Flutter Japanese Goods Home: Giveaway!

By Michael Gakuran | | Other | 41 Comments |

Flutterscape. What a marvellous idea. I wish I’d thought of it myself. Japan is packed to the brim with unique and tasty goods and usually the only way you’ll get your hands on them is through a Japanese friend or one of those dubious-looking companies.

*Update* Here are the winners!

Flutter me quick

Flutterscape though, is different. It’s on the ball, flying with the latest web and technology trends to deliver a simple solution to a problem many people have longed for: just how can I buy stuff from Japan? And moreover, how can I do it cheaply and easily?

With ‘Casual Selling’, says Flutterscape. In a nutshell, regular people who are lucky enough to live in Japan photograph products at their local stores and shopping malls. They then upload the pictures to Flutterscape and create a listing of the product – they ‘flutter’ it, as co-founder and CEO Takehiro likes to say.

Then, shoppers from around the world browse the catalogue and order items they like. The user ships the item to Flutterscape and then Flutterscape ships the item to you. You can also make special requests and have the users in Japan go shopping for you. How cool is that?!

So that’s what fluttering is all about. As a little treat to Gakuranman.com readers, Takehiro let me choose some neat little gifts from Japan to send to you. Let’s take a look!

The prizes!

Potechi no Te – Handy Potato Chip. Keep your laptop or textbooks clean and snack while you work.

Point and Speak Phrasebook Japan. Great for beginners with lots of colourful illustrations!

Authentic tofu packaging note paper. Doesn’t get more realistic than this :).

Kanji Loo Roll – for studying during those ‘relaxing’ times on the toilet.

There will be 12 winners in all, arranged in different sets:

Star prize: Japanese Phrase book + Kanji Toilet Roll + Tofu Note Paper + Potechi no Te + Personalised postcard from Japan written by Gakuranman! (1 winner)

1st place prizes: Phrase book + Kanji Toilet Roll + Tofu Note Paper (4 winners)
2nd place prizes: Kanji Toilet Roll + Tofu Note Paper (3 winners)
3rd place prizes: Tofu Note Paper (2 winners)
3rd place prizes: Kanji Toilet Roll (2 winners)

How to win?

Simple. Just answer me this question:

What is your best advice for learning a foreign language?

Everybody is eligible to enter – even those already living in Japan! Your advice can be about learning any foreign language – it doesn’t have to be about learning Japanese.

Leave a comment/blog post/video and tell me about your success story, an invaluable tip or just simply a creative method you have used to make language learning more fun!

Oh, and for those of you after the Star Prize, well, you’ve gotta give a little more ;). Impress me. Bonus points for making interesting blog posts, youtube videos or a really, really insightful comment. Even better if your advice is about learning Japanese!

You must also visit flutterscape and choose the item you think will have the most Facebook ‘Likes’ by the end of the competition.

Just head on over, browse around for something really cool and then tell all your friends about it. Get them to ‘Like’ it to improve your chances of winning. I think it’s a great tradeoff – more people learn about Flutterscape and you get the chance to win the big prize!

The deadline

How long do I have? I hear you ask. Until the 20th August 2010 25th August 2010 – extended! About 2 weeks away. Get blogging, vlogging, commenting and Liking on Facebook :). With all those prizes, the odds of walking a way a winner are pretty darn high!

Follow me on Twitter to keep abreast of the updates :): Gakuranman on Twitter.

41 comments on “Flutter Japanese Goods Home: Giveaway!
  1. Miyavi-saaan~! says:

    Use Textfugu! =D And Smart.fm…!
    Get the basics down first (hiragana and katakana) and move on from there…! =)
    Besides.. textfugu is awesome… ;)

  2. Loucaspary1 says:

    With every book on Japanese, I type EVERYTHING I want to learn on Excel, (English first, Japanese next cell), then read it on Garage Band on my Mac. Then transfer it to iTunes, then to iPod. While driving in my car, I listen to myself repeat the book over and over. Repetition is master of learning process.
    Lou in San Diego

  3. Chriswhite56 says:

    Go and live in the country

  4. J says:

    I know several people have mentioned listening to music (which is fantastic), but I cannot recommend singing music highly enough as a tool for learning language.

    Case in point:

    About fifteen years ago, I took three years of French in high school. I hated it, unfortunately. However, at some point during class, we memorized the French national anthem (La Marseillaise). I have not studied the song since, and memorizing it in class was not a big deal (our grade didn’t depend on it or anything).

    Here is a video of me singing La Marseillaise (okay, it’s a still shot with me singing over it; I’m too camera shy to sing and be seen at the same time): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBMdqF-RX5U.

    I’m sure my French pronounciation is far from perfect, but I suspect it’s pretty close. I probably memorized hundreds of words and as many sentences in my three years of French, but fifteen years later, this song is what I remember. I even remember translations for a few of the lines!

    I took a year of German my senior year in high school; our teacher played a lot of German music for us. I can still say “She loves you” in German. Why? Because she played us a recording of the Beatles singing “She Loves You” in German (Sie liebe dich ja ja ja…).

    Now, this will not be true for everyone. I am a firm believer that different people learn in different ways. I am an experential learner, by which I mean that I learn best by doing and imitating. I think that’s why music works so well for me. Others will learn better by writing, or reading, etc. But for anyone who learns well by experience, music – and specifically the memorization of songs – is an invaluable tool.

    I provide, as further evidence, a link to Gakuranman himself singing a short song to help with te-forms: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euMTUsbMFLI . I actually stumbled on this looking for a transcript of the Genki te-form song, which is set to the Battle Hymn of the Republic (yes, wow).

    Even before I started formally studying Japanese, I surprised a friend one day by being able to translate a word faster than she (she had studied Japanese for years and even lived in Japan). I knew it, of course, from a song.

    In short, give singing a try; if you’re trying to memorize a particular word or phrase, find it in a song and make yourself learn to sing it. You’ll be amazed at how long you’ll remember it (I suspect I’ll remember La Marseillais until I die).

    As for Flutter Scape, I want this Domo-kun Aqua Mouse soooo bad: http://www.flutterscape.com/product/no/3350 .

    So fantastic!!

  5. Katie Tomko says:

    I believe when learning a new language you need full dedication. Not to just attempt to learn the language for a week then quit it because it’s to difficult. The reason it may be difficult at first is obvisouly because your a new learner! But there are MANY ways you can begin to learn a new languge!!! Listening to Recordings and Tapes of say English to Japanese will most certainly help you with learning Japanese! Usually being surrounded by people who speak the language you’re trying to learn will help, but if not possible asking others who are interested in learning the language you want to learn to study the language with you! Reading books, Watching TV, and Listening to music in the new language you’re learning will be very helpful! Practicing everyday is a habit you will need to make! Practicing for only 10 minutes each week won’t be enough time! Full dedication is needed for learning a new language! Getting family members to learn the lanuage with you may help, so you’re not studying alone and getting bored! When I needed to learn Japanese terms I wrote down the japanese word on a flashcard with the pronunciation under it and I taped it to the objects that the words meant. and whenever I passed by or saw that object with the flashcard on it I would say the japanese word outloud and in less then 2 weeks I could say almost every piece of furniture in my house! All of this is a big help in helping learn a new language I believe!

  6. Kurotoshiro3 says:

    One way I like to study Japanese, is to grab a notepad and go for a walk.

    As I walk, I think to myself in English and try to name everything I can see. I think of the English noun and an adjective. I write both down. For example, looking out my window now I can see a: leafy tree, fast car, round tyre, curvy steering wheel, grey car seat, smelly baby, angry adult, thick grass, tall lamppost, transparent window, stone stairs, long banister, trendy scooter, red stop sign and a reflective mirror and about a hundred other things.

    When I get back from my walk, I take the list of English nouns and adjectives and translate them into Japanese using a dictionary (or by asking my Japanese friends if possible). Sometimes it also helps to type them into google to see if the phrases/combos appear in search results. That helps to confirm they are natural and not awkward (like “glowing window”).

    Those words then become my vocab list, which I study with Anki.

  7. Akmal Ff says:

    These are a few strategies I’ve taken to memorize my Kanji:

    1. I love doodling. Each time I try to remember a Kanji I end up drawing something funny to help me memorize. Sometimes I relate those drawings to one pronunciation of the word. Which makes me think, I’ll probably start doodling on my cat to remind me of the Kanji ‘Neko’!

    2. I follow Japanese Language twitter. I get Kanji updates on my phone and it helps me recall the Kanjis I’ve learnt before. Everyday before I sleep I try to recall all my Kanjis. Guess you ain’t going anywhere with no discipline.

    3. I also listen to some Japanese podcasts on the way to work. It really helps with my listening skills and authentic conversations. Suddenly a Hello Kitty mp3 looks to tempting. http://www.flutterscape.com/product/no/1511

    Happy learning a new language! Ganbatte!

    ps: The flutterscape product that gets my vote for the most likes would probably be the taiyaki cap:

  8. Best advice: Total Immersion.

    By that I mean if circumstances allow – live in the country of the language you’re studying, learn every day, set a routine (grammar, vocabs, listening, writing/composition, and kanji – if you’re learning Jpnese) for certain hours a day, build a habit you can’t escape from (like eating – make it a necessity), watch movies in that language, buy easy comics in that language, learn the culture, speak the language to the natives like you can’t speak any other language, and don’t be afraid of getting it wrong, people know you’re learning so it’s only normal to get it wrong. And if they’re kind enough, ask them to correct you if you’re wrong. And try to make native friends. But remember not to forget your own identity, where you originally come from and your own culture.

    I am learning Japanese now so I listen to Japanese radio every time I sit in front of my computer – in my opinion it helps a lot! With my current level of basic Japanese, I have noooo idea what the radio announcer is saying, I’m just trying to get my ears used to their accent and pick it up myself.

    Last but not least, you have to love the language you’re learning. It keeps you going. If you are learning it for a certain cause, then remember that cause every time you start to lose motivation, it’ll help to keep you stay on track.

    (and now that I just scrolled down, I realized that my comment is exactly the same as Amy Miller’s lol) I totally agree with her too!

  9. Japanatic722 says:

    My best advice is to really learn that nation/language’s history and culture. For me, learning about Japanese history helps me to get an understanding of the origins of certain aspects of the language. For example, I found out that the reason why the Japanese language uses 3 “alphabets” is because they started with Kanji, Kana came from Kanji (but couldn’t work without it), so now they use all 3. Also, if you can understand a Nation’s culture, it can help you to understand modern variations of the language. That’s my piece of advice :D

  10. Csfergu says:

    What works best for me is to learn a little bit each day, and have some form of un-translated immersion (i.e watch a tv program) to help with pronunciation.

  11. I am about to start my third year (fifth semester) of Japanese; I’ve also studied Chinese, Spanish, Scots Gaelic, a tiny squinch of French. In addition to taking Advanced Japanese this semester, I’ll also be studying Beginning Russian and Italian–I’d also like to study Korean independently.

    Obviously there’s no “best” way to study languages–it all depends on you and your language learning style. It also depends on the language. And on what resources you have available to you (if you don’t have the time or money to fly to Japan and go total-immersion, that’s obviously not a viable option for learning the language.) Let’s take a closer look:

    Some people have to study constantly and aren’t able to retain information as effectively as others. Some people skim the chapter and seem to know all the rules and vocabulary by heart (We loathe and envy those people). The most important thing, in my opinion, is finding the key to your own memory.

    For some people, flashcards are great; personally, I don’t have the patience to make them up or to remember to practice with them. When I learn kanji/han-tzu, I find that the best way to remember them is to write them over and over. When I first studied Chinese, I had to copy even simple han-tzu dozens and dozens of times. However, the more you learn, the easier it gets. Look for patterns; invent visual mnemonics; DEFINITELY familiarize yourself with radicals so you can recognize them. For example, if you know that a lot of words about time have the sun radical in them, when you’re trying to remember, say, toki (ji, time), if you know that it begins with the sun radical, it’s a lot easier to remember the rest of it as well. Conversely, if you come across a brand new character, sometimes you are able to say, “Well, it has this particular radical… and I have context for it… I bet it means something like…” Being able to make an educated guess is a great achievement.

    I don’t really recommend listening to music (artistic license can cause weirdness), but I DO recommend watching movies, dramas, television, or anime, and/or listening to radio or podcasts. You’re not going to learn much in the way of vocabulary (you may pick up a few oft-repeated phrases, especially if you watch shonen sports animes–“Masaka! Sugoi!”) but one benefit that you WILL receive is that you will familiarize your ear to the sounds of the language. When I first began watching anime, it sounded like an unbroken string of gibberish; within two years, I was able to recognize breaks between words and sentences without ever stepping foot into a classroom or doing any independent study. It was something that just happened by developing my ear for it. (You also pick up a lot of habitual or ritual gestures and the like.)

    Probably the biggest influence on my language learning was studying how infants and toddlers acquire their native language. How do they do it? Obviously, they don’t have flashcards or critical reasoning skills; their advantage lies in something that cannot be replicated–the basic structure of the brain at birth and the exponential growth it goes through during the first eight to ten years of life. We simply can’t compete with that. But we can take it as a good example; when you learn a language, have the attitude of learning like a child learns: Be positive about it, be curious, ask questions. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Ask yourself the sort of questions that a child would ask, then answer them. “What’s this called? Enpitsu. What do you call this color? Akai. Why is the sky blue? Shiranai, ne!” Words are more important than grammar or syntax. Think of how a two-year-old converses (single words or short phrases, yet is somehow still able to make him/herself understood. “Milk!” “Mama!” “NO.”) This isn’t an excuse to stop studying and practicing your grammar, but it is a tip on where your priorities should lie–it’s worthless to know how to ask where the bathroom is if you don’t know which word meant bathroom (and if you can’t immediately think of fifteen more vocabulary words to ask where various other important things in your life are located). WORDS, not grammatical structures, are the building blocks of language.

    The more you know about yourself and the ways that you learn, the easier it will be to tailor your study to your own needs, goals, and habits.

    ABOUT THE LANGUAGE (Things to Study OTHER Than Vocab):
    Obviously, you’re going to study in different ways for different languages. If you learn Japanese, don’t waste six hours a day practicing verb conjugation. Japanese is an INCREDIBLY logical language with very few exceptions to its rules. Therefore, learn the rules, learn how to apply them, practice as often as you need to, and move on with your life. The important things to practice in Japanese are not the important things to practice in Chinese–when I studied Chinese, I spent most of my time learning to read and write han-tzu characters; Chinese does not conjugate ANYTHING. However, when I studied Spanish (and probably when I study Italian in the future), I spent quite a bit of time with verb conjugations, but absolutely no time at all with the writing system (duh, Latin alphabet). Russian is going to be a whole ‘nother kettle of fish entirely, and I have no idea what I will be focusing on most (probably case agreement endings; also, I hear prepositions are weird).
    Identify which part of the language is most important to the language (other than vocab, because vocab should always be your #1 priority).

    It’s also important to choose a language that you enjoy, for whatever reason. I adore Japanese because of how logical it is and how it just MAKES SENSE (unlike English, which makes NO SENSE AT ALL). I prefer Italian over Spanish because it sounds prettier. Enjoying (or even loving) a language DEFINITELY helps motivate you, but remember to have other factors involved, because love isn’t always consistent.

    (PS. Loving all over the Potechi no Te. I think it would be useful for many things besides potato chips~)

  12. TyconderogaT says:

    Date someone who only speaks that language. There is nothing like trying to communicate with a significant other to motivate you to learn how to express yourself in another language.

  13. Tony says:

    Rakubiki is so jam-packed with features you’ll never be able to use them all. The DS + Rakubiki Jiten combo is much cheaper than ANY electronic dictionary and also plays more Zelda games. There’s no reason not to get it.

  14. M Fox says:

    I’ve never received this advice when learning a language, but I think it’s really important and helps you learn the language more easily:

    Find music you like in the language you want to learn!

    Emphasis on LIKE, better if you LOVE it! Maybe this method is just best for me, because I love music. But I think in general, the more you LISTEN to something, the easier it is to imitate it. For me, when I like a song, I listen to it a lot. When it’s in another language, I like to learn what word/line/verse/chorus means what. This helps you learn syntax, colloquial speech, pronunciation (if you’re looking at the lyrics). I think it’s a more natural form of immersion, because you want to do it. You aren’t forcing yourself to sit down once a day for fifteen minutes at Rosetta Stone. You listen because you want to.

    Listening to music has strangely helped me out. I’m told my French accent is good, and I’m certain it’s because I love MC Solaar rather than that I studied the history of the English language. On a Japanese exam, I found I remembered verbs and nouns from the songs I’d heard them in (one lyric in particular was “open your eyes” or “me o akete”—both verb & noun on the test!). Being familiar with Japanese syntax from the songs helped me to construct more natural sentences. So for future tests, I would listen to songs with words from my vocabulary list. An easy way to study!

    Even in my own language, I’ve found listening to music helps. During a high school exam, I could remember the day, but not the month of the Kennedy assassination. The whole time Death Cab’s “Sleeping In” was stuck in my head—likely because I was thinking about Kennedy— and then I remembered it was in November!

    This is just another reason why I’ve never understood people who say they don’t like music. It’s awesome!

    (Now, it’s doesn’t just have to be music—movies, TV shows, anything you enjoy in your language of choice, so long as there is audio (and subtitles). All that matters is that you do it on a regular basis, and that you ENJOY it. It will make learning so much easier.)

  15. sayuri007 says:

    i went to japan as a singer last dec2006 since it was my first time to travel to japan, i dont know anything, as in anything, from their culture, and especially speaking, reading and communicating. it was so hard for me that time, i spent my first whole week crying, and wishing to come back to the philippines, for i felt i dont belong there, but my friend encourage me and so as my manager to learn the japanese language, everyday they teach us how to write, im proud to say i learn to write hiragana and katakana in one day ^__^, i may also say that the easiest way to learn how to speak japanese fluently is to practice yourself talking to japanese, it is much easoer to learn, plus you are building friendship with them at the same time. now im always looking forward to go back there, i miss japan so much, the people, food and all.

  16. Best advice? Get a Nintendo DS (for Kanji Sono Mama and handwriting practice through ndsrs) and an iPhone or iPod Touch (for Anki, NihongoUp, Kotoba!, Tae Kim, manga and book reading, and so much more. Jailbreak the iDevice. Use them side-by-side every day. Everything stays digital, so it can be easily backed up and never torn or ripped. I have tried both devices and trust me, a) you need both, and b) they work! I can practice Anki reps and do handwriting practice at the same time, look up a word in Kanji Sono Mama while reading manga, or look up those pesky kanji when I’m playing Osu! Tatake! Ouendan! Trust me, this is the best $200+ you will ever spend for language learning.

  17. Gian says:

    I'm having a hard time studying japanese, but I'm not givin up! ; )
    I think what helps most is, knowing the bases (All Yr Base R Belong To Us!), to go on a trip, in this case to Japan. I really believe there's nothing like being fully immerged in the society, breathing the culture, sniffing the tradition, and forcing yourself to speak more and more japanese (even with the classic “Eigo de nanto iimasu ka”).
    If you can't go to Japan, then do like me: watch anime and original movies, try to make friend with a japanese penpal, and find the best way for you to study the language you're interested in.
    I listen to mp3 lessons while I'm driving to and from work. Then I read “Kanji Pict-o-graphic” and “Kanji de Manga”. And that's pretty much it. If you plan to get good in a short time… well, then study harder! Dedication is the key: you really want it, you'll make it! “Kore wa ore no nindou da”.
    ps: I also posted this on twitter (JJLuke77), on my blog (http://jjluke77.blogspot.com/) and submitted a comment here (http://www.flutterscape.com/product/no/3932#com… Gundam Chili Tomato Noodles: how do you not love them? SERIOUSLY! I MEAN IT!; john.jarlewski with the Naruto+Hinata avatar)

  18. kobushime-chan says:

    私のアドバイスは使うこと、話すこと。私がNZに滞在していた時は、周りに日本語を話す人がほとんどいなかったから、下手な英語で毎日友達や、仕事の仲間と話した。日本語を話しても通じない環境だったから、どんな時でも伝わるように努力したし、必死だったな~^^でも今は日本にいるから、あまり英語を話す機会がないし、英語を話さなくても生活できる環境だから、NZにいた頃に比べると、全然だめだけど、、、^^; あと、人に教えるつもりで学ぶととても身につくって言われているけど、本当にその通りだと思う。自分が得た知識を人に話す事は、自分の頭の中で整理ができて、さらに理解できるようになる。声に出して発言することは、記憶するためにもいいことだと思う。

  19. Amy Miller says:

    I certainly don't feel like I am in a position to give “Advice”, but I am willing to share what works for me. :)

    Immersion – Immerse yourself in the lanugage you are learning. On my side of Canada (Maritimes) people speak both french and english, so it makes it pretty easy when I want to practice my French.

    As for Japanese, I have to work at it because we do not have a large Japanese community compared to the west coast. I watch Japanese movies and drama's, listen to Japanese music (Arashi for dreaaaam!), I go to Japanese websites to practice my reading skills. I join groups on livejournal, subscribe to the youtube japanese community vloggers, and make use of online tools and helpful websites like smart.fm. Make friends who have the same intrests as you. Learn about the culture of the language you are interested in. Sign up for Japanese penpals/epals. I have a huge collection of books about Japan, that take place in Japan, written by Japanese, and Japanese language books. With books you can take them with you, OR download Applications for your iphone/ipod. Keep flash cards with you and if you are stuck in line/on the bus/subway use them. Everytime I come accross some type of Japanese I make an effort to read it.

    Most of all, you have to be passionate about the language you are learning.^__^

  20. Wow. The best way to learn a foreign language is by *total immersion*… living in the country where the language is spoken… going out every day and interacting with the signs, the people, the culture… this is how to gain the quickest understanding of the language.

    If not that, then it’s good to have friends from that country/culture who can speak, read, and write the language to help you with your practice.

    If not that, then it’s good to have areas near where you live where immigrants from the country of the language you want to learn are common. You can visit Japan-town, or China-town or the Russian area or the Italian area or the Filipino area… and by visiting the markets, the bookstores, and the other establishments in these areas, you can pick up a sense of the language.

    If all else fails, you can get phrase books and text books at your local bookstore (or through online booksellers). Be sure to get those that are accompanied by cassette or CD or MP3 audio recordings so you can get the sounds of the language right. Without the audio, you language learning will be severely hindered–particularly because sometimes the books don’t explain well how various characters in the language should sound in certain words and in certain sentences. Also make sure that you have the audio of both male and female speakers–in many languages there is a major difference between how different sexes will speak the language –both in choice of words and in how the words are said.

    I’ve covered more of this here: http://www.squidoo.com/foreign_language_learning

    I’ve studied Japanese for 6 years (and have been to Japan 5 times — with subsequent visits to areas that speak Japanese as well… plus, I’ve worked with Japanese companies). I’ve also studied Russian for a year and a half, Spanish for a year, and Mandarin Chinese for a semester. Each language has its own particular quirks and differences that make learning it a unique experience.

    And. … it would be fun to have some of the Transformers from the Flutterscape. Hard to decide on one.

  21. Tony says:

    I played through Ocarina of Time again a few years ago in Japanese, and one thing that I found was really helpful was that you could choose when to study and when to play. You can read every single text box, or you can skip over them when you want to.

  22. Sabine says:

    I can't say that I have the best insight because I am studying Japanese by myself at home, and have only been doing so for 4 months. But the best attribute that helps me learn faster and that works for me is… passion. Cheesy answer, maybe, but definitely true for my personal situation.

    I wasn't interested in Japan before moving there for a couple of years (following the hubby who was there for his job) but while there I completely fell in love with Japan and Japanese people, and my interest went from one extreme to another. For a number of reasons that are not really relevant for the purpose of this answer, I wasn't able to learn much Japanese while living there. Moved to the UK recently, and found myself really missing Japan. Because my interest is not only still there, but is also growing, I read a lot about Japan (love your website and read it regularly!), joined Mixi, and eventually decided that even if I wasn't living in Japan anymore, it wasn't too late to pursue a passion. So I started learning Japanese.

    I have a pretty demanding job, but I dedicate at least 30 minutes a day, every day, to studying. This is my commitment to myself and one that is easy for me to have, because it is not forced on me. I do it willingly.

    I would say that while other things are certainly extremely helpful in learning a language (whether it be natural aptitude, dedication, practice, time, access to effective tools, etc.), passion is really the driving factor for me. There are no Japanese people around where I live, no Japanese classes that are offered within reasonable driving distance, I have very little free time on my hands, my brain is not the sponge it once was (getting old sucks!) and chances are I'll likely never live in Japan again (sad face). There is really no good reason why I should spend my time learning Japanese other than the fact that it truly interests me and makes me happy. This not only helps me make time for it, I'm convinced I'm also learning faster and retaining better because of it.

    Learning Japanese helps me keep in touch with my Japanese friends, make new friends on Mixi, and access a lot of information about Japan that I formally was not able to access, either because it's in Japanese or because I wasn't able to interact with as many Japanese people. Knowing a language gives insights on the culture that you wouldn't get if you didn't understand the language.

    I have a long road ahead but as I (slowly) make progress, every e-mail I exchange in Japanese, every Japanese children's book I read, every little opportunity I have to use what I'm learning, is like a small victory for me. It's my motivation and the best advice I can give — develop a passion for the country and the culture surrounding the language you are studying. Try to talk to native people. Read about the traditions and history. See if there is anything that “clicks” with you. Once you find that interest, the drive to study will come naturally, and even if you don't have the right tools at your fingertips, you'll find ways to continue learning and progressing.

  23. Carmel says:

    when I was just a 4 grader I love to read manga….and there I already develop an adiction to Japanese culture, writing and language…when I was in 5 grade I was adicted in anime….. already finnished watching 12 anime and wanted to understand it….I learned small janasese words from that and now I love Japanese pop already….I love the band…s/mileage,morning musume,mano Erina,high king and c-ute…I really do not know why I got this adiction but somejhow I really want to know more about this culture..It's really fun when I have this habit in learning japanese…

  24. maia laguerta says:

    Aside from reading books, the best way to learn a language is to practice it. Hours of burying your head in textbooks won't work if you will not use the language. Think using the language you are learning, for example Japanese, and at write at least a one-paragraph composition a day. It will also be helpful if you will watch Japanese television programs subbed in English and Japanese because this will not only enhance your vocabulary, it will also help you learn the correct pronunciation, diction, accentuation, etc.
    Also, listen and sing along to Japanese music. Look for the lyrics in Kanji, Romanji and the English translation.
    Another technique that you can use is to name everything you see around you in Japanese. This is very helpful especially if you are just a beginner.

  25. Very Interesting Post.
    I thought Id write a blog entry.

  26. Luckysluna says:

    My advice for learning a language is that you must practice every day, it is very difficult to learn a language and it takes a lot of time to focus so you must practice every day! I also suggest watching the language just hearing it can help you pick up small words, and if you are learning Japanese it means you should watch lots of awesome anime or Japanese horror! I also really enjoyed reading even it was hard short stories/folk lore in that language. I did this for my Spanish class and you get kind of interested, you want to know what the characters are talking about. And one short story we read totally reminded me of Lupin the third.

    I think the ” It's just a stupid funny USB without its function as a USB.” will get the most likes on facebook! It's pretty hilarious!


  27. Tracey Lee says:

    Ok, I've been studying Japanese since high school, got a minor in Japan studies in college, and studied abroad for a year in Tokyo. Now that I'm back in the US my Japanese has plateau'd. But here are the most important tips I've learned to keep going:

    1. Don't always study in the same way.

    You can get burnt out just reading textbooks all the time. Watch movies/anime with and without subtitles. Translate your favorite J-pop songs and check your work on the Uta-Net site or Anime Lyrics. Read manga. Smart.fm is a particularly good site for drilling grammar, and it feels almost like playing a video game. There are lots of real video games for the Nintendo DS that will teach you kanji as well.

    2. Use the language you are studying to explore your other interests from a new perspective.

    I'm interested in digital art, video games, cheesy old movies, and comedians, so I'll look up jargon words for these interests and then search the Japanese Wikipedia site for them. That often leads me on to new YouTube videos for circuit bent Japanese toys, old commercials, kaijuu movie trailers, and comic sketches from shows like Enter no Kamisama. Reading practice leads to listening practice and then I can blog on Lang 8 or in the Japanese community in Live Journal to learn some more from native speakers.

    3. Stay organized.

    I use del.icio.us to save links to websites I've found that are helpful to study Japanese, and I tag my links according to what kind of practice the site provides.

    You can see my favorite links here: http://delicious.com/euphoriafish/bundle:Japanese

    But you'll probably want to start your own tag system. Evernote is another good tool to check out– You could use Evernote to clip Japanese websites that use lots of pictures with kanji in them [instead of text you can easily translate with Rikaichan], and tag them to save for later when you have time to pull out the kanji dictionary.

    4. Make yourself communicate with purpose in the language you are studying.

    When I started studying Japanese, I only had my textbook and in-class experience to practice with. And in class we mostly drilled grammar. We hardly ever did practice skits/conversation groups, and listening practice was pretty much once or twice per textbook chapter. The result was that when I got to Japan, I could read pretty well and my grammar was pretty good, but I had a lot of trouble actually using my Japanese to communicate with other people.

    It can be difficult to find someone to practice speaking with, but it is possible and you need to do it to learn to communicate in the language you are studying. You may have heard the advice to talk to the clerk of your local Japanese grocery. I tried this once and the lady at the store was really nice to me, but I'm really shy and can't help but feel like I shouldn't bother her at work. Another option is to find a Japanese penpal and talk to them on Skype.

    But there are also more passive and anonymous ways for even very shy people to get communication practice in. Keep a blog at lang 8 or mixi. Play your favorite online RPG on a Japanese server– During my study abroad, I met a guy from Egypt who said he learned most of the Japanese he knew by playing Final Fantasy XI Online. It was hard at first, but it always gave him a goal for communicating with other people in his second language.

    I hope these tips and resources are helpful to you, and I wish you luck as you continue to study your second language. Especially Japanese ;)

    And here's a shoutout for my favorite product on Flutterscape EVER, which I already bought one of myself because how can you *not* like a fish-shaped Taiyaki Cap:


    [More than like. LOVE!!!]

  28. I learnt a lot of english (I'm spanish) just by listening music. Everybody likes music, so the point is finding the lyrics from a song of your taste, and then try to translate it. The more you do it, the less you have to look in the dictionary.
    Also, when I was little, my father, my sister and I played Zelda Ocarina of Time in english, and I had to translate a lot of phrases written in english to my family, so they could continue the game. That also helped me learning. I think, If you find a hobby you like (for example: music, videogames, films, tv series, etc) and try to do it in a foreign language, you learn with less effort.

  29. Indah says:

    The easiest to learn foreign language, i think read a lot of book that use language are you learning. maybe if be more fun if you read the book you really like it, like comic or magazine
    watching movie or practice with the native language, join with other related groups but of all is if you like and enjoy it to learn foreign language, learning will become more fun and easy
    that is the best way i have try :)

  30. Crowbeak says:

    The best thing about the it-is-what-it-is revelation is that you start noticing weird crap that doesn't make sense about your native language, too.

  31. Crowbeak says:

    Edited above to add the product link. I ran out of time to browse before work this morning. xD

  32. RevalutionDemonKilla says:

    While you might think it is helpful but most the time ,

    Comparing the language your learning to your native language is more confusing than helpful.

    I've found that it is easier to just accept that something means something, than to sit there and wonder why.
    Find somebody native in the language your trying to learn, and if they don't mind ask them loads of questions XD
    I wish I could write more but that's the only advice I can think of besides “Stick with it”

    Oh and my choice is the Rilakkuma Pancake Pan
    Rilakkuma Pancake Pan

  33. RevalutionDemonKilla says:

    While you might think it is helpful but most the time ,

    Comparing the language your learning to your native language is more confusing than helpful.

    I've found that it is easier to just accept that something means something, than to sit there and wonder why.
    Find somebody native in the language your trying to learn, and if they don't mind ask them loads of questions XD
    I wish I could write more but that's the only advice I can think of besides “Stick with it”

    Oh and my choice is the Rilakkuma Pancake Pan
    Rilakkuma Pancake Pan

  34. Great contest. I just want to share too! ^_^

    I've just finished Level 4 in Spanish at the Instituto Cervantes. It's a good thing I happened to really enjoy it so I decided to put more effort to it. I started watching TvE (TV Espanol) even though half the time I was watching Sesame Street in Spanish. I also started translating my old poems into Spanish. Learning becomes fun.

    My brother had two years formal education in Japanese before he left to work as a computer game programmer in Nara. But it was only after living there for 6 months did I notice an incredible improvement in his Japanese. He even picked up the local Kansai-ben as a result. He would also go to Magic tournaments twice a month to meet other people. As a result, he's more fluent that his other officemates who almost never go out of the house.

    There's no other way around it. If you don't use it, it disappears. Same principle applies in Medicine: stroke patients need physical therapy to exercise the nerves and the muscles to that it doesn't atrophy. :) Practice, practice, practice.

  35. YoyoKirby says:

    My intentions are not to win a prize, but I would like to share my advice.

    First of all, Japanese is probably the best language to try to teach yourself on the internet, because there are so many (more than you really need) resources to learn from and people that are willing to help. This ranges from instructional videos, to vocab cards, to guides.

    As for advice, I'd say the only real way to super-charge your studies is to live in Japan (or any other country whose language you're learning). For many people this is not an option, so self-submergence is the next best thing. Surround yourself with everything Japanese.

    If you can do this without losing your friends, then this is your best option. If not, then you will just have to keep studying and practice every day so you don't forget. It's really easy to forget fresh material without it being reinforced.

    Well that's just my two cents, but I hope someone listens to me.

  36. Lauren says:

    That site is awesome! My advice is: Stick to one language. They taught us French in primary school, then I took Indonesian in High School for two years then we moved and my new school didn’t have Indonesian so I had to give up on learning a second language or I would have been too far behind :( I’d love to learn Japanese, I just have to find the time! I can count and have a few basics from leaning Aikido and Go but not enough to be of much practical use!

  37. Crowbeak says:

    Studying in class and with textbooks and other learning materials will only get you so far. Eventually, you have to get hold of some real use of the language and start learning from that. By “real use of the language,” I mean books, news articles, radio, television shows, or anything else made by native speakers for native speakers to be used in everyday life. Seeing or hearing words used in context will help you remember them later, especially with a kanji-heavy language like Japanese. You get a better understanding of the connotations of words, which is often overlooked in formal classes.

    Make sure it's something you'd want to read/listen to if it were in your native tongue, on a topic that interests you. If it interests you, you'll have more motivation to really buckle down and study it. If the information contained therein is something you can't get in your native tongue, all the better — it gives you extra motivation to work through it.

    And it IS work! You should be making sure you understand the whole thing. Look up any word you're unsure of, decode any unfamiliar kanji, and then go back over the whole sentence and make sure you understand the complete thought it presents. That last part is particularly important. If you fail to understand the sentence as a whole, then you learn almost nothing — almost nothing about the language and almost nothing about the topic. It's a lot more exciting when you come away from an article or story with the ability to tell someone about it later.

    I find that written sources work best for learning vocabulary and grammar, as they don't have to be rewound and replayed and rewound and replayed. Right now, the written resources I'm using most are a Japanese embroidery blog and the Asahi Shinbun's RSS feed of articles about the game of Go. The latter are especially fun to read, because English-language sites rarely keep up-to-date on who trounced who at the Meijin Tournament in Japan this year, or the fact that one of the newest professional Go players is the 11 year-old daughter and granddaughter of high-ranking professional Go players.

    These have the advantage of being browser-based, which means I can use a Japanese dictionary add-on for my browser to look up any words/phrases I don't know on the fly. This speeds up the process of understanding the components of a sentence, making it far less tedious. The extra speed makes sentence comprehension easier, too.

    For listening comprehension, I watch Japanese TV or listen to NHK radio news. For TV shows, I shy away from informational/educational programs and stick to entertainment. Variety shows usually have subtitles in Japanese and demonstrations which will aid you in comprehension. Drama shows are my newest thing, though. There are some excellent shows out there, and the dialogue in a drama is much more natural than that in a cartoon.

    Since reading more Japanese helps with listening comprehension, too, I rarely rewind a show to try to catch everything. As long as I understand about 90% of what's going on, I call it good. The rewind-replay-rewind-replay tactic drains the fun out of watching a TV show in Japanese real fast. If I can't understand much of what's going on, I find something else to watch and come back to it later.

    The main thing, really, is to think about what interests you in your own language and then look up more information about it in the language you're learning. Try to find out something new. Follow the hyperlinks to other articles in that language about it. Check out Wikipedia articles in the language you're learning — it's just as much fun to browse Wikipedia in another language, trust me.

    It'll never be fun unless you reach out and pull the fun out of hiding, though. No one can do that for you.

  38. Tony says:

    My friend and I are both approaching our sixth year of studying Japanese. We each took 4 years in high school and continued in college. Textbook burnout happened fast, especially after we found such resources like the Tae Kim guide, and the Asahi Shinbun kids’ articles. This summer, we decided to take it to the next level. So, a few months ago, my friend and I put together a collection of news stories, commercials, anime, and dramas: probably a good 40 hours worth (not counting 200 episodes of Pokemon. There are no subtitles if we can help it. We planned out a TV schedule, rotate in and out news and episodes, and try to watch at least two hours a day of this. Weekends, we generally stay up an entire night at least one day; my study buddy can handle this, but I could not. I usually fall asleep around 4, still absorbing the language.

    This is much more enjoyable that watching a shoddy quality broadcast of TV Tokyo through Keyhole TV or something like that. The high-quality picture combined with actual commercials makes it feel more “real.” Dialogue is clearer and the picture is easier to watch. Plus, sitting on a couch rather than a computer chair is much easier for long durations of time.

    The most helpful part of this whole experiment is (and this is the trick here) that neither I nor my friend like drama, or anime, or variety shows at all. We both usually enjoy movies, but this means that we are paying attention to it. When watching some terrible actors in their 20s pretending to be high schoolers, we’re not focused on the story. That’s worthless. Instead, we’re absorbing pure, raw language. You get enough from the setting to figure out the context. And even if you do get hopelessly confused, which is really really rare, it’s only ten minutes til the next commercial break.

    Now where exactly did we get all of this material? We got our short news bulletins from JapanProbe; they usually have 3-6 minute stories up a few times a day. These rarely got repeated, unless they were particularly interesting. There are always enough new entries for our purposes. Commercials usually came from YouTube, and these, of course, were played over many many times. Nicolas Cage’s Pachinko ads (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYkw-5htPw0) were usually run every commercial break.

    Dramas and anime were usually watched in order, but like I said, we weren’t concerned with the plot, so sometimes we would run random episodes. We canceled one show and brought in another as a midseason replacement. The one constant we keep running is Pokemon, which runs in chronological order and at the end of every other hour. I remember enough of it from my childhood to generally know exactly what’s going on, while finding things that were cut out of the English version. Now, I’m sure anybody reading this knows where to get such material through not entirely legal (read: totally illegal) channels, so I won’t dwell on it.

    All this TV has improved my speaking ability beyond what I could have imagined. My friend and I can ask questions about the plot, comment on commercials, and even make fun of the programs pretty much entirely in Japanese. It’s so much more enjoyable than sitting around with a pack of flash cards. Last week we even brought in a newbie to the fold. He only has a year of Japanese, so we’ll see how he turns out. This method is probably even more useful if you are a lunatic and only sleep two hours a night (like my study buddy), but even to the regular sleepers like myself it works marvels.

    As for my product, as a lifelong Star Wars nerd I have to go with this: http://www.flutterscape.com/product/no/2295

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