Monday, 21 April 2014

JAPANESE LEARNING TIP#1: How 'doraemon' can help you learn Japanese ! 「ドラえもん」

I've recently become a fan of Doraemon! (*´ω`*) 

Doraemon is a famous Japanese manga and anime loved by all Japanese children and adults, and even abroad! The story goes about a robotic cat named Doraemon, who is sent from the future to help a young boy named Nobita. Whenever Nobita is being bullied or in trouble, Doraemon comes to his aid. Doaremon pulls out a special, magic gadget from his pocket which ends up saving Nobita, but also sometimes causes more trouble. The other main characters of the series include: Shizuka a neighbourhood girl who is the love interest of Nobita, Gian and Sueno who are also neighbourhood kids that often bully Nobita. 
Doraemon's endless pocket

Doraemon is a super great anime/manga improve my Japanese with! Which is why everyday I'm watching at least one-four 12 minute episodes of Doraemon. 

What I want and need right now to improve my Japanese 
I've been studying Japanese for approximately 2 years now. My language level is approximately the bottom end of intermediate level, so I have a long way to go with my Japanese! My strong point is speaking/listening and my weak point is kanji. And as a keen language learner, I'm always looking for new ways to improve my Japanese and also quicken the road to fluency. 

So... at the moment:

I want to increase my vocabulary bank! Vocabulary is a huge list in any language, especially in Japanese. (Words aren't re-used as often as in English, they sound similar and it seems like there are different words for everything !!! - my personal opinion) 

I've been watching J-dramas/movies, Japanese interviews and more Japanese TV-shows for a few years now, however despite improving my listening skills and pronunciation, none of them are really benefiting me the way I want right now.

So why is Doraemon perfect for Japanese language learners - especially at a low intermediate level or higher?
  • At my current level, I can already understand 55-70% of the dialogue 
    • This creates a base for my learning - and I can improve more easily with this base 
  • Everyday colloquial language is used and at a basic level
    • I'm not exposed to this in the classroom 
  • Doraemon is aimed at children (5 years +), therefore the language is easier to comprehend compared to adult/teenage language
    • N.B. Some language may be somewhat irrelevant, since children need to learn everything, strange/uncommon words are used to increase their vocabulary bank
    • At the moment my aim is to learn important and common words used   
  • I pick up new, necessary and useful vocabulary, phrases and grammar all the time 
  • Doraemon is often referenced in Japanese television shows, daily life and I'll need to understand these references one day
    • For example Doraemon's gadgets - 'anywhere door' or 'time machine' 
  • I can deepen my understanding of Japanese culture and customs to some extent
    • Doraemon often incorporates aspects of Japanese culture - some of which I do not know about yet
  • Doraemon uses furigana in the manga
    • I can learn new kanji

How to utilise Doraemon the anime as your learning aid in 5 simple steps:

    • I cannot stress this enough - you will read the English instead of listening to the Japanese. You may think/believe you can improve your Japanese by seeing the English then translating it, but you won't!! Eng-sub's are distraction and a HINDRANCE!
  2. Watch Doraemon with Japanese subtitles and read them
    • This will improve your reading speed, kanji readings, grammar structure, spelling and help to understand any vocabulary you don't know
  3. Write down/take a mental note of any vocabulary you find important in any particular episode
    •  Revise this newly learnt vocab and then re-watch the episode again later - REPEAT
  4. Do not try to learn or understand everything in one episode straight away
    • Slowly break down the episode and focus on the main sections you didn't understand at first
  5. Enjoy watching/reading Doraemon
    • Unless you enjoy this series, you won't improve a lot. 
    • If Doraemon isn't suited to your tastes, pick another show/manga at a similar level. [I recommend クレヨンしんちゃん - Crayon Shin Chan] If Doraemon becomes too simple for you, change your learning aid to a more difficult one and use the same techniques 
    • If you really can't stand children shows, try adult/teenage shows - but you must realise they will be more difficult to learn from

Where can I watch Doaremon?

Watching one 12 minute episode everyday is achievable, it takes no time at all! It's a relaxing and enjoyable way to study. There are over 1000 episodes of Doraemon, so I can easily find episodes on the internet, especially on youtube. You can watch these for free and you'll never have a shortage of episodes (haha). 

I searched 'Doraemon ep Japanese dub' into youtube and various results came up. I began my study with Doaremon using videos with a Japanese dub but without Japanese subtitles, since they are difficult to find. However I found this was difficult to improve my Japanese with, because I needed to use the Japanese sub.

However I finally and luckily came across a youtube channel which uploads the LATEST Doraemon episodes with Japanese subtitles. 

Youtube channels with Doraemon episodes




Also, if you want to use Japanese subs, try this website:
The download will provide you only with the Japanese subtitles, which you then need to add to your downloaded video.

Where can I read Doraemon?

I plan on buying Doraemon manga next time I visit Japan, since one manga book costs around $5. I want to buy the manga because I prefer owning a hard copy and I can write my own annotations. If you also want to buy Doraemon, try your local kinokuniya store or ordering it online.

Doraemon manga is also available online! I found a great website which has 45 raw volumes scanned online, as well an information section about Doraemon. 


I hope you found this blog post useful and that you'll also become a Doraemon fan in no time.

Please let me know what sources you use to improve you Japanese in the comment section below! 
\(^o^)/ And, if you do use doraemon the way I am, let me know how it is going for you.

I'm also thinking of starting a blog post series about Japanese learning tips, so keep posted for that. Thanks for reading! Cya  ~