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  • I think the best thing about learning Japanese

  • outside of everyday communication of course

  • is being able to appreciate the music.

  • It's so cool to be able to listen to a song in Japanese

  • and allow the lyrics to resonate with you on an emotional level.

  • That in itself is as good a reason as any to learn the language

  • so when you turn on your TV to the music channel

  • you can not only enjoy the music but feel a real sense of achievement as well!

  • Yeah on second thoughts don't bother!

  • Hello and welcome to Ask Abroad, the show in which I answer questions sent in by YOU the viewer

  • whilst propping up my table with cardboard!

  • Due tu uneven flooring.

  • The topic of this video is "Learning Japanese"

  • Most of the questions will be about Japanese but few random ones will be thrown in, including comment of the week and most annoying comment of the week.

  • Learning Japanese has been a really big part of my life for the past three years

  • and I hope in this video my many experiences and failures will help you on your journey

  • to learning the language.

  • So without further a due, let's dive in!

  • What's the biggest problem with learning Japanese?

  • Uh, everything!

  • But it's such a major undertaking that you need to become good in many different fields.

  • My 3 biggest problems when I started learning were

  • a lack of self discipline and motivation.

  • A horrific memory.

  • Working out where to begin.

  • I more or less overcame the first one by reading philosophy books.

  • And everyday when I would walk to and from school I would listen to an audio tape on self discipline.

  • And I think over a period of weeks and months that had an effect

  • It was a bit weird it felt like I was brainwashing myself.

  • "You will work hard!"

  • "You will work really really hard!"

  • As for my memory I bought a few good books on memorization techniques, my favorite of which

  • I put in the description box below.

  • And thirdly, fortunately I had lots of friends in Japan who were one step or two steps ahead of me

  • who gave me lots of invaluable advice, particularly my anonymous friend: Canadian Guy.

  • To summarize though I find the most difficult aspect of learning Japanese are personally traits

  • Your own personal flaws

  • You have to be very self-critical and work out where you're going wrong.

  • But that's a really great skill to have!

  • To quote my favorite English textbook:

  • "Are you aware of your own defect?"

  • Ask yourself that very question!

  • So here are 4 casual interjections or phrases that are very common in Japan, particularly the first three

  • you hear in every other sentence, but I've never been taught them in my textbooks.

  • First is "Majide" which literally translates as "Seriously"

  • And it's used pretty much in the same way that we would use "Seriously" to express surprise or amusement.

  • The second is "Uso" or "Uso Desho", literally translates as "It's a lie, you are telling a lie".

  • It's used in the same way in English that we would say "No way!"

  • again, to express surprise or disbelief.

  • The third one is "Yabai", which I struggled to translate but it's usually to highlight something as being very good

  • or very bad.

  • And finally the phrase "Shouganai"

  • which means "It can't be helped"

  • or there's nothing that can be done.

  • You hear it a lot in Japan, as people tend to have a fatalistic perspective

  • because Japan is a collectivist society, it's a bit more difficult to feel empowered as an individual.

  • And so people are more willing to give in to circumstance

  • and accept things that are outside of their control, so

  • you hear this expression "Shouganai" quite often.

  • Yeah he is actually!

  • I asked my friend Yuki the other day what he thinks about Benedict Cumberbatch and here's what he had to say on the matter:

  • Eggs Benedict-Cumberbatch

  • I don't know if that sinister voice was necessary but

  • two things that ruin my day the most are: first off, particles like "wo, de, to, ha, ga"

  • At first when you learn Japanese they seem relatively simple as to what they are but the more you progress through learning the language

  • the more complicated they become and the more difficult it becomes to know which one to use.

  • So I get halfway through saying a sentence then I don't know which particle it is

  • and then I get confused the whole sentence is derailed and I start to cry there and then.

  • The second thing is verb conjugations, so at the end of the verb in Japanese it changes depending on the tense of the verb and whether its causative or passive.

  • So for example with the verb "to eat": "taberu"

  • Here's all the list of endings that you'd find with that verb, it can be difficult in conversations sometimes to

  • quickly and fluently say those conjugations.

  • The more difficult ones like "-saseru", "to be made to do something"

  • But still when you're speaking it can be difficult to get them out sometimes.

  • I mean look at "taberareru"

  • It took me like two years to be able to say that

  • when I was first doing it it was like "oh, taberaberaberababaru"

  • "I'm in trouble, I begin to like you..

  • You're sarcastic. You've sat too close to my favorite YouTuber, Sharla in Japan

  • And your accent is not American which I'm familiar with.

  • Yet strangely enough I find myself liking you."

  • Wow what a wonderfully frank compliment, thank you Yoshi I think that's the nicest comment I've had in 4 years

  • of doing YouTube!

  • And I'm glad that my proximity to Sharla, who's also in Japan, has not stood between us!

  • After all, Sharla and I have been at least this close

  • Maybe that close.

  • Once or twice now.

  • Fun fact about Sharla of course: I'm actually ranked more than her on Famous Birthdays.com

  • I think I'm around 1318 and she's something like 4000

  • and something...something ridiculous.

  • I mean you can hardly call that famous.

  • Yes she may have more subscribers on YouTube, but I think we know which statistic is more impressive.

  • So...yeah..

  • But, thanks again Yoshi I'm very grateful!

  • All the learning resources and tools mentioned in this video can be downloaded, bought or watched

  • anywhere in the world.

  • The only hurdle that remains is being able to speak and use the Japanese you're learning.

  • And one of the reasons I didn't really feel motivated to learn Japanese before I came to Japan is:

  • I knew I wouldn't be able to use

  • the things I was learning there and then.

  • It's not commonplace to find a Japanese native speaker walking down the streets of rural England.

  • Fortunately these days there's lots of services and things online that you can use to get around the problem

  • Last year in a video I mentioned a website called iTalki

  • where you can find a tutor or a language partner to talk with, it's so convenient and good that I actually used it for a time while I was in Japan!

  • For example when I got here I started going to a Japanese language class in the local community center

  • with various other learners of Japanese, and I had to sit there and wait for my turn, as we went around in a circle

  • listening to people say:

  • Uh it wasn't fun, it wasn't good, and I didn't really learn or practice anything,

  • and I don't think classroom environments are very good when it comes to learning a language.

  • But fortunately we live in a time where time and space no longer have to get in the way of learning a language

  • you can pick a tutor from a list, schedule a time to talk to them and then have a Skype call wherever

  • and whenever you want.

  • And because no one has to spend their pocket money going to and from a community center or a classroom

  • it's cheaper as well!

  • So if you live outside Japan

  • or even inside Japan, and you want a tutor, I do recommend italki!

  • Because I mentioned them in a video last year, and lots of viewers liked the service and gave excellent feedback

  • italki have generously given vouchers to anyone watching this video.

  • It's not often you get things for free on this channel except laugh at my occasional misfortune.

  • So if you do book a class with a tutor on italki, at the link in the box down below,

  • you'll get your second class absolutely free!

  • It is pretty good and worth checking out for anyone looking to practice with a native speaker of Japanese.

  • So, yeah, check it out!

  • This isn't black it's a kind of purple isn't it?

  • Still yeah you're right I do wear black shirts

  • like, 90% of the time, the reason is it makes me look thinner, and I like to look thinner

  • That said I did buy a pink shirt recently, so don't worry

  • I'm moving up in the world, the game has changed!

  • First off it's a lot easier to memorize 2200 characters if you're able to write them.

  • As well as read them.

  • More importantly, if there's a word or a character that you don't know or can't understand

  • you can just take out your dictionary and draw it in.

  • But to be able to do that more often than not, you need to know the stroke order and how to actually write it.

  • So, it is very important!

  • Get a Japanese boyfriend...

  • ...or girlfriend!

  • I've already covered this topic in detail in a past video

  • be advised it is presented by a hot-dog!

  • But if you can get past the disgusting exterior, it is nonetheless an insightful hot-dog!

  • So check that out, but there are quite a few videos on learning Japanese on this channel,

  • and I've put them in all into a nice convenient playlist just for you

  • and you can find them at the link here:

  • Actually I can't be bothered to do that.

  • A lot of people do that don't they?

  • Whoosh, and then the link comes up like theyre some kind of magic wizard but I can't be bothered really.

  • Just click on the card, there, that'll save me like 10 minutes

  • of putting that effect in.

  • Definitely! 20 minutes a day, for 300 years and you'll be a master of Japanese

  • and quite possibly dead!

  • It depends on what stage you're at of learning Japanese.

  • To give you an idea of how much time I put in, in the first year, I think I put in about 2 or 3 hours every day.

  • And after 3 years of learning the language now, if I would to set aside 20 minutes a day to learn the language

  • I would probably be able to learn 20 new words or 3 items of grammar

  • because I'm accustomed to the language and its pronounciation and its grammar structure already.

  • The key thing is laying down those solid foundations which would be difficult to do on just 20min a day.

  • Or think of it like a puzzle, when you start a puzzle it's a fucking nightmare to work out where to begin.

  • But the more you progress, the quicker it becomes to put the pieces into place and fortunately

  • I lack a puzzle to aid this visual metaphore but I think you get the idea.

  • Right at the start!

  • As soon as you've learned Hiragana and Katakana.

  • Start to learn how to draw out the characters

  • and what they mean

  • Don't worry about pronunciation just yet as that takes quite a long time to learn.

  • I think it's better to learn them separate although there is some debate on this

  • I've already made a video on this and I still stand by the technique that I described in the video.

  • But if