How to Learn Kanji, in 10 Steps

I don’t go to a lot of cocktail parties. But somehow when I do, I always meet people studying Japanese. Maybe it’s just me. Or more precisely, people who’ll eventually stop studying, only they don’t know it yet. Here’s how the conversation goes:

“Ken! I’m studying Japanese! I’m stoked! And I’m completely serious about improving. Just tell me what to do—anything—and I’ll do it.

“Three words,” I reply. “Paint my house. Nah, just kidding. You should learn the kanji.

“Ah, you know,” they begin to trail off, “I just want to speak Japanese, not read it. Continue reading “How to Learn Kanji, in 10 Steps”

How to Stop Learning Japanese

“Ken Seeroi, you should write a book.” People always say that.

Well, like six people, but that’s still a lot. After my fabulous career as English-teacher-in-Japan, I’m counting on book sales to provide for retirement. I assume each person will buy at least ten thousand copies.

Of course, I could write lots of books if I wasn’t so freaking busy. Look, I’ve got mad stuff to do: shower, trim my eyebrows, study Japanese, lie on the floor surrounded by cans of beer watching YouTube. Those are 4 of the 7 habits of highly effective people. Hey, is it my fault wingsuit videos are so enthralling? I think not. The more I watch, the more I’m convinced that arial stuntman is my true destiny. Naturally, as in all things, beer helps. My potential increases exponentially by the can. At this point, the only thing I’m lacking is money. Well, that and skill. And courage. I was just born underprivileged, is all. Continue reading “How to Stop Learning Japanese”

Why no one Helps you Learn Japanese

I have a lot of great ideas. Really, just a ton. Oh sure, to the untrained eye, I’m kicking it on the balcony drinking Asahi beer and watching sardine trains packed with commuters ride into the sunset, but really, I’m thinking. Hard. Like about my tiny Japanese apartment, and how to make it more livable. So, first I bought a sofa-bed. It’s a little lumpy. Then a lamp. That came from Ikea, so actually it’s great. They really understand furniture, those Swedes. And meatballs. Then I thought, Hey, how about a little hydroelectric power plant? That’d be a nice addition.

Surprisingly, there aren’t many YouTube videos about doing this at home. But I figured, Well, how hard can it be? I mean, I’ve got a sink, and what am I gonna use it for? Washing dishes? Heh, that’d be the day. Continue reading “Why no one Helps you Learn Japanese”

How to Teach English

One of the things I like best about English class in Japan is how much Japanese I learn. Like the other day, I was in Nakamura Sensei’s class. He’s the English teacher in my middle school, and his English is arguably better than mine, since he actually knows stuff like what “a pronoun” is. I thought it was just a really excellent noun, like maybe when you take cat and turn it into meerkat, or popcorn into poop corn. Those are great improvements, so pronouns I figured, right? Well, apparently that was the wrong answer to give in front of forty students. Whatever. I still think they’re nice pronouns. Continue reading “How to Teach English”