You're not the only one

A common theme among the language learning community is ‘find something you enjoy doing, and learn that way’. Well, it has been a long time coming, but it appears that Japan is slowly coming around to this idea too.

This is an article encouraging the learning of English through games, and discusses some of the odd ‘English’ in it.

For anyone that lives in Japan, or has Japanese friends, if you ask any of them if the Japanese people they know are learning English, almost all of them will say yes. But do any of them enjoy it? Unbelievably few. Japan is the victim of the TOEIC. A dated test that kills any love for language that someone may have, and replaces it with the fear of English.

Slowly but surely, as more tech savvy young Japanese people reach adulthood, they are starting to use games, comics, books, movies, and a whole plethora of other wonderful resources available for people that hate to study, but love to learn. This slow but sure shift in the dynamic of the Japanese approach to learning English (and of course other languages) is a huge step toward the relationship toward learning that is sorely needed in Japan. It’s the point where people have said that they are tired of banging their heads against the wall of mindless drills, and want to actually experience the language ‘while’ learning it.

I know most of us already do immerse in the language, but let’s take articles like this as a reminder of how important the enjoyment that accompanies study is (whether it be us learning Japanese, or Japanese people learning our respective languages). If you finish the day feeling defeated by Japanese, take a small step back, consume something at your level, and enjoy the fact that you’re understanding it. Your relationship with your learning will dictate your ability to progress.


Goes without saying but everything you wrote is 100% correct and something we all need to be reminded of from time to time.

I am interested to eventually see if the rise of younger-aged English teachers across Asia leads to students have higher success and also more enjoyment out of the language. Anecdotal for sure, but I’ve been seen first hand how different people’s language learning enjoyment goes when they aren’t taught by someone young who’s native language is the one the students are trying to learn. This can probably be broadly applied to most things taught in life, but I believe language is a completely different level where the teacher (or medium) really makes or break the process. As always, something fun to ponder on a rainy Sunday morning :relieved:


I would put money on this being true. Enjoyment is absolutely a requirement when it comes to language.

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That would be my textbooks and I’m definitely not understanding them xD Small victories here, I’ve been listening to a lot of indie/doujin music and it’s little things like being able to read track names make me feel a bit better.

My real frustration is that getting access to the foreign language works I want is often a chore (or more expensive for reasons that upset me). Recently I was trying to think of a few Japanese games I’d like to try later this year and was greeted with this gem:
(The game was Dragon Quest XI)

It’s probably a mistake, or I could just pick a different title, but… really? I thought being in an era of ebooks would help, but that’s looking to be tricky too and for reasons I never would have expected. Here’s a how a snippet of a graded reader is rendered in Amazon’s Kindle Cloud reader for the browser:

(this is rendered in a completely sane manner on a Kindle or using the mobile app)

I feel like it’s easier than ever to get into consuming fun foreign language media, but sometimes I just want to cry.

All of that said, it’s definitely easier to find enjoyment like this and I’m glad it seems to be spreading a bit more.

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Maybe that is the foreign version? I have all the DQ games and they are most certainly in Japanese. I don’t use steam much, but can you change region or something similar in the settings?

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The PC version seems to have both audio and subtitles in Japanese PC版【ドラクエ11S】超美麗グラフィックのパソコン版DQ11体験版 - YouTube


Games are one of the two main reasons I ever got into learning Japanese, I use them to try to stay immersed in the language and it’s a great feeling when you come back to a game after a few lessons on BP/WK and you realize you’re picking up new things you now understand that you didn’t before.

There are a lot of Japanese games on Steam and all the ones I’ve seen have full Japanese support - interface, subtitles and audio. So I highly recommend finding one you like that has that, the example above with only Japanese audio is definitely a weird exception.


Its great to see Japan evolving their study methods. I really agree TOEIC has probably destroyed the interest for learning English for a lot of people.

@ccookf Steam probably shows the world releases based on your IP address / location (though this is just a guess). There are Japanese games though.

Regarding games, Nintendo Switch is perfect for this. You can set the region to Japan and just buy from the Japanese eShop… There are lots of websites online where its possible to buy Nintendo eCards to top up your balance.

For eBooks… There are options too (probably a credit card is required): Bookwalker JP, Booklive , eBookJapan. Most of these websites have free samples (when you click on the book cover) and some volumes are free for a period… The only downside it that you are locked in their ecosystem.


I think it was just a bizarre issue on the side of the publisher. A few of their other titles have the same issue and I’ve spotted similar problems with indie games that do things like baking their UI as images. Shoutouts to the awesome localizers who manage to deal with the technical/political issues.

I should probably dig my switch out and give that a go. I remember setting up a JP profile to snag a Monster Hunter demo way back when and it was relatively painless. It just kind of slipped my mind since I’m pretty much always at my pc these days.


One extra thing on this. It all comes down to your app. Sooooo many apps cannot handle furigana. In my experience, your best bets are the native apps (kindle reader etc), or Moonreader. Moonreader cannot handle vertical text, but it deals with Furigana fine. The app that comes preinstalled on Boox e-readers has also been making leaps and bounds recently, so supports almost all formats.

Because Kobo and Kindle apps work very well with Japanese content, you could always try uploading your own books to the app. I think both kindle and kobo allow you to do that (don’t quote me on it though).


You could also say the same about 外国人 and the JLPT. I have experienced it myself on 文プロ even, suggestions for additions to grammar points/example sentences go declined for the reason that they are “irrelevant for the JLPT”.

I get the idea that they want to avoid clutter, but the ゆく reading for 行く is still very common in jpop, and quite honestly: Who of us really is only learning Japanese to pass the JLPT?


Definitely good points, but 95% of people who do the JLPT do it cause they want to do it. Now pretend in your country that a conversation with your boss would go like this

Boss - You’ve been doing well recently. Up that JLPT score and you may even get a promotion!

Employee - Eh…? JLPT…? I don’t use Japanese in this job… In fact no one does?!

Boss - Now now, those are the company rules. You need to be proficient in Japanese to show the rest of the employees how much of a hard worker you are!

Employee - But we don’t deal with Japanese people at all, this is a small-town bread factory!

Boss - Where’s your progressive attitude! One day we may deal with Japanese people, and there you’ll be, prepared to face them with all the yoroshiku’s and whatnot.

Employee - I… I don’t understand.

Boss - Fantastic, your test is next Friday. Get at least 70% correct in all sections or that arigatou will turn into an ari-uh-oh… If you know what I mean.

Employee - gulps

This is the reality that the vast majority of people in Japan face. It’s not a choice, and it doesn’t even benefit them in their daily lives. It’s just a terrible tradition that is engrained into the entire workforce.


I’m sorry, but please don’t write little dialogues as a response to a forum contribution, especially ones that feature the person you are responding to as one of the characters… That feels extremely condescending.


I feel like learning languages is held back by copyright / drm, that sort of thing. Otherwise we’d see a lot of innovation and fun ways to learn.

The worst part is people would be willing to pay for it if it existed (imagine a comprehensive learning course based on a beloved videogame or book).

The second worst part is the drm / copyright isn’t even necessary, since those things have long been known to just make it harder for people who do pay. They’ve done studies that show that pirating has 0 effect on profit. Ah well, it is what it is.


In some ways Ubisoft are not a great company. But you have to give them credit for releasing a high quality version of the Assassin Creed games aimed at learners with detailed explanations about historical sites, objects and people.

Probably the main reason a lot of stuff does not exist is that (probably) there is not enough of a market for it…

It would be really cool if for an example a visual novel gave you an interactive list of all the grammar / vocab / kanji used before starting a new chapter :D.


Not exactly the same thing but there is a website that let’s you enter in your WK/anki api and before starting a new Manga/anime (iirc) it will tell you what new words you’ll be learning. I may be a little wrong about those details but I believe someone linked it here once and it was a tool I really need to start using.


Good post as usual. I don’t know if I’ve ever met a Japanese person who became proficient in English without genuinely enjoying it, or some sort of life changing incentive. (Job, foreign spouse).

We really do live in an incredible age where Japanese content is literally at our fingertips, just like English content is readily available for Japanese speakers.


No offence intended, and definitely not trying to make you feel small. Just trying to give you a better idea of what life is like for people in Japan. I changed the name for you.

I get the overall point you’re making, but the reason ゆく would never get added is because it’s not exactly a grammar point. I’d guess that the only reason simple verbs like する and くる got added for N5 was because you’d need to understand their significance for て-form and beyond re: conjugation. These examples are useful though, and would be a good addition to mine for any Anki deck. Perhaps someone could create a thread for similar types of words/phrases/etc. to give better insight on how locals view something and everyone could slowly contribute to it.

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I have often thought the same thing. Imagine having the netflix option to pay an extra $5 a month to have access to all Japanese content, or whatever other country. I think most people would pay it.