Japanese Skill Blog #10: Final Post

I started off the learning project this semester with a basic understanding of Japanese. I have had instruction in it in the past, but for the past three years I haven’t learned any so I figured it would be a really good way to get refreshed and learn some new stuff!

I started off with learning random words with the help of Rosetta Stone and gradually learning more Katakana! I had forgotten pretty much everything I learned except some Hiragana characters, so I had to also relearn those! Rosetta Stone really helped with that.

Random Japanese words

Gradually I kept learning more and more words, until I felt confident enough with my Hiragana once again to move onto learning Katakana. This is where the real work began, however, I created a Katakana Chart later in the semester that helped me out big time. Before I created that though, I was using similar, yet less helpful charts to help my learning.

I then moved into some sentence structure and grammar things. For example I learned present and past tense words! I talked about it a lot in my third blog post.

Later I took a break from learning new Katakana and instead tried to find a really good online source to learn from. In my fourth blog post I talked a lot about different YouTube channels. I think I decided my favorite is Puni Puni Japan.

Over the rest of the semester it was on and off with learning words, katakana and sentence structure. Last week I asked a buddy of mine who knows Japanese to help me write a short speech about my family! As my family knows I’ve tried to pick up Japanese through this class once again, they wanted me to write something for them! This is what my friend and I came up with in the end (all my friend did was help translate words I did not know). I apologize if there are any mistakes! There are probably many, but I still had a lot of fun creating this!

Here is the speech in English:

My family is made of four family members.

I have one brother.

He is an older brother.

My older brother is 25 and is very cool.

My older brother and father can understand French.

My mother is a nurse, she works at a hospital.

My mother is kind and admirable.

As well, my mom is short but my dad is tall.

My father’s eyes are blue. His hair is brown and short.

My father often reads books, he’s smart!

My mother and father used to live in Nova Scotia.

Here it is in Romaji Japanese:

Watashi no kazoku ha yonnin kazoku desu.

Kyoudai ga hitori imasu.

Niisan ha ichibanue desu.

Niisan ha nijugo de, totemo kakoiidesuyo.

Niisan to chichi ha furansugo wakarimasu.

Watashi no haha ha kankoshide, byouin ni tsutometeimasu.

Haha ha shinsetsude, rippadesu.

Soshite, haha ha sega hikukuikedo, chichi ha sega takai desu.

Chichi ha me ga aokute, kamiga chairoi to mijikaidesu.

Chichi ha yoku hon wo yomukara, atama ga idesu.

Chichi to haha ha Nova Scotia ni sunde imashita.

Here it is in Hiragana/Katakana:












Here is a video of me delivering the speech!


As always thank you for reading and keeping up with my educational journey!

  • Garrett

Japanese Skill Blog #9: Katakana Chart

For my learning project this week I created a little printable Katakana Chart to hang up on the bulletin board behind my desk. I’ve found that a lot of Katakana charts online are needlessly confusing, so I figured I’d make my own! Learning Katakana has been way harder than learning Hiragana I find. This is mainly due to the fact that I keep getting all the Katakana symbols confused with the Hiragana symbols! I have attached it above in the highlighted section!

I have been thinking a lot about voice acting lately and whether or not it is of use to learners like myself. I remember one of my Japanese friends saying one time that watching anime is basically useless when learning Japanese because they talk in such an exaggerated way. Therefore I am inclined to agree with the sentiment for the most part, however I do think there is some benefit to hearing people speak Japanese at all. Any interaction with the language is helpful!

I am gearing up for my final learning project post, the culmination of all my practice, for next week’s blog post. I am starting to get nervous because I figured I knew what I was doing but I am starting to second guess myself. I am sure that it will turn out good no matter what, but I am still nervous!

Sorry for the short post this week, but I have nothing new to offer other than that I have been learning more Katakana!

  • Garrett

Japanese Skill Blog #8: YouTube video

For our learning post this week we were asked to make an educational artifact that could help the other students in EDTC 300 learn the skills of other students! I made an 11 minute YouTube video showing everybody’s name in Japanese! I wrote them all out on paper and recorded myself pronouncing them!

For everyone in EDTC 300, I hope you take the time to find your name in my video!

Here’s the video: EDTC 300: Everybody’s Name In Japanese!

To help with some of the translations, I used this name translation website.

Furthermore, with some of the letters I forgot how to draw, I used this YouTube series: “Write Right” to help me out!

Hope you like the video!

  • Garrett

Japanese Skill Blog #7

Hello once again readers! Today’s skill blog will be on the shorter side because I just want to write out some sentences and translate them from Japanese to English!

わたし は カナダ の ハリファックス から きました。

(Watashi wa Canada no Halifax kara kimashita)

Basically, “I am from Halifax, Canada!” I believe that is the right way to phrase the sentence. I have talked a bit about Hiragana versus Katakana and where to use each. Here you can see that the words for “I am from” are in Hiragana, and the words for “Halifax” and “Canada” are in Katakana. That is because the words that originate from Japanese are in Hiragana, and the words that originate from places outside of Japan are in Katakana.

Playing around with particles a little bit, I figured that I should figure out how to say that I read books! Or I am reading books. Since I am an English major, and that is what I primarily do, I figured it would be valuable to know how to say that!

わたし は ほん を よみます。

(Watashi wa hon o yomimasu.)

“I am reading a book.”

If I wanted it to be past tense, I would simply change the “masu” in “yomimasu” to “yomimashita”. Or “I was reading a book.”

This next one is something I was taught a while ago by a friend of mine who knew Japanese! She said it’s super important to know because you’ll probably be asking it a lot!

これ は にほんご で なんといいますか。

(Kore wa Nihongo de nantoiimasuka?)

“What do you call this in Japanese?”

It would be useful for when you are picking something out of a lineup and not knowing what it is called. So you would point at it and ask the question above, “What do you call this in Japanese?”

Another question that is supremely useful to know how to ask is this:

トイレ は どこ に ありますか。

(Toire wa doko ni arimasuka?)

“Where is the bathroom (toilet)?”

There’s just a few sentences that will be useful to know! And even though the reading books one is not extremely useful, it’s good to know some basic sentence structure!

Until next time!

  • Garrett

Japanese Skill Blog #6

Hello once again readers. Today I figured I’d talk a bit about what my final project for this class will look like. At first I had it in my mind that I would write up a little speech and deliver it, but after writing last weeks blog, I came to a different realization. I think instead of doing that, I will take a section from a video game I really like, translate it to English and then do a dramatic re-enactment. Or at the very least, a voice acting session of it. I would read it in English, then read it in Japanese and write up a little blurb about the words and any cultural translations where appropriate. I love voice actors and their performances. In fact I would love to do something like that myself! I figure then, why not combine my interest of both categories into one!

My favorite Japanese voice actress right now is a woman by the name of Nobuya Ōyama. She does an amazing job as the villain “Monokuma” in the visual novel “Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc”. In the video linked HERE, you can hear her give some of her lines in Japanese, then you can hear her replacement afterwards, and the English equivalent. There is NO comparison between the three. Nobuya-san is by far the best. She is also really famous for her role in the long running anime “Doraemon” as the titular cat Doraemon. Sadly it was reported in 2015 that she is suffering from dementia, thus putting all her work on hold :(! I hope life is comfortable for you, wherever you are Nobuya-san!


In language news, I am currently working on learning Katakana. It is difficult because it is the exact same as Hiragana, yet has a completely different set of characters! Here is a link to both charts. The first one is Hiragana and the second is Katakana. You can see why these would be difficult to learn simultaneously!

Sorry for the short blog this week folks. I have nothing else to report besides that I am working on Katakana!

Thanks for reading though, and again, best wishes Nobuya-san!

  • Garrett

Japanese Skill Blog #5

Hey there folks, time for another Japanese skill blog. I was wondering what I could do to switch things up a bit today, and I was thinking I could delve into something that is a big contributor in my goal to learn Japanese.

I’m a big gamer. I have been my entire life and one thing that always makes me pause whenever I start a new Japanese developed video game, is whether to make the voice acting in English or Japanese. Usually when you start a new game, it will ask you if you would rather English or Japanese, and it always makes me stumped. On one hand, English is my mother tongue so it would obviously be easier for me to understand. On the other hand, it is easier to pick up words here and there if you are hearing another language that you want to learn, among many other reasons.

I’ve had discussions with a couple Japanese speakers about how video game Japanese isn’t “real” Japanese, in the same vain that a North American developed cartoon doesn’t really represent “real” English. It is exaggerated, over the top and generally not meant to be taken as “life-like”. I think this is probably true for the most part. After all, you would not watch Spongebob to learn English properly would you?

I think my decision often comes down to experiencing the game how the game designers wanted it. There’s games like Nier: Automata that take place in an alternate reality, but is still distinctly Japanese for many reasons. Another big reason I choose Japanese for this particular game is that the person who conceptualized the game, a man named Yoko Taro, is somewhat of an auteur in the video game world. While the game had hundreds of people working on it, it is still distinctly a Yoko Taro game for the fact that the game features a lot of his trademark existential crisis moments. I feel as though I would have to play the game in Japanese to fully appreciate how a person like Yoko Taro would experience the game. It’s like I am following his vision for the game.

On the exact opposite side of this argument, there are games like the Persona series where the main character is distinctly “you”. As in, you make the choices for him and name the character after yourself. You are supposed to BE the main character. Therefore, I play these games in English, as I am supposed to experience the game as if it were me.

There is no right or wrong way to experience these games, but I do feel as though a majority of Japanese games should be experienced in the native language. I feel the same way about something like a Shakespeare play when teaching English. We read the Shakespearean English version of the texts because we want our students to experience the play as it was intended for the people of the time. As well, there are a lot of things that do not translate well from old English to modern English. I feel the same way about Japanese video games translating from Japanese to English.

This entire argument could also be had about anime, but I don’t watch a ton of anime so I cannot really argue on that front in the same way I can about video games.


In language news, I haven’t progressed as much as I would have liked since my last post. Learning Japanese is really hard!

One thing I haven’t really mentioned all that much since beginning this project is a basic key factor that makes it difficult to learn Japanese, in that English to Japanese learners have to think about language in a whole new way. We have to rearrange sentences from English to fit the Japanese model. It can even be as simple as letters themselves!

To explain what I mean by the letters themselves, I will type out a few words in English and then a few in Japanese to get my point across.

In English we say words like:




You can see that there are 3 letters for cat and dog, and 4 letters for fish, with each word containing one vowel with multiple consonants.

In Japanese (Hiragana) these words are:

ねこ  (neko)

いぬ  (inu)

さかな  (sakana)

Did you notice the big difference? There are usually the same amount of vowels as there are consonants, if not more! That is because almost every “letter” in Hiragana (the basic form of Japanese) has the equivalent of 2 letters in English! Of course there are 6 exceptions, which I will cover later.

Let’s break down a couple of the Japanese words above.

ねこ  (neko)

Seemingly two letters in Japanese right? and . However, in Hiragana, these are actually pronounced NE and KO. Therefore four letters in English, are only two in Japanese. There are major exceptions to the rule though.

To get a better idea of what I mean, I shall direct you to this chart from the lovely people at what I believe is Dartmouth College, but I could be wrong!

Anyway, you can see that the first five letters are single vowel letters. That being A, I, U, E and O. These form the basic starting step. The next five are KA, KI, KU, KE and KO. Starting to see a pattern? Next 5 are SA, SHI (an exception), SU, SE and SO. The next five are TA, CHI, TSU (two exceptions), TE and TO. The next is NA, NI, NU, NE and NO.

**Just as a side note, the 6th single letter Hiragana letter is the one for N: **

You can see that the first A, I, U, E and O are the formula for the rest of Hiragana. Therefore if we go back to analyzing my words from above, we can see the word for dog:

いぬ  (inu) 

Here we have one of the few singular letters of I (い) and then the letter for NU (ぬ).

The point I am trying to make is that when learning Japanese, you have to abandon your preconceived notion about what letters SHOULD be. They are not singular entities really, as we can see if we translate it to English, it takes 2 letters to compose 1 Japanese letter.

This gets far more complicated the further you dive into it. For example, we could get ourselves all the way into the most complicated form of Japanese, Kanji. Kanji is like Chinese (it was directly derived from Chinese after all) where a singular “character” makes up a whole word.

For example: the word for “Myself” or “I” is:

わたし (watashi)

There are 3 different hiragana letters, yet 7 English letters. If we want to make this word into a Kanji character, it becomes the singular unit of: 

Once again, I am just trying to illustrate that when learning Japanese, it is essential that the preconceived English notions of the rules of language be dropped. Or at least you must be able to entertain that the way you know language may be totally foreign to another person. It really makes you think huh!

  • Garrett

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