To be perfectly honest, I’ve almost deactivated or outright deleted my Facebook account a bunch of times.
What stopped me?
Every time my cursor is perilously hovering over the “deactivate” button, I remember that it’s the best possible way to keep in touch with my entire network of acquaintances, friends and family members around the world—including my friends and homestay family from Okayama, Japan.
After all, who isn’t on Facebook? That sounds terribly conformist of me, but that’s just how modern life is, until Facebook becomes the next defunct social media platform, à la MySpace.
And when you use it properly, Facebook can be an incredible tool to connect you with Japan.
I started steering myself away from Facebook because I felt like I was wasting my life scrolling through the News Feed.
But change a few settings, Like a few choice pages and—bing, bang, boom!—you can actually end up learning a motherload of Japanese on Facebook, rather than frittering away time without any goals or purpose.
Let me show you how I turned my own Facebook account into my favorite Japanese learning tool!
The Facebook Guide to Learning Japanese with Posts, Pages, People and Pokes
Why Learn Japanese with Facebook?
- Take advantage of your addiction. The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one. You’re scrolling a lot. You’ve got Facebook envy. You log in ten times daily. Actually, you’ve never logged out of Facebook on any of your personal devices.
It’s alright—we can harness this addiction for the power of good.
- Learn Japanese in odd moments of spare time. Facebook is easy—almost too easy—to pull right up on your computer or smartphone screen. Every time you’ve got a spare moment in the dentist’s office, on your daily work breaks or while dinner is cooking, you can pop on Facebook to see what’s up. Oh, you already do that? Perfect! We’ll just deftly turn this into Japanese time.
- Eliminate English. If you’re always looking at Facebook, you’re always giving yourself big doses of English language exposure. You might even glance at Facebook while studying Japanese—just for a sec!—thus interrupting your Japanese experience.
If you’re living or traveling in Japan, you might be using English-language Facebook to keep in touch with life back home. Big mistake. Instead, you can turn all that English time into Japanese time.
- Avoid the stress of Japanese study time. What’s less stressful than Facebook? When you’re here, you’re in a social media state of mind. You may even feel like you’re procrastinating. If you turn Facebook into a Japanese learning tool, it will become a place of relaxation and productivity, all at once.
When you’re chill and using your Japanese skills, your brain will start to think, “hey, reading this Japanese stuff isn’t so scary.”
- Take Japanese with you on the Facebook app. Yup, there’s an app for that. Download the Facebook app (iPhone, Android) and Facebook messenger app (iPhone, Android) to take with you on the go.
- Chat in Japanese using Facebook messenger. The Facebook messenger is remarkably Japanese-friendly. You’ll even be surprised by how many Facebook “stickers” can be found with Japanese writing included, which is ideal for sending a quick, cartoon-animated おめでとう！(congrats!) or ありがとう！(thanks!)
- Learn more casual, informal Japanese and slang words. Y’all know that Facebook is a breeding ground for slang, memes and chatspeak. The situation is the same on Japanese Facebook. Keep your eyes peeled for things in hiragana and katakana that don’t read quite right—you’re probably scoping out some sweet slang!
- See what’s new and popular in Japan! See what everyone’s liking, following, hashtagging and posting about on Facebook, and you’ll start to know what’s hot in Japan.
How to Start Learning Japanese on Facebook
1. Commit to Japanese by changing your language settings.
First things first. Change all of your settings into Japanese.
Click on “Settings” then “Language,” and once you’re there you can handily change the following options:
- Show Facebook in this language.
- Which language do you want stories to be translated into?
- Which languages do you understand?
- Which languages do you not want automatically translated?
The answer to all of the above prompts should be “Japanese.” Enter Japanese or 日本語 (にほんご) for all. This will translate everything you encounter, from your navigation options to the stories that appear on your News Feed. It’ll also prevent Facebook from translating Japanese into English automatically, as it normally does.
This will grant you a precious gift from the digital gods: a full immersion experience. Every time you’re on Facebook, you’ll be gloriously surrounded by Japanese.
2. Take note of the most important Japanese words for navigating Facebook.
So, you’re immersed now. Great, right? It’s hard to feel elated when you’re slightly terrified by the abundance of kanji characters currently occupying your screen.
How do you post a picture? Comment? Like? Ah! What if you want to totally bail and see something in English?
If you’ve been on Facebook for a while, like many of us have, then you’ll find navigating to be fairly intuitive—close your eyes, put your hands in the air and let Japanese take the wheel. I bet your fingers already know where everything is, by muscle memory alone. Plus, this is a great way to practice using context clues to understand Japanese and build your vocabulary organically.
If you need a lifeline, though, here’s some key vocabulary for navigating:
News Feed ニュースフィード（にゅーすふぃーど）
What are you doing now? 今なにしてる（いまなにしてる）
You’ll notice that I gave you the Japanese for “Settings” and “Languages” in case you need an emergency exit back to the English world.
And one super secret tip: Hover your cursor over any clickable option in Japanese, and then look down at the bottom of your browser to see the destination link, which will contain English and clarify what you’re clicking.
3. Explore Japanese learning tools.
Facebook is where they’ll post their best deals, discounts and coupons, especially when approaching any noteworthy holidays. You’ll also find plenty of tips, tricks and informative blog posts about learning Japanese from these pages.
It’s also where their customers congregate to share rave reviews, ask their burning questions and air their grievances. Keeping tabs on language learning products and services via Facebook can help you feel out which ones are really worth the money. Where are the customers happiest? Where are the strongest communities? Where’s the most useful Japanese learning information being posted on the regular?
4. Go on a Like and Follow frenzy.
Don’t hold back. Like and Follow everything that you enjoy that has a page in Japanese.
If you’re still working on improving your Japanese vocabulary, you can translate key words and phrases for topics that interest you using Google Translate or WordReference. The latter option is what I’d mainly recommend, because it offers more nuanced translations and forums to hammer out proper translations.
Then, pop those Japanese words into Facebook’s search bar, and see what’s out there!
Once you start your Like and Follow frenzy, it’ll be hard to stop. Make sure you’re choosing a bunch of top-notch Japanese pages and groups (like the ones I’m going to recommend for you next), and you’ll never have to tire out your scrolling finger trying to find Japanese study materials—it’ll always be your News Feed’s priority.
It’ll also help you avoid using Facebook as a procrastination tool when your Feed is always flooded with Japanese learning materials first, before you get to pictures of people’s dogs, babies, weddings, parties and lunches. And if you spot any of those things early on, they’ll probably be in Japanese.
6 Japanese Facebook Pages Worth Liking and Following
1. Tasty Japan
Posted by BuzzFeed Japan on Saturday, May 20, 2017
One of my BFFs and I are addicted to this page, and my entire Timeline is flooded with the Tasty Japan videos that she shares with me. Just can’t get enough.
So much deliciousness in one place! While BuzzFeed does have a tendency to irritate me with its general frivolousness, even my cold heart can’t resist their outstanding food pages. Recipes and restaurant sneak-peeks abound, providing colorful, creative inspiration for any wanna-be foodie.
Tasty Japan has to be the absolute best face of BuzzFeed’s food coverage, and it’ll give you an irresistible introduction to the many flavors of Japan, from traditional meals to street food and sinful desserts.
You’ll learn city names as you’re taken on a daily, culinary tour across Japan. And, naturally, you’ll learn oodles of important Japanese food words, such as:
Ramen ラーメン (らーめん)
Ice Cream アイスクリーム (あいすくりーむ)
Posted by ジブリ on Friday, March 24, 2017
This fan page of Studio Ghibli will give you a daily dose of Kiki, Totoro and Ponyo. What better way to keep your News Feed filled with positive vibes and friendly Japanese lessons? You can start practicing your reading skills by picking up the names of favorite characters, and the key words in Ghibli movie titles, such as:
“My Neighbor Totoro” ⌈となりのトトロ⌋ (となりの ととろ)
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” ⌈魔女の宅急便⌋ (まじょの たっきゅうびん)
“Ponyo” ⌈ポニョ⌋ (ぽにょ)
Plus, you’ll get all the juicy movie and product updates before anything hits the shelves, since they’re pretty good about staying on top of Ghibli news and announcements.
【本日配信開始!!】あのコイキングが……スマホゲームの主役に!?コイキングを鍛えて、はねる力を競うリーグに挑戦!!キミの力で、世界一高くはねるコイキングを育てよう！くわしくはこちら！http://www.apppokemon.com/koiking/—————–・ タイトル ： 『はねろ！コイキング』・ ジャンル ： のんびり育成・ 対応OS：iOS/Android※端末や、OSのバージョンによってはプレイできない場合がございます。・ 販売価格： 基本無料（※一部アイテム課金あり）・ 発売元： 株式会社ポケモン——————© 2017 Pokémon. © 1995-2017 Nintendo/Creatures Inc./GAME FREAK inc. Developed by SELECT BUTTON inc.
Posted by ポケモン on Tuesday, May 23, 2017
For anyone who was the perfect age to get caught up in the Pokémon craze of the 1990s, this is a must-follow page. Even if you’re not devoted to catching em’ all and being the best (like no one ever was), there are plenty of people who are keeping our childhood fantasies alive and passing them along to new generations of young gamers.
The new games, movies, products and announcements on the official Japanese Facebook page are a hundred times cuter than anything I’ve seen from its American counterpart, so it’s absolutely worth an いいね！
Once you’ve started following this page, you can pick up Pokémon names to improve your reading skills:
Pikachu ピカチュウ (ぴかちゅう)
Squirtle ゼニガメ (ぜにがめ)
Charmander ヒトカゲ (ひとかげ)
Posted by 面白ニュース！netgeek on Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Get a stream of the cool, crazy, daring and techy things going on in the modern world these days, with the occasional splash of Japanese political news thrown in, right here. It’s an eclectic mix of topics, and here’s just a quick sampling of the unique vocabulary you could learn scrolling down their page in one sitting:
Penguin bomb ペンギン爆弾 (ぺんぎん ばくだん)
Essence 本質 (ほんしつ)
Lightning strike 落雷 (らくらい)
早！又是一個星期的新開始！！ 送給大家伊豆的櫻花大道美景～ 也來看看日本的櫻花文化與賞花攻略吧～http://www.letsgojp.com/archives/2/想知道現在日本的櫻花開得如何嗎？請見：http://tokyo.letsgojp.com/archives/49579/
Posted by 日本人の日本旅遊指南 on Sunday, April 16, 2017
Take a virtual trip to Japan! If you’re a lucky duck who’s already bought a plane ticket to Japan, this is a nice place to get some travel tips and destination ideas. Whether you’re determined to travel or just daydreaming, this page will give you ample wanderlust and inspiration.
Since this is all about travel, you’ll get a crash course in Japanese city names, such as:
Tokyo 東京 (とうきょう)
Osaka 大阪 (おおさか)
Okayama 岡山 (おかやま)
Posted by 朝日新聞（The Asahi Shimbun） on Monday, May 8, 2017
If you’ve already started wading into the world of authentic Japanese materials, you’ve probably tracked down Japan’s major news resources. And you’ll know that The Asahi Shimbun is a big one. I know, world news is a bit headache-inducing at times, but I’ve been following this one for a while and find it quite upbeat and refreshing.
It’s not really a good source for hard-hitting news, but there’s plenty of pleasant fluff, like human interest features and 360° videos of rescued animals goofing around. You’ll still pick up good political vocabulary, such as:
President 大統領 (だいとうりょう)
Prefecture 県 (けん)
Legislation 立法 (りっぽう)
For more serious news, I might point you to 産経ニュース (さんけい にゅーす) (Sankei Shimbun) instead. That’s a better fit for the serious news junkie.
Ready and raring to go on your very own Like frenzy?
It’s time to set you loose into the big, wide world of Facebook.
Transform your biggest time sink into your personal Japanese study destination today, and you’ll never look back.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Japanese with real-world videos.