Is your passion for Japanese cooling?
Are you feeling dreary and stuck in the same old daily grind?
Well, pack your bags and get ready for takeoff!
No, we are not literally traveling to Japan (although hey, that is an excellent way to learn the language).
We are going on a tour of the hottest new Japanese learning videos!
A change is as good as a rest, and these smoking hot resources will keep your learning varied and vivacious.
So read on to cruise some new techniques for learning Japanese with videos, optimize your study time and have a blast along the way.
Why Learn Japanese with Videos?
With videos, you can learn to understand fast spoken Japanese, read quickly using subtitles and even speak at native speed through repetition.
Authentic videos, in particular, will put more emphasis on keeping up with the conversation than textbooks or even most listening activities because, unlike language learning CDs, many are not slowed down to cater for learners.
The background noise, people talking over each other, group conversations and quick comebacks are not easy to handle initially, but they will give you really good preparation for real-world Japanese.
With so much video content out there, you are sure to find something that suits both your level and your interests. And what’s more, it will probably be free!
Immersive learning can be difficult outside of Japan, but using videos can be a good second choice—it is easy to find videos with no English and to encounter situations, accents and topics that you might never see covered in a language textbook.
Learn real Japanese
Japanese as it is used “in the wild” is not always grammatically perfect. Your basic textbook will teach you polite, formal Japanese, but the language is far more varied and livelier in reality.
Japan has a really rich culture of local dialects, so to achieve real fluency you will need to be ready for slang, for the way different generations or social groups speak and for the ways in which gender, sexuality, age, social subculture and personal interests are expressed through the language.
All of this is in addition to the level of politeness that your textbook is likely to cover.
Videos (again, especially authentic options) can give you a deeper understanding of the more nuanced aspects of the language.
Find fresh, fun ways to study
There are so many fun videos for learning Japanese, and more are coming out each day. In addition to just watching the videos, you can also interact in Japanese in the comments, pick up slang and learn about new trends in areas of the culture that you are interested in.
Break the monotony
Sometimes, you need something different to change things up. If you are getting bogged down by grammar drills, switch things up and try a few videos to spice up your routine.
Video learning is such a great tool to put in your Japanese kit. Read on to get some ideas for how to step up your language learning and have more fun than ever by learning Japanese with videos!
How to Learn Japanese with Videos
Like any type of learning, studying Japanese through videos takes some planning.
- First, you should try to work out what you want to achieve from your video learning time and which skills you would like to develop most. Rather than “become fluent,” set realistic and achievable goals like “Learn to use Japanese particles correctly.”
- Next, you need to decide what you want to watch. Will you learn Japanese from anime, keep up with the news in Japanese or enjoy some Japanese movies? Keep in mind that different types of videos use different levels of formality. Anime, for example, tends to use very casual language, while the news is presented in formal, proper Japanese.
- Finally, figure out which study methods you would like to use. There are techniques for studying Japanese, such as sentence mining, at-home immersion, mnemonics and more, which you can use to make the most of your time studying videos.
When used correctly, watching Japanese videos can help you to develop your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Here’s how:
The urge to zone out may overtake you when you are watching Japanese videos, but fight it! When practicing your listening skills, it is important to listen actively and not just guess what is being said from the images on screen.
To make sure you stay focused, try pausing once in a while to summarize what you just watched or to check if you understand what the people on screen are saying.
If you can understand phrases in the show you are watching, then try repeating them, using the shadowing technique to practice speaking.
This method will work best using videos that come with transcripts or accurate subtitles like FluentU (more on this later) because the transcript and audio are already loaded, synched and translated. You can still use shadowing on YouTube, though—just use a subtitled video and check the meaning of the words against the subtitles or transcript.
Pay attention to intonation, rhythm, pronunciation and the differences between spoken and written Japanese. You will be sounding more natural in no time!
Kanji are often shown on screen during variety shows in Japan, providing some great reading practice. If you are not watching a variety show, turning on Japanese subtitles on whatever you are watching can also offer reading practice. Reading while hearing the kanji being spoken aloud will reinforce your learning.
If you want a real challenge, then mute the TV and see if you can follow the action from reading subtitles alone. This is great for advanced learners who want to improve their reading speed.
Spend a few minutes after watching a Japanese program to reflect on what you have watched. It requires only a bit of extra work and can pay big dividends for your progress.
Journalling in Japanese about what you watched and your thoughts on it can help you develop your writing, especially if you use a site like Lang-8, where you get feedback from native speakers.
Keeping a handwritten diary is even better, as it will help you to improve your handwriting and really nail written kanji. Language Printables on Etsy have made some useful tracking sheets you can download and print at home for this very purpose as part of the “Study Pack 2” bundle. This resource guides learners of all levels through writing about what they are watching and helps them track new language and reviews seamlessly.
Now that you know how to use videos to learn Japanese, you are ready to take off on a trip down some excellent and fresh videos you can use to study with.
So fasten your seatbelts and get ready to learn Japanese with videos!
Learn Japanese with Videos: 5 Fresh Picks for Supercharged Studies
Train Your Tongue with BondLingo
The BondLingo YouTube channel has been around for around two years now, regularly uploading short videos for beginner and intermediate learners.
They have entertaining, fast videos that share both useful grammar and vocab tips as well as cultural notes.
For instance, you can perfect your pronunciation through Japanese tongue twisters, which is such a fun video!
You can check out other useful videos from BongLingo, like their helpful beginners keigo guide, which serves as an entry point to studying honorifics in Japanese.
Make Authentic Videos Approachable with FluentU
Earlier in this post, we spoke a bit about how authentic videos are great for learning Japanese beyond the textbook. But authentic videos—that is, content made by Japanese speakers for Japanese speakers—can be daunting and seem too difficult to dive into, especially for beginners.
Luckily, FluentU has you covered.
The program makes authentic content approachable at any level by integrating learner-friendly features like interactive subtitles, customizable vocabulary lists, built-in flashcards, adaptive quizzes to review and check your progress, a pop-up dictionary for checking unknown kanji or vocab and many customization settings that let you take charge of your learning.
You can try FluentU in your browser or take your learning on the go with the FluentU app for Android and iOS devices.
Make It Musical with J-Pop (and BTS!)
No matter where you live in the world, you have probably heard of the K-Pop band BTS. One of their latest singles, titled “Lights/Boy With Luv” is actually sung in Japanese, and provides a great opportunity to learn Japanese with videos while listening to the pop sensation taking the world by storm.
Using pop songs like this will allow you to enjoy pop culture while learning at the same time!
And you do not have to do it alone. YouTuber Yoon Koon breaks down the Japanese used in the song line by line, going through the vocabulary and grammar used in each line of the lyrics.
This is only part one, and though Yoon Koon mostly puts up Korean song breakdowns, stick around to hopefully see more in the future.
Can’t wait? Jaeguchi on YouTube goes through the entire song, showing the Korean translation, Japanese romaji and English translation for each line, which should provide you with the information needed to master the whole song with minimal stress.
And if you enjoy learning with BTS, here is another option: K-Pop heavyweights Twice boast three Japanese members and sing in both Japanese and Korean. You can use their Japanese-language videos on YouTube with official Japanese subtitles or English auto-generated subtitles to check the meanings of words you do not recognize (fans seem to have corrected these carefully, as they match the lyrical content well).
Their videos for “Happy Happy” and the more recent “Breakthrough” both have decent subtitles for you to follow along.
If you would rather learn using a band with less global recognition, then try doing a search on blogging sites with the artist’s name along with keywords such as “Japanese,” “vocabulary” and so on. This will turn up search results like a breakdown of another Japanese BTS song, “Spring Day” or a vocab list compiled from, yes, more BTS (you know you can’t get enough).
Keep in mind that these are fan-made and will not always be 100% accurate, but they make an excellent starting point to your own Japanese music studies.
You can also find your own lyrics to learn from and learn Japanese with music videos pretty effectively. If you are just starting out and these songs seem far too difficult for you, then consider using some more beginner-friendly songs.
Ace the JLPT with Nihongo no Mori
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (or JLPT), is the most widely recognized Japanese language exam. Studying for the JLPT can really help you to challenge yourself, fill in gaps in your learning and stick to a deadline (as the test only takes place twice a year globally and some hosting countries only offer it once a year).
However, as test day approaches, things can get pretty intense. There are some great textbooks to study for the JLPT, but did you know there are lots of great videos available, too?
Nihongo no Mori is a really good quality Youtube channel, boasting regular uploads, native Japanese teachers and a friendly format. They have recently (summer of 2019) added to their library of videos with their excellent JLPT N5 basic conversation playlist, which is just perfect for beginners.
For advanced students, their N1 grammar playlist features 11 brand new videos reviewing grammar in depth, quickly and precisely.
Laugh and Learn with Easy Peasy Japanesey
In July 2019, a thread was started on 5channel about toilet paper art and femininity. Easy Peasy Japanesey turns it into a lesson for learners in a hilarious Japanese learning video for advanced students.
This video is sure to provide some comic relief to the generally drier tone of JLPT N1 learning and also gives you a fun conversation topic for your next drinking party with Japanese friends. It is also a great way to help bridge the gap between intermediate Japanese and diving into online content directly, which can be a bit overwhelming.
For a bit more help with this particular video, you can find language notes on the Easy Peasy Japanesey website.
If you enjoy this video, you will love the rest of the content on this channel, which takes short simplified clips from authentic videos from pop culture (mostly anime) and uses them as jumping-off points for full language lessons.
For instance, they take a simple phrase spoken by Sakamoto, “I’ll be fine right here,” and turn it into an entire lesson on how to use it in different contexts.
Whichever way you choose to use them, videos offer the chance to integrate studying with leisure, meaning you can learn more and enjoy it more.
All the while, you will be picking up more talking points for future Japanese conversations and gaining important cultural knowledge needed to really understand Japan and make connections with native speakers.
So set aside a little time in your daily schedule to learn Japanese with videos and start reaping the benefits today!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Japanese with real-world videos.