JapanesePod101 – A full review

When I started out on my path to Japanese fluency, resources such as textbooks and audio courses on CD were the only realistic way to make progress with this challenging language. Happily, there are now a a lot more choices when it comes to studying Japanese online.

The problem that students of Japanese now face is one of quality rather than quantity. So which solutions give you the best bang for your buck? In my humble opinion, JapanesePod101 is one of the best online courses out there for people who are serious about making significant progress in the language. As promised, I’ve finally got around to writing a complete review so here goes!









Continue reading “JapanesePod101 – A full review” »

Stop texting and start learning! Studying during your commute: Part 1

I moved to Saitama about three months ago, which gives me a commute time of roughly 40 minutes to work. This is longer than the 10 minutes or so from my previous apartment in Tokyo. Well, something interesting happened to my language studies as a result. I find that I am learning a lot more Japanese! For the record, I am a full-time Japanese-English translator; contrary to popular belief, translators still need to constantly learn new vocabulary and industry terminology to stay competitive. This game never ends!

In this series, I’m going to share how you can better use your commute time for learning a foreign language. In today’s post, I will talk about the benefits of studying on your way to work or school.

The benefits of studying during your commute

Regularity: Your commute is a regular time slot that repeats every day. Over time, small increments of time add up to big returns. Let’s do a quick calculation of what this means. A 30 minute commute by train is 60 minutes per day. Assuming you studied Chinese every day during this time (instead of texting your friends or mindlessly browsing Facebook! not that I would ever do that 😉 ) and did the same amount study during the weekends, this amounts to 21,900 minutes a year. Not bad going! In reality, it is much easier to stick to studying during a regular commute than is putting aside time for studying.

Stress relief: I can honestly say that I now look forward to studying Japanese during my commute. When I have a bit more time, I even take the slower train to fit in a bit more learning (I know I am a bit weird for this). I’ll cover the specifics of how I study in another post, but I usually add new material in the mornings and focus on reviewing in the evening. I have found that doing something useful before I even get to work helps relieve some of the stress that comes with working in the hectic concrete jungle that is Tokyo. I feel less rushed and more at ease.

Rewiring the brain: Practically all of the apps you use on your mobile phone, especially social media and games, target the dopamine reward systems in your brain. Each new update, prize, or notification is linked to dopamine release (I once interviewed a gaming company in Singapore who openly told me they base their gaming experience on addicting their users). This might not be so bad in the scheme of things; I’d rather be addicted to Angry Birds than tobacco. But replacing these time killers with something useful (you do want to learn a language, right?) literally rewires your brain. Three months into my new schedule, I am now far more addicted to adding and mastering new words than social media. Rewiring the brain is something that interests me. The internet is such a great tool, but I feel that many of us have been led astray into wasting time and money on it instead of using its full potential for our own long-term benefit and well-being. I recommend reading a book called The Shallows, which is a fascinating (and foreboding) take on the internet’s role in neuroplasticity.

Fun: Following a regular study habit during my commute time has made my enjoy life more. I no longer view my train to work as an annoyance. It’s a marvelous part of the day where I discover new and interesting things about the Japanese language. There is also a sense of achievement as the unknown transforms into the familiar before eventually becoming an old friend.

These are just a few of the advantages of studying your target language every day during your commute. Whether you take public transport or drive, it’s safe to say that you can fit some learning time into your routine. Do you currently study during your commute? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

In the next post, I will share the method I am employing to boost my Japanese knowledge during my commute to work. Until then!

Perapera Firefox is no more

Getting a lot of messages about Perapera for Firefox. The answer is that we are no longer updating it. The last update, we had to hire a freelancer to help fix some issues (no time these days) and barely anyone donated. I’m not sure why people stopped donating lately. I think we got about $40 and spent several hundred. I don’t say that to complain (and we don’t usually keep count anyways), but that’s basically why we are stopping the updates since it’s no longer feasible to continue them. Thank you for your support for all these years. The blog and the Chrome extensions are here to stay but Firefox just got too annoying.

If anyone wants to take it up on themselves to fix the Firefox add-on go ahead. 🙂


Is Japanese hard to learn? Yes and no!

One question that I’m asked all the time is whether Japanese is a difficult language to learn. My instinctual answer would be to say that it’s easy, but I’m 11+ years invested in the language already. Well I would say that wouldn’t I? 😀 However, I do truly believe that anyone can learn Japanese with a little time and effort.
Continue reading “Is Japanese hard to learn? Yes and no!” »

What is the best Japanese dictionary?

Whether you are just starting out with learning Japanese or at a more advanced level, having a good dictionary available is vital. In this article, I will break down my favourite Japanese-English dictionaries for various purposes. Bear in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list nor is it intended as one. It simply represents my own personal experiences with studying Japanese and using it at work.
Continue reading “What is the best Japanese dictionary?” »

Please donate to support the Perapera plugins

Are you a regular user of our Chinese and/or Japanese plugins? Do you wish to see them continue to be updated into the future?

We get daily emails and messages from people requesting improvements and bug fixes. This is great and we are happy that many people still value our plugins. Unfortunately, we can’t continue development work without your support.

Without boring you with the details, we have hired freelancers for the last couple of updates. One way or another, development comes at a cost.

Please make a donation now to support our project.

What are the best podcasts for learning Japanese?

Podcasts can be a fantastic way of rapidly expanding your familiarity with a language. For Japanese, there is a multitude of resources available. In this post, I am going to list up the best Japanese podcasts that I have come across.

JapanesePod101: A great podcast for Japanese learners


Continue reading “What are the best podcasts for learning Japanese?” »

5 ways to reclaim your brain and master a foreign language

The more I study and reflect on my language studies, I have semi-regular realizations about myself and how things work. The most recent is a simple one: A lot of this language learning stuff is as much about what not to do, as what you actually do.

Continue reading “5 ways to reclaim your brain and master a foreign language” »

Learn in Your Car series currently available for free on Audible

Learn in Your Car is a cool series that I’ve been meaning to do a review of for a while. There’s no time for that tonight (I just finished work and it’s almost 3am). However, the other day I noticed that the complete Learn in Your Car audio courses for both Chinese and Japanese are currently available for free with a 30 day Audible trial.

Over 10 hours of quality audio for nothing. That’s a pretty good deal if I ever saw one.

You can download the Learn in Your Car programs from below:

Learn in Your Car Japanese
Learn in Your Car Chinese

And yes, we are still working on the next plugin updates…watch this space!