In my wildest language-learning dreams, my best friend would sit down with me and patiently teach me Japanese from start to finish.
This friend would be encouraging and helpful; knowledgeable and thorough. They’d address all of my language-learning concerns, from pronunciation to sentence structure to reading hiragana. This friend would even help me work through all the tricky cultural questions that inevitably arise when learning a new language.
Best of all, they’d teach me with a smile on their face and ensure I was having fun throughout the entire process!
I may never find this imaginary best friend. But with the launch of Japanese Uncovered, I feel like I’ve come pretty close.
Japanese Uncovered is the new beginner Japanese series from I Will Teach You A Language, the online program that teaches languages through immersion and storytelling.
Join two experienced teachers, Olly and Ai, as they walk you through Japanese reading, writing, listening and speaking as well as provide insights into Japanese culture.
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Read on to find out what makes Japanese Uncovered a friendly, enjoyable and genuinely useful option for beginning Japanese learners!
Japanese Uncovered: A Non-intimidating Program for Learning Japanese as a Beginner
What Is Japanese Uncovered?
Japanese Uncovered is a self-guided, online course that uses storytelling to teach Japanese. It’s designed to provide an immersive experience for complete beginners, introducing them to Japanese reading, writing, vocab, grammar and listening all at once.
From the very beginning, learners are guided by two teachers. The first is Olly, a native English speaker who’s learned Japanese himself through immersion. He’s joined by Ai, a native Japanese speaker and professional teacher. While Olly walks learners through grammar and vocab lessons, Ai provides insight into pronunciation, word usage and Japanese culture.
These are the patient, knowledgeable “best friends” I mentioned above! Genuinely helpful and always encouraging, Olly and Ai are the perfect guides to help you read your first full story in Japanese.
Each unit of Japanese Uncovered is based on one chapter of the story, which follows Chloe and Alex, two university students who travel to Tokyo to visit their Japanese friend Tadashi. After reading a chapter of the story in Japanese, you’ll work through grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and culture lessons before checking in with a progress report.
Now, I can already hear you asking…
How Am I Supposed to Read a Story in Japanese if I Don’t Speak Japanese!?
Great question! But there’s really no need to worry.
Japanese Uncovered is based around an innovative methodology that uses immersion to help learners pick up words and concepts naturally. Before you’re even taught a single vocabulary word or grammatical concept, you’ll listen to “Chapter 1” of the story—all in Japanese!
Then, you’ll skim through the romaji transcription of the audio. (Romaji is Japanese written in Roman characters.) As Olly points out in his video introduction, it’s totally fine if you don’t understand a single word! (And, if you’re a complete newbie like me, chances are you won’t.) You’ll then read an English translation so you know what’s going on in this part of the story.
Each story contains built-in lessons on grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and culture, which Olly and Ai will walk you through. The idea isn’t to memorize every word of the chapter you’ve just read. Instead, you’ll pick up words and concepts as you go, deploying them in each new unit to steadily increase your comprehension. Research has shown that this “natural” form of immersive learning is a highly effective way to learn a foreign language—for adults as well as children.
What Sets Japanese Uncovered Apart from the Rest?
In addition to top-notch instruction by a native English speaker and a native Japanese speaker, Japanese Uncovered has a ton of great perks and features that set it apart from the competition:
It provides an ideal structure for independent learners.
One of the biggest issues that independent language-learners face is a lack of structure.
With a world of online resources available, it can be hard to know where to start—especially when you’re learning a language from scratch.
Japanese Uncovered solves that problem by organizing your language-learning plan into easy-to-follow units, each comprised of six lessons. With Japanese Uncovered, you start right from the beginning, picking up more and more vocabulary over each lesson. Since Japanese Uncovered was designed by expert teachers, the progression makes sense and provides realistic learning goals.
At the end of each unit, a written progress report provides space for self-reflection. If you feel you haven’t fully understood the unit, you can always replay it or check out some of the unit’s additional resources.
It incorporates speaking and pronunciation practice.
Teachers and researchers agree that speaking is the most important skill for language learners to develop. And yet, many online courses fall short in the speaking department. How can you practice speaking while sitting alone in front of a computer?
Japanese Uncovered addresses this problem brilliantly. First, the course emphasizes the importance of listening to native Japanese speakers. Research has shown that the simple practice of listening to a native speaker can increase speaking skills by improving pronunciation as well as grammar and vocabulary.
In addition to the focus on immersive listening, each unit includes a special pronunciation lesson led by Ai. She breaks down key words and repeats difficult sounds, much like a classroom teacher would do. For extra practice, you can even download Ai’s pronunciation lessons and listen to them wherever you are!
Finally, as you progress through the course you’ll also come across conversation exercises, which are designed to get you speaking with the help of a language-learning buddy. Even if you’re just going through the conversation exercises on your own, they’ll get you comfortable with speaking Japanese out loud.
It emphasizes cultural learning.
Japanese Uncovered is all about making language-learning fun, as well as introducing learners to authentic, real-world content created by native speakers.
Olly and Ai understand that tons of people learn Japanese because they’re fascinated by Japan’s culture and history! The story at the center of the Japanese Uncovered program teaches more than just grammar and vocabulary: It also introduces learners to life in Tokyo.
Plus, each unit has two culture-specific lessons. One addresses a particular aspect of Japanese culture, such as manga, slang or the practice of bowing. The other helps readers understand Keigo, or Japanese honorific speech.
The emphasis on culture really sets Japanese Uncovered apart from other online language-learning programs, which are often more narrowly focused on vocabulary acquisition and grammar know-how. By providing lessons on culture, Japanese Uncovered not only gives students extra opportunities for language practice, but it also helps learners hone their skills in the context of real-world situations.
It fosters a supportive, stress-free learning environment.
According to linguist Stephen Krashen, anxiety is one of the greatest deterrents to language-learning, especially for adult learners. These negative feelings of stress and embarrassment that get in the way of language acquisition are called the affective filter.
Luckily for you, Olly and Ai have done everything in their power to remove the affective filter to help you learn quickly—and have fun while you’re doing it. Throughout this program, you’ll suffer no penalties for making mistakes or for misunderstanding something. On the contrary, Japanese Uncovered is based on the idea that mistakes and misunderstandings are inevitable for beginners getting their feet wet in Japanese.
Perfect Japanese will come eventually—but there’s no need to rush it!
It has a high degree of functionality and convenience.
The creators of Japanese Uncovered are clearly language learners themselves because their program is designed to provide maximum convenience to students!
Japanese Uncovered can be accessed on a desktop or a mobile app. All of its video and audio files can be downloaded so that you can listen to them anywhere and review them as many times as you need. Reading and writing activities are presented in a convenient, printable PDF form.
This high level of functionality leaves no excuses for falling behind on your language-learning. You can put Japanese Uncovered in your pocket and take it with you wherever you go.
If you want to learn Japanese using a fun, dynamic, immersive and genuinely useful new program, I highly recommend you check out the Japanese Uncovered page at I Will Teach You A Language. It’s like that dream friend I always wished I had!
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