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Learning Japanese: A Gateway into Culture

Learn the Language of the “Land of the Rising Sun.”
Learning Japanese: A Gateway into Culture is rated 5.0 out of 5 by 6.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful presenter. Fabulous articulation. Wonderful course. One time through the course is not nearly enough. Japanese is a very complex language, particularly with regard to hierarchy of politeness.
Date published: 2022-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great intro and review I can speak some Japanese but I have never really studied from a book or teacher. I am doing this course to improve my understanding of the grammar rules. I know how things are said but sometimes I don’t know why. I also need to learn more Kanji. Great sensei.
Date published: 2022-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course I am *so* glad they’ve done this course. I’ve really been hoping they would do this, and I’ve been enjoying it greatly. Well explained and proceeding at (what is for me) the perfect pace.
Date published: 2022-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course for Beginning Japanese Coincidentally, I had recently started studying Japanese again (after a 20-year hiatus) when this course came out. (I had passed the JLPT N4 exam – upper beginner – but got stuck at N3.) I am extremely pleased and impressed with this. I’ve gone through the first five lessons and taken a close look at later lessons, and the course appears comparable to the textbook I’ve been using for review, Genki 1 (one of the more popular college-level textbooks for first year Japanese and considered appropriate for JLPT N5). There’s all of the vocabulary and grammar typical for Beginning Japanese, and it’s great that Prof. Caldwell chose to show hiragana, katakana, and kanji from the start, supported by the English romaji readings, since the sooner a student is comfortable with the writing systems, the easier it becomes. My only quibble would be that I would have liked more kanji practice and examples in the workbook, but that’s a minor complaint. There are plenty of kanji workbooks out there if you want more. And I do like that the lecture sections on kanji are very informative and demonstrate the stroke sequence. Overall, the material may feel like a lot to beginners, but since its 36 lessons do seem equal to a full year of study, that’s understandable – just take it piece by piece.
Date published: 2022-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Great work! Beautiful font for Hiragana. Just started but well presented! Very happy you did this course!
Date published: 2022-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent way to begin I have barely begun this course, so this is merely a first impression. Learning any language is a challenge, and Japanese more than most, for English speakers. The first lecture was at first overwhelming; so much information! If it had been a live classroom situation, I would have despaired, but with the videos, we can stop and rewind and re-watch passages as many times as we need. I will have to do a lot of that. The course book is over 400 pages, most of it vocabulary lists and lots of exercises; I am grateful for this. Professor Caldwell has put much thought into the course book as well as the lectures and the overall course structure. Perhaps most of all, she is charming and engaging, and that will make this long journey a pleasure.
Date published: 2022-11-25
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Overview

Experience Japan through the vital influence of its language with Learning Japanese: A Gateway into Culture. In 36 lessons, you will learn not only to speak, read, and write Japanese, but to appreciate the culture as revealed in the language—a culture built on respect for others and the supreme importance of community. Your professor, native Japanese speaker Yuki Sasaki Caldwell, teaches with an energy and enthusiasm for her subject that is contagious and her lessons will open a new world to you through the wonders of language.

About

Yuki Sasaki Caldwell

Learning the Japanese language is a powerful step toward better understanding and appreciating the history and the fascinating culture of Japan.

INSTITUTION

University of Georgia

Yuki Sasaki Caldwell is an Instructor of Japanese Language in the Department of Comparative Literature and Intercultural Studies at the University of Georgia (UGA), where she also received her Master of Education degree in Foreign Language Education. In her more than 20 years of teaching at UGA, she has instructed every Japanese language course offered, created course materials, and coached prize-winning students in preparing for speech contests. She is from the city of Sayama, located in Saitama prefecture, part of the Greater Tokyo area.

By This Professor

Learning Japanese: A Gateway into Culture
854
Learning Japanese: A Gateway into Culture

Trailer

Welcome to Japanese! Saying Words You Know

01: Welcome to Japanese! Saying Words You Know

Learn the five vowel and 15 consonant sounds of Japanese, only two of which differ significantly from English. But unlike the English alphabet, each Japanese character can represent a syllable, not just a single sound. Begin to explore the three Japanese writing methods—hiragana, katakana, and kanji.

35 min
Meeting People; Pronouns; Hiragana Start

02: Meeting People; Pronouns; Hiragana Start

As you practice introducing yourself in Japanese using your name and nationality, you will also learn the polite, present, affirmative form of the verb “to be,” and its location within a sentence. While you might also expect to learn all the pronouns, you’ll find that Japanese speakers almost never use second-person pronouns in their conversations. Begin learning to write hiragana.

28 min
Question Words and Identifying Objects

03: Question Words and Identifying Objects

Get an introduction to the basic interrogatives that will help you when you’re in a new culture, as well as the casual and more polite ways to say, “thank you.” Listen to a conversation in which two people are discussing foods with vocabulary you have just learned. You will also practice writing additional hiragana.

21 min
Telling Time; Polite Verbs; Kyoto

04: Telling Time; Polite Verbs; Kyoto

Learn to count to 99 and develop the vocabulary and sentence construction to speak about time. Your grammar lesson will focus on the dictionary non-past-tense of some ru and irregular verbs—always using the polite form of the verb. And, you’ll listen to a conversation between two people as they take the bullet train to Kyoto.

27 min
Negatives; wa and o; Invitations; Harajuku

05: Negatives; wa and o; Invitations; Harajuku

Learn how to ask positive and negative questions, extend an invitation, and identify a direct object in a sentence. As you listen to this lesson’s dialogue, you’ll learn about the famous Tokyo shopping district called Harajuku. You’ll also practice writing new hiragana as you expand your vocabulary.

20 min
U Verbs; Directions and Getting Around Tokyo

06: U Verbs; Directions and Getting Around Tokyo

Discover the U-verbs—those that are neither ru-verbs nor irregular—and the patterns used to change them from their dictionary form into the polite form. In the dialogue, you’ll hear two women asking for directions to a “cat café,” which is very popular in Japan. You’ll also learn about the many wards of Tokyo.

33 min
Shopping; Colors; Big Numbers; Money

07: Shopping; Colors; Big Numbers; Money

You will need this lesson if you plan to do any shopping in Japan! You’ll learn the vocabulary for a variety of stores and restaurants, numbers related to money, and how to speak about animate and inanimate objects—always in the politest forms. You’ll also learn why Japanese school children write their largest numbers like this: 1,0000,0000—with four digits to the right of the comma instead of three.

26 min
Adjectives and Restaurant Orders

08: Adjectives and Restaurant Orders

Learn the meaning of numerous Japanese i- and na-adjectives, increasing your vocabulary and ability to describe the people around you—again, always in the politest terms. You’ll also learn the most appropriate ways to eat Japanese food, whether with chopsticks or a renge, and you’ll have your final lesson in hiragana as you learn the double consonants.

23 min
Suggestions; Appearances; Sakura; Kanji

09: Suggestions; Appearances; Sakura; Kanji

Discover how to add new endings onto verbs you already know in order to create the polite volitional form—the form used when suggesting that someone take a particular action. Learn about the cultural importance of the cherry blossom, including a Japanese song about the sakura, and begin writing your first kanji characters.

26 min
Likes and Dislikes; Manga

10: Likes and Dislikes; Manga

Explore the additional grammar and vocabulary necessary for you to describe in detail if you like or don’t like a particular object or activity. By learning conjunctions, you’ll be able to create more complicated sentence structures. And with a cultural lesson on manga, you’ll see why these popular books appeal to readers of all ages on a wide variety of topics.

24 min
Discussing Skills; Contrasts; Sumo

11: Discussing Skills; Contrasts; Sumo

Learn how to give your opinion about an individual’s skill level on a particular task, as well as the polite (always indirect) way to indicate that you personally excel at something. You’ll also learn some vocabulary for baseball, the most popular sport in Japan, and sumo wrestling, the official national sport.

25 min
The Past; the Week; the Edo Period; Katakana

12: The Past; the Week; the Edo Period; Katakana

In this lesson, you’ll engage with some verb forms for speaking about the past—as well as vocabulary related to the weather, days of the week, and months—and then use those tenses to learn about the historic Edo period. With your first lesson in katakana, you’ll be writing and reading some familiar words.

22 min
Past Activities and Past Adjectives; Sushi

13: Past Activities and Past Adjectives; Sushi

Discover additional ways to speak about the past by using the past-tense forms of i-adjectives, and the aizuchi words that will help your conversation move along more smoothly. You’ll also learn about sushi, from the Edo period up to the present day—and why no one could have eaten the sushi of old with chopsticks.

29 min
Expressing a Desire; the Seasons

14: Expressing a Desire; the Seasons

Learn how to express your desires using the tai desu form of the verb. You’ll also learn the indirect way to convey that you don’t agree with someone’s suggestion; in Japanese, it is not acceptable to bluntly say that you disagree. You will also learn vocabulary related to the seasons, and all the remaining katakana.

25 min
Comparisons; wa versus ga; Mt. Fuji and Hakone

15: Comparisons; wa versus ga; Mt. Fuji and Hakone

Learn how to change adjectives or adverbs into superlatives, and how to best use wa and ga to emphasize the new information in your sentence, communicating more effectively. In this lesson’s dialogue, you’ll learn about the town of Hakone and its beautiful natural features—especially its view of Mt. Fuji.

28 min
Giving Detailed Descriptions; Kanazawa

16: Giving Detailed Descriptions; Kanazawa

In English, we use the single word “and” to connect many different parts of speech. But in Japanese, you’ll learn the words for connecting nouns and those for connecting adjectives. You’ll also learn the Japanese vocabulary for liking something for the first time versus continuing to like it. You’ll discover the beautiful Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa and begin your writing with kanji.

29 min
Explaining Procedures; Counting Things; Trains

17: Explaining Procedures; Counting Things; Trains

Become familiar with additional verbs and verb forms you can use for better conversational flow. Learn about Japanese descriptive counter words—words that let the listener know exactly what class of object you’re counting. In the dialogue, you’ll hear more about train stations, lines, and platforms. And you’ll practice writing more words in kanji.

32 min
Polite Requests; Honorifics; Train Stations

18: Polite Requests; Honorifics; Train Stations

Consider the many different degrees of being polite and gracious in Japanese culture through this vocabulary lesson. While English speakers might use the single word “please,” a Japanese speaker’s choice of polite or honorific words conveys much more information. You’ll also learn more about train stations and you’ll practice writing additional kanji.

31 min
Describing an Action Sequence; Ryokan

19: Describing an Action Sequence; Ryokan

Grasp the important vocabulary you’ll need to express “from” and “to,” as well as the appropriate sentence structure used to express a sequence of actions. Unlike English sentences, which have more flexibility, Japanese sentences always begin with whichever action happens first. Learn about the Japanese ryokan, a traditional-style inn, and continue writing in kanji.

24 min
Ongoing Actions and a Shopping Street

20: Ongoing Actions and a Shopping Street

Explore the differences between English and Japanese present-tense verbs and learn the Japanese progressive form to describe actions that are happening right now. With new dialogue, you’ll learn additional shopping vocabulary. You’ll also practice writing kanji related to numbers, including the more complex form of kanji that is still occasionally used today.

22 min
Asking Permission and Entering a Home

21: Asking Permission and Entering a Home

In Japan, it is appropriate to ask permission to perform many actions that non-Japanese people might take for granted, such as looking closely at an item in a store or even throwing trash in a trash can. Learn the appropriate vocabulary to use each step of the way, so as not to seem pushy or rude. And be sure to use the genkan whenever entering a home; always remove your shoes.

22 min
Family and Friends; Handling Compliments

22: Family and Friends; Handling Compliments

Increase your vocabulary related to family, learning the polite and formal, and modest and humble words for parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Given that modesty is valued so highly in Japanese culture, learn how a Japanese person might react to receiving a compliment on their appearance, achievements, or even on their family’s achievements.

26 min
Keeping Pets; Wearing Clothes; Traffic Lights

23: Keeping Pets; Wearing Clothes; Traffic Lights

Learn the counting words and verbs that apply to keeping small animals to increase your vocabulary when talking about pets. While we use the verb “wear” to describe any clothes or shoes, you’ll learn the specific Japanese verbs that refer to clothes that cover specific parts of the body. You’ll also learn the words for colors—and the special historic relationship between blue and green.

32 min
Describing Uncompleted Actions; Golden Week

24: Describing Uncompleted Actions; Golden Week

Discover why naming the months is so much easier in Japanese than in English, but why counting the days is so much more complicated. You’ll learn that Japanese verb tenses are not about whether an action takes place in the past or present, but whether the action has been completed. And you’ll discover the joys and challenges of Golden Week.

32 min
Negative Requests; Casual Speech; Age; a Zoo

25: Negative Requests; Casual Speech; Age; a Zoo

Explore the vocabulary and syntax for making polite negative requests, and the difference between the easier ru-verbs and the more difficult u-verbs. You’ll also discover some more casual conversational vocabulary, learning how it differs from the more polite, and the circumstances in which casual use is acceptable. Learn vocabulary related to a person’s age and to the zoo.

34 min
Casual Plain Forms; Obligations; Matcha

26: Casual Plain Forms; Obligations; Matcha

Further explore the casual plain forms of speech and their acceptable usage within family and non-family relationships. While non-native speakers might imagine that casual speech promotes friendliness, in Japanese culture it could be taken as childish or even rude. You’ll also learn plain form vocabulary for expressing obligation, discover the popularity of matcha tea, and practice writing the more formal kanji for “America.”

28 min
Intentions; Counting People; Shabu-shabu

27: Intentions; Counting People; Shabu-shabu

Although present tense is used when speaking of the future in Japanese, in this lesson, you’ll learn specific vocabulary for speaking about future intentions and plans. Learn the counter words for counting people—both casual and polite. And you’ll increase your vocabulary related to food and restaurants.

25 min
Talking About Past Experiences; Pachinko

28: Talking About Past Experiences; Pachinko

Develop the vocabulary and syntax to enable you to discuss past experiences, starting with the past affirmative plain form of the verbs, and then adding the negative. You’ll also learn about the role pachinko plays in Japanese culture, as well as practice additional kanji.

26 min
Giving Advice; Anime and Akihabara

29: Giving Advice; Anime and Akihabara

Learn an additional plain form that is used when expressing comparisons, either between nouns or action verbs, and for giving advice in either the positive or negative. You will also discover Akihabara—originally known as denki-gai or “electric town”—an area in Tokyo known for selling anything related to anime, manga, and video games.

31 min
Making Casual Suggestions; Furusato

30: Making Casual Suggestions; Furusato

Learn a new, plain volitional verb form used when making casual suggestions, as well as vocabulary to actively encourage someone to act right now. You’ll also practice the tonal pattern of specific words, when the tone can completely change the meaning of the syllables. And you’ll learn the song Furusato, meaning “old home,” used during the closing ceremony of the Nagano Olympics.

31 min
Stating Opinions; Kimono and Washoku

31: Stating Opinions; Kimono and Washoku

Focus on the specific vocabulary and verb forms for asking someone their opinion, and for answering the question when you are asked—whether in the positive or the negative. You’ll review the meaning of kimono, and learn how to describe general Japanese, Eastern, and Western clothing, food, rooms, and even plumbing. And you’ll practice several related kanji.

37 min
Conveying What Others Say; Tanabata Festival

32: Conveying What Others Say; Tanabata Festival

Learn the correct vocabulary and verb tenses for describing what someone else has said, including Japanese quotation marks. Learn about Tanabata, the Star Festival, and how it has come to be held in either July or August. You’ll learn about how the towns are decorated for the holiday, and the song Tanabata-sama.

31 min
Explanations with Feeling; New Year’s

33: Explanations with Feeling; New Year’s

It’s not uncommon for two Japanese people in a conversation to be aware of a condition or situation that they do not want to mention directly. Discover the n desu or n da vocabulary and syntax used in that situation. You’ll also learn how to count months, and the many ways the New Year’s holiday is celebrated in Japan—with special foods, decorations, and New Year’s postcards.

34 min
Weather, Conjectures, and Visiting Places

34: Weather, Conjectures, and Visiting Places

Learn to use deshou or darou when speaking of something you can’t be 100% sure about—from tomorrow’s weather to the quality of food at tonight’s restaurant—as well as other verbs and adjectives to describe what might happen in the future or what might have happened in the past. Explore many beautiful places you might visit on your trip to Japan.

33 min
Talking About What You Can Do; Hibachi

35: Talking About What You Can Do; Hibachi

Learn the potential forms of verbs, the most common way to express an ability to do something. You’ll learn how to ask the questions of someone else, how to answer when someone asks about your own abilities, and how to work with a few verbs that don’t have a potential form. You’ll also learn a bit about the differences between hibachi and teppan-yaki.

29 min
A Review; Future Intentions; Liking Someone

36: A Review; Future Intentions; Liking Someone

Bring your Japanese language experience to an end with the volitional verb form—how to talk about what you intend to do—in addition to reviewing the forms you’ve already learned. Discover the appropriate vocabulary to use when you want to say you like a person, which is different than the terms used to express appreciation for an object or action. Learn to write kanjis for the four seasons—and this course’s final kanji which means “to end.”

25 min