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 scene.  Even if I pay you?  No?  Hmph, well I didn’t want to anyway.

But when I say “a little” of the language, I mean it.  Beyond a handful of survival sentences, you should give a really good think to whether or not you want to continue learning Japanese.

So this is Phase II of the Japanese Rule of 7 Learn Yo’ Ass Some Japanese project.  Phase I was herePhase III?  Well, okay I haven’t written that yet.  Hey, what can I say, I’m lazy.  Anyway, where were we?  Oh yeah, Phase II.  The “selection” phase.  For this, you’re going to want to find yourself a really tall mountain.  The taller the better, preferably with a sturdy pine tree.  Climb to the mountaintop and sit there.  If there is a pine tree, then climb to the top of that and sit there instead.  Then stay there for exactly one week.  You should probably pack some sandwiches, now that I think about it, and maybe some beers too.  Just think how refreshing they’d be.  And while you’re there with your pine cones and sandwiches and beer, ask yourself:  Do I really want to study Japanese?  No, really.  Because here’s what it’s all about. Continue reading “Why You Shouldn’t Learn Japanese”

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 dried corn snacks.  They’re super salty, but man, are they ever good.  But then at the store I ran into this girl I know and she invited me over for some tea, and then we drank the bottle of wine, and then a bottle of red she had, and then I woke up and it was 3 a.m. and I didn’t know where I was, and by the time I got home I’d forgotten all about the question.  But I really meant to answer it.  Sometimes Japan just gets in the way like that.

Anyway, anything big—learning Japanese, making a million dollars, drinking a case and a half of beer—there’s probably no “best” way to do it.  There’s a lot of ways you could do those things.  You could pour the beers into a glass, or drink them straight from the bottle, for example.  So many options.  Actually, I generally avoid telling people “how to” do anything in Japan, since there’s already a ton of that noise on the internet, and most of it seems wrong to me.  Which means that anything I say will automatically seem wrong to somebody else, which is depressing, since I know it’s actually right.  Because I so feel it’s rightness.  Whatever, okay, here’s the best way to learn Japanese.  Really. Continue reading “How to Start Learning Japanese”

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 better at languages?  Nah, that can’t be right.  Anyway, since they apparently learned Japanese so quickly, you (presumably) can too.  But how’d they do it, and more importantly—do you have what it takes?  Let’s find out. Continue reading “Learn Japanese Quickly – in 7 Easy Steps”

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,” I protested.  “Plus those are several conditions, not one, by the way.”

“How about maybe just something on language learning?

“Language learning in prison?” I asked.

“How about the classroom?” they said.

“What about some trucks?

“How about some pedagogy?

Fine.  So I wrote some stuff down and it seemed pretty okay.  Then I sent it to a friend of mine for her opinion, with my typically self-effacing preface that I’d written the perfect article on language learning.  She wrote back and told me it was not the perfect article on language learning, because I’d failed to mention anything about Mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting drunk.

Jeez, you just can’t please people.  Fine.  So I put in a little bit about getting drunk.  But just a little, and no trains, then sent it to The Language Dojo.  Perfect?  Possibly not, but check it out and decide for yourself:  Why do Classes Suck?