Learning Japanese doesn’t have to involve only mundane textbook drills, stressing out over JLPT tests and endless flipping of Anki flashcards. At least that’s what Tyler James, a teacher and game industry expert at the Japanese Language and Media Institute (JLMI) in Tokyo, wants students to realize.
“It’s easy to supplement orthodox ways of studying with modern elements such as J-pop, dramas and movies, and video games,” he says, referring to JLMI’s course emphasis on hands-on activities and interaction with contemporary Japanese pop culture.
Japanese Pop Culture and Language Learning Workshops with JLMI
Launching this July, a brand new series of workshops headed by James and his colleagues at JLMI are designed to help students do exactly that. Aimed at beginners (no prior knowledge of Japanese is required), each workshop offers the chance to learn and practice simple words and phrases — around the N5 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) — through engaging activities related to different aspects of Japanese pop culture. From playing video games to anime voice overs to making your own movie, the unique sessions allow students to try their hand at something completely different and pick up some easy Japanese at the same time.
The workshops are open to anybody interested in Japan, the Japanese language or Japanese pop culture. You don’t need to be a resident to attend, so even if you’re just visiting Tokyo for that week you can give it a try. While classes will be conducted in English and Japanese, students only need to have conversational level ability in English. The whole point is to engage with Japanese pop culture in cool and exciting ways.
Running from Monday, July 23, through Friday, July 27, workshops start at 10 a.m. and end at 2 p.m., with a lunch break in-between, and take place at JLMI in Nihonbashi. The nice part is that, while the workshops take place as a series over one week, you can choose to attend as many as you like, whether that’s just the one or two you’re most interested in — or all five.
Day 1: Useful Japanese Found in Video Games
Learn from and try your hand at a video game walkthrough in Japanese, picking up gamer lingo like 斧 (ono, meaning “axe”), 召喚する (shoukan suru, meaning “to summon”) and 攻撃する (kougeki suru, meaning “to attack”). The workshop will also teach natural speaking rhythm, tone and greetings as well as a variety of nouns, adjectives, verbs and set phrases found in the video game.
Day 2: English Subtitling for Japanese Anime
Try out professional subtitling software in order to create your own anime subtitles in the second workshop. Working with Japanese-to-English translations, students will think about how to craft an appropriate translation of Japan-specific concepts or phrases that make sense to an audience that might not know anything about Japan such as 先輩 (senpai, meaning “superiors” or “seniors”) and 後輩 (kouhai, meaning “juniors” or “subordinates”).
Day 3: Learn Japanese Singing J-Pop and Anime Songs
In this workshop, students will practice natural Japanese pronunciation through karaoke exercises and songs, going over pronunciation as well as the meaning of song lyrics and what they reveal about Japanese culture.
Day 4: Create Your Own Movie Clip in Japanese
Perfect for aspiring vloggers, videographers and filmmakers, this workshop teaches students how to make a short video in Japanese. You’ll learn everything from storyboarding to filming and editing, before practicing adding your own captions in Japanese. By the end you’ll have your own mini-movie to add to your budding portfolio.
Day 5: Japanese Anime Voice Acting Experience
Get a rare insight into what goes into anime voice acting in the final workshop. After watching scenes from a variety of anime, listening to the Japanese spoken and running through multiple repetition drills to practice intonation and rhythm, each student will be able to record their version of the characters’ voices. This workshop will be taught by a professional localization director, and will help students with their pronunciation, tone and natural rhythm in spoken Japanese.
Costs and how to apply
For all five workshops, the cost is ¥21,600. Individual workshops cost ¥4,320. Anybody interested in applying should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with their name and phone number or email address.
Good news! JLMI plans to run this fun series of workshops multiple times throughout the year. Plus, the school is currently developing additional courses for intermediate and advanced learners which will focus more on practical Japanese for business and everyday life. These new workshops will also use popular media to teach valuable language skills and cultural insight for those who hope to build a career in media, and settle long term in Japan.
Students with more advanced skills can also go on to explore the school’s Japanese to English media translation courses, including the popular Japanese to English Visual Media Translation Course run by the Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy, the parent school of JLMI.
“We want to show people interested in Japan that there are indeed fun ways to learn Japanese,” says James. “These workshops are a doorway for new learners into the world of the Japanese language.”
Tyler and his fellow teachers at JLMI are all industry professionals, keen to share their love of Japanese pop culture with like-minded students. Who knows? It could even be the start of a journey to Japanese fluency and building a life in Japan.
“All instructors here at JLMI are experienced in the fields of visual media, so we are sure that students will go home feeling like the had fun and that they learned something,” says James.
JLMI is part of the Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy, one of Japan’s leading media translation schools. JLMI and JVTA provide skill-oriented Japanese language courses for foreigners wanting to develop a career in Japan. An activity-focussed, engaging curriculum is taught by experienced industry experts with the aim of helping students establish themselves as professionals in the ever-changing field of contemporary Japanese media.
Learn more about JLMI at their Facebook Page.