5 Free Apps to Help You Learn Japanese

So you want to learn Japanese, but you aren’t sure whether traditional methods or digital options are a good fit for you… Do you go with books? Or do you go with learn Japanese apps? Technology has drastically changed how we do things, making products more efficient, cheaper and faster, but traditional methods are still the […]

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Learn To Read Japanese Hiragana Using Memory Palaces

You need to learn to read Japanese, right? But you’ve found out that hiragana is the first stage and it’s got you worried! Relax. You’ve probably heard about mnemonics for learning vocabulary in a foreign language and wanted to know more. Well, the good news is that a similar technique works for learning hiragana too. […]

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Japanese Culture For Foreigners: 19 Insider Secrets You Need To Know

You might think Japanese is a hard language to learn. But what about Japanese culture? Becoming “culturally fluent” in Japan can be both challenging and fascinating. Luckily, you’re in the right place! I’ve curated 19 of the most curious, unique, and downright helpful insights into Japanese customs and etiquette from around the web, so you’re guaranteed to […]

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How to Write in Japanese – A Beginner’s Guide

Do you want to learn how to write in Japanese, but feel confused or intimidated by the script? This post will break it all down for you, in a step-by-step guide to reading and writing this beautiful language. I remember when I first started learning Japanese and how daunting the writing system seemed. I even […]

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7 year old speaks 5 languages

Meet my friend Yukine. She’s 7 years old and speaks 5 languages: English, Spanish, Japanese, German and Sign Language. When I visited the Canary Islands recently, we sat down for a chat, and I asked her about her languages and what she likes about each of them. Now, it’s a common myth that children are much […]

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28 Insane Japanese Conversation Starters

Many people who live in Japan report finding it difficult to strike up conversations with Japanese people. I did too, when I lived in Tokyo. Here’s why: I didn’t have the necessary language level  The Japanese don’t really have a culture of talking to strangers…at least not in the same way as we do in […]

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JapanesePod101 Review – Website to Learn Japanese Online

When I first arrived in Japan and started searching for resources to learn Japanese online, I found JapanesePod101.com everywhere I looked. This Japanesepod101 review will help you decide whether JapanesePod101 is right for you. Their free podcasts often kept me company on those hideously long train journeys to work at 7am on the 西武池袋線 (Seibu-Ikebukuro line) 🙂 […]

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How To Learn Japanese Interview

Gaijinpot is famous for being the one-stop-shop for expats living in Japan, and their podcast covers all kinds of Japan-related issues. I chatted with Anthony for GPod episode 14 about one of my most popular articles: 42 Insane Japanese Language Learning Hacks. In fact, the original article was only possible because I reached out to […]

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Kickstart Your Japanese

Recently I finished writing a 6-part series for people wanting to kickstart their Japanese. It’s aimed at people who have been living in Japan for some time but have stagnated in their progress – as unfortunately happens to many people, especially in Tokyo. I’m really excited that the first half of the series has just […]

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How I Learned Eight Languages

It all started back in 2000. I had just finished my first year at music college and had decided to take a break. A lot of my friends had gone off travelling during their gap year and I was left wondering whether I should have done the same. I arranged to take a year off […]

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Sample Language Learning Routine

Have you ever asked yourself what the best language learners actually do everyday? Just how do they manage to get so fluent so quickly? The answer may surprise you. As you’ve seen me talk about many times on iwtyal.com (yes, this abbreviated link works!), it’s really not about the fancy techniques or the outgoing personality. The […]

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How to find a language partner in Tokyo

Virginia wrote me with a question asking how to find language partners in Tokyo. I’ve done so many language exchanges over the years. Without a doubt, it’s been one of the most effective language learning tools I’ve used and I wouldn’t have been able to get so good at my languages if I hadn’t done […]

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42 Insane Japanese Language Learning Hacks!

This is a collection of good old-fashioned hacks, where you’ll discover how to learn Japanese fast. They range from the down-to-earth, to the insane! I started this post with over 100 entries, but I’ve whittled them down to only 42. I’ve aimed for variety and a bit of provocation. My favourite tip is at the end, […]

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What I really miss about Japan

(click to enlarge) I often have trouble articulating why I miss Japan so much. But I do. I miss it like hell. I certainly don’t miss the crowded trains, long working hours, searing summer heat, endless bureaucracy,  expensive travel, obnoxious salarymen and cramped houses. So what do I miss, then? Even now I can’t put it into […]

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Video: Why Japanese is a difficult language to learn

In this video I discuss five challenges that I have faced in learning Japanese: kanji (Chinese characters); words which have many similar alternatives; the difference between keigo (formal) and casual Japanese; formulaic language and social patterns; grammar.

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