Are you planning a trip to Japan to climb Mount Fuji, discover Japan's temples and shrines, or enjoy matsuri (a traditional festival) and hanami (the cherry blossom festival)? Are you dying to spend a few yen at a manga shop or do would you rather buy a traditional kimono?
Do you work in a company with a base in Japan and want to improve your study of the Japanese language and culture?
How to learn Japanese is therefore an important question, but learning a foreign language via videos can be an advantage.
As you are probably already aware, Japanese writing doesn't use the same alphabet that we use in English. It uses its own writing system composed of Kana, Kanji, and Romaji.
- Kana: Made up of two syllabaries; Hiragana and Katakana
- Kanji: Borrowed Chinese characters
- Romaji: Way to write Japanese using the Latin alphabet
Compared to those who learn in a more "conventional" way on paper, you will be able to work on your visual and auditory memory in order to memorize Japanese character and Japanese vocabulary.
Here, we take a look at the best video formats to help you progress in the Japanese language!
There are a number of online tools to learn Japanese, so make the most of them to advance your Japanese learning experience.
How to Learn Japanese via the Videos on the Online Learning Sites
Technology has heavily influenced every aspect of our world, and speaking Japanese is no different. Whether you want to learn Japanese on your smartphone, or at your computer, there is an option for everybody. Some websites are specialized in Japanese language learning. In addition to the traditional Nihongo (Japanese learnt by beginners) courses studied in a classroom, more and more sites now offer videos.
So, if you want to expand your vocabulary, express more nuances of the same thing, or be able to partake in a more elaborate Japanese conversation, learning the Japanese language through videos can be an effective learning method. In addition, the audiovisual method is much more effective than a more traditional Japanese courses for working on your pronunciation.
- If you are a beginner, the NHK World site proposes Japanese lessons with downloadable courses and PDF files that complement video podcasts. The courses take everyday life situations such as introducing oneself or asking directions on the street. You will not become bilingual in this way, but it is nonetheless a very good tool for you to progress.
- The University of Tokyo website also offers Japanese video courses translated into English. The focus will often be on speaking and pronunciation exercises. Much like NHK World, this site is totally free.
- Other paid and more comprehensive tools also allow you to progress quickly in Japanese. This is the case of Japanespod101.com,where you can study the language through more than 2500 video and audio lessons. Video podcasts are free but sometimes it is useful to have a subscription in order to access the accompanying PDF files. The site prides itself on being the easiest and most fun way to learn Japanese. All audiences are targeted, whether you are a total beginner or more advanced.
The Best Way to Learn Japanese Online: Via YouTube Videos
There a number of great ways to learn Japanese, each one as different to the previous as it is the the next. Many YouTube channels have now dedicated themselves to teaching you the Japanese language. They are a bit like the Japanese language learning applications. They are more or less relevant and will depend greatly on your expectations and needs.
Each channel has a different focus. It might be to improve your listening skills, or your spoken language, or it could be a focus on Japanese grammar.
Some of these channels are very complete, and in addition to training you with calligraphy, writing kanji, or sentence structures, they are also mines of information when it comes to the culture, civilization, and customs of the land of the rising sun.
Don't forget that in general, learning a foreign language develops your cognitive skills.
"We have strong evidence today that studying a foreign language has a ripple effect, helping to improve student performance in other subjects." - Richard Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton
Because learning a new language involves a variety of learning skills, the benefits of studying a foreign language are numerous, and it can enhance your ability to learn and function in several other areas.
Children who have studied a language at school score higher on tests in reading, language arts, and maths. People who have learned foreign languages show greater cognitive development in areas such as mental flexibility, creativity, and higher order thinking skills, such as problem-solving, conceptualizing, and reasoning.
In addition to cognitive benefits, the study of foreign languages leads to the acquisition of some important life skills. Because language learners learn to deal with unfamiliar cultural ideas, they are much better equipped to adapt and cope in a fast-changing world. They also learn to effectively handle new situations.
In addition, the encounter with cultures different from your own leads to tolerance of diverse lifestyles and customs. And it improves the learner's ability to understand and communicate with people from different walks of life.
The YouTube channel "Rachel and Jun" allows you to learn in a fun way about different situations (like going to the hairdresser, applying for a job if you want to work in Japan, or just thanking someone for something). Thanks to these specific scenarios, you will gain an understanding of Japanese culture:
For a more global approach to Japanese, we advise you to go on a tour of the Digischool channel, which offers over a hundred videos with a Japanese tutor.
There are many themes and they affect all components of the Nipponese language (conjugation, grammar, adjectives, verbs, written and oral expression, understanding hiragana katakana forms).
You can even find tutorials on how to behave in the subway.
Because of the diversity and large number of its videos, this Youtube channel is an endless source of information!
The Youtube channel "TalkInJapan" also offers many videos with Japanese online classes and explores some broader themes, much like Digischool.
Nevertheless, it is still a good channel to use if video learning of the Japanese language is for you. If you want to take face to face classes find Japanese lessons London based or elsewhere in the UK with Superpof.
The Advantage of Learning Japanese Via Movies
Learning a language through cinema can have many benefits. For the learning to be as effective as possible, we advise you to choose a movie that you like.
If you are a Japanese beginner, watching a movie that you have already seen in your native language may be a good option.
It is a good way to pick up new phrases, and learn how to pronounce words. It is effectively a free Japanese tool as you would be paying your subscription regardless of learning Japanese.
First, you should learn how to speak in basic Japanese, and then how to read and write. If you are now at an intermediate level and want to progress on pronunciation of Japanese words, you can take away the subtitles in Japanese and try to understand as if it were a conversation with a Japanese person.
You will complete your oral learning by learning to write words.
If your objective is to enrich your vocabulary, or to be more comfortable with translation (discover the best English to Japanese translation tools), watching a Japanese film with English subtitles can prove to be quite effective. In the same vein, it is quite possible to do the opposite.
Watching Japanese films will also allow you to immerse yourself in Japan's culture in order to better understand certain rites and traditions.
In this way, you will be able to better understand certain situations or certain expressions typical of the Japanese language because you will now be able to grasp the context.
The Top 10 Japanese Films to Watch if You Want to Learn to Speak Japanese
Immersion in any language is a great way to learn all aspects, from greetings and how to introduce yourself, to becoming fluent in order to have a proficiency in the language in order to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). If you watch movies in the right way, you can learn a lot from them in terms of the language used. Here are ten films to see in the original version:
- The Firefly Tomb: The film takes place at the dawn of the Second World War, not far from Kyoto. After the bombing of Kobe, Seita, a 14-year-old teenager, and her sister take refuge with their aunts. Soon, the aunts make them understand that they are an embarrassment to the family and that they must be deserving of their daily portion of rice.
- Voyage to Tokyo tells the story of an elderly couple who comes to visit their children in the capital. First received politely, the trip quickly becomes disturbing as they are no longer on the same page as their children.
- Departures presents us with Daigo Kobayashi's new life. When his orchestra musician career falls apart in Tokyo, he is offered a job at a funeral home. Immersed in an unfamiliar environment, Daigo is forced to lie to his wife about his new activity, which is a taboo in the land of the rising sun.
- Like Father Like Son tells the story of Ryoata, a success-hungry architect and exemplary father who sees his family weakened when he learns that two babies were exchanged at birth and that his biological son grew up in a very modest environment.
- Harakiri: Samurai Tsugomo visits the home of the powerful Lyi clan to become a hara-kiri. The steward of the clan tries to dissuade him. The wandering samurai then lets us know the real reasons behind this action.
- The Boy and the Beast allows us into two separate worlds: that of men (Shibuya) and that of animals (Jutengai). One day, a young boy goes astray in the world of beasts, and becomes the disciple of the beast Kumatetsu.
- The Land of Hope is a disaster film in which an earthquake causes the explosion of a nuclear power plant. In a village close to the tragedy, the Ono family is torn between those who wish to stay and those who fear radioactivity. This film feels particularly relevant since the Fukushima disaster of 2011.
- The Wolf Children, Ame & Yuki: Hana, mother of Yuki and Ame, has a secret: the father of her two children is a wolf-man. When he suddenly disappears, Hana decides to leave the city to raise her two children away from him.
- Chihiro's Trip: Chihiro is about to move in with his parents. The family moves to the middle of a ghost village where the parents turn into pigs. Chihiro must try to help them.
- Superintendent Sansho: In the eleventh century, a provincial governor was sentenced to exile after defending peasants against feudal authority. A few years later, his family will be kidnapped because of their wish to join him.
- Videos can prove to be an extremely powerful tool for someone wishing to take courses in Japanese.
- There are diverse ways for someone to progress when learning via videos. You can take more classic lessons on a particular subject, as well as let your mind wander and be entertained by a good Japanese movie.
- Whether you want to travel to Japan or the mysterious Japanese culture attracts you, doing it via audio-visual means will allow you to progress very quickly.
- Of course, choosing a film where the subject touches and/or interests you will make it a more interesting two hours! The goal is obviously to learn while having fun!
And if you are not very video-oriented, you can always fall back on books to learn Japanese!