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Why You Shouldn’t Learn Japanese

Anyone with an interest in Japan should learn a little Japanese, I really believe.  Daily life is much better when you know a few key phrases:  Hello.  My name is.  Please.  May I?  No really, please.  Why not?  Oh come on, please.  You sure?  Last chance.  Well fine, be that way.  Sorry for causing a...
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How to Start Learning Japanese

Someone on Facebook recently asked me:  What’s the best way to begin learning Japanese, for someone starting from zero?  Never one to shirk authorial duties, I did the responsible thing by jumping up, slamming my laptop closed, and running to the convenience store for a bottle of cheap white wine and a bag of spicy...
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Learn Japanese Quickly – in 7 Easy Steps

So you want to learn Japanese fast?  Great—you can!—in just seven easy steps.  Just like the pros. Now don’t deny it, you want to believe those guys on the internet claiming to have “learned Japanese” in like a year or two.  For some reason it’s always guys too—why is that?  Aren’t women supposed to be...
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Why do Classes Suck?

Well the excellent folks at The Language Dojo were kind enough to ask me to write an article for their site, on one condition. “Anything you want to write about is fine,” they said, “but could you not mention Mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting drunk?” “But that’s all I write about,”...
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Does Fluency Matter?

I had a dream . . . that one day I would rise up from my nori-thin futon and speak fluent Japanese.  I had a dream . . . that I would one day live in a nation where little children would judge me not by the color of my skin, but by the breadth...
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The Best Way to Learn Japanese

What’s the best way to learn Japanese?  After pouring years, beers, and tears into  the question (pretty much in that order), I finally have an answer.  Man, it has been one long decade. They say the best things in life should be savored.   I got that from an instant coffee commercial, actually.  Well, there’s irony...
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Why are Japanese so Bad at English? (5 Reasons)

Everyone knows Japanese people aren’t exactly Masters of the Universe when it comes to speaking English, despite receiving six years of English education.  Six years?  Are you kidding?  You could build yourself a Great Pyramid in less time.  I’m pretty sure.  Just chop up some limestone and stack it up.  Probably take you a couple...
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The Skill of Speaking Fluent Japanese

Speaking fluent Japanese is easy.  You only need three things: 1. A bunch of words 2. A bit of grammar 3. To think in Japanese While the first two points get a lot of attention, the third point is equally, if not more, important. Knowledge Versus Skill Thinking in Japanese is not just about knowledge. ...
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Why You Must Learn Kanji

For a lot of people, kanji is about on par with natto.   A huge sticky mess, difficult to consume, and not nearly as tasty as it is troublesome.  Plus it makes your breath smell like the wrong end of a dog, which is rarely a good thing.  I mean natto, that is.  Kanji does nothing...
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Anki: Best Software Ever, or Thing from Hell

I’ve used Anki for more years than I can remember.  It’s a great piece of software.  You just stuff your soul into an envelope and mail it off to the Devil, and in about four to six weeks Japanese ability arrives in your mailbox.  It’s convenient like that. In case you’ve been studying Japanese under...
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