sounds made by animate or inanimate object, but also feelings, actions and state. I’m pretty sure manga lovers would have known this already!

    I think some of the common ones would be ワンワン (wan wan), the sound of a dog barking,ドキドキ (doki doki), the sound of a heartbeat, and キラキラ (kira kira), to describe something that is glittering. One of my favorite onomatopoeias is ゴロゴロ (goro goro) which expresses something big is rolling around. When my friends ask me what I do in my free time, one of my answers would definitely be, 家でゴロゴロする (ie de goro goro suru) which means rolling around in the house. Not literally, but it means to lie about and relax – well, in a lazy manner. (Don’t judge me, I just love to relax after a long day at work! (^_^) )

    Right, enough about me. Let’s talk more about onomatopoeia!

    There are two types of onomatopoeia in Japanese, 擬音語 (giongo) and 擬態語 (gitaigo). Giongo are like the onomatopoeias in English, words that mimic a sound. Here are some examples:

    Japanese English
    ゴホンゴホン (gohon gohon) Cough
    ドッカーン (dokka-n) Explosion
    ニャニャ (nya nya) Meow (Sound of a cat)

    Next, we have gitaigo, words that describe a situation, feelings or state using a sound. Here are some examples:

    Japanese English
    ワクワク (waku waku) Excited, anxious with anticipation
    ニヤニヤ (niya niya) Grin/smile
    ジロジロ (jiro jiro) Staring fixedly

    Note that in different situations, a different variation of the onomatopoeia may be used. Although it has the same meaning, it gives off a more detailed explanation. For example, instead of ゴホンゴホン, we use ゴホゴホ for small coughs in a row. Some words on the other hand, gives off a different feeling depending on whether it’s a repetitive onomatopoeia or a shorter version. For example, ドキドキ describes the sound of a rapid heartbeat caused by excitement or nervousness while ドキッと describes one big heartbeat associated with surprise.

    Let me give you a few more onomatopoeia examples put in sentences.

    1. お腹がペコペコだ。
      Onaka ga peko peko da.
      “I’m starving.”
    2. その日、コンピューターが何度もフリーズをして、僕は本当に、イライラした。
      Sono hi, konpyūtā ga nando mo furīzu o shite, boku wa hontō ni iraira shita.
      “That day, my computer froze multiple times, which really made me irritated.”
    3. 私は東京をふらふら歩くのが好きだ。
      Watashi wa Tōkyō o furafura aruku no ga suki da.
      “I like wandering around Tokyo.”

    Onomatopoeias are really interesting because there’s so much that you can learn about them, and I think being able to use onomatopoeia in conversations makes you sound more natural.

    Are you interested in learning more about onomatopoeia?
    Click here for more interesting onomatopoeia lessons!

    That’s all for today! Thank you for reading! :)

    では、また!

    Here’s How I Learned Japanese in Just 1 Hour & Survived the Biggest Meeting of My Life

    Guest Post by Jon Kreps

    Before I tell you about how I learned Japanese in just 1 hour using JapanesePod101, I would like to begin with a little background information. First, I am an American and am fluent in both English and French.

    I studied French in middle school, high school, and college for a combined total of 8 years or 16 semesters of study. Unfortunately, I rarely have need for French in my business but I have enjoyed travelling and using the language on several glorious adventures abroad. I consider them “adventures” because despite studying French for roughly ¼ of my life, when I actually conversed with Native-speaking French speakers, I kept running into two problems:

    1. My accent was horrible after 8 years of learning French from teachers whose first language was English.
    2. My vocabulary was outdated and it made me stick out like a sore thumb even worse than my accent.

    Don’t get me wrong: I can communicate with native French speakers but it was difficult to understand them at first because my education was terribly outdated and I had never learned an authentic French accent. And just so I’m clear: I love being able to read, speak, and understand French as it has greatly enriched my life. Speaking of which, let me get to the story of how I learned Japanese in just one hour in time for one of the biggest meetings of my life.

    I am actually a conversion rate optimization expert which basically means I help make websites more profitable. This also means that I have like zero free time and am constantly communicating with clients from all around the globe. Typically, we deal with US, Western European and Australian clients but last month we were contacted by a very large Japanese website. So how I learned how to speak Japanese began out of a pressing immediate need and it required an immediate solution.

    The potential client wanted to conduct a virtual meeting with our company but the owner of the Japanese firm did not speak English. Don’t worry, there was an English-speaking interpreter present for the meeting. However, I wanted to show respect and learn at least a few phrases so I could at least greet the client in their native language.

    I wish I could tell you that the story of how I learned Japanese had a more altruistic beginning like a desire to be more well-rounded or for travel, but the truth is I needed it to stand out from the competition and make a good impression on a potential client.

    The only problem? I only had a few hours before the meeting and we would be the last company the client would speak with before making their decision.

    After conducting a quick but thorough search, I found that JapanesePod101 had:

  • A More Advanced Platform with More Features and Tools than the Competition
  • 1,000’s Satisfied Customers and Reviews
  • Lessons by Native-Speaking Instructors
  • With no time to spare, JapanesePod101 stood out as the clear favorite and my only hope. I signed up for the Premium Plan because it had more learning tools and features for each lesson. Plus, with a money-back guarantee, I felt confident that I could get my investment back if it didn’t help me in the meeting.

    In less than a minute, I created my username and password and had full access to my Premium Plan. As someone who works on websites for a living, I truly loved the layout and how easy it was to access lessons, tools, and even customize my account with no trouble at all. But, time was pressing so let me get on with how I learned Japanese in an hour because that’s truly all the time I had to spare.

    I selected the JapanesePod101 Absolute Beginner Series because it teaches key phrases and “conversational” Japanese. For grammar lessons and help with formal sentence structure, I would have selected the Newbie Series. But since I just needed some basic Japanese phrases and correct pronunciation, I went for the Absolute Beginner Series. Then, I clicked on the “Study Now” button and the first group of lessons popped up: Absolute Beginner Season 1.

    I was in luck: The first 3 lessons were exactly what I needed to know:

    Lesson 1: Say Hello In Japanese

    Lesson 2: Introducing Yourself in Japanese

    Lesson 3: Show Your Appreciation

    I simply clicked on the Play Arrow and the first audio lesson began. Two Native-Speaking Japanese instructors narrated the lesson which included pronunciation lessons plus background information on Japan and its culture. Much like French, the Japanese language includes formal and informal expressions which was good to know! My meeting with the Japanese client would require formal expressions. In fact, as the narrators noted, JapanesePod101 actually emphasized the more formal expressions in the lessons to make sure that students avoid insulting people by using an informal expression in the wrong setting.

    In fact, the story of how I learned Japanese well enough in just one hour to literally use the expressions with a native-speaking business owner includes a lot of help from JapanesePod101 tools and resources, including:

    Japanese Vocabulary Lessons

    Each lesson on JapanesePod101 includes a vocabulary section where you can:

  • Listen to Each Term at Normal Speed or Slow Speed
  • Make Recordings of You Learning Each Word
  • See the English and Japanese Spelling for Each Word
  • Review Each Word As Many Times as You Like
  • Add to Your Word Bank and Flashcard Deck
  • And More

    As someone who studied French for years in a classroom, I cannot believe how easy and simple it is to learn and master words on JapanesePod101. JapanesePod101 even makes sure to use a male and female instructor to say each vocabulary term so you can hear how men and women enunciate differently.

    Now here’s the coolest part:

    The line-by-line audio function allows you to hear each vocab term and then you can record yourself saying the term back. Then, you can compare the pitch and pronunciation using this fancy widget tool seen here:

    You can compare the instructor’s pronunciation of vocabulary term with a recording of your pronunciation to quickly learn and master each term! However, you may need to grant special permission to let JapanesePod101 make recordings due to security issues on your computer or media device.

    And for those with more time, you can also use special retention tools like the Word Bank and Flashcard deck that help you customize tools for quicker learning.

    Review

    The story of how I learned Japanese in about an hour well enough to respectfully greet and introduce myself to a Japanese client would not be complete without telling you about the Review function. After all, it was this tool that gave me the confidence to conclude that I had truly learned each lesson.

    Conclusion

    The story of how I learned Japanese in about an hour is completely true. Each lesson, when everything is taken into account, took about 20 minutes each. After I made it through that initial meeting, I have since had a little more time to use the system. And as someone who spent 8 years studying French in a traditional classroom setting, I can say with certainty that JapanesePod101 is superior for several reasons, including:

  • All Lessons by Native Speaking Instructors Using the Most Recent Vocabulary and Terminology
  • I Can Study Whenever I Want
  • I Can View and Complete Lessons As Fast or Slow As I Want
  • Loads of Tools to Help You Learn Faster and Retain More
  • Very Affordable (less than $10 a month compared to $100’s for just one class in a traditional setting)
  • Very Convenient on My Schedule
  • Learn Lessons on Any Media Device with Internet Access

    Now I know that I work on websites for a living so maybe using an online language system is a little easier for me than someone with less website experience. But as someone who optimizes websites for a living, I can also tell you that JapanesePod101 is an extremely user-friendly website that is simple to navigate and use.

    So, there’s the story of how I learned Japanese in about an hour well enough to greet and introduce myself using fluent Japanese in the biggest meeting of my life.

    Building Positive Study Habits

    This week’s post is going to be rather general and not even specific to learning Japanese. It doesn’t mean it won’t be helpful, though! I’m going to examine a few of my favorite tips for building good study habits. If you want to learn Japanese, you really must study and you must do it consistently. That’s the problem many at-home learners, including myself, have: the discipline to study on a consistent basis. Let’s look over a few of the most popular ways of keeping yourself motivated and organized in your studies, shall we?

    1. Set goals – Setting a goal for yourself, such as “I will have __ number of lessons done by the end of the week,” is an excellent way to motivate. It gives you something specific to work towards. If you don’t make your goal, don’t sweat it! Nobody’s going to take away your birthday if you don’t do exactly __ number of lessons. There’s no punishment. Just pick up where you are next week with a new goal.
    2. Schedule your time – Putting aside a particular time during the day or week when you will study is another great way to keep on track. If you physically write it into your daily schedule and make it a habit, you’ll find it’s a tough habit to break once it becomes normal to you.
    3. Reward yourself – Give yourself a treat for completing a certain amount of work. Let’s say you finish ten JapanesePod101 lessons in a month. Great! Maybe go out and buy yourself an ice cream cone, get that new movie you want, or give yourself a little break from studying and spend some time communing with your Nintendo Wii.
    4. Lists – Make lists of reasons why you want to study Japanese, steps you’re going to take to learn it, and mini-goals you want to complete within the next few months. Set them somewhere visible so you won’t forget them and look back on them when you’re feeling discouraged. They can be a great pick-me-up!
    5. Feel proud – Hey, you’ve committed yourself to learning a language many are too intimidated by. Feel proud! Congratulate yourself on a job well done, whether you’re a beginner finishing lesson one or an advanced student.

    No matter what happens, don’t get down on yourself. And as always, ganbatte ne!

    Easy Ways to Build Exposure

    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:

    Read the rest of this post »

    What Do You See?

    Hello again! Welcome once again to Benkyō Blog. I was thinking back to when I first started studying Japanese, and I recalled a technique I used for memorizing some hiragana and katakana. I saw some of them like pictures or symbols of something else. These little picture devices helped me to remember what was what. Here are a few examples of what I came up with. While looking at my examples, think to yourself: what is it that I see? It’s like looking at clouds and describing what animal they look like. One person might see a duck, and another person might see a stegosaurus. Don’t just take my examples because they aren’t yours. Make up your own and they’ll really stick!

     - This little guy is the katakana for “ko”. To me, I see a backwards “C”. I know that it’s used in the word “kōhī”, which is the Japanified way of saying “coffee”. Coffee starts with a “C”. “Koohii” starts with a , which looks like a backwards C.

     - Does anyone remember the show “Digimon”? There was a Digimon called Tokomon. He looked a lot like this hiragana, “to”. Tokomon starts with a “to”, which looks exactly like Tokomon himself in Japanese!

    This might seem a little profane, but when I look at this hiragana for “ho”, I see a scantily-clad woman standing next to a pole. You can guess from that description exactly how I remember this one…

    う - The hiragana for “u” looks like an upside-down, underlined U. Anyone else see it?

    ヨ - The katakana for “yo” looks like a backwards E. I don’t know why, but somehow this reminds me that it’s read “yo”.

    When you look at the different kana, what do you see? Use your imagination! Trust me, you might surprise yourself by what you come up with. Ganbatte ne!