Japanese Skill Blog #4

This last week was a crazy one in regards to assignments, therefore it has been a bit harder to fit in time to actually sit down and study. Luckily I have found a few Japanese related YouTube channels that I really like, therefore I shall talk about those!

The first one is called “PuniPuniJapan” and is an animated language helper. It’s super cute too! Definitely check it out! I really like how the videos start, it always gets me in that learning mood!

Another one that is not language related, but I find interesting nonetheless, is one called “Abroad In Japan“. I think it’s really fascinating because it is just a guy telling you some of the stories he has about living in Japan. He’s a British dude who dropped everything and moved to Japan on a whim. I think he said in an early video that his girlfriend unexpectedly broke up with him, so he moved to get away from anything that reminded him of her. Now he’s been in Japan for a few years and seems to be really successful. It’s just cool to see how people react to different cultures and what not.

This one is super random but gives you a pretty good rundown about the history of Japan in 9 minutes! It’s a really popular video by a guy named Bill Wurtz, so you may have seen or heard about it. Here’s the video I am talking about: “History of Japan“. It is very funny.

(P.S. if you want to see another really good video by Bill Wurtz, watch his video called “Outside“. It has nothing to do with Japan but I find that it’s a song that gets stuck in my head all the time! It also puts me in a good mood.)

Probably one of the more famous and popular Japanese learning programs comes from the website “JapanesePod101”. They have a YouTube channel where they upload a lot of their videos, but if you want to get the full experience, you have to sign up for a subscription. I’ve read on a lot of forums that people consider it the “best” and most easily accessible of all the mainstream online Japanese language programs. Here’s a link to one of their videos on particles (which we do not have in English): “JapanesePod101“.

Here’s one more channel that I highly recommend in regards to actually learning Japanese. It is called: “JapaneseSocietyNYC“. I find this one really good for the same reason as the others, just that it is explained really well.

I think the best approach when learning Japanese from YouTube or any other online source, is to have many different channels at your disposal. Try to mix it up not only to hear different people pronouncing words, but also to hear different perspectives and different ways of remembering.

In Language news, I’ve been working on particles lately, which are basically like sounds that indicate the tense/subject of the sentence (as well as other things). They are often written between words. For example:

わたしゲレットです。= I am Garrett.

If we separate it down into chunks we can identify the particle.

I start off by saying

わたし (watashi) = Me referencing myself, or in English, the word “I”

Then I use the particle (wa) which indicates that I am the subject of the sentence. It connects me saying watashi (I) to my name in Japanese ゲレット (Geretto).

I then end the sentence by saying です (desu) = finish statement.

So in total I say aloud “watashi wa Geretto desu”. Which means:
“I am        Garrett.”

Thanks for reading.

  • Garrett

Japanese Skill Blog #3

This week I was extremely busy with university classes so I did not get as much time to work on my skill as I would have liked. I am continuing on with Rosetta Stone and still learning new words. Here are some that I learned this week:

じてんしゃ (jitensha) = bike

くるま (kuruma) = car

つき (tsuki) = moon

はな (hana) = flower

りょうり (ryouri) = cousine

けいて (kaite) = to write

I always find it extremely interesting when words sound the exact same as things we say in English. For example, a common name in North America is Hannah, which sounds exactly like the Japanese word for flower.

Another word I really like because it sounds super cool when you say it in a low voice is “わかりました” (wakarimashita). It means “understood”. If you want to sound like a tough military guy, this is the right word to say to your superiors when given orders. The final letters of the word “mashita” is the past tense of a verb. Therefore, if I were to say the present tense “わかります” (wakarimasu), it would end with the masu. This translates to “understand”. If I wanted to say “don’t understand”, I would use the negative masen, which would look like this: “わかりません”, or “wakarimasen”.

To reiterate:

Masu = present tense verb

mashita = past tense verb

masen = negative verb

わかります (wakarimasu) = understand

わかりました (wakarimashita) = understood

わかりません (wakarimasen) = don’t understand

These simple phrases can help a lot because one word can confirm or deny whether you understand what is being stated.

However, to connect to my previous statement of sounding like a cool military guy, there are actually two different ways to say the Japanese equivalent of “yes sir”. There is the badass “wakarimashita”, but there is the more somber and quiet “りょかい” (ryokai). Ryokai translates to “comprehension”. So it is just a toss up of saying understood or comprehension. To my knowledge, neither is preferable over the other, but I could be wrong!

Just as a side note, “wakarimashita” is often translated to “I understand”, ignoring that it is a past tense verb. To my knowledge, it is translated like this to avoid confusion because in English we don’t confirm orders by saying “I understood” because that implies you no longer understand. You understood once, but now you do not. This is a classic case of translating it to make it easier, but as a by-product making it all the more confusing. Again though, I could be wrong about this, it is just my understanding of the situation!

  • Garrett J. Bates

Japanese Skill Blog #2

This week was quite interesting in regards to my chosen skill. After a long time running, I am getting closer to my overarching goals of teaching English in Japan.

Early on in the week, I practiced my Japanese by using my old Rosetta Stone subscription I got before I even came to university! I haven’t been on it in a long time so it was interesting to return to it. I relearned words I had forgotten long ago, such as colour words, food words and occupational words.

I have the hiragana spelling on the left, the “romaji” translation (how it sounds when read in English characters) and then the translation.

くろ (kuro) = black

しろ (shiro) = white

あか (aka) = red

あお (ao) = blue

きいろ (kiiro) = yellow

みどり (midori) = green

たまご (tamago) = egg

りんご (ringo) = apple

いしゃ (isha) = doctor or physician

けいさつかん (keisatsukan) = policeman

While I remembered a lot of these words very quickly, it helps to go back to the basics and relearn the fundamentals. Here is what Rosetta Stone looks like when it is teaching you:

rosetta stone picture

This is only one example of the many different ways it will teach you. In this one, it is showing several pictures and it asks you to match up the words. The word at the top says “kuro”, or “black”. Therefore I would have to click on the black square and it would tell me I got it correct. If I selected the wrong square, it would tell me I got it wrong.

On a different note, another Japanese related thing I did this week was drive up to Calgary to get interviewed at the Consulate-General of Japan! I applied to work for the Japanese government under the “JET Programme”, which stands for “Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme”. It is an exchange program that would put me somewhere in Japan to become an assistant language instructor, where I would help out the resident English teacher. I would basically be a consultant to make sure he/she is teaching English correctly, and eventually teach lessons myself.

I won’t find out how my interview went for another couple months, but even if I do not get selected, it was a really cool experience and I am thankful to the program for even asking me to come for the interview in the first place!

Thanks for reading this week.

  • Garrett J. Bates


Japanese Skill Blog #1

For my chosen skill in EDTC 300, I have chosen to learn Japanese. I have spent many years on and off with my Japanese education. I have taken two university level courses and had two private tutors throughout my learning process. However, this was over the course of five years, therefore my abilities are still at a beginner level. I would like to have spent more time learning, but due to school, work and other responsibilities, my learning has been difficult to upkeep.

Where I am right now is a bit tricky to explain without giving a brief lesson in how the Japanese language works. In Japanese there are three written forms: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Hiragana is the most basic form, comprising of 46 characters. Hiragana is used in conjunction with Kanji to spell out words, and is hardly usable for long writing projects. Katakana also has 46 characters, which all sound the same but are drawn differently. Katakana is used for words that did not originate in Japanese, such as words like bus and hamburger. They are translated phonetically and are pronounced “basu” and “hanbaga” respectively. Kanji by far the most complex and is comprised of over 50 000 different words! Each symbol makes up a word, therefore it is extremely difficult to learn. Kanji looks exactly like Chinese symbols but are pronounced differently.

I have near mastery over hiragana, but again, that still places me at a beginner level. Over the course of the semester, I hope to learn the majority of Katakana. If I learn Katakana, I will have effectively doubled my understanding of the language. This will be especially useful in doing simple tasks such as writing my name. As my name does not originate from Japan, it would be written in Katakana.

To learn Katakana I am going to use online tutorials, create videos of myself saying the characters while holding up pictures of the characters, and using my copy of Rosetta Stone. I hope to learn between 5-10 Katakana characters a week, which would leave me plenty of time to learn the entire alphabet. I also hope to learn simple introductions and expressions.

On a side note, I have signed up to teach English in Japan with the JET Programme. This is a program that is run by the Japanese government that asks people all over the world to come teach English in Japan. I am still in the application process, but by learning more Japanese, I can be all the more effective in my career.

Thank you for reading, stay tuned for my next update!

  • Garrett J. Bates