Often, questions written in Japanese end in a full stop, not a question mark. But why?Read More
A blog about learning and teaching Japanese, walking Japan, and sometimes about kit-kats.
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Counting 1-10 should be easy, right?
“Ichi, ni, san, yon... (or is it shi?), go, roku, nana (or shichi), hachi, kyuu (but sometimes ku)...”
Oh, yeah...Japanese has multiple words for the same number! Seven can be either "nana" or "shichi", for example.
So how do you know which word to use?
Sometimes, either is fine – like when you count 1-10, for example. But sometimes, only one word will do.
Let's take a look at some of those special cases.Read More
Lots of you probably use flashcards already. Why not use really, really clever ones?
Imagine you're studying Japanese vocabulary with a set of flashcards. You go through the cards one by one, putting them into a "pass" pile if you remembered them, and a "fail" pile if you didn't.
When you finish, you work through the "fail" pile again. You get about half of them right.
The next day, you go through all the cards again. It takes ages, and it's boring - you did all these yesterday.Read More
Hello and welcome to the third instalment of "Calligraphers of Instagram", where I introduce amazing artists making Japanese calligraphy - and sharing it online.
Isawo Murayama is a busy mum-of-four who makes time to create new pieces daily.
Her work feels a bit like a diary - together with her descriptive Instagram captions, her calligraphy offers up a little slice of her day-to-day life.
Traditional Japanese calligraphy uses a brush which is dipped into ink, but Murayama uses a 筆ペン (fude-pen) or "brush pen" to write.
A brush pen is like a fountain pen with a soft nib. It handles like a pen, but writes like a brush.
I love her stories and the little explanations behind her words, as well as the bold, small lettering.
In this first one she talks about the importance of two words: ごめん "sorry" and ありがとう "thank you".
Gomen to ieru yuuki to arigatou to ieru sunao-sa to.
The courage to say sorry, and the grace to say thank you.
Some of her posts are like little motivational speeches:
自分を信じることから始めよう。I really like the juxtaposition of big thoughts on small paper here.
Jibun o shinjiru koto kara hajimeyou.
"Start by believing in yourself."
As well as telling stories about her kids in her captions, Murayama also writes powerfully about the advice she would like to give her younger self:
あなたを思ってくれる人はたくさんいる / 気づいて... /心...ひらいて
Anata o omotte kureru hito wa takusan iru / kizuite / kokoro hiraite
"There are lots of people who care about you / Realise this... / Open your heart"
Isn't that lovely?
You can find Isawo Murayama (@isaisa5963) on Instagram here, or read more on her (Japanese-language) blog.
I bought a skateboard. And not just so I can start calling myself "the skateboarding Japanese teacher".
I've wanted to learn to skate for a long time. I'm turning 30 this year and I thought I should probably get on with it.
You know that Chinese proverb, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now"?
Well, I should probably have started skateboarding 20 years ago, because it turns out skateboarding is really hard. I didn't start when I was nine though, so now will have to do.
I'm not very good yet. In fact, I'm very bad.
I know I can do it though. It's just like learning Japanese! (Hear me out, ok...?)
1. You need to fall over a lot
2. It takes discipline
3. You might feel like a bit of an idiot
"...while I feel terrible and clumsy while doing it, the speaking practice afforded by the class is something that is very difficult to get anywhere else."
P.S. Don't forget to get your ticket to see me this Sunday 10th March at Women in Language, a brilliant new online event. I'll be talking about running an offline language school in an online world. There'll be skateboarding references, too ... Click here to find out more.
Don't worry mum - I haven't quit my day job. Not as such. I recently went from full time to 3 days a week though.
One of my students mentioned this week in passing that I must be busy, working full time somewhere else, and also running Japanese courses. I realised that I haven't told a lot of my students that I no longer have a full time day job.
I now work three days a week in the offices of a community interpreting agency, here in sunny Brighton.
And I teach Japanese three nights a week, to lovely people with language-related goals and dreams. I get to share in my students' successes and triumphs, and hopefully help them through the tough bits too.
Life is more balanced now that I don't work elsewhere full time. I'm less "bad-busy" and more "good-busy".
And I get to feel part of two things - the interpreting charity, and my own little language school. That sense of community is really important to me.
Do you have a day job, and do something else on the side? If you have more than one job, how do you balance your time? I'd love to know what tips you can share. Let me know in the comments 😃
P.S. If you'd like to know more about how I started Step Up Japanese (and how you can open a language school!) I'll be giving a talk at Women in Language, a brilliant new online event March 8th-11th. Click here to find out more.
P.P.S. Calligraphers of Instagram will be back in March. Why not read Part 1, Part 1-and-a-half, and Part 2 while you wait?
It's no use just making goals. You need to assess them.
How did I do with last year's New Year's Resolutions? Let's find out.
I scored myself a pass or fail for each one...
2017's goals were:
1. Blog more
I published 26 blog posts in 2017, up from 11 in 2016.
That's not the one a week I planned (it's literally half that!) but I'm still pretty happy.
I was helped along the way by an adorable twitter bot created by my student @EliteFreq which tweeted at me when I didn't blog that week:
@stepupjapanese What am I meant to read today?! You've not posted a blog post! 😱 (❤️🤖)— David Sharp (@EliteFreq) August 25, 2017
This was genuinely very motivating.@stepupjapanese Cats in exchange for blog posts? 🐈 (❤️🤖)— David Sharp (@EliteFreq) September 22, 2017
Conclusion: PASS. Tell your friends your goals, so they can support you along the way.
2. Finish some books
3. Watch more drama with my students
4. Have more parties
5. Be reflective
How did you get on with your New Year's resolutions in 2017?
And have you made this year's yet? I'm still whittling down my list...