Twitter – Free and Digestible Reading Practice

Twitter and tweets have revolutionized social media, and you can harness this power to improve your Japanese.  In some ways, Japanese language tweets are perfect language learning tools – you can choose to read about topics you like at the Japanese level you like, and each tweet is limited to a mere 140 characters.  Here’s a helpful video offering hints and strategies to use Twitter to learn Japanese.

You can also use Twitter to get mini Japanese lessons sent directly to you.  Maggie-Sensei, for example, tweets often and even answers questions from her Twitter followers.  Bonus.  Learnjapanesepod also has a nice Twitter feed that offers vocab tweets and advertises new lessons on their website (they also have Japanese learning podcasts…more about that in a later post).  Finally, Tofugu also has interesting tweets, including Japanese language learning ones.

A good tip if reading on your cellphone is to take a screen shot of any tweet that you can’t quite read, have the Google Translate App (Android or Apple) scan the photo/page, and then use the App to read the words you couldn’t make out.

Japanese tweets can be a real confidence builder.  For example, for those of us who are a little intimidated by newspapers, I’ve found that a few focused weeks of serious reading efforts will reveal that (as with English) a number of tough kanji keep cropping up time and time again.  It’s rather satisfying to realize that we can tame even the most difficult issues (politics, economics…AKB48….) with a little time and tweet-reading software.

All this to say, the sky is the limit when you explore the world of tweets.  Got a great Twitter feed you like?  Let us know in the comments section below!

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Vocabulary in Context – Great Japan Times Resource

Though pouring over those lists JLPT vocabulary can be helpful, context can bring new meaning to words and let you memorize them more quickly and efficiently.  I find that a great source of both vocab and context are the “Bilingual” series of articles published in The Japan Times.  The articles are timely, well written, and a great source of common and not so common words and phrases to assist you in improving your conversation skills.