Learn Japanese Podcast with Alex Brooke


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  • Japanese Language Series continues with Alex Brooke from Learn Japanese Pod website. Alex is an accomplished musician who delved into the rhythm and musicality of the Japanese language. He and the host Anthony compare notes on how people have learned languages and even throws in some quick Thai lessons.

A Podcast for Learning Japanese

Continuing with the podcast’s Japanese language series, on the show is Alex Brooks who runs a great language podcast with the help of native Japanese speakers as co-hosts. It already has more than 99 episodes and is a good resource for learning everyday Japanese. He comes from a different background than most people, using his musical inclination to study Japanese.

Alex was a music student at London University which included a language component in its curriculum. Opting to learn another language as an elective subject, he decided to study Japanese which he enjoyed. He was later offered the chance to become an exchange student at the International Christian University (ICU) for a year. He had a great time with friends and with good Japanese teachers so he decided to come back under the JET Programme.

He admitted he wasn’t good at learning new languages. He arrived in the country with basic, textbook knowledge of Japanese but the rugby players he was with did not talk like the books. He had to relearn the language by meeting friends and going out more.

No doubt everyone learns a new language in different ways – one just has to explore methods that are available to them. Anthony and Alex share their experiences learning other languages such as Thai, Portuguese, and French. They recall other people’s success stories in learning them. One deliberately moved into an area where the language was spoken daily and brought a dictionary everywhere he went. Some people are just very good at picking up the language by just opening a grammar book or listening to conversations. But often, approaching it on the streets, exposing oneself to real-life situations are effective ways to learn it.

When Alex used to teach English, he would think of language in its rhythms and stressed its importance in speaking. It is especially true for dialects such as the one from Osaka. Songs are also a great way to learn a new language as it makes it easier to recall words. The tone used also plays a crucial role in distinguishing several words that sound alike. This is especially true for speaking languages like Thai and Chinese.

Another important observation both Alex and Anthony noted is that learning a language still requires some hard work and motivation. Without this, learning would be difficult and not fun. Linking it to a hobby or something useful would also help keep the learning process dynamic. People who read manga, watched anime, and period dramas would find themselves drawn to studying the language because it is in line with their interests.

About the Japanese Language Pod

With his artistic streak and not being very organized, his random way of learning can be reflected in his podcast. But now they are planning to rearrange the site to include lessons such as business Japanese and Japanese for the classroom. They would soon be adding more videos too. The early episodes of Alex’s podcast were in the Osaka dialect; it later included the Kanto dialect as well. On Fridays, they would put down the textbook to talk about life in Japan. They even included some lessons on curse words or how to express one’s anger in Japanese! But a word of caution for its listeners – they were just there so that learners would know, but avoid using them at all costs!

The audience can also sign up for their newsletter to keep themselves updated about events in Japan. If the audience wants to see something new in the language podcast, do message them or register for free as a member. New speaking lessons will also be available soon on the website!

  • Virtual Running on Tokyo Marathon. The 2012 Tokyo Marathon saw a lot of hardcore marathon goers to dressed-up characters running during its annual event. Local tech resident Joseph Tame, earlier ran around Tokyo in a route that formed the shape of an apple in honor of the late Steve Jobs. But for the marathon, he showed up in full iRun gear: iPhones, iPads, even a MacBook air were strapped to his body so that he could live-stream his run on the web. People joined his run online; see for yourself the track as well as the reaction of Japanese bystanders in his videos posted on his blog.
  • Brad Stephenson of 25 Café recommends the Bio Cafe as a European shop offering organic, vegan, and vegetarian food. Even his meat-loving friends appreciated it with its wide menu of vegan steak, tofu turkey, soups, and salads. Good for private parties and one of the popular places in Shibuya, one can set an appointment or wait for 5-15 minutes before getting in. It offers not only a place to eat out before heading to a bar; it’s also a bakeshop for delicious, French-inspired bread.

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