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Where Not To Learn Japanese From

This entry is part 3 of 12 in the series Secrets of Speaking

Don’t learn Japanese from novels. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from scientific journals. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from manga. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from newspapers. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from sports. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from comedy. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from young people. You’ll sound like a chav.
Don’t learn Japanese from advertisements. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from anime. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from women. You’ll sound like a transvestite.
Don’t learn Japanese from shop clerks. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from road signs. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from downtown Tokyo. You’ll sound preppy.
Don’t learn Japanese from children. You’ll sound like a retard.
Don’t learn Japanese from legal documents. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from audiobooks. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from old people. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from music. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from regional dialects. You’ll sound like a hick.
Don’t learn Japanese from computer user interfaces. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from fora and textchat. It’s all slang and wickedness.
Don’t learn Japanese from men. They mumble. You’ll sound like a yakuza.
Don’t learn Japanese from self-help books. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from science fiction. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from video games. No one talks that way.
Don’t learn Japanese from native material. There’s too much slang.
Don’t learn Japanese from TV. No one talks that way.
Learn Japanese from textbooks. That’s the real shiz, playa.

Series Navigation<< Mastery is Mastering the BasicsHow To Get A Specific Accent >>

  65 comments for “Where Not To Learn Japanese From

  1. Monochrome
    August 1, 2011 at 22:39


  2. Kris
    August 1, 2011 at 22:55

    Reading this post fried my brain…. It took me a whole minute to get the sarcasm.

    • CentralNervous
      August 7, 2014 at 22:44

      Yeah, it must be. It- It just has to be. I freaking despise language learning textbooks, it’s boring and it’s not my style of learning.

  3. Mekush
    August 1, 2011 at 23:33

    But only from APPROVED textbooks 🙂

  4. Rachel
    August 2, 2011 at 00:06

    Oh darn, I forgot today was opposite day! Oh wait, I mean, oh darn, I remembered today was opposite day.

  5. August 2, 2011 at 00:09

    You forgot JAV 😛

    • Monochrome
      August 2, 2011 at 01:24

      Don’t learn Japanese from JAV. Nobody talks 🙂

      • watt
        August 2, 2011 at 02:12

        That’s not true! They have seven set phrases they use when you, uh… “push their buttons”.


        • Ryan
          August 2, 2011 at 18:24

          That reminds me of a story about a friend of mine in Japan and some confusion about his lady friends strangely timed love of the Korean wonderdish kimchi…

          • ahndoruuu
            August 2, 2011 at 18:34

            This sounds too intriguing to pass up…do tell more, sir! xD

            • Ryan
              August 3, 2011 at 17:26

              He was most perplexed when his cohort for the evening apparently wanted to put a halt on some serious heavy petting for a snack. kimochiiii….

        • August 3, 2011 at 09:50

          Not to mention the stuff before and after… and during. And if you can find one with a *terrible* story, even better 🙂

  6. Chagami
    August 2, 2011 at 00:34

    I really like, “Don’t learn Japanese from anime. No one talks that way.” Haven’t we all heard this a million times before?

    Actually, my personal favourite is about manga. I’ve heard so many people say, “Actually, manga is extremely hard to read.” No, it’s not! The people saying that are just the fools who learned Japanese in university and can’t deal with the unsanitized Japanese found in the Real World…

    • May
      August 3, 2011 at 03:09

      That always gets me! I have a feeling that what people have in mind is like, mahou shoujo anime where the characters say ‘Pyon!~’ after every sentence. What about more mature anime? Or even anime like K-ON!? If no one talks that way then why does that way of talking exist…Either way, I would rather learn from and speak like anime character than spend so much time worrying about my source of learning that I don’t learn anything at all!

      Don’t mind me just going off on a rant XP!

      • Mike
        August 3, 2011 at 14:06

        In reality knowing how to properly use “pyon!” after your sentences is a useful skill. Much in the same way native English speakers screw around in their own language being able to do it in Japanese makes you sound a lot more warm and genuine.

        Plus it’s a fun batsu-game for nomikais … just make the loser say, pyon, nyan, rinko, etc. after everything they say. Good times!

    • Jason
      August 10, 2011 at 10:21

      Some manga ARE pretty hard to read.
      I can read some novels easier than I can read Manga.
      Same reason I can understand the News better than some Japanese variety show
      I can also read novels/news easier than Japanese BBS
      Japanese BBS is nightmare to read sometimes….

  7. Wisamu
    August 2, 2011 at 01:14

    “Don’t learn Japanese from women”

    I know a guy who’s native in Japanese; he learned it from his mum. He doesn’t sound anything like a transvestite in case you’re wondering.

    • ライトニング
      August 2, 2011 at 01:50

      If you are a man you are destined to have a deep voice, it’s the way you talk. No, the differences aren’t that many but I wouldn’t be expected guys to say ・・・ですかしら Either

      • August 7, 2011 at 12:16

        …What if we are already transgender? (I learn from EBERYONE and EVERYTHING JAPANESE, if you didn’t get the hint… *hint hint*

    • Livonor
      August 24, 2013 at 20:16

      In find funny how in the beginning people alerted me about the differences between woman and man speech, after going thorough the stuff I now see that those differences are minimal and easy to perceive, it (sadly) not come even close to portuguese or whatever when you have very deep grammatical structures

  8. Eri
    August 2, 2011 at 01:47

    I think we should change ‘learn’ to ‘study’ and then this is basically accurate. Because ‘studying’ is short term, ‘learning’ is forever. If you only wish to study Japanese, and possible “learn”, albeit badly, for a short amount of time, textbooks are where it’s at.
    I mean, not all textbooks are bad, but you really need to know what you’re getting when you try to use one.

    • ライトニング
      August 2, 2011 at 02:17

      I think you do always learn japanese. Every day for the rest of your life you will have japanese contact, (Well, At least that’s why I am here)、So there is always a chance you will learn something you don’t know. For All i know I could learn a new kanji when I’m 43、 After all, I Want to move there, and nobody can stop me.

      Honestly, I never used a textbook, (i wouldn’t count All about particles one)、 And I’ve gone monolingual, so I don’t think textbooks are completely needed. I am not saying that they are bad, Just posting my experiences.

      • August 7, 2011 at 12:17

        I used textbooks and now I don’t.

        • August 11, 2011 at 10:28

          Not as a result of this article. It was a long time ago that I realized textbooks written in English wouldn’t help me anymore. They would just improve my English.
          I’m at the point where I’m kind of in the middle of switching to Japanese feeding itself. It’s a hard place to be, and I can’t wait to get there. There are probably a ton of good textbooks written in Japanese.

    • Drabant
      August 2, 2011 at 03:32

      Studying implies making an effort. I’m reading manga, but I’m not studying Japanese as I do it. Still, I’m learning from it.

      • August 7, 2011 at 12:18

        You should devote some time to textbook studying too. A little bit of studying can have a great impact on your rest-of-the-day learning.

  9. davnizzle bizzle
    August 2, 2011 at 09:09


  10. caleb
    August 2, 2011 at 12:13

    Seriously, who doesn’t want to be mistaken for a yakuza???

    • Drewskie
      August 3, 2011 at 03:23

      I know, right!?!? Sometimes I have days where I specifically try to nail that accent. If learning Japanese AJATT-style were a major in college, my concentration would be “Gangster Accents”.

  11. August 2, 2011 at 13:20

    I work for an airline. I asked a Polish-born pilot who was hitching a ride how he learned English. He said he loved aviation, so he studied fight manuals in English.

    Years ago I heard of a guy who learned English from reading the King James Bible, a book written in a form of English that was archaic the day it came off the presses in 1611. The guy eventually worked in the latest updates.

    • August 7, 2011 at 12:20

      The material you choose doesn’t really matter, as long as you actually use it. Your brain sorts it all out through context based off of the world around you. You may even only use about 2% of what your source says.

      I still throw a lot of variety in there.

  12. J
    August 2, 2011 at 18:41

    Seriously people he’s joking about what not to do, of course you do all that shit… It’s called total immersion it’s his way of learning and a great one might I add.

    • din mamma
      August 3, 2011 at 00:12

      Oh, it’s a joke? Haha. I’m so glad someone pointed out. Everyone was so confused, me included.

      • August 3, 2011 at 05:19

        It was Opposite Day.

    • August 7, 2011 at 12:21

      He’s also proving a point, that no matter what anybody says or does, YOU are in charge of your education. YOU are in charge of what sources you use.

  13. Kris
    August 2, 2011 at 21:11

    Don’t learn Japanese from Khatzumoto. Foreigners can never truly speak Japanese. It’s too hard.

    • May
      August 3, 2011 at 03:12

      Where is the damn like button on this site…

      • Monochrome
        August 9, 2011 at 21:39

        Right there.

  14. Tiffani
    August 3, 2011 at 23:40

    Don’t learn from audio-described media either, no one talks like that.

    (btw, best thing I’ve found lately. Haven’t you ever wondered how to say things like “he crouches down to quickly pick it up” or “with a startled face”… narrators are my new best friend.) 8D

    • Cullingsong
      August 4, 2011 at 10:11

      Where did you find audio described media?!!!! That sounds great….I really suck at relaying events….it would be great to have something to listen to / practice with.

      • Tiffani
        August 7, 2011 at 08:07

        unfortunately, I found it on accident (like most great things) XD

        here’s the link though :

        • August 7, 2011 at 12:31

          (And you can find the stuff on tudou/soku with soku’s download app, iKU) THANK YOU KHATZ for showing me soku!!!

          • August 7, 2011 at 12:34

            Does anyone know how to find audio described media by a certain tag or term that’s used? It would be nice to have an entire playlist of movies/tv/anime for the blind/Japanese impaired

            • Tiffani
              August 8, 2011 at 08:46

              No idea how to find anything on Tudou/etc because I don’t know a lick of Chinese. 😉

              However, I got this response from a person on Lang-8 when I wrote about this in an entry.

              So, maybe try 解説放送? Good luck :<

  15. crystalsensei
    August 4, 2011 at 08:26

    where shall i learn japanses from? im confused =[

    • 魔法少女☆かなたん
      August 4, 2011 at 10:28

      Google translate.

      It works perfectly, I swear!

      • crystalsensei
        August 4, 2011 at 20:57

        lolz, another sarcasm from this site.

  16. August 4, 2011 at 11:50

    Khatz… you were supposed to post this on April 1st, NOT August 1st!!! xD

    Hey, my brain has an idea! Let’s make August 1st the official AJATT-opposite day! Next year on August 1st let’s:
    – All sneak into a Japanese classroom near us and stay the whole class without falling sleep.
    – Take the book “Shin Nihongo No Kiso” or “Japanese: The Spoken Language” and cram grammar rules like there’s no tomorrow.
    – Drill 30 new kanji, 20+ times each (using the Heisig or the Lazy Kendo methods are strictly forbidden!), and NOT put them in Anki.
    – Not interact with any kind of real Japanese media for the rest of the day.
    – And also, having any kind of feeling resembling fun and enjoyment is completely forbidden…

    … what, no? It’s not a good idea? Hey, where are you goi… hey wait, don’t leave! D:

  17. Amahyl
    August 5, 2011 at 04:38

    “Don’t learn Japanese from women or you’ll sound like a tranvestite”? But I am a woman.

    • ライトニング
      August 5, 2011 at 13:22

      Then you’ll sound like a transvestite 🙂

  18. Trev
    August 6, 2011 at 08:30

    So….. if you happen to be a backwoods yakuza transvestite who doesn’t mind sounding retarded you get to learn from everything?

    • 魔法少女☆かなたん
      August 6, 2011 at 12:20

      oh god, the visual on that… XD

  19. zaynah ming-lodge
    August 18, 2011 at 13:29

    lol good post!

  20. August 18, 2011 at 23:15

    Basically, don’t learn Japanese from native speakers. You’re not a native speaker, so why bother?

    • August 26, 2011 at 01:15

      Talk about completely missing the point… xD
      Or is that sarcasm of the sarcasm? O_o

  21. August 26, 2011 at 10:14

    Yes, and if you didn’t get that it was sarcasm, that’s sad.

    • August 27, 2011 at 05:39

      That’s why I asked, Jennifer. But I apologize nonetheless.

  22. Tako
    October 9, 2019 at 04:43

    At first I was a bit confused, then I thought “ok I see where this is going…”, by the time I got to ”downtown Tokyo” I was cold dead on the floor. Fuckin Ace.

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