Learning Japanese in Second Life (with Genki Textbook)

こんにちは、みなさん。 I’ve shared the info about this free virtual online Japanese class on WaniKani first because I’ve only joined Bunpro much later. Thought that maybe this would interest some people here too. So from here on, it’s just a copy pasted post from there.

I’m currently in the middle of learning Beginner Japanese via Genki 1 Textbook Second Edition on a virtual platform called Second Life. Every Saturday 10pm JST (5am PST) / 11pm JST (6am PST) depending on Daylight Saving Time, a couple of Japanese volunteers guides us through the textbook, with light homework / revisions to discuss the next Saturday.

We’re encouraged to speak mostly in Japanese to each other and the relaxed atmosphere makes it feel like we’re at home, rather than in a classroom. In fact, they rather not call it a school because the setting is more casual. I was astonished that they don’t charge at all, where locally (Malaysia) it would be hard to find such an interesting Japanese learning experience, especially with a native Japanese teacher too.

So far we have classmates from Australia, America, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Spain. This also makes it an interesting place to learn about other cultures from different countries while speaking Japanese.

We’re just starting Lesson 11 now, so if anyone don’t mind jumping in midway into the lesson, as well as going through the learning curve of using Second Life as a virtual platform, you’re more than welcome to join us. And don’t be taken aback by the Lesson 11 mark because I still struggle to have simple conversations in Japanese.

Once you are in Second Life, search for ‘Cypris Japan’ and you will see a Teleporter to ‘Nihongo Tea Room’, where we have our classes every Saturday. If everything still seems too confusing, feel free to IM me in Second Life (my account name is Haruka Flores) and I’ll do my best to help explain things in more detail. Below are snapshots from some of our sessions (photo credit to Cypris Japan founder Mystie-san).

By the way, Cypris Japan has security set to kick newbies (mainly to avoid trolls). Admins would have to manually add a person if their Second Life account is younger than 2 weeks old. So if you’re new to Second Life, please send me an IM before coming by, and then I will inform Mystie-san so that she can add you in a safe list. Looking forward to welcoming you to our Japanese learning community.


What I think of Second Life

I was sparked to share about the free lessons I have been attending in Second Life since early 2020 when I saw people sharing other Genki study groups to supplement their Kanji learning in WaniKani.

To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to even post what I have written. This is because unlike Discord and other similar interactive / chat platforms that are easier to use, Second Life has a steep learning curve because it is an older virtual world, compared to the newer ones like VR Chat etc. Second Life can be quite clunky if you have a lower spec computer and it’s very confusing for many newcomers. I remember when I was new in Second Life 12 years ago, it took me a couple of months before being able to navigate around with relative ease. Thankfully, computers have gotten more efficient since then and Second Life has improved their user-friendliness a tad bit.

However, with the lockdown happening in many countries, I think people might be looking for ways to have an interactive learning experience, especially as most have to stay at home. I thought maybe they could give Second Life a try since it is immersive while being able to maintain anonymity using 3D avatars, unlike when using Zoom or other video chat.

Another additional reason is because Second Life has quite a poor reputation thanks to the trolls, and like in real life, for its ‘oldest profession in-world’, if you catch my drift. Constructive activities such as classes, creative outlets, panel discussions and so on, are becoming more of a shadow, or hidden gems. Despite all that, the Japanese friends that I knew there are volunteering to teach Japanese for free during their spare time. I just wish more people could come and support their effort and dedication while benefiting from them at the same time.

I also think Second Life is a bit of an old tech that I personally think should have died a long time ago, lol. I’m just going to post this once because it’s currently an existing Japanese study group I’m attending regularly every weekend, but I’m more in support of similar study groups being done in contemporary virtual platforms like VR Chat in the near future.