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Learning Japanese in Japan.

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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby two_heads_talking » Thu 09.27.2007 3:13 pm

well, you do have a point. but in my defense, what I heard on the plane was nothing like what I had heard in class. In that case I just went for the "Am I on the right plane? Why are they speaking Chinese?" I knew I was on the right plane, I knew they were speaking Japanese, but it certainly didn't sound like it.. It was all so fast.

the speed of thing seemed to slow down as time went by and I was able to listen and absorb the sounds of Japanese as it were.

To be honest I suppose I should have said Korean, as over time, listening to Korean radio stations, at first listen, it sounds alot like Japanese, but it doesn't.. If you know what I mean.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby dmizer » Sun 09.30.2007 10:42 pm

Orcrist wrote:
Ill be going to Fukuoka from the 29th of February to the 19th of May, and Ill be attending genkiJACS (http://www.genkijacs.com). They provide me with both accomodation and japanese classes and a whole lot of other stuff. Its a non-profit organisation, and get nothing but very positive reviews. However, as with any decent language school it will cost you some.


I'll second GenkiJACS. Fukuoka is no Tokyo, but you'll have a far more enjoyable and positive experience in Japan if you go to Fukuoka instead of Tokyo.

I studied for a year and a half at GenkiJACS, and it was instrumental in my learning. They wrote their own textbook which is used all over the world for teaching Japanese: http://www.tiny.cc/dLtAg [amazon.com]
They are extremely careful with their students, and make sure to give a good balance of language study, culture, and sight seeing. They've just moved their school to a new office building, so the facility is brand new, and their teachers are all extremely experienced and professional.

I have moved to Hamamatsu (unfortunately) and I am no longer able to study there, but were it not for that, I would still be going for private lessons.

My ONE gripe is that they occasionally insist on using their taped and poorly scripted listening exercises. This seemed like a extreme waste of my time and money. Why do I need to be subjected to GenkiJACS poorly scripted and unrealistic listening exercises when we could have easily listened to live conversations, or listened to actual recorded conversations.
Last edited by dmizer on Mon 10.01.2007 3:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 09.30.2007 10:51 pm

Structure. That's like saying "Why bother with kanji exercises when I can see kanji all over the place?"
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby dmizer » Mon 10.01.2007 12:16 am

No, kanji exercises are necessary for reading comprehension and vocabulary. The single point of listening exercises are to improve listening ability. And listening to taped, pre-scripted, overacted, and plodding listening exercises has it's place when in a classroom outside of Japan, but when in Japan it's just a distraction from the real thing.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the need for listening exercise. What I'm getting at is that using taped exercises in Japan is like drinking non-alcoholic beer. It would have been worth far more to me to have gone outside of the classroom and sat someplace public for the lesson.

My direct experience with the listening exercises was that they were a detriment to my learning rather than a benefit. Every time I came out of those lessons, I had to retrain my ear.
Last edited by dmizer on Mon 10.01.2007 12:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Infidel » Mon 10.01.2007 12:43 am

And listening to taped, pre-scripted, overacted, and plodding


Sounds like more of a stereotype based on limited experience. Your complaint is no better than people who say that textbooks are just a distraction from the real thing because your experience only includes some crappy textbook and classroom setting. Unless you actually go around sampling every textbook you find and classroom setting with listening exercises, you've little basis for those presumptions.

So far, few of the listening exercises I've attended would fit that stereotype. Good listening exercises are usually recordings of actual street encounters, radio or TV shows.
Last edited by Infidel on Mon 10.01.2007 12:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby jt » Mon 10.01.2007 12:52 am

dmizer wrote:
No, kanji exercises are necessary for reading comprehension and vocabulary. The single point of listening exercises are to improve listening ability. And listening to taped, pre-scripted, overacted, and plodding listening exercises has it's place when in a classroom outside of Japan, but when in Japan it's just a distraction from the real thing.

I don't really understand the distinction you're making between listening and reading comprehension. Couldn't you just as well say, "What's the point of practicing reading using artificial, overly simplified textbook passages when I could just go out and buy a novel or newspaper?"

The idea behind both is the same -- by limiting the content to what you've learned in class, you can reinforce particular vocabulary items and grammatical patterns and gradually build your abilities. Structure, like Chris said above.

If the listening exercises are too easy and not challenging you to use what you've learned, then that's the real problem -- not the concept of listening exercises itself.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby dmizer » Mon 10.01.2007 1:23 am

Infidel wrote:
And listening to taped, pre-scripted, overacted, and plodding


Sounds like more of a stereotype based on limited experience. Your complaint is no better than people who say that textbooks are just a distraction from the real thing because your experience only includes some crappy textbook and classroom setting. Unless you actually go around sampling every textbook you find and classroom setting with listening exercises, you've little basis for those presumptions.

So far, few of the listening exercises I've attended would fit that stereotype. Good listening exercises are usually recordings of actual street encounters, radio or TV shows.


I would hardly call 8 years of teaching English (at the college level in the States, not Japan), 3 years of Japanese study, and 4 years of German "limited" experience.

Believe it or not, I'm not trying to troll here. The original post was asking about suggestions for places to learn Japanese in Japan. I was seconding a suggestion to look into GenkiJACS. And once again, my only complaint with GenkiJACS (note, I didn't include any other school in my reference) was that they used pre-scripted, crappy taped listening exercises, which I hated. To be sure, many other schools use live recordings of real conversations. GenkiJACS does not, and as such, was something I was not happy about.

What's more, I never said listening exercises are not important. My point was, why is it necessary to use taped conversation when you can go out and hear the real thing? Taped restaurant conversations do not compare to sitting in an actual Japanese restaurant and listening to Japanese. And, since the school is in Japan, why not go to the restaurant instead of listening to a script?

jt wrote:I don't really understand the distinction you're making between listening and reading comprehension. Couldn't you just as well say, "What's the point of practicing reading using artificial, overly simplified textbook passages when I could just go out and buy a novel or newspaper?"


You can't read a newspaper without having a fundamental base of kanji in order to be able to even begin to understand it. You can't simply look at 本 and know it means book. This is a primary learning phase.

However, listening exercises are supplemental. Once you know the vocabulary, you've used it in class several times, and you've practiced it with classmates, you then have enough knowledge base to exercise your listening comprehension of the previously learned material. Listening exercises are intended as support for your kanji, vocabulary, grammar, and group exercises.

If your studies have gone well, and you've paid attention in class, you should be able to pick the lesson's material out of actual Japanese conversation in actual Japanese situations.
Last edited by dmizer on Mon 10.01.2007 1:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby jt » Mon 10.01.2007 1:46 am

dmizer wrote:
[Believe it or not, I'm not trying to troll here.

I don't think anyone thinks you're trying to troll -- I certainly don't, at least. You made a comment in your post, and people are responding to it because they find it a bit curious.

(edit: Sorry, I just realized that you edited your post to include a reply to mine.)

You can't read a newspaper without having a fundamental base of kanji in order to be able to even begin to understand it. You can't simply look at 本 and know it means book. This is a primary learning phase.

There's more to reading than just kanji, but let's not go there.

Listening exercises are intended as support for your kanji, vocabulary, grammar, and group exercises.

I would highly doubt this. Listening exercises are generally intended to improve your listening comprehension.

If your studies have gone well, and you've paid attention in class, you should be able to pick the lesson's material out of actual Japanese conversation in actual Japanese situations.

Well, that's why effective listening exercises are designed to challenge the student to be able to recognize and understand what they've learned in the context of more complex situations that simulate actual, 'real-world' conversations.

If the exercises you did in your classes didn't do this, then yes, that's a problem. But the problem is that the exercises were poorly designed, not that listening exercises are inherently useless to students living in Japan.
Last edited by jt on Mon 10.01.2007 1:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Infidel » Mon 10.01.2007 1:48 am

why is it necessary to use taped conversation when you can go out and hear the real thing?


I wouldn't say it's necessary, but it removes much frustration and speeds the learning process. Just like it's not necessary to take a plane from NY to LA, you could also walk.

Advantages of listening exercises with scripts:

Easier to learn new vocabulary words and grammar. Of course you could record the street conversations and examine them later, but having a pre-made script can reduce the study effort significantly.

Identifying words where your ear is faulty. If you are going entirely by ear, you might easily think the speakers are using a different word than they are in actuality. Not including sound shifts, there are personal accents, slurring, and contractions that are clarified by scripts.

Listening to the same conversation over and over does improve listening comprehension. Especially how with recordings, you can play a difficult sequence over and over until it begins to sound natural. In the street, people are only willing to repeat themselves so many times.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby dmizer » Mon 10.01.2007 2:29 am

jt wrote:If the exercises you did in your classes didn't do this, then yes, that's a problem. But the problem is that the exercises were poorly designed, not that listening exercises are inherently useless to students living in Japan.


It was not my intention to intimate that all listening exercises were useless. My point was more that GenkiJACS listening exercises seemed useless. I'll go back in a few and review my post and edit it accordingly.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Infidel » Mon 10.01.2007 2:46 am

Yea, it was easy to misread your original intent. Your response to JT clarified a lot and had me completely changing my reply.
Last edited by Infidel on Mon 10.01.2007 2:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby dmizer » Mon 10.01.2007 3:25 am

Sorry about the confusion. Am I allowed a noob "you didn't see that post" Jedi wavy hand thing?

I'd like to address a few points though:

In a home-stay, immersion based teaching environment, (past a certain level of competence) is it really necessary to include taped exercises?

When I was studying Japanese heavily (man it was nice to have time), I reached a point where the scripted listening exercises were pedestrian. Having taught English to both native speakers, as well as ESL students, it's my opinion (yes opinion) that the more powerful listening exercise tool is live experience. And, since I am living in Japan, live experience is always just outside the door.

At first, it's necessary to have clean and repeatable exercises for new students. But as the students progress, it's equally important to put them in situations that are progressively more lifelike, including (as you indicated, Infidel) individual voice tonality/accent, interference from other conversations, stress of unfamiliarity, and so on.

It is my opinion that scripts should be used as little as possible in listening exercises.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby jziemba » Mon 10.01.2007 4:47 am

The Marine Corps just told me one day hey your going to Okinawa for at least three years only about a year after graduating high school I didn't know anything about japan or japanese culture exept sushi was a food. I've only been here for two years and a couple months, Now the only time I speak english is at work or out with some Marines, Hirigana and Katakana were easy and my girlfriend forced me to learn Kanji because she got sick of texting me in all kana, actually I could not thank her enough for doing so it makes life a lot easier. Anyway yeah its fast pace learning and by far more fun because you can use new phrases a minuet after you learn them!
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Infidel » Mon 10.01.2007 4:48 am

Sorry about the confusion. Am I allowed a noob "you didn't see that post" Jedi wavy hand thing?


I didn't see that post......

It is my opinion that scripts should be used as little as possible in listening exercises.


I'd agree.
Surely, when scripts are available, they should only be consulted after the conversation to clarify any points of confusion. I don't believe scripts should ever be consulted before listening practice. I can certainly attest that my own listening practice is far more effective if I do not, because the primary benefit of listening practice, having your brain actively struggle to understand, will be lost if the script is read first.

Although, it can be good to review a vocabulary first if one is available before the listening practice.
Last edited by Infidel on Mon 10.01.2007 4:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Japanese in Japan.

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 10.01.2007 8:45 am

dmizer wrote:
In a home-stay, immersion based teaching environment, (past a certain level of competence) is it really necessary to include taped exercises?


Absolutely. I would never recommend any program that honestly believed that listening exercises were unnecessary because the people were living in Japan. I still see no difference between that, and "Why do reading exercises? Just pick up a newspaper or a novel; they're all over the place." If the exercises are unnatural or overuse written material, that's a problem. But even an advanced student living in Japan can benefit from a structured listening exercise.

(Also, this is not an either/or situation; if you do structured listening exercises, you can also listen in real life as well.)
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Mon 10.01.2007 8:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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