I’ve posted before on my blog about different ways that watching anime might help you to learn Japanese. I’ve mentioned how learning exclamations can give you an instant boost on your path to understanding Japanese by allowing you to incorporate Japanese words into your every day life. Not to mention that it helps you to learn the language in the same way that babies do, by using words with high impact that can be used out side of grammatical sentences to express meaning. But this isn’t the only way to utilize anime for language learning purposes. Your favorite anime also shares many surprising attributes with some of the most sophisticated language learning programs on the market today! Spaced repetition vocabulary? Audio samples of native speakers? Anime has that and a whole lot more! And the most important point is that anime has something the language learning programs don’t. Unlike a language lesson, you already know that you are going to have fun with anime!
High Frequency Words, Anime has that!
In many language learning programs you’ll probably hear the term “High Frequency Words” fairly often. What are high frequency words? These are words that are used most often in a certain language. For example, in the English language, the most commonly used word is the word “The”. In language learning programs, these words are usually taught in a list of stand alone vocabulary or at best in sentences with no context surrounding each sentence. Yet in anime, these words naturally pop up quite often in the characters conversations with each other, and they are presented in context so they are easier to understand and remember. And best of all, the words are not in a boring list!
Native Speaker Samples, Anime has the Best Voices in Japan!
Though there are certainly plenty of language learning programs that have quite lack luster audio samples of the languages they are teaching, there are also some programs that actually have fairly okay native voice actors clearly pronouncing the words being taught. But there are two problems with these native speaker samples that are usually featured by these language learning programs. The first problem is that the voice actors in these language learning programs are speaking very slowly and clearly. Though this might be a bit helpful for new language learners, this can also quickly become a weakness that students often struggle to over come later in their learning journey. Language learners become so accustomed to hearing people speak in their target language so slowly and clearly, that the learners don’t develop an “ear” for understanding the language as it is really spoken in the world. And so, they can only understand the very slow and clear version of that language that is being taught in the language learning program. The second problem with the native audio samples in language learning programs is that it’s not some of the best voices in Japan that are featured in these recordings. Yet, in anime, it is the best of Japanese voices that you are listening to. And the training and experience of the voice actors really shines through! It’s a joy to hear the voice actors in anime, so you are more likely to listen carefully and pay attention.
Learning is Just Easier When You are Having Fun!
Many studies have shown that people learn faster when they are enjoying how they are learning. This is one of the reasons children might struggle to learn their multiplication tables and yet excel at remembering every single one of the hundreds of Pokemon along with all their evolution forms and all their attacks. It’s because Pokemon are fun, and math is . . . well . . . Math! Being able to remember it more and learn about things more easily when it is fun is not something that people just grow out of. Even adults are more likely to remember something if it’s a happy memory. Though there are some language learning programs that have game-o-fied the learning process, it’s probably not nearly as enjoyable as your favorite anime. When you are watching your preferred anime, you are naturally paying closer attention, so you are going to pickup and retain a lot more vocabulary than you are likely to do while forcing yourself to sit through a language lesson.