This is the last part of chapter 2 and it goes from page 76 to 96. (See my notes on the previous part)

Inspector Kaga finally entered the stage at the end of the previous part. Even if he did appear earlier, we didn’t know it was him (well, I guess that, like me, every fan of Kaga knew he was the detective looking so scrupulously at those receipts).

I realize that I really like Kaga, his cool and clear way of thinking, the thoroughness with which he digs every details, his discreet way of asking the good questions and his overall personality. He does have a painful episode in his past, but it didn’t lead him to alcoholism, unpleasantness or depression.

Higashino Keigo’s way of writing is such that the reader cannot always follow Kaga’s thoughts. There are several focalizations in his novel, the reader is not always following the detective work, and is not always allowed in Kaga’s head. For example, at the beginning of this part, we still don’t know what Kaga thinks of the case or why he called to see Yasumasa. Let’s find out!

  • 巡査部長・じゅんさぶちょう sergeant. That’s Kaga’s police rank, written on his card.
  • 刺激・しげき stimulus. It is used together with 記憶・きおく to say that his memory is being solicited. Yasumasa remembers Kaga’s name and face but can’t recall from where.

Kaga mentions his father, who is also policeman. Kaga’s relation with his father is mainly deal with in the first novel of the series 「卒業」・そつぎょう

  • 空き袋・あきぶくろ empty package
  • 抜かりなく・ぬかりなく with no slip, no oversight. Thinking of everything and making no mistake
  • ごくたまに on rare occasions

When Kaga points out that Sonoko certainly had some previous knowledge of how to die from electrocution without pain, he uses the word 予備知識・よびちしき which I learnt while reading the precedent part of the novel. I am very glad when a word I have just learnt pops up again!

  • 近寄りがたい・ちかよりがたい be hard to approach. Using the grammar “がたい” (hard, difficult to)
  • 合点・がてん agreement, understanding, assent
  • 炬燵・こたつ Kotatsu. I was familiar with the word, but not with the kanji.
  • 繋ぐ・つなぐ to connect. Again, known word, unknown kanji…
  • 皮膜・ひまく coating, film, membrane
  • 削り滓・けずりかす shavings
  • 瞼・まぶた means eyelid, but 瞼に浮かぶ・まぶたにうかぶ means “come, flash across one’s mind”
  • 妥当・だとう valid, proper, right, appropriate
  • 銘柄・めいがら brand (here, of wine)
  • 好む・このむ to like, to prefer
  • 平坦・へいたん even, flat
  • 細波・さざなみ ripple on water. (Certainly a way to say that Kaga’s questions are becoming dangerous)
  • 気取る・けどる to suspect, to sense
  • とどまる means, to remain, to stay, to abide. I think it is used to say that Yasumasa thought of saying that Sonoko threw the rest of the wine in the sink but it remained a thought, i.e. he didn’t say it.
  • 舐める・なめる means to lick, but here, obviously, it has another meaning which is: underestimate, make light of.
  • 飲みかけ・のみかけ means “partially consuming a drink” but what Yasumasa wants to say is that Sonoko drank the bottle in several times.
  • 宵越し・よいごし kept overnight
  • 通・つう connoisseur. This time I knew the kanji (and was wondering what it was doing here), but didn’t know the word… comme quoi !

So that’s why Kaga was dissecting the receipts! I like the way he doesn’t let himself be satisfied with vague answers and keep digging until what is plausible becomes likely. Higashino Keigo really created a unique detective figure, a shame Kaga’s series isn’t more translated…

  • 几帳面・きちょうめん methodical, punctual, steady
  • 家計簿・かけいぼ household account book
  • 貰う・もらう First time I see this verb written in kanji…
  • 貰い物・もらいもの received present, gift.
  • 根掘り葉掘り・ねほりはほり thoroughly, persistently, through-and-through
  • こめかみ temple
  • 素早く・すばやく quickly
  • 先読み・さきよみ foreseeing, anticipating
  • 致命傷・ちめいしょう fatal wound
  • 漠然・ばくぜん obscure, vague, equivocal
  • 苛立ち・いらだち irritation
  • 馴染む・なじむ to fit in, to adapt oneself

“孤独に耐えられなかった…” A good reminder that 耐える・たえる (to bear, to stand, to endure) is used with に and not を. Reading is a good way to change grammar into language.

  • 襲う・おそう to assail, to strike, to attack
  • 引き金・ひきがね trigger
  • 出来事・できごと incident, affair
  • 提起・ていき raise a question
  • 答弁・とうべん response, defense
  • 気が回る・きがまわる to be attentive to small details
  • 不服・ふふく dissatisfaction, discontent
  • 掘り下げる・ほりさげる to investigate further, to get to the bottom of
  • 警戒心・けいかいしん wariness, distrust
  • 罠・わな trap, subterfuge
  • 乾燥・かんそう dryness

I really appreciate the author’s style to not let the reader know what Kaga has on his mind. The thing with the sink is simply brilliant!

  • 意表・いひょう surprise, something unexpected
  • 伝票・でんぴょう sales slip
  • 翻す・ひるがえす to turn over, to turn around
  • 指摘・してき pointing out
  • 経緯・いきさつ sequence of events, chronology, circumstances, how it started, how things got this way
  • 瞬き・まばたき blink of eyes
  • 不審・ふしん doubt, question, distrust, suspicion
  • 緩める・ゆるめる to loosen, to slow down
  • 密室・みっしつ room that cannot be entered because it’s locked from the inside
  • 得策・とくさく profitable plan. This word already appeared in the first part of the second chapter, when Yasumasa asks himself whether it would be profitable to handle the second key to the police
  • 反芻・はんすう Turning over in one’s mind
  • 裏付け・うらづけ backing, support
  • 付着・ふちゃく sticking to
  • 錆止め・さびどめ anti-corrosive
  • 委ねる・ゆだねる to entrust a matter to, to leave to
  • 無念・むねん chagrin
  • 肝心・かんじん essential, fundamental

At the end of chapter 2, we know what Yasumasa has in mind and how he came to his conclusions. It seems clear, though, that he didn’t convince Kaga.

The previous book of the Kaga series was such a masterpiece that I was afraid this one should seem a little fade. But it’s not 😀

My three daily anki decks 2: kanji

I talked about my deck of words in this post.

As for my deck of kanji, a note gives two cards which are:

1- Anki displays the kanji and some words using this kanji. I must know the kanji’s approximative meaning and I must pronounce the words.

Note that I don’t bother saying all the pronunciation of the kanji, I just can’t remember them all, and anyway, it would not be useful for me to do so. I try to be practical and what is useful to me is to know how words are pronounced so I just focus on the words.

スケッチ4As you can see, I visually separate the on and the kun readings. This really helps me!

As for the words, they are all in my deck of words, which means that I am supposed to know their meaning.

Anki displays the meaning and the pronunciation of the kanji, I must write the kanji and I should also write the words, but to be honest I often skip this step…


If you like my deck settings, here are some instructions:

First, you have to create a field for each information: kanji, English, on, kun, word (kanji) on, word (pronunciation) on, word (kanji) kun, word (pronunciation) kun.

As for the settings, the card which shows the kanji looks like:


“mot on” and “mot kun” stand for the word in kanji.

I created two different .class because I wanted the on and the kun pronunciation to be in different colour.

The card which show the pronunciation:

スケッチ6My default .class has a Japanese font, that’s why I created a .class for English (here: “anglais”).

“on” and “kun” are just the pronunciation of the kanji

“pro on” and “pro kun” are the pronunciation of the words.


As for the css, I really think that using two different colours is helpful and it is just something you need to write once, so it really doesn’t take time.


I am no html pro, I just tried something and it worked so I didn’t ask myself whether there was a better way to do it or not. If you are horrified by this piece of html code, please don’t hesitate to post suggestions!




In fact, I should be reviewing my kanji deck instead of posting about it… 😕






Ready for the 4th story of すーちゃん! p.25 to 31. I’ll try to write more from now on, I realize that posting only vocabulary may seem too dictionary-like.


“悪いけど… even if you don’t meant it”. Haha. I remember exactly the first time I learnt ”悪いけど” it was in the Ghibli studio film Ocean Waves. Not my favorite one, but a good one to learn Japanese. When I heard that expression for the first time in the film, I found it very strange because so obviously hypocrite. If you really think that something is bad, why ask for it? That’s why I find what Maichan says so funny.

  • 権力・けんりょく power, authority
  • 屈折・くっせつ bending, refraction, inflection, warping, distortion…. mmh
  • つけ方・つけかた way of affixing sth….
  • ねじ曲がる・ねじまがる to be twisted, to be wrapped, to be distorted

Well, to be honest, I don’t understand what Maichan is saying… I have searched for unknown words and I know all the grammar but the first half of p.26 just don’t make sense to me.

If I were just reading for pleasure, I would just skip this part and continue reading. But as I am studying this book, let’s try to become clever.

Maichan says that her reports are perfect but that her boss wants from time to time to show his little authority (in asking her to write them again).

屈折した自信のつけ方、ねじ曲がった心、死んでくれないかな~ ってのはいくらなんでもひどいか消えてくれないかな~

自信の付け方・じしんのつけかた is an expression which means gaining self-confidence, way of being self-confident.

I don’t quite understand the verb 屈折した here… as for the rest, if we assume that she is still speaking of her boss, it could be something like : “His distorted self-confidence, his contorted mind, couldn’t they die? As cruel as it may sounds, couldn’t they disappear?”

Well it does make sense… she knows it is heartless to think such a thing but she would like her chief to loose his confidence so that he won’t be constantly applying his power on her.

  • 了解・りょうかい understood

Then she calls her lover, we knew from the second story that she has an affair with a married man.

  • 誠実・せいじつ sincere, honest, faithful
  • 受け入れる・うけいれる to accept, to receive, to agree. 受け入れさせる・うけいれさせる is the causative form, so: to make sb accept sth. 受け入れさせようとしてる・うけいれさせようとしてる trying to make sb accept sth, make sure sb will accept…
  • さつまあげ・薩摩揚 deep-fried ball of fish paste

Suchan tells Maichan that she will bring her 持ってく・もってく some Satsumaage because she got some (I guess, from her work).

Maichan is returning home. Wait, is she actually farting in her kitchen?

  • 思いっきり・おもいっきり with all one’s heart
  • アナラ・あなら wind, gas, fart

Maichan says that passing wind with all one’s heart is one of the joy of living alone, haha.

  • 正当化・せいとうか justification
  • 淋しい・さびしい it is another way to write 寂しい, lonely

“雨降れ” haha, I can’t help but feeling sympathy for Maichan’s feelings.




Roots and stamina

Prompted to reflect on Roots and writing a blog about Japanese learning, I naturally had a look at how to say “root” in Japanese.

The interesting thing is that the character to say «root» (根・こん) also means “perseverance”, “stamina”, “mental energy”.

So, reflecting on roots being the source of our stamina and energy, I looked up to find inspiration in the air and… I saw it.

The onion I bought two weeks ago and forgot on the lower shelf, with no water and almost no light, was growing little roots and magnificent leaves, proud like a tropical palm tree on a sunny beach, between the spaghetti packs and the canned cat food.

Now, I’m almost tempted to take the onion on the lower shelf as my role model.

Even in the most precarious situation, the onion remembered that roots, as tiny as they may be, give perseverance, stamina and energy and it achieved what it wanted to achieve, it grew to become something better, it didn’t care about the lack of resources, about having no expectations and facing an uncertain future, it didn’t ask itself whether its post will be read or not, it just created and went forward.

If it did it, I can do it!


My reading notes for the second part of chapter 2.

練馬区・ねりまく is a special ward in Tokyo.

Now, I have always wondered what was exactly a 交番・こうばん. It seems to be a small neighborhood police station. In the novel, two police officers 警官・けいかん come from the nearest 交番 to secure the area while the detectives 刑事・けいじ will later come from the police station of Nerima: 練馬警察署・ねりまけいさつしょ.

Sometimes, I just learn words without really know their meaning. So I was dummingly learning 交番 = police station, 警察署 = police station. Now I think I know the difference, at least, one difference.

  • 差し支える・さしつかえる to interfere, to hinder
  • 差し支えなければ・さしつかえなければ if you don’t mind, if you don’t mind my asking
  • 所属・しょぞく attached to, belong to
  • 急遽・きゅうきょ hurriedly, in a hurry
  • 殆ど・ほとんど nearly, pratically, mostly. (Many words that are usually written in hiragana appear in kanji in novels)
  • 全く・まったく an another example of usually in hiragana words written in kanji.
  • 迂闊・うかつ careless, studid, thoughtless
  • 顔を歪める・かおをゆがめる make a grimace
  • 立ち直る・たちなおる to regain one’s footing, to get back on one’s feet
  • おだて flattery
  • 隙間・すきま gasp, opening
  • 特殊・とくしゅ special, paticular, peculiar, unique
  • 感電死・かんでんし electrocution
  • 咄嗟・とつさ moment, instant
  • 遺体・いたい corpse, remains
  • 解剖・かいぼう dissection, autopsy
  • 司法解剖・しほうかいぼう legally-odered autopsy
  • 行政解剖・ぎょうせいかいぼう administrative autopsy

A search on the internet allows me to say that a legally-ordered autopsy is done when there is a crime or the police suspects a crime and the administrative autopsy if not. In other words, Yasumasa is asking himself if the police will conclude to a murder or a suicide.

  • 裏付ける・うらづける backing, support
  • 落胆・らくたん discouragement
  • 遺族・いぞく bereaved family
  • ダイレクトメール Direct mail = advertising mail
  • 状差し・じょうさし letter rack
  • 察知・さっち sense (like in: sensing danger)
  • 収穫・しゅうかく harvest, crop
  • 池袋駅・いけぶくろえき station Ikebukuro, Tokyo
  • ~を 済ませる・すませる to finish, to get through with
  • 仰天・ぎょうてん being horrified, being taken aback
  • 腹芸・はらげい expressing oneself without words or gestures
  • 弔事・ちょうじ mourning
  • 遺留品・いりゅうひん lost articles (left somewhere)
  • 推測・すいそく guess, conjecture
  • 辛うじて・からうじて barely, narrowly, just manage to do something
  • 鮮やかな・あざやかな vivid, bright, brilliant
  • 蘇る・よみがえる to be recalled, to be brought back (feelings, memories)
  • 本音・ほんね real intention, motive
  • 痴情・ちじょう foolish passion, blind love
  • 予備知識・よびちしき background knowledge, prerequisite knowledge
  • 聡明・そうめい wisdom, sagacity
  • 歯切れのいい・はぎれのいい crisp, staccato, piquant, clear


A photo of the book cover of 星の王子さま, the Japanese version of Le Petit Prince


My reading notes for the second part of Le Petit Prince in japanese. (p11 to 16). The narrator meets the Little Prince for the first time and draws several sheep. (Notes for the first part)

  • 砂漠・さばく desert
  • 不時着・ふじちゃく emergency landing (不時・ふじ means emergency, unexpectedness)
  • 整備士・せいびし mechanic (person). 整備・せいび means maintenance, servicing, outfitting and it is one of those words I have difficulties to remember because I don’t know exactly in which context they are used and because they have so much synonyms. Thanks to 整備士 I can somehow figure out this word better…
  • やりとげる・遣り遂げる to accomplish
  • 覚悟・かくご resolution, readiness, preparedness
  • かなた・彼方 means other side, there, across. It certainly emphasis here that the narrator is far from everything
  • 眠りにつく・ねむりにつく to fall asleep
  • 大海原・おおうなばら the ocean
  • ただなか・只中 the middle
  • いかだ・筏 a raft
  • 漂流・ひょうりゅう drifting, drift
  • 変わる・かわる here, it means certainly «to be uncommon, unusual». French says : « une drôle de petite voix », a funny little voice.
  • ヒツジ・羊・ひつじ sheep

In French, the little prince says « s’il vous plaît… dessine-moi un mouton ! » which is cute because, being a child, he mixes up polite and casual speech. It should be either the «vous» polite form « s’il vous plaît… dessinez-moi…» or the «tu» casual form « s’il te plaît… dessine-moi…». Even if this mistake cannot be translated into English (at least, I think so), it could have been rendered in japanese. But the translator simply chose the informal speech: ”お願い…ヒツジの絵を描いて…” Now I wonder… would have it been possible to write お願いします…羊の絵を描いて… ? Or is it just weird in japanese ? Would a japanese child not make this kind of language mistake? I can’t imagine that the translator wasn’t aware of this particularity in the original version, so the choice not to render it in japanese must be deliberate, but why?

If you have an answer, please don’t let me in the dark!

  • 打たれる・うたれる to be struck
  • 飛び上がる・とびあがる to spring, to jump up
  • ごしごし onomatopoeia for scrubbing
  • こする to rub, to scrub
  • 見つめる・みつめる to Watch intently, to stare at, to fix one’s eye on
  • のちに later on
  • 肖像画・しょうぞうが portrait
  • とはいえ though, although
  • 愛らしい・あいらしい pretty, charming, lovely, adorable

Here comes a phrase I had difficulties to understand. The narrator talks about the drawing he later made of the little prince and says that :

輝くばかりに愛らしかった眼の前の姿を、とても伝えきれてはいない” p11

The underline part was strange to me. It is obviously here the grammar ばかりに which comes after the verb casual form and which means «because of… a negative result has occured».

So the phrase means that because the narrator’s drawing was 輝く・かがやく it couldn’t convey the charming appearance he had before his eyes.

Now, 輝く・かがやく means to shine, to glitter, to sparkle… Is it a way to say that the drawing was somehow too flashy, elaborate, ostentatious??

Why did the translator add that? In the original version, there is no such explanation. The narrator only says « Mais mon dessin, bien sûr, est beaucoup moins ravissant que le modèle ». He does say that his drawing is less charming than the original but he doesn’t give any reason for that. In fact, the only explanation we get is given afterwards; he just can’t draw well enough, having stopped drawing when he was a child).

I am totally wrong? Maybe I didn’t understand the japanese well! If someone can help me understand what 輝く is doing here, please do it. 🙂

Just another point, I think that 伝えきれてはいない uses the grammar きる・きれる in its negative form きれていない, which means not being able to do something completely.

  • なにしろ・何しろ at any rate, anyhow, anyway (there are so much words in japanese to say «anyway»…)

”あきらめさせられた” p12. The causative-passive form! « I was made to give up »

  • それなのに and yet, despite this, but even so.

I didn’t know the grammar ”…(で)もなければ…もない” so I just couldn’t figure out the use of ”ければ” here. This grammar means « neither… nor… ». Here it is used a little differently but the meaning is still the same. That’s funny because the japanese version uses three different structures to express that the little prince was neither that nor that : negation+し・もなければ・~たり. Maybe, the use of so many different structures emphasis the negation. In french it is on the contrary the repetition of the same structure « ni » which strengthens the negation : « ni égaré, ni mort de fatigue, ni mort de faim, ni mort de soif, ni mort de peur ».

  • 心を打つ・こころをうつ to touch a person’s heart
  • 逆らう・さからう to go against, to oppose, to disobey, to defy (I knew this word but didn’t recognize it without kanji)
  • さらされる・晒される to be exposed (to danger), passive form of 晒す・さらす (to expose)
  • ばかげる to look foolish, absurd. This certainly comes from the N2 grammar point げ which means « seeming, giving the appearance of ». Since I learnt this grammar, it is the first time I see it, so I am quite happy, it will help me remember it.
  • むっと onomatopoeia for angrily, sullenly
  • 告げる・つげる to inform, to tell
  • 注意深い・ちゅういぶかい careful (one of those words I have in my anki deck but constantly forget)
  • 気遣い・きづかい consideration, concern, solicitude… In french it is « indulgence » because the narrator should know that a sheep with horn is a ram sheep.
  • 牡ヒツジ・牡羊・おひつじ ram sheep. Strangely, when I searched 牡羊 in internet I found only results relative to Aries, the constellation. 牡羊 seems to be mainly used to design the Ram constellation 牡羊座・おひつじざ
  • 角・つの horn. First time I encounter this kanji with this pronunciation (it’s usually かくor かど)
  • がまんできない・我慢出来ない can’t stand, can’t put up with, can’t take any longer
  • 分解・ぶんかい disassembly, dismantling
  • きむずかしや・気難し屋 someone who is hard to please, always complaining
  • ぱっと suddenly, in a flash
  • 覗き込む・のぞきこむ to look into, to peer in

Among the words I have written down here, figure a lot of words that I had actually learnt but somehow wasn’t sure about. It is so much easier to remember a word when we can associate it with a context, a character, a story. The word 整備 for instance, it is now linked to the mecanicien the narrator didn’t have with him when his plane crashed down. Before, it was just another word in my interminable list of N2 words.

Notes for part 3.


About those “boring hobbies”

At school, I remember we sometimes had to fill forms about where we lived, what our parents were doing and so on. I had difficulties in filling two fields: what I want to do when I grow up and what are my hobbies.

Because at school, my hobby was: reading books. And later, my hobbies were: reading books and learning languages.

But reading books was boring, it was not a hobby, it was what we did at school. A hobby had to be something fun, something one does outside the school, something that sounds thrilling like sport, travel, music. Most children would write down their extracurricular activity like judo or violin… but I had none, I never have had. When I later complained to my mother that she should have sent me to the piano class she replied that I was the one who didn’t want to go.

Well, sure, I loved to stay at home with my books. This was the world that suited me, in which I felt comfortable, and in fact, in which I had fun. But at school, it is so hard to be sure of one’s feelings. If the others say that staying at home on a sunny saturday afternoon to read the adventures of Arsène Lupin is boring… well it must be. And if I say that I find it fun, well that’s because I’m boring. And that’s how I became the boring child with boring hobbies.

And that’s the same for language learning. I started to love learning languages at highschool but it became a hobby after my university years, when I learned german for fun. At that time, I wasn’t at school anymore, I had discovered that there are a lot of people in the world, that everyone is different, that there is no shame not to fit in because there are so many different ways anyway.

But still, saying that my hobby is to learn german sounded a little weird. Because the word “learning” is still related to school, boring stuff, the thing you have to do but don’t do for fun, and for many people, “learning” sounds like the opposite of “fun”. But I can’t say that my hobby is german…? Would that make any sense? And anyway, my hobby was really learning german, listening to my learning program on the Deutsche Welle every morning, writing new words in my vocabulary notebook, reading the A1 graded readers I had just bought in the german Marissal bookshop in Paris (which sadly closed in 2015).

When I met new people who asked me what my hobbies were and I answered: “learning german” I sometimes had that “poor you” face in return.

Well, now I’m a grown-up and I don’t let myself be much affected by what people think of me. But I guess this feeling I had in my school years comes back when my motivation is low. In those moments, when I don’t feel like studying, when I feel that I am not making any progress and so on (classic loss of motivation stuff), comes the idea that it is no fun, that I should try to find myself a “real” hobby, that my life is boring.

But this feeling is not what I feel. It is what others feel for me. It is what my former classmates thought, it is what some people I met think, it is the voice of others that has made its way into my stream of thoughts.

So to conclude, It may well be that a part of the loss of motivation we experiment now and then is in fact created by what people with conventional way of thinking and conformist ideas on the world think of us. When you manage to sort out what you think about yourself and what others who judge you think about you and don’t let the second one run on the first one, you should find easier to keep hold of that motivation which lead us forward.

A photo of JLPT N2 reading comprehension book and the first tome of One Piece

To stay motivated, don’t forget that language is only a tool.

The Learning process usually looks like:

  • reading books (I don’t care about) in order to improve my reading skills
  • Watch TV shows (even if I hate watching TV) in order to improve my listening skills
  • write a diary (What happened today? Ah yes, I am writing my diary in order to improve my writing skills) in order to improve my writing skills
  • talk to people (I have just met on a language exchange program and to whom I have really nothing to say) in order to improve my speaking skills.

Well, it is not always like that, of course. I do enjoy books and some TV programs, and did meet some nice people on language exchange programs. But the point is, all of this is just the warm-up phase of your adventure with the language (I know… a very long warm-up phase but what are some years of struggle to a lifetime of using the language?).

The best way to lose one’s motivation is to think that you are still not done with the warm-up exercises and that the real game cannot yet starts. But in fact, it should start as soon as possible, it should not stay at the edge of the horizon but be what you walk upon right now.

More concretely, doing this and that to improve your language skill is great but you should also want to improve your language skill to be able to do what you really enjoy in the target language. For example, while reading boring reading comprehension exercises to improve your reading skills you should get a book you really want to read and work through it, even slowly.

In other words, during the learning process the acquisition of the language becomes a goal and everything you can do in that language is a way to achieve it. But the true adventure, the one you should start as soon as possible, is the other way around. What you want in the language is the goal and the language just a way to achieve it.

Each time I have felt discouraged when learning a foreign language is when I had forgotten to see the language for what it was: a tool to be used.

Therefore, if you feel like you have lost your motivation, look for Something you like or want to do in the language you are Learning. It can be this TV show you want to understand, this book you want to read, or even this blog you would like to write. If there is nothing that really interests you in the language (no particular author, singer, drama) why not start a blog on your hobby or passion in that language? For example, you are learning Japanese and you love to travel, why not start a blog in japanese to talk about your travels in japanese? I know it is a real challenge but looking up for vocabulary because you need it to write your post will be much more fun than learning a word because it is in today’s lesson. And you can be sure that you will remember these words way more easily.

Let me illustrate all this with a personal example:

I am not an english lover and there were time when I really disliked learning english.

For years I have satisfied myself with my english level which is simplistic when it comes to writing, embarrassing when it comes to speaking, uncertain when it comes to listening but which allows me to read everything I need in English. So I was making no effort to improve it.

Until I decided to start this site and to do it in English. Obviously, I want to be able to write correctly with no mistakes and (but I know this will take time) I would like to write in good English, make beautiful sentences with rich expressions and complex vocabulary.

To reach this goal, I have started to take notes every time I read and find expressions I don’t know. I search for unknown words and write them down. I make a notebook in which I can go later to search for inspiration. I don’t just focus on the meaning of a text like I did before, I also look at how the author write.

If you have told me, some months ago, to do that in order to improve my writing skills in English, I would have answered: “why on earth should I spend my time on such a boring thing?” and I would never have done it.

The reason why I am doing it today is because I have a real goal, not a language-studying goal. It’s not “do something in order to improve this language skill”, it is “improve this language skill in order to do something”. So today, after years and years of usurpation where English had thought itself to be the ultimate goal (school is the first place where it begins) and I disliked it very much, it finally forfeited its status to be the mere tool it should have always been and I am loving English now and want to be better at it.

Now to go back to this warm-up metaphore. As you can see by yourself, my English is far from being good enough to write a high-quality post. What if I had told myself : “I want to write in English but my English is not perfect. I should first improve my writing skill and when it’s good enough, I will start my blog. Now let’s see… to improve my writing skill, I am going to study those books upon colloquial expressions, phrasal verbs and the lot.” Well, to be honest, I would have started studying like that and given up after 2 weeks. Because it would have served a vague and far away purpose instead of being applicable right at the moment.

Well, to conclude, if you’re lost in the learning process and don’t even know why you force yourself doing all those boring things, remember that language is a tool you should use to have fun and try to find where you can use it, and obviously : use it!


An opened japanese book with headphones on it

Inside that audiobook

To improve one’s listening skills, there is no other way than to listen, listen, listen. And one good way to listen to something in the target language is to acquire audiobooks.

Audiobooks advantages:

  • You can purchase the book and the audiobook, which means you can improve your listening and your reading skills and easily check in the book things you didn’t understand while listening.
  • You can choose something that appeals to you, there are all sorts of audiobooks, from fiction to self-development.
  • Contrary to the radio, you can listen again to a certain part, or even study a certain chapter and so on.
  • You can listen to it anywhere, while driving, commuting, doing houseworks and so on.
  • It does cost its cost but if you buy an audiobook, the quality will be there, the text is read by a professionnal and well read.

I’m sure there are a lot more advantages…

Anyway, if you want to buy an audiobook, you can go to febe. Creating an account is free and you can have a preview (do you say «preview» for an audio?) before buying. After buying the audiobook, you can download the mp3.

Unfortunately, they don’t have so much choice in literature… They seem to be better at business, self-development and practical books.

I usually don’t read self-development books but I have found that they are quite easy to understand in japanese. Much more than fiction. So if your goal is to improve your listening skills, go for a book about how to set one’s goal, improving whatever skill, being better at, sleep better, concentrate better, study better and so on! And it can do no harm listening to those kind of things 😀

I actually bought two self-development books on ibooks (it was before I get to know febe). They are really great to improve listening skills, they won’t use extravagant vocabulary and they are both pronounced very clearly.

The easiest to understand is : ポチ・たまと読む 自分を励ます技術・悩みを解決する技術

The other one is : 朝昼夕3つのことを心がければOK! あなたの人生を変える睡眠の法則

There are a lot more audiobooks, I am not saying those ones are better than the other. It’s just that I bought them and am quite satisfied with them.