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Wednesday, 8 April 2015


Apologies for the radio silence. Moving house, essays and translation projects have taken priority over the blog. I'm also trying to update the JLPT N1 Kanji list for memrise as that's late too.

Normal blog posts will resume at some point soon I hope!

UPDATE: Posts will resume Sunday 26th April

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Let’s go! Ikimashou! - Guest Post

(Let’s go! Ikimashou!)

            So imagine… you’re teaching English in Japan and winter vacation rolls around. Oh, what will you do? Well, THIS GUY decided to hit up Tokyo, because… why not?!

行きましょう to Akihabara(秋葉原), the Electric Town of Tokyo!

Akihabara is also known as the geek (オタク otaku) mecca of Japan. If you are a geek who loves video games (テレビゲーム terebi gemu) and comics (まんが manga) you need to come here someday. I always come here to check out video games. And, my favorite ramen(らめん) shop, Kyushu Jangara Ramen, just so happens to be in Akihabara too. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Anime Japanese - Good Anime to Watch

If you are trying to use anime to practice your Japanese then this post is for you. I will talk briefly about the types of shows that are good to use, which ones are bad, and why. As well as a recommendation list. If you have any of your own that you'd like to suggest please feel free to leave a comment.

Servant x Service Anime
Servant x Service
(Good show about government office workers)
So anime is a great way to practice your everyday, casual Japanese and grammar. As always I suggest studying on the side and using anime to practice, but what kind of anime is good to practice with? Well, slice of life and/or romance anime. These are mostly based in schools but you can find a few that are based in working environments which mean keigo and polite Japanese is used, and it'll teach you Japanese used for other situations besides in a school environment.

Avoid fantasy, sci-fi and historic anime. This is because they have very field specific language which you probably won't be learning in your everyday lessons. (Unless you go out of your way to study Meiji period classic grammar, or complex economic, political, or vocabulary about video games, or complex chemistry and philosophy.) These anime will have the everyday phrases and vocabulary used in romance and slice of life, but it won't be as frequent or as useful in everyday situations.

The following are all very good, great fun shows which I really enjoy and noticed had a lot of useful Japanese in them:

Keep in mind that you won't understand everything 100% at first and you might need to watch a show multiple times before you begin to pick up and understand what's being said. If you watch it once with the subtitles, try and watch it again without them. If you'd like more tips for using anime to study Japanese check out this post.

  • Tonari no Totoro
  • Karigurashi no Arrietty
  • Summer Wars

Not Based at High School:
  • Yama no Susume – 3min episodes about hiking
  • Working – about working in a fast food restaurant
  • Servant x Service – about government workers (uses keigo)
  • Genshiken – University students in a manga research club
  • Tamako Market – working in a shopping arcade/Japanese sweet store, romance
  • Bakuman – working in the manga industry, romance
Toradora anime title

School Anime:
  • Toradora – romance school anime
  • Nisekoi – romance school anime
  • Kimi ni Todoke – romance school anime
  • Free! – swimming school anime
  • Chihayafuru – card game club, school anime
  • Kiniro Mosaic – English girl goes to study in Japan, school anime

If you have any suggestions of your own please leave them below with what the show's about and why you think it's good.


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Why Repetition is Important

"Practising for 15 minutes a day is better than 1 hour every 3 days"

This is what a good friend said to me the other day, and it's been stuck in my head all week. The thing is, is he wasn't even talking about Japanese, but practising the guitar.

It also reminds me of a guest lecture at the beginning of this year. The lecture was about the original Street Fighter and the level to which gamers would get to from practising so much that their moves came naturally. They fought without thinking.

This is what I try to achieve with Japanese: To be able to do something without thinking about it; that's what fluency is. Which is why 15 minutes a day is better than an hour every 3 days. You're technically doing less time over the span of 3 days, but 15 minutes every day is more effective because it's repetitive, regular study.

Studying Japanese gif repetitive study
Brains are funny things and each person's brain is different. I know someone who learnt Japanese to JLPT 1 (before it was N1) in 3 years. He has a very logical brain and applies himself to his work a lot. I have a very flaky brain. I get distracted easily and enjoy seeing people, and due to lack of repetition it has taken me almost 3 times the time it took my friend to get to the same level.

I've said a number of times before that if it takes 40 hours to get to a certain level and you study an hour a week it will take you about 10 months to reach that level. If you study an hour a day it will take you 6 weeks. It's basic maths that the more often you study the faster you will reach your goal.

However, although your brain might absorb information like a sponge at first, it'll also loose some of it as it moves onto other things (like the water leaking out of a sponge). This is especially true if you overload your brain with too much information and it can't take in any more. This is why 1 hour every 3 days might not be as effective, because you could be overloading your brain rather than giving it bite-sized chunks to work with.

It's not only a matter of studying as often as you can, but doing as much repetitive study as possible. You might pick up some information, but as mentioned it will likely get leaked somewhere or be over-written by something else. Just because you've read something once doesn't mean you know it. Repeating items you've already learnt regularly helps your brain build the neurons needed to recall those items easier. You practice so much that you no longer need to think to come up with what you need. Just like the Street Fighter gamers.

That's all for today. A bite sized motivational post on the importance of regular and repetitive study. Here's a cool little YouTube video that might help :)

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Anime & Manga Japanese - Common Japanese Phrases

"Tadaima~ I'm Home~"

You may have noticed how certain phrases crop up a lot in anime, but do you know what they're saying and do you know exactly what they mean? This post looks at these common phrases used in anime and explains their etymology, hopefully shedding some light on where they came from and their cultural relevance.

These are some some the core phrases used in everyday Japanese language and therefore in anime. Understanding the meaning of the words being used can help you remember the words and spread light on aspects of Japanese culture that you might not be familiar with (such as using a phrase when you leave the house or when someone else leaves). These are phrases that really are used every single day so it's important to know them.

If there are any other phrases you'd like to know more about feel free to ask in the comments section below.

Daily Greetings

Good Morning:
ohayougozaimasu - おはようございます (ohayou - おはよう)
The word for good morning uses はよう (早う) which is an old word meaning "early". The お and ございます is very formal (keigo) grammar which means です, or "it is". In other words おはようございます literally means "it's early".

konichiwa - こんにちは 
This word breaks down into "this" こん (今) "day" にち (日) "is" は. You may notice that the "wa" uses the particle は and not わ (although even Japanese people get this mixed up).

は is the particle for a topic marker, which means that the phrase こんにちは is possibly a shortened form for phrases such as "how are you doing today?" (今日は御機嫌いかがですか konnichi wa go-kigen ikaga desu ka) or "isn't it fine weather today?"(今日は良い天気ですね konnichi wa yoi tenki desu ne)

o-su オッス
These two words are very, very informal greetings of "hello" or "what's up" used a lot by boys in anime. オッス takes the お from the start and す from the end of おはようございます. There are some variants on these depending on accents and laziness such as ウイス.

Good Evening:
konbanwa - こんばんは
This phrase is very similar to こんにちは as it breaks down into "this" こん (今) "evening" ばん (晩) "is" は. And is once again possibly a shortened for of various greetings that were once used in Japanese.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

"I heard" "It seems" - The different uses of sou そう

This is a grammar point that had me in a lot of confusion recently. I'd created some lessons to help people on the Memrise group learn these but due to conflicting information on the internet the course got very jumbled and had to be corrected a number of times. I've finally pinned down these grammar points after checking with native Japanese people. Apologies to those who have been using Memrise and gotten confused on these points. I hope the following helps.

The following are all the uses for そう for "It seems" and "I heard". If you have any further questions feel free to ask in the comments.

If the following doesn't help Maggie Sensei has a good explanation for "it seems" (sadly she doesn't go into detail on "I heard")

Maggie Sensei explains the use of "it seems"

You can practice the following grammar on Memrise in lessons 8 & 9 in the Beginners Japanese Grammar 2 course. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Apologies, Updates, Changes and Plans!


Apologies for the last few weeks of radio silence everyone! Life, as always, gets in the way and as this blog and Memrise is something I do out of my own time it sometimes gets pushed down the priority list.

The last few weeks which were missed (the 10th and 17th), as well as the Advanced Reading Practice I promised, will be updated this week along with this week's post.

Update days are being changed to Thursday! This is because Wednesdays are packed all day with commuting, classes and Uni work, but my Thursdays are free so I should have more time to get them done and updated then.

At the moment I am prioritising a few themes on J-Talk over others. The first is JLPT N1 and advanced readings. This is because I'm studying for the N1 exam and creating these on the blog and memrise help me a lot, as I hope they help others.
I'm also going to be doing one more Anime focused lesson before dropping those for a while. But I will be finding more videos and practice to add to previous blogs that are missing them.

As always, if you have any requests or ideas for topics that could be covered in the blog please let me know in the comments or facebook page. I won't be taking any suggestions for courses on Memrise though as I'm focusing on the N1 and advanced Japanese levels for now.

Thanks for your understanding!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

My Japanese Study Routine

As I mentioned in the last post on Finding Your Daily Study Routine everyone works differently using different resources and methods to learn Japanese.

The following is my own routine, what works for me, what doesn't and how this has changed over time and why. Hopefully this will help give people a better idea of how to study Japanese in your spare time.


First of all, I don't set a fixed number of hours aside a day to study. I've tried it in the past and it's always been detrimental for me because I feel like I HAVE to study rather than I WANT to study. I feel like it's very important to enjoy studying, or at least have that sense of achievement that you've reached your goal.

I set myself goals instead. The big one is Take the JLPT N1 on July 5th 2015. I have had this goal on the table to the last year and a half and never study enough in preparation for it. I even paid for the exam in December 2014 and didn't go because I was not ready! But no use crying over spilt milk. I accept that it happened (or didn't happen) and move on, focusing this time on July.

This big goal is split into smaller goals: 
Study all of JLPT N1 2000 Vocabulary on Memrise (which I managed to achieve this week!)
Study all of Nihongo Somatome N1 Kanji on Memrise (which I am writing the course for and have begun learning) 
Read more Japanese texts (news articles, novels etc)
Listen to Japanese news radio (and be able to understand what's being said)

I then have deadlines for these goals, but they're flexible deadlines because, as you may have seen with the N1 exam, I'm bad at sticking to my deadlines...

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Finding Your Daily Japanese Study Routine

Every person's study routine is different. Not only does it change from person to person but can vary over time. This post talks about different study routines you can do, why it's important to keep it varied, and how to find one that works best for you. For someone who is just starting out it's hard to get into the swing of a daily routine, but persistence brings out the best results.

If you would like more advice on studying Japanese I always recommend Master Japanese which has lots of useful information about study methods, types of learners, facts about classes vs private tutors, and study types. It's a really good site that makes you think about what you want out of Japanese and how to structure you goals and study methods around that.

How your study routine plays out depends very much on the type of resources you use and how you learn best, which is why the following has a number of suggestions of resources you can use to study.

The following information consists mostly of advice. I encourage you to explore some of these suggestions as well as try and find your own. Ask friends or others for what they enjoy using/how they learn, and find what works best for you!

Different Study Resources
(These do not include teachers as study routines are supposed to be your day-to-day type studying you do outside of the classroom)

Review regularly to remember!
Flashcards - These are great for studying vocabulary and kanji. You can use a pre-made deck on an app or create your own on paper.
It's important that you study these often. Don't go through them once and think you're done. That's why it's great to get an app that has spaced repetition which helps you remember the word just before you forget it.

Useful flashcard apps:

(For a more extensive list of Apps for android and IOS for different things click here)

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Advanced Reading Japanese Practice (7th Feb 2014)

  • 村上ファン集うカフェで発表待つイベント
  • フェリー3隻 大型船でミャンマーへ

Tip 1: When studying the vocabulary read it out-loud - Even if you're just moving your lips (because you're in public, for example) reading the vocabulary and what it means out-loud will help cement the readings and meaning in your memory.

Tip 2: When reading the articles read out-loud - Your brain will have to work harder to sound out every word. This is important because when you read in your head you're more likely to skip over words and readings, which won't help your comprehension.

Tip 3: 
Time yourself when you read an article - Make a note of how long it takes you to read and try an improve on that time. This is not only good practice for vocabulary but also for your comprehension and reading speed.

Click here if you're wondering "What is Advanced Japanese Reading Practice?"

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Advanced Japanese Reading Practice (4th Feb 2014)

  • 「イスラム国」がシーア派600人を殺害か
  • カナダ 日本人女性不明で捜索
  • 「決闘」容疑で少年グループ書類送検

Tip 1: When studying the vocabulary read it out-loud - Even if you're just moving your lips (because you're in public, for example) reading the vocabulary and what it means out-loud will help cement the readings and meaning in your memory.

Tip 2: When reading the articles read out-loud - Your brain will have to work harder to sound out every word. This is important because when you read in your head you're more likely to skip over words and readings, which won't help your comprehension.

Tip 3: 
Time yourself when you read an article - Make a note of how long it takes you to read and try an improve on that time. This is not only good practice for vocabulary but also for your comprehension and reading speed.

Click here if you're wondering "What is Advanced Japanese Reading Practice?"

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Introducing Advanced Japanese Reading Practice

"I find it hard to sit down and practice reading when I don't know half the words..."

To help improve people's vocabulary, kanji recognition and general reading comprehension J-Talk Online is releasing new posts that help you practice advanced Japanese readings, whether this if for JLPT N2, N1 or just for fun.

Each week on Saturday a number of articles (1-3) will be released on the blog. These articles will vary in length and will be accompanied by a vocabulary list. People are free to use them as they are on the blog, for their own flashcard programs, or use the Memrise course which will have the vocab lists followed by the articles.

Articles will cover a varying array of topics from a number of sources, which are listed below. Sources have been linked so you can explore them yourself to practice reading more

Saturday, 31 January 2015

A Foreigner Sumo Wrestling in Japan - Guest Post

I was a Shindeshi: A Foreigner’s Chance at a Japanese Sport

Foreigner sumo wrestling in Japan Newspaper article

  Sumo (相撲: sumou), I have been familiar with the sport for a while now, because of my interest in Japanese culture, but I never really imagained that I would throw on a mawashi (廻し: a thick waisted loin cloth), be thrown into the dohyou (土俵: the ring made from clay and sand for sumo bouts), and do well!

Foreigner sumo wrestling in Japan

Firstly, I am currently an ALT with the JET Program working for the Board of Education in Katagami City, Akita Prefecture, Japan. I am really greatful to be working with this program due to its amazing network, which has connected me to people from all over Japan. The Akitan JETs are fantastic with all of the events, festivals, professional conferences, and help that is offered. I felt like I was instantly accepted into this community. It was just like when I first went to university or studied abroad, just being thrown into this adventure and instantly bonding with the myriad people going along for the ride.
Well, en route on this JET Program ride, one day I got a text message from a friend asking me for help. I just assumed he needed a ride or something, so I sent him a response back asking what was up. He told me that the Sumo competition he was organizing just had a guy drop out and now he had to find a replacement. I had actually known that this was happening, but did not sign up due to the fact that I had never done Sumo, and I was actually still recovering from an injury. But, it seemed like the Japanese gods had spoken and were beckoning me to the arena!
I said sure.
     I had become a shindeshi (新弟子: a new sumo recruit). Instantly I was being caught up to speed. The tournament was in four days, and I needed to make my shikona (四股名: a wrestler’s fighting name). Memories of watching “Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t” in my university’s Japanese class came back to me, reminding me what I had just signed up for.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

New Memrise Course - Anime Grammar for Beginners!

To go along with the Anime Japanese posts I've been doing recently I made a memrise course for people to learn informal grammar used in anime and manga. It accompanies the Beginners Anime Japanese course which focuses on basic vocabulary. Because this is a beginners course it only tests on hiragana, but has the romaji and kanji for reference. A lot of the grammar overlaps with Beginners Grammar 1&2, but mostly has new verbs for each of the grammar points if you've done these courses already.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Anime Japanese - Verbs

Besides adjectives verbs (and grammar) are probably the most common words used in anime

A previous post covered adjectives in anime. This one will go over verbs, the types that are used, how it's different to what you learn in a classroom, and the best way to study them along with grammar.

Japanese Verbs Used in Anime

All of the Japanese verbs are used in anime. But unlike the Japanese you might learn in class these are normally in informal, or quite often said with a certain dialect. The best way to learn these is to learn the basic or dictionary form, and then learn informal grammar from these.

For those that don't know there are 3 groups of verbs. I've gone over them before in a previous post, but will quickly go over them again here (feel free to scroll down to resources for learning these and grammar):

Group 1 or “u verbs” 

These are words that have an “u” sound at the end. When you turn a “masu” form into plain form the “I” changes to the “u” for group 1 verbs. Such as the following.

いきます ikimasu  -> いく iku   = to go

あらいます araimasu -> あらう arau   = to wash

たちます tachimasu -> たつ tatsu   = to stand