Japan-ize Your Schoolwork

For many people, December signals the end of a semester and that means big projects, final papers, and final examinations.  I’m willing to bet those of us in education (and many others) are pretty busy, and it can often feel difficult to keep Japanese in our daily lives when we’re getting overwhelmed by schoolwork

I recently moved to a new country and started grad school.  “Overwhelmed” would be a good word to describe how I have often felt.

When obligations take over, it’s easy to forget how simple it can be to keep Japanese a part of our lives.  So, here’s a reminder:

Japan-ize your activities in any way practical.

  • Keep it simple, you want to add fun and learning, not more stress.
    (As your stress level increases, your ability to learn decreases!)
  • Get Japanese in on your school-related tasks. Even if you’re not studying Japanese, there are plenty of creative and non-intrusive ways to incorporate it into your school learning.  There are even cases where incorporating Japanese may improve your learning! (ie: If you’re studying anatomical terms, the Japanese words for the same terms may give clues as to their location/structure/function through their kanji. Take the Japanese for “pons”, the part of the brain that connects the medulla oblongata and cerebellum with the midbrain, it’s: 橋(きょう)Look familiar?  It’s the kanji for はし/bridge. Brilliant!)  

I’m studying clinical animal behavior. One of my assignments involves analyzing behavior in videos. No reason I can’t pick out Japanese videos: searching, reading, and listening all in Japanese! How can you mix your subject with Japanese? 

And don’t forget, little things add up!  What if you can’t dedicate hours a day?  Doing a few minutes a day will keep you afloat far better than no minutes!  Use it or lose it, baby. (Going to the grocery store: Why not write up your list in Japanese?  Got a few minutes on the bus?  Challenge yourself to a few short rounds of SRS reps.)

How do you fit Japanese in when you’re busy with school?  Have any habits to share or ideas you want to try?  Tell us in the comments!

PS: Check out this old post for an intro to using YouTube as a way to immerse yourself!

Update from Liz

Most recent immersion obsession...click to read the Jap. Wiki article on HP!

Dear everybody,

I miss you much and I’m sorry I’ve nearly fallen off the face of the planet!  I hope all is well and that your Japanese learning has been fun and fruitful.  How was July’s 多読?!

I’ve been super busy the past few months- moving back home, changing jobs, and … getting ready to go to England for grad school!

I decided to make my nearly lifelong passion my career, so I’ll be going into an MSc program for clinical animal behaviour 🙂

I am still learning Japanese, of course, and it will continue to be a very important part of my life.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even get the opportunity to do dog training or research in Japan!

I leave in early September (my first flight ever, wooh!).  Things are looking to be crazy until then, but you should hear from me soon after!  🙂

Love and wishes for everyone’s fun and success with Japanese,


PS:  Since I’m moving overseas, I can’t take much with me.  I’m selling some of my Japanese textbooks/manga/graded readers/regionless DVD player/my denshi jisho on e-bay.

Song of the Moment #3

Did you know K’naan did a collaboration with Ai for the World Cup?  (Well, with many artists from different countries, but including Japan!)

Here is “Wavin’ Flag” from K’naan and Ai!

This song is such an anthem…

Taking a Break: Helpful or Harmful?

When I embarked on my AJATT-style Japanese learning, I was set on never taking a break.  Sure, I had waves of more and less activity, but I never stopped.

I often felt my “less activity” periods hurt my learning.  It was extra difficult to get back into a steady pace, as it felt like I’d been stagnant and not fulfilling my potential.  Horrid for my motivation. But I always pushed on, even when things were busy or stressful.  No stopping.


However, I was forced to prioritize things for the past 3 weeks or so.  My senior dog (who, by the by, is the best and most awesome dog in the world) became very, very ill.  While caring for him and coping with the idea that he will likely soon take his leave, I had to finish my graduate school application, move, and change jobs.  It was crazy.  Something had to give.  Reluctantly, I chose Japanese.

Surprisingly, taking a break seems to have done me good.  In some ways, anyways…

The Pros

  • Re-invigorated my passion for the language.  Almost like it was new to me again.  Much easier to remember all the things that fascinate and interest me, and why I started learning in the first place.
  • Gave me a chance to step back, clear my head, and reflect on what I’ve been doing.  Nice to evaluate what’s been working, as well as what might need to be tweaked.
  • I’m more excited than ever to get back into studying.  And with the fresh perspective comes new ideas as to how I can do things differently, and maybe even better.

The Cons

  • Use it or lose it!  Words, kanji, phrases, lots of things I was once somewhat familiar with are all but lost on me now.
  • – 2 in Writing, -2 in Reading, – 4 in Speaking  (Listening skillz still seem to be uneffected, hoorah!)
  • Mad SRS reps due.  But it’s all good.  With my new perspective, I feel confident I can and will tackle them in manageable chunks!

All in all, I’m glad I took this break.  I think the benefits outweigh what it’s cost me.

Have you ever taken a break from Japanese?  Why?  Do you think it helped you or harmed you?

Here’s what some Tweeps had to say!

(Also from Kanjiwarrior)

From @e_dub_kendo

Song of the Moment #2

Here’s another “Song of the Moment” for you!  This one’s a good bit more advanced than the first, sure, but you can learn from it no matter what level you’re at!

Bump of Chicken’s ダンデライオン

Like it?  Click here to see more Bump of Chicken vids on YouTube!

Song of the Moment #1

Learning songs is a great way to learn new vocab, new grammar, and have fun!

I thought it’d be fun to post a new “song of the moment” here and there.  Hope you enjoy!

Here’s メロンパンの歌 in all it’s glory, with captions!  Good luck not getting this stuck in your head.

I doubt it’ll have the メロンパンの歌, but here’s a great site to get lyrics to your favorite Japanese songs.

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