Edutainment – 4 Fun Ways to Practice the Japanese Language

  • After deciding to study Japanese it doesn’t take long to realize that it takes a lot of determination and dedication to progress with it. There are many different methods and platforms for those looking to learn Japanese and spice it up with a bit of entertainment to keep you going!

    Luckily there are several fun and cultural opportunities out there for each skill level to have fun while you are practicing the language. Here’s how to learn four key areas of Japanese: Kana, kanji, reading comprehension and listening skills.

    1. Learning Kana

    The very first thing one learns when getting started with Japanese is kana. To get “the real feel” of the Japanese culture, Learn Japanese Pod has created the game “kana invaders”. Select if you want to learn hiragana or katakana as well as your starting level. Then the fun starts: you need to type in the romanization of the kana appearing. In this game not only is your kana knowledge tested but the speed and accuracy of your typing. This is an entertaining way to practice reading kana making you less likely to give up.

    Learn Japanese Pod Website

    2. Learning Kanji

    Once your kana is stable, the next step is to practice kanji (漢字). Kanji can be rather bothersome with the stroke orders, onyomi (音読み) and kunyomi (訓読み) readings, whether or not you decide to learn the radicals.

    WaniKani by Tofugu gives you an enjoyable way to remember everything there is about kanji. It breaks down the radicals, single kanjis and vocabulary items. It provides good mnemonic readings and meanings alike. The entertaining part here is the funny and often odd stories which are also the key to remembering the kanji. There is a fairly big portion available for free. However, if you wish to reach full proficiency, there is a fee to access the full package.

    Wani Kani Website

    3. Reading Comprehension

    Of course, one of the most recommended methods for practicing reading comprehension is by reading the news in the language you are learning. However, when learning Japanese the nature of the language, notably the kanji, means that won’t be possible until you have reached an advanced level. But fear not, you can read Easy News by NHK. Get updates on world news as well as local Japanese news and all with adequate furigana to show you the readings of the kanji. There are even videos and voice clips for certain articles so your listening skills can also work on your listening.

    Easy News by NHK Website *Japanese only

    4. Listening Skills

    Talking of listening skills, you can listen to the news in two fun podcasts: News in Slow Japanese or Bilingual News. The first one is aimed at intermediate and advanced level learners and they provide short voice clips of news in a slow tempo and subsequently at a normal speed. This is a great way to practice listening while staying up to date with the news.

    Bilingual News is my personal preference as it is a lengthier podcast run in a conversation style where two people discuss the news in a mix of English and Japanese.

    Bilingual News Website
    News in Slow Japanese Website

    Besides the mentioned methods there is an abundance of other entertaining ways to learn Japanese and keep your motivation up. It is always a good idea to watch your favorite anime in the original language. Watching TV shows, dramas and other videos in Japanese as well as reading Japanese books and listening to Japanese music are all recommended ways of advancing your language. But the most effective way to learn is, in fact, to talk to a native Japanese speaker every day!