Listening Practice Advice for Beginner/Pre-Intermediate Level Learners

Posted on June 19, 2017 | genkijacs

Studying Japanese is fun, but it is also hard. As we strive to make it as easy as possible for you, here is a little introductory article of how to start practicing your listening skills in Japanese.

Unlike with reading and writing practice, listening is not as easily accessible to those not residing in Japan. Listening to your textbook’s audio files is fun, but only to a point. So let us look at some of the learning materials to get you started. You may find them useful as well as entertaining.

NHK Easy News
It is free and they provide you with a great variety of topics and even keep you up to date with the current events. The language is aimed at a beginner/pre-intermediate level learner and every article has an audio file attached to it.

NHK World Lessons
Another NHK-run website providing Japanese lessons. You will be following Anna, an international student, in Japan. The Lesson Structure is easy to follow and there are hours of audio files to keep you engaged. Click on the link below and see if it is something you may be interested in.

If you like practicing your listening on the go then the world of podcasts is for you. JapanesePod101 gives you a good way to start listening, learning and improving your Japanese. You can download the free episodes and use your phone to listen to their casual yet culturally relevant content wherever you are. There are also printable materials and other learning supporting tools on their web page, check it out.

Have a look and a listen, and keep an eye on this page as we will be posting more on the topic in the future.

Get immersed in Japanese culture when you study with GenkiJACS!

Posted on November 26, 2015 | genkijacs

During the last field trip, students from Fukuoka school visited Sasaguri, a small town about two hours from Fukuoka. It was an exciting day of hiking, sight-seeing, and finding inner peace.

First, let’s have some quiet calligraphy time! Japanese calligraphy, or Shudo, helps one to clear their minds and calm the soul.



But apparently, our students are starting to feel the pain in their legs… Definitely need to work harder on those Japanese meditation sitting positions.

And now it’s time to head out to have a good stretch!


Introducing the largest bronze reclining Buddha in Japan in Nanzo-In. While students in Tokyo can easily visit the Giant Buddha in Kamakura, this gigantic monument in the south is definitely worth a trip down to Fukuoka.

Some of our more adventurous students also decided to take up the waterfall challenge.


Getting ready for the ultimate experience!


Inner peace, achievement unlocked!

Tofugu does it again

Posted on April 08, 2015 | genkijacs

We previously linked to Tofugu when they posted an interesting article about learning Japanese by using Ghibli movies.
Well, Tofugu has done it again: This time, they teach learners of the Japanese language all about anatomy, using some very interesting phrases - some we hadn't even heard of before! Their interesting method of teaching gave us quite a few chuckles.
Check out the entry here.


Posted on April 29, 2009 | clarice

Most post-graduation students wish to keep studying Japanese but may have a difficult time continuing to learn as easily as they did during their time at GenkiJACS. We therefore have compiled a list of tips for students that will hopefully motivate studies!


Posted on March 22, 2009 | clarice

I found Roger Pulver`s GetUpEnglish site a few years ago as I was looking for Japanese language resources online. I think it`s one of the best places to learn useful conversation phrases. But here is the catch- the site is for Japanese people wanting to learn advanced English, so you need to be able to have at least basic grammar and a good online kanji dictionary to translate explanations. The author provides a lot of examples and also explains different naunces of the same English phrase. This is especially nice if you want to say a phrase in English (for example, `over the moon`) but not sure how to convey the same meaning in Japanese.

Japanese mnemonics

Posted on October 23, 2006 | evankirby

As promised, here is a longer post on using mnemonics to study Japanese.
As we mentioned previously, it's quite easy to come up with mnemonics for Japanese because the number of sounds is limited. We're going to look at two types of mnemonics here:
1) Relating Japanese words to similar-sounding English words
2) Learning Japanese homonyms (words with the same sound) together

Before we start, there are a couple of other sites that include some useful mnemonics to help you remember a few Japanese words. It's all kind of random, but it's good to look at what other people use to help you in coming up with ideas of your own. Here are the sites:
1. Edochan's famous mnemonics - very whimsical and fun
2. Blog on Japanese mnemonics - exactly what we will talk about today!

First of all, what are mnemonics? Basically, a mnemonic is a trick or shortcut that you use to help you remember something. For example, many people use "Never Eat Shredded Wheat" to remember the order of compass points, which must upset the fine folks at Post Cereals no end. This is a prime example of a mnemonic - it's easier to remember a sentence of words that follow grammatically from each other than to remember four unconnected nouns, and the order of words in that sentence gives you the order of the directions.

An example of a mnemonic to memorize the Japanese word 揺らす (yurasu, to shake something) would be the English phrase "shake your ass" (because "your ass" sounds a lot like "yurasu").

Because this is already an English phrase, those words are already related in your mind. It is far far easier to remember related information together than to remember unrelated information together. When you make a mnemonic, you are just using the already-present links between things in your head to convey new information - sort of a mental shortcut.

This way, that way and the other way? こう、そう、ああ

Posted on October 04, 2006 | evankirby

Beginner students of Japanese often struggle with the three words used as relative pronouns in Japanese, これ (kore, this), それ (sore, that) and あれ (are, that over there). The reason it's difficult, of course, is that English only really has two: this, and that, so the difference between それ (meaning, something closer to the listener than the speaker) and あれ (something not close to either the listener or the speaker) can be quite difficult to grasp.

Along the same lines, a student in our Japanese for Exams course had some questions about the other forms of these words, こう (kou, this way/like this), そう (sou, that way/like that), and ああ (aa, the other way), and こんな (konna, this kind), そんな (sonna, that kind), and あんな (anna, the other kind). In the interests of furthering the knowledge of the world at large (or at least, that small portion of it that reads this blog), here is an explanation of the difference.

So, to the questions. These questions are taken from study materials for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, level 3. We'll leave the answers till later, to give you the chance to figure them out for yourself:
1.こう 2.こんな 3.そんな 4.あんな

1.こんな 2.あんな 3.そんな 4.そう

1.あんな 2.こう 3.どんな 4.ああ

1.こんな 2.あんな 3.どう 4.こう

1.ああ 2.どう 3.そう 4.こう

1.そう 2.あんな 3.ああ 4.どう

Benefits of Direct Translation Between Japanese and English

Posted on September 23, 2006 | evankirby

It’s very hard to understand Japanese in the beginning because the structure of sentences is so completely different from English. So, unlike learning French, Spanish, or other languages with quite similar grammar to English, you can’t just plug foreign words into a sentence pattern you’re already accustomed to. Instead, you have to remember both new words AND new word order at the same time, which can be too much for some people.

That’s why we think there is some benefit to beginners of direct word-for-word translation of Japanese sentences into English, that is, translating the words of a sentence into equivalent English, but leaving them in exactly the same place. A simple example, just to make it clear what we mean:
I’s mother’s name (topic) Patricia is.

Doing this frees your brain from having to think about all the new vocabulary, and lets you focus just on the sentence structure. Thus you can internalize the format of Japanese sentences, and get used to putting the verb at the end, for example, by getting used to thinking like that in English first.

And it can actually be kind of fun to try to translate Japanese sentences into Japanese-structured English sentences! Thinking in English but with a new grammatical paradigm is like a brain twister.
Of course, we don’t recommend doing it for ever, as at some point you’ll obviously want to start combining Japanese grammar and Japanese words to make real Japanese sentences. However, it’s a good technique in the beginning of your study, to smooth you into the process of thinking in a new layout.

Memorizing Japanese vocabulary

Posted on September 14, 2006 | evankirby

The latest version of the 日本国語大辞典 (Nihon Kokugo Daijiten, Shogakukan's Japanese Dictionary, and the largest of all the Japanese-Japanese dictionaries) has over 500,000 words listed. How are students of Japanese supposed to memorize them all? The easy answer is, you can’t. The better answer is, you don’t have to, as a working vocabulary in Japanese is far far smaller than this. However, it’s still a daily struggle for students to memorize vocabulary. Here are a few tips to help you in this struggle:

1. Always always carry a notebook/input device with you.
Make sure that you keep a list of the vocabulary you have (ostensibly) learned on hand, so that when you can’t quite remember that word, you have somewhere to easily refer to. The simplest method is just to write new words in a small (tiny is great!) notebook. This has the added benefit of practicing writing at the same time.

2. Buy a Palm or Pocket PC device, and Supermemo.
A used PDA can be picked up for next to nothing, and Supermemo is less than $20, but this combination can be the best memorization tool you will ever buy. Supermemo is simple flashcard memorization software. Input the words you want to memorize, and Supermemo will test you on them tomorrow. If you get a word right, it’ll test you in a few days again, with the interval increasing each time. If you get it wrong, it’ll test you again tomorrow. You can use it to study vocabulary in downtime on the train, on the bus, walking to school – anytime you have a few minutes to spare. Using this software for 15 minutes a day, one of our students was able to memorize 10 new words each day for a year, or a grand total of about 3,650 new words! This would have been an almost unthinkable struggle without Supermemo.

3. Buy a Palm and install Dokusha.
This incredible entirely free software is a big install (something like 8MB with full dictionaries), but when used in conjunction with the (also freeware) Dokusha Converter, allows you to copy any Japanese text from your PC to your Palm. When opened in Dokusha, any word or kanji in the file can be clicked on for English meaning, and registered as a flashcard for later memorization. You can also search for kanji by constituent parts, which really helps when trying to read printed Japanese, for example on menus, etc. And it acts as a simple Japanese-English dictionary – when you hear a new word, you can easily search for the meaning in Dokusha, then flag that word for later memorization.
Please note that Dokusha is not being developed any more. Luckily, it's perfect as is, so that shouldn't be a problem!

Speaking Japanese is easy!

Posted on September 04, 2006 | evankirby

We at GenkiJACS think Japanese is an easy language to learn to speak. (Reading and writing are a different matter, though!) Here are the reasons why. (I’ts long! I’d bring coffee, if you have some.)

1. Simple sounds
2. Standard rhythm
3. Few tones
4. Phonetic alphabet
5. Standard word roots
6. Little pronunciation difference between dialects
7. Many homophones
8. No plurals, and countable/uncountable nouns
9. No articles
10. Only two irregular verbs!
11. One-word sentences
12. Japanese people are happy to help!

Details for each topic are after the jump...