Oct
20
2012

Numbers and Time Cheat Sheet (PDF)

For those of you who missed it because you aren’t connected with Nihonshock on either Twitter or Facebook (shame on you!), I just released a digital version of one of the most popular sheets in the full Cheat Sheet Pack!

Numbers and Time Cheat Sheet (PDF)
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Oct
02
2012

5 Traits of a Successful Japanese Learner

Let’s be honest, learning a language is tough. While some learners go on to be highly proficient speakers, living and working in their second language, a large number (probably a majority) either give up half way or struggle to progress beyond the intermediate level.

Fortunately, whether or not a person will become an advanced-level bilingual doesn’t seem to have any relation to their IQ or age…

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Feb
05
2010

Japanese Cheat Sheet

After 2 months of planning and composition (okay, so I did procrastinate quite a bit), I now understand how Moses felt when he descended Mount Sinai with the holy tablets. Behold, Nihonshock’s newly revised and much improved Japanese cheat sheet!

Japanese Cheat Sheet
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Feb
03
2010

Particles: the difference between WA and GA

Japanese particles are both a blessing and a curse. They make Japanese grammar simple and direct, almost like a computer language. They always follow the rules because they are the rules. Particles tell us “this word does this” and “this word does this.” However, these little suffixes can cause tremendous headaches for us English-speaking learners because they group meanings together quite differently than our English equivalents (prepositions), or in some cases have no equivalent at all.

Of the lot, wa (は) and ga (が) are almost undoubtedly the most annoying pair of particles to keep straight. They’re probably the most frequently used particles in the language, so you need to learn them early (note: you won’t master them early), but it’s very difficult to find a decent explanation for them even in big bulky text books. And if you want to make your Japanese teacher sweat, just ask them to explain the difference.

I’ve devoted a lot of introspective soul-searching time to thinking about these two little guys, and in this article, I’m going to do my best to shed some new, meaningful light on the difference between は and が.

Particles: the difference between WA and GA
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Nov
28
2009

The many ways to say “I”

One of the many unique and intriguing features of Japanese is the vast selection of words you have available to choose from when you want to say “I.”Each of these words has a different connotation reflecting the speaker’s view of his/herself and relationship to the listener.

For this article, I’m introduce to you my personal collection of “I” words that I’ve encountered here in Japan (even if I’ve only seen them once or twice in obscure contexts). Hopefully, this list will help to prepare you for your own Japanese adventures.

The many ways to say “I”
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Nov
25
2009

How I studied kanji

Kanji is the most common stumbling block for Japanese learners. It’s easy to see why: there are 1,945 Joyo kanji, hundreds more non-Joyo kanji that are still very commonly used, and yet hundreds more kanji that are used in people’s names. And each of these intricate little characters has a specific order in which the strokes must be written, probably has multiple readings, might have multiple meanings, and can be mixed and matched with many other kanji to create compound words (熟語 : jukugo).

Basically, there is a reason that Japanese students are still studying kanji even in high school, and that reason is that kanji are as difficult as they are many.

How I studied kanji
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