6 In Japanese learning journey (:/ Korean learning journey (:

Learning vocabulary in audio/video context

it’s amazing how we tend to remember details subconsciously but it’s so difficult to memorize our notes for exams right? We often lament that we can remember song lyrics in a few hours but can never remember all those mathematical formulas etc. That is why I hate and will never memorize vocabulary. If you try to deliberately memorize vocabulary, you will just die a painful brain death. If you think about it logically, there is a ENTIRE new set of words you have to learn – how many flashcards or vocabulary lists will that translate to?

The important thing is to make links with the words and to learn them in a context. When I was studying Korean, my idea of context was mostly articles or written passages. Where I would look up a word in a dictionary and write them down in my notebook. Somehow it worked for me. The audio/video context comes later and usually I see a word in a written context before I hear them spoken in a drama etc. Later on in my learning journey, new vocabulary can come from either the written or audio context.

But in Japanese, I seem to take the opposite approach. The video/audio context is very important for me. I especially LOVE to watch Japanese interviews with Korean artistes – who are speaking in Japanese. So that means DBSK and Big Bang. It’s amazing how some phrases can subconsciously stick into my head when I hear my fav idols say them. lol.

I learnt バッチリ from T.O.P, やばい! from Taeyang, ねばねば from Changmin etc. I love the section where the Japanese hosts will always ask ‘最近覚えたん日本語はなんですか?’ (what new Japanese phrases have you learnt recently?) hahaha usually the answers are pretty hilarious. I learnt バッチリ in that context lol. At first I didn’t think much of it (I don’t deliberately remember what they say) but later on I came across another audio clip where someone else was saying バッチリ and I was like ‘wait. I heard this somewhere… TOP SAID IT!!!’ hahaha.

I’m also randomly listening to Japanese podcasts. I understand a few phrases here and there (not enough to understand what is going on…) but it’s nice to see that I can recognize bits and pieces of the audio. And I learnt a new phrase. なるほど。It’s so commonly used.

Watching dramas help A LOT. Most dramas are centered around a theme, meaning that some words will always be used more often that others. And after listening to those phrases for a few episodes or so, it tends to get stuck in your head. With the context in the drama, it’s easy to figure out what it means.

What is your method of learning vocabulary?

p.s. Any good Japanese dramas to recommend? I watched quite a few some time back and then stopped after watching 恋空. -.- That drama totally destroyed my liking for Japanese dramas. Ridiculous plot. But now my love for Japanese dramas is revived by 君はペット。

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    23 April, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Hmmm my taste my be different from yours but recently I’ve been hooked on a show called Step Father Step. It’s about a infamous thief becoming a pair of twins “step-father”. I like light hearted feel good shows though.

  • Reply
    23 April, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    I also learn a lot of vocabulary from passages, songs and drama ^^. Now I mostly learn vocabulary through songs and Korea audio podcast though. Just keep listening and you will remember it naturally 🙂
    I recommend Absolute boyfriend and Hana Kimi, but it quite old drama though.

  • Reply
    23 April, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    My favorite J-drama of all time is 野ブタ。をプロデュース, which is your typical heartwarming high school story. I’ve watched it like three times. But if you liked 君はペット, you might like 全開ガール! I’m a huge fan of Nishikido Ryo. >< A lot of people like 魔王, the Japanese remake of 마왕 which I quite enjoyed, if you're into mystery/thriller-type things. 流星の絆 (also mystery) is good too! JIN (medical/sci-fi/historical) has been on my To Watch list for ages; I might finally get around to it someday. *sigh*

  • Reply
    23 April, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    You can check out these Jdramas 🙂

    1. Nodame Cantabile (hilarious, classical music, 51st Television Drama Academy Awards Best Drama)
    2. Zettai Kareshi (love the ending song お帰り by Ayaka, buckets of tears toward the ending episodes)
    3. Last Friends (best storyline ever for a Jdrama(personally), about domestic violence, gender identity disorder and trauma, 57th Television Drama Academy Awards Best drama, best script, best theme song-Prisoner of Love by Utada Hikaru)
    4. Attention Please(about air stewardesses, super funny also)
    5. Gokusen (there’s season 2 and 3 also, hilarious school drama)
    6. Trick (magic, supernatural, innovative and clever cases to solve)

  • Reply
    23 April, 2012 at 11:14 PM

    I read a lot and look for words that I don’t know. I try translating articles (but I don’t post it, of course, I don’t wanna mislead people with my crappy translation. XD) I also talk to my Korean friend as often as possible and whenever he’s free. I learn new words and grammar patterns from him.

    I’ve only watched a few Japanese dramas/series. I’m not sure if you’ve seen these dramas before.
    1. 1 Liter of Tears – it’s about a girl who has a rare and an incurable disease. If you like dramas with a romantic or light feel good plot, this is not for you then. This is my fave. =)
    2. Gokusen – I think this is pretty popular. My first Jdrama.
    3. Hana Yori Dango – Japanese version of Boys Over Flowers/Meteor Garden but I like this one better than the other two.
    4. 14 Sai no Haha – it’s a story about a 14 year old girl who got pregnant. The story focuses more on the obstacles she faced after finding out that she’s pregnant. It’s like 1 Liter of Tears (no romantic plot) but this one won’t make you cry as much as 1 Liter of Tears. ㅋㅋ

    I’m not sure if you like animes but I like Prince of Tennis and K-On! and Onegai My Melody. ㅋㅋ

  • Reply
    24 April, 2012 at 5:21 AM

    I totally recommend watashitachi no kyoukasho (great writing and acting) and second nobuta wo produce! Jin is really awesome too. they’re making a korean version of it too. the funny part is one korean company paid japan for the rights to make it and then this other korean company start making drama that is basically same thing as JIN without asking for rights. lol. But anyways I really LOVED that drama, it was my first link to edo jidai and jidai geki (I thought i would never watch jida igeki)

  • Leave a Reply