What is Shadowing and Can it Improve Your Spoken Japanese? I Tried Shadowing Every Day for a Month

What is Shadowing and Can it Improve Your Spoken Japanese? I Tried Shadowing Every Day for a Month

“I can read it and understand it, but I can’t speak like that!”

 …Does this sound familiar?

Almost all language learners feel that their production (speaking and writing) is not as strong as their comprehension (listening and reading). This is normal, but it’s still frustrating.

One method that is supposed to improve your listening and speaking is shadowing.

I’d heard of shadowing before, and I’d seen Japanese language learning resources devoted to it – but I’ve never tried it. I decided to try this every day for a month, and see what impact it had.

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Japanese guys don’t want your Valentine’s Day chocolate anyway

ハッピーバレンタインデー! Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day in Japan is pretty different from the U.K.  There's honmei choko (chocolate for someone you're into),  giri choko (obligation chocolate), and even tomo choko (chocolate for friends)...

And a month later there's White Day to contend with.

One survey revealed that 90% of Japanese men said they didn't care about getting Valentine's Day chocolate, and wished women wouldn't bother. Click here to read an article I wrote for SoraNews24 on the subject.

(It's from a couple of years ago, but I think it's still super relevant... especially on Valentine's Day).


P.S. are you looking for the next instalment in the Calligraphers of Instagram series? It'll be back in March :)
Why not read Part 1, Part 1-and-a-half, and Part 2 while you wait?

New Year's Resolutions - 2018


明けましておめでとうございます! Happy New Year!

Did you make any New Year's Resolutions this year?

January is a really good time to think about goals for the year ahead.  Apart from anything else, it's cold! And it's nice to be inside making plans.

Here are my New Year's Resolutions for 2018:

1) blog once a week


This one is easy (I hope!) and a continuation of last year.

In 2017 I aimed to publish a blog post a week. I actually did 26, which is one a fortnight.

That's not bad, but I definitely want to beat that in 2018.

2) play more games


In class, I mean. I want to work on making classes more fun, and one easy way to do that is more games.

 My lovely students playing fukuwarai ("Lucky Laugh") game


When we laugh together, we learn together.

(Cheesy but true).

3) read every day


This is a personal one. Last year I tried to read more Japanese fiction, and kind of failed.

I did find, though, that once I actually start reading I'm ok. It's the getting started that's the tricky part.

This year, I'm going to read some Japanese fiction every day, and keep a note in my 5-year diary when I've done it.

(16 days in, this is going pretty well.)


4) go to more teaching events


This year, I'm planning to go to more Japanese teaching and education-related events in London.

I went to a couple recently - a Japanese grammar teaching workshop at SOAS, and a bunch of seminars at the Language Show London.

I found it super helpful to reflect on my teaching practice and discuss ideas with other teachers and linguists.


I definitely want to go to more events like this in 2018.

...and it's a good excuse to go to London for the day too.


5) track these goals


Waiting until the end of the year to see how your goals are going doesn't really work.

In 2017, I actually completely forgot about one of my resolutions (to watch more drama in class). I'm going to avoid that this time by pinning them above my desk.

I'd love to know what New Year's Resolutions you made. Let me know in the comments!