Studying Japanese

Increasing numbers of people around the world are studying Japanese—some 3.65 million in 2009. What makes them want to study Japanese, and what do they hope to gain from their studies? What are the issues and obstacles they face? We take a look at the state of Japanese language study around the world today.

How I Learned Japanese: The Series of Coincidences that Brought Me to JapanShen Caibin

Chinese economist Shen Caibin started down the road that brought him to Japan as the result of an English teacher with a strong Russian accent. After his arrival in Japan, his colleagues at work turned out to be the ideal teachers.

How I Learned Japanese: The Freedom of the Non-Native SpeakerMarei Mentlein

As a presenter of NHK’s German language programs on television and radio, Marei Mentlein is a familiar figure to students of German in Japan. She also writes a regular column introducing European mystery novels to Japanese readers. Here she talks about the path that took her from an early childhood fascination with Chinese characters to discovering the pleasures of writing in Japanese as a student in Tokyo.

How I Learned Japanese: Television and “Manga”Shirin Nezammafi

Iranian-born Shirin Nezammafi arrived in Japan in 1999 and won her first award for Japanese fiction seven years later. In this essay she acknowledges her debt to two important teachers—television and manga.

How I Learned Japanese: Putting the Language to Actual UseAngus Lockyer

Angus Lockyer first went to Japan after he visited his university careers’ office and happened to see a pamphlet saying “teach English in Japan.” Over two decades later, Lockyer is now an expert on Japanese history. In the following he tells his story and discusses his Japanese learning experiences.

“Studying Japanese”: IntroductionKawashima Shin

In recent years, the number of people studying Japanese as a foreign language has been on the rise. In this in-depth series, takes a look at what prompts people to start studying Japanese around the world.

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