Category Archives: Japanese culture

Think Like A Native – Using your thoughts to improve your language skills

 

11650593_850429428375065_1268473140_nIn learning languages like Japanese and Korean, I have found one of the best ways of privately encouraging my learning, especially when unable to communicate with others in that language, is to make effort to communicate with myself.
Over recent months, due to breaking up with my Korean ex-boyfriend and terribly missing my Japanese best friend, I have neglected my language studies and this site in favor of taking time out to heal – trust me, you guys didn’t want to be witness to that mess! While this has somewhat dulled my abilities, I have found that regular practice in the privacy of my own mind has helped to preserve my understanding a great deal.
IMG_0844.PNGIt can be hard to find opportunities to communicate in languages not used in the area you live, so I decided to do my level best to think in Japanese and Korean wherever possible.
Going about my day and trying to think of the Japanese or Korean words for items I see and trying to string together the correct sentences goes a long way to help keep me focused on retaining what I already know, while also encouraging me to learn more.
When I dial a phone number, I try my best to think it in Japanese or Korean as I dial and that not only helps to improve my abilities, but I find helps with my concentration. If I am not sure of the word for a letter, I’ll just go with English and ensure to look it up later so I’ll be able to recall it the next time.
Of course, if you aren’t fluent, this isn’t an incredibly easy task, but it does serve as a way of revising a language when you cannot practice in conversation with others.
Even if you only use the odd word here and there, it will still help to build that comfort and understanding that will make learning faster and smoother. It will also help to make you able to fluidly move between languages – an ability that will serve you well the further you improve in all your language studies!
This has been a very short piece, I know, but I wanted to make something quick and simple as a way of getting back into things. Thank you so much to everyone who has waited patiently for me to be ready to return – I really appreciate your patience and all the supportive messages I have received in my time away!
As always, please share any thoughts or comments in the section below, or come join us over on Facebook and Twitter! Xx

Mushy Geek Reviews: Big Hero 6 – Love never felt so cuddly

Big Hero 6 image

Despite being released in the U.S in November of last year, Disney’s Big Hero 6 has only just yesterday (January 30th) been released in UK cinemas. I was lucky enough to score tickets to take my sister (with whom I share a love of movies about friendship and sibling bonding) to see a preview showing at the beginning of the month.

We had been looking forward to seeing this movie, set in the U.S-Japan fusion city of SanFransokyo, for months and I couldn’t turn down any chance to see it early.
If it was great, then everything would be great and we’d be delighted a the chance to see it early. If it sucked, then we’d at least learn early and get on with our lives without almost an extra month of suspense.

The very least I can say is that it did NOT suck. Not in the slightest.

Actually, this film quickly shot (even only minutes into the first viewing) to the top of our favourites list and is still with us now. With a perfect and occationally indistinguishable balance of humour and feels, endlessly quotable lines and loveable and memorable characters, this film was exactly what we wanted and so much more.
This film is a beautiful message about love, friendship, self-discovery and forgiveness that we both agreed is exactly what a film aimed at kids should teach. It showed the love and loyalty of siblings, the pain of loss, the turmoil of the grieving process, how to care for those in need of support, the power of friendship and how being a ‘nerd’ is actually really cool.

Each character was interesting enough that they could hold up their own movie, while fitting perfectly into their roles as supporting characters. Gone, I believe, are the days of forgettable and flat supporting characters who drift in and out without making that much of an impact. My sister and I find ourselves quoting the other characters just as much as the lead roles, and that’s fantastic.

Due to some careless spoilers stumbled across online, my sister and I already knew a key plot point near the start of the movie and we thought that might impact our viewing experience. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t actually spoil anything for us as the emotions were still as raw and shaking as they would have been otherwise. We actually kept forgetting about this point from being so wrapped up in the movie that, when we remembered, we honestly couldn’t believe it to be true and thought it was maybe a fake ‘trolling’ spoiler.

Even first thing in the morning, when the taste of toothpaste still overpowered our popcorn and coke, this movie took us in, captivated us from beginning to the very end (meaning the very VERY end, for the post-credit scene that only my sister and I believed would be there) and gave us so much more than we hoped for.
Hero and Baymax are the perfect duo, with Baymax caring for Hero and Hero teaching Baymax about the world (a nice hat-tip to The Terminator 2) and both helping each other to grow. This story tells us that it’s okay to love, have fun, not know what you want, follow your passion, feel pain, heal, lean on your friend and also make mistakes. It is, in mine and my sister’s opinions, a perfect ‘feel good’ film that reminds us that we’re all human and sometimes we need a big air-filled marshmallow robot to cuddle sometimes.

Now for the  conclusions:
Overall enjoyment: I loved this film so much. It was a fantastic experience from beginning to end, with tears and laughter and good messages throughout.

Family friendly: This film is fantastic for people of all ages, great for families (some sensitive themes, but all handled well), solo movie-goers and friends. Great all-round!

Acting: Seriously, so much emotion in the voices and the animated acting was superb. It’s amazing how the beautiful facial animations and voice acting go together to make performances that you totally forget aren’t actually real people.

Visuals: This is a truly beautiful film with a friendly and futuristic look to it, and the incredible fusion between America and Japan is stunning.

Re-watchability: Well my sister and I have said ever day since seeing this film that we want to watch it again and are even planning our next cinema trip to see it again.

Thanks, Disney! We are satisfied with our care. Xx

Tongue twisters from around the world

Tongue twisters are words or phrases that are difficult and confusing to say. learning and performing tongue twisters is a common pass-time for kids on the UK, but I never realised until I met my best friend (and guest writer on Learn With Amy) that tongue twisters are hugely popular all around the world!

So, for all you language enthusiasts out there, how many of these tongue twisters from around the globe can you say?

First: How do tongue twisters work?

Tongue twisters are phrases that are difficult to articulate as they require fast delivery and/or contain a complex combinations of phonemes. Often they contain two or more sounds that alternate between use of the lips, tongue, jaw and larynx.
Many studies have tried to identify how the complex phrases affect the brain, but the studies have found that tongue twisters actually slow down how fast the brain takes in the information. Tongue twisters aren’t just hard to say, they’re hard to READ too!

English:

The most commonly loved tongue twister in the UK is the famous rhyme, based on the story of Mary Anning, that goes:

She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore.
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I’m sure.
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I’m sure she sells sea-shore shells.

As it turns out, Mary Anning was actually selling various fossils on the sea-shore as a supplemental income to her family!

Gilbert and Sullivan were famous writers of comic operas that featured tongue twisting lyrics that fast paced and comedic. One of their most popular operettas was The Mikado (Sometimes called ‘The Town Of Titipu’), an opera that satirised British politics and society – made acceptable by subtly masking it with the Japanese setting.
One of the songs, entitled ‘I Am So Proud’ features these very tricky to say (and SING) lines:

To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a lifelong lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!

Some tongue twisters also try to get you to say ‘bad words’ as a trick for getting muddled.
Try the following tongue twister and see if you can say it all without swearing:

I slit the sheet,
The sheet I slit
and on the slitted sheet I sit.

Did you say it? Eh?
How about this one? Be careful – You might say something you don’t mean! Tee hee

I am not the pheasant plucker,
I’m the pheasant plucker’s mate.
I am only plucking pheasants
Because the pheasant plucker’s late.

Not that easy, are they? Well, things are about to get a lot trickier as we bring different languages into it! We all know that Japanese is quite a tough language, but it’s about to get a lot trickier as we take a quick look at the tongue twisters that even Japanese people find difficult!

Japanese:

In Japanese, the word for ‘tongue twister’ is ‘早口言葉’/’hayakuchi kotoba’ which directly translates as ‘fast mouth words’ – No kidding!
Here’s a fairly easy one to start off with:

“生麦、生米、生卵”
”なまむぎ、なまごめ、なまたまご”
“Nama mugi, nama gome, nama tamago”

The meaning of this phrase is “Raw wheat, raw rice, raw eggs”. Tricky, but they get harder!

“蛙ぴょこぴょこ三ぴょこぴょこ、合わせてぴょこぴょこ六ぴょこぴょこ”
”かえるぴょこぴょこみぴょこぴょこ、あわせてぴょこぴょこむぴょこぴょこ”
“Kaeru pyoko pyoko mi pyoko pyoko, awasete pyoko pyoko mu pyoko pyoko”

This one, which hurts to say, translates as “A frog jumps twice, three times and six times in all.”

If you’re a fan of gardening and fine cuisine, give this one a go:

“にわの庭には、二羽の鶏はにわかにわにを食べた”
”にわのにわには、にわとりわにわかにわにおたべた”
“Niwa no niwa ni wa, niwa no niwatori wa niwakani wani o tabeta.”

This is such a fun one (and made me feel good, because I understood it without the translation – yay, go me!) and it translates as “in Niwa’s garden, two chickens suddenly ate a crocodile”

Korean:

Korean can be a tough language for some to learn as the words can sometimes be quite long and a little less straightforward to say than Japanese can be. However, it’s a beautiful language that’s a lot of fun to learn and speak.
Now, from my experience, easy Korean tongue twisters are difficult to come by, but they’re very satisfying when you get them right. Let’s get this started off right, with a nice bit of soy:

“간장공장 공장장은 강공장장이고 된장공장 공장장은 공공장장이다”
“kan-jang-kong-jang kong-jang-jang-eun kang kong-jang-jang-ee-go, dwen-jang-kong-jang kkong-jang kong-jang-jang-eun kong kong-jang-jang-ee-da.”

This one means, “President Kang is the president of the soy sauce factory, and president Kong is president of the bean paste factory.”

“육통 통장 적금통장은 황색 적금통장이고, 팔통 통장 적금통장은 녹색 적금통장이다”
“Yuk-tong tong-jang jeog-geum-tong chang-eun hwang-saek jeog-geum-tong-jang-i-go, pal-tong tong-chang jeog-geum-tong jang-eun nok-saeg jeog-geum-tong-chang-i-da.”

This mouthful translates as “6 dong bank book savings book is the yellow bank savings book, 8 dong bank book savings book is the green bank savings book.”
Not easy, are they?!

 

So, what do you think? Do you like Japanese and Korean tongue twisters? Let us know what you think of them!

I’m counting on you! Learning to count in Japanese

IMG_0844.PNG

Japanese is a fantastic language and if you are interest in studying it, learning to count should be a high priority for you!

Numbers in Japanese aren’t the hardest subject to grasp, but can be tricky to begin with! Don’t worry, with practice and revision, you’ll soon have it mastered!

Just in case you need a refresher on how to read Hiragana, you can refer back to my original post here!

Evernote Camera Roll 120140625 002833First things first, let’s learn the numbers 1 to 10

 

1 = Ichi/一/いち

2=  Ni/二/に

3= San/三/さん

4=  Yon/四/とん (Shi/四/し is another word for four, but it is used less, because Shi also means death, which is written as 死  in Kanji)

5=  Go/五/ご

6=  Roku/六/ろく

7=  Shichi/七/しち (Another word for seven is Nana/七/なな. I believe this is because, like the word for four, ‘shi’ is associated with the word ‘Shini/死に/しに’ meaning ‘death’)

8=  Hachi/八/はち

9=  Kyuu/九/きゅう (Nine can also be Ku/九/く, but this is also thought to be bad luck as Ku also means suffering 苦)

10= Ju/十/じゅ

 

Not too difficult, right? I actually found the Kanji for the numbers some of the easiest to learn. An easy way to revise them is to write the kanji when writing lists, in place of 1, 2, 3, 4, etc you can write 一、二、三、四、and so on. It’s a little more effort, but that practice will help you memorise the kanji!

That’s pretty much the hardest part of learning the numbers, as counting beyond ten is pretty simple.

For example, 11 is Juichi/十一/じゅいち (simply 10 and 1), 22 is nijuni/二十二/にじゅに (Which directly translates as “two ten two”, meaning two tens and two) and 51 is gojuichi/五十一/ごじゅいち (five ten one).

This information will now get you as from 1 to 99

Here I will list the words up to 10,000

 

100= hyaku                      1000= sen

200= nihyaku                  2000= nisen

300= sambyaku             3000= sanzen

400= yonhyaku              4000= yonsen

500= gohyaku                5000= gosen

600= roppyaku              6000= rokusen

700= nanahyaku           7000= nanasen

800= happyaku              8000= hassen

900= kyuhyaku              9000= kyusen

10,000= ichiman

 

Basically, these work the same as the other numbers. The way I think of it is that the numbers go from bigger to smaller. For example, 10,146 is ichimanhyakuyonjuroku/一万百四十六/いちまんひゃくよんじゅろく

It’s a mouthful, but it makes sense!

 

I hope you learnt something new and exciting in this piece. Next, I will write about the next aspect of counting in Japanese, which is counters! Keep learning and see you soon! Good luck!

 

 

Tattoos and Tattoo aftercare

As I mentioned in one of my recent posts, I have 3 tattoos that I love very much that all carry very strong meanings to me.  They’re important and I want to make sure they last well.

A lot of people ask me

“Wasn’t that really painful?!”

firsttattoo1Personally, if you are worried about pain, probably best to leave getting a tattoo for a while. When I got my first one, I was very scared of the thought of the pain and almost chickened out a bunch of times. Then I laid down on the tattoo bench, and when I sat up I had a tattoo — it really wasn’t that bad!

I will be honest, some points hurt a bit and different areas hurt more or less than others, the thought of the pain hurt more than the pain itself, and the sting of getting a tattoo disappears very quickly.

“Aren’t you worried about regretting it?”

In life, there are some things that we just know and I knew that all of my tattoos were good ideas. They all had very strong messages behind them and I went into the tattoo room absolutely confident in my decision. Trust me, I’m not going to mark myself for the rest of my life if I’m unsure about it.

tat2“Did you get that for a boyfriend/ex?”

No. Getting tattoos like that is a very dangerous idea. Even if you and your partner last a lifetime of love and commitment, you might not always want a tattoo of their name/face/starsign/whatever stuck on you forever!

I 100% recommend against getting tattoos for friends or someone you are in a relationship with. There are so many ways it can go wrong!

“Are you worried about employability?”

Maybe once upon a time, people in western culture couldn’t have tattoos that were visible in the workplace, but times have changed. As long as the tattoos aren’t offensive in any way, then there isn’t much to worry about.

Yes, in other countries tattoos can be an issue, but more and more countries are learning to accept tattoos, especially on those from a culture where they are commonplace.

“There’s this band I love and -“

NO! Please, stop right there. Regardless of how much you love a tv show, band or movie, you don’t need a tattoo from it. Again there are so many things that could go wrong.

You could decide that show sucked, a horrible revelation could be found about someone involved in it, the band could go downhill and your opinion could change — those are just to name a few!

If you are so pushed to get a tattoo of something entertainment or pop culture related, sit on the idea for a good long while before you go through with it.

“So, does that mean you aren’t an actor now?”

So many actors, performers and artists have tattoos. They are a form of self-representation and artistry which artists often can’t get enough of. So many actors, from Justin Chon to Jackson Rathbone to Angelina Jolie, have tattoos and love them! If they have tattoos and can survive as actors, so can I! 🙂

“How do you take care of your tattoos?”

tat3So, the best advice I can give for caring for your tattoos is

1) Don’t sweat it – Seriously, try not to sweat on it too much. Keep that sucker clean and dry(ish)

2) Don’t scratch it – Scratching is can really damage it and cause some serious irritation

3) Careful of allergies – When I got my first tattoo, I used Bepathen  the baby cream to soothe my tattoo. However, I soon realised that it actually felt a lot worse AFTER I applied it and later realised that I am allergic to one of the ingredients in Bepanthen (Lanolin). So, watch out for stuff like that and find something that isn’t going to make you itchy as heck later on!

4) Keep children away – I don’t know how or why, but children have the amazing ability to locate and exploit your weak spots. With every tattoo I have had, some kid (or about 20 kids one time) have managed to cause me eye-watering pain by punching, pinching or scratching my fresh and delicate tattoo. Until it’s healed, keep ’em away!

 

To clean a tattoo, don’t use any drying or irritating product that contain alcohol. You want to keep your tattoo fairly dry, but you don’t want to damage or crack it. Just use gentle soap and water and then dab it try with a CLEAN towel.

If your tattoo shows any signs of infection, contact your tattoo artist and a doctor immediately and see if you need to be put on antibiotics. I have been incredibly lucky with all of my tattoos not to have had any complications, but it’s always better safe than sorry!

 

I hope this piece has been interesting and helpful to you. As always, we want to hear from you, so drop us a comment or send us a message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #learnwithamy!

 

 

 

Couple’s Fashion

 

A couple ring
A couple ring

Love’s awesome we all know it! And some awesome couples, especially the youngsters, love to show off their affection to the world by wearing couple fashion. It’s a common and adorable way of showing your relationship status (I mean, if the girl you like is dressed exactly the same as the guy next to her, you’re probably going to get the hint.)

While very common and popular in Asian, this isn’t a really common thing to do in the West. But if you like this idea and want to try it out with your significant other (S.O for convenience sake), here are some suggestions:

Couple jewellery

Couple rings

Like a wedding ring, but not as serious, couple rings are a cute and personal way of quietly displaying your love and commitment, as well as a nice reminder of your other half when you want them beside you.

Couple necklaces

Necklaces are a cute and slightly more private piece of couple wear, as they can be very discreet and even worn under clothes. These necklaces often fit together in a kind of puzzle fashion and often on long chains, so they can be worn close to the wearer’s heart.

Couple bracelets

Couple bracelets are often just any kind of matching bracelet or watch. Often couples choose to wear their bracelets on opposite hands, so they can be displayed together when holding hands. Again, due to not really being a symbol of relationship status like rings, bracelets are also a very subtle option for love birds.

Couple fashion

Couple co-ordination

Some couples like to go out looking rather similar, so the world can easily identify them as a pair, by co-ordinating their outfits by style or colour.

For example, a couple may co-ordinate to both wear denim or plaid clothes, or both agree to wear blue and white or earth tones. It’s subtle, yet brilliant.

Twin fashion

Some couples like to go even further and actually match the same styles and colours as each other This can go either way and either look really cool or make them look a little bit funny – but I’m happy if they’re happy!

 

Shoes

Some couples enjoy wearing matching colour or styles of shoes when they go out.

Right now, one of the biggest shoe trends in Asia is Timberland style boots, and it’s always so cute when I see couples walking around in matching boots!

 

Couple’s tech

Watches

Matching watches, occasionally custom designs, are popular with couples who want an everyday item that they don’t have to go out of their way to co-ordinate. So watches are a really easy way to go. They wear it every day without thinking, but get to have that bit of matching style that’s both cute and convenient!

 

Phones

It’s very common to see couples with phone accessories or cases that match each other. Some just have matching charms, whilst others go for very flamboyant cases that match or pair with the other (for example, one has a burger phone case and the other has a fries phone case)

It’s cute, fun and a pretty neat conversation starter – and good news for you phone, as any case is better than no case at all!

 

I hope you like all these ideas, and maybe found some inspiration in there! If you have or want to try any of these ideas, let us know in the comment section, or share photos of your couple clothing on FacebookInstagram and Twitter using the hashtag #LearnWithAmy and I’ll share the best ones I see! X

 

Cultural views on tattoos

So, I have 3 tattoos and the reaction to them varies from person to person. Some love them, some hate them and most don’t really care that much.

When I met my best friend, tattoos were one of the first conversation topics between us and I realised that the opinions of tattoos varies greatly from place to place.

tat1
My 3rd tattoo (wrist)

My best friend is Japanese and Japan still has very strong negative views on tattoos and the type of people who get tattoos. To them, tattoos are quite frightening and associated with criminality.

Similarly, but not as extreme, Korea is still not a big fan of tattoo-lovers. Many singers, actors and other creatives alike decorate themselves with tattoos, but they aren’t very common on ‘average’ people. Tattoos are considered a very big decision in Korea, and they should be treated very seriously (probably a good idea for anyone, to be honest).

Around Europe, there are many varying opinions of tattoos, but most are still influenced by the idea of ‘Tattoo=dodgy character’.

Here in Britain, tattoos are INCREDIBLY common and, while we know the understand the association with criminality, we accept that a lot of good honest people have tattoos.

In the restaurant where I work, all but one of the people who work in the back have tattoos and we don’t think that weird in the slightest.

tat3
Brand new! This is what a tattoo looks like for the first day or two.

So, my advice to people with tattoos visiting other countries (especially Asia) is to take care to be respectful and understanding of the culture. If you have a lot of tattoos, try to put people at ease by making your personality clear – and remember that it isn’t their fault that tattoos scare them! Perhaps try to covered your tattoos in some circumstances, just as a gesture of respect.

For those visiting countries where tattoos are commonplace, remember that tattoos are not an indication of criminality. While gang and prison tattoos can serve as warning signs, tattoos are so common and it’s best not to judge someone purely by their tattoos. Try to be understanding and not too judgemental.

 

I’ll be uploading a post and video (yes, a real-life moving video) on how to cover up a tattoo very soon!

As ever, if you have any questions or comments, please let me know in the comments or using the contact form below! X

Excellent language books: Japanese

There are so many books online fore learning languages and they can all vary greatly when it comes to quality. I’ve bought many language books and some of them are fantastic, while others are no-gos so bad that they can set me back weeks in my learning.

So, here are the language books I’ve bought that I’ve absolutely loved (the bad ones will remain nameless)

Japanese from Zero!

This is a series of Japanese textbooks that take you through different levels of skill, starting from zero, and working your way up!

The book clearly explains subject as well as offering fun and helpful exercises to help reinforce your learning!

These books were, in my opinion, TOTALLY worth the time and investment!

 

Teach Yourself Complete Japanese

This is a fantastic book which really manages to set the information in your mind through explanation, exercising and also making use of that information for later exercises and dialogues, so you can reinforce your knowledge.

Learn Complete Japanese was actually the first Japanese book I bought and it was worth every penny as this book really does teach you so much and insures a solid grounding of understanding.

The only issue I found with the book is that, in my opinion, it doesn’t use Hiragana as much as I would like and relies mostly on Romaji. However, that does prevent the student getting too hooked up with learning the characters, and gets them familiar with the language.


Colin’s pocket Japanese Dictionary

For all of your translation needs, this dictionary is a fantastic travelling companion

I take this book most places I go (It’s come in handy helping some lost tourists in London before now!) and it hasn’t failed me once.

This book is a must-have for Japanese learners.


 

I hope my top 3 books are interesting to you! I will be doing more with each book I buy!

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

How to read Hiragana

How to read Hiragana!

I love Japanese! It’s such a fun, energetic and satisfying language to learn – and it isn’t for the faint-hearted! Japanese isn’t the hardest language to learn, but it’s not a piece of cake either — and that’s what adds to the fun! So, let’s get to work!

 

There are three writing systems in Japanese (four if you count Romaji- the Romanization writing system). The one we will be learning today is the most basic one you need to get started with Japanese, if you want to progress beyond Romaji.

So, let’s start with the basic 5!Evernote Camera Roll 120140625 002833

あ [a]

Pronounced “ah”!

い [i]

Pronounced “ee”!

う [u]

Pronounced “oo”!

え [e]

Pronounced “eh”

お [o]

Pronounced “O” — like “Oh” cut short

 

Those really sounded like the noises you make watching a firework display, right! “Oo” “Ah” “Ee”!

Now you know these ones, you’re well on your way to knowing all the sounds you’ll need for speaking Japanese!

Hiragana chart 1

wa
ra
ya
ma
ha
na
ta
sa
ka
a
ri
mi
hi
ni
chi
shi
ki
i
ru
yu
mu
fu
nu
tsu
su
ku
u
re
me
he
ne
te
se
ke
e
wo
ro
yo
mo
ho
no
to
so
ko
o

 

You can download this hand Hiragana chart pdf: hiragana chart

You’ll notice that there are a few odd ones in there. The characters ‘fu’, ‘tsu’ and ‘chi’, and they’re ones you’ll want to be careful of. Thankfully these characters look quite distinctive and it becomes quite tough to miss them once you’ve got the hang of it!

Keep checking the site as I’ll soon be sharing the next Hiragana chart which will complete the set!

Thanks for reading! If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, send me a message using the contact form below!

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