Thursday, February 18, 2010

Exercising while Studying Japanese

One of the things I do is try to figure out how to insert some Japanese everywhere that I can. There are so many hidden opportunities. When you’re doing any kind of housekeeping – doing the dishes, cleaning your room, organizing some papers – you can have your favorite Japanese show playing in the background. You don’t have to pay attention 100%, just have it entering your ears. Or if you don’t have access to a TV/computer, listen to Japanese music or radio shows. The time you spend going to the bathroom or showering is also a short but valuable opportunity for more listening. I actually don’t have any waterproof listening devices for the shower, so if anyone has an inexpensive suggestion, please let me know!

Exercising is a great time to insert some Japanese immersion. Not only is it good for you, you can maybe learn something at the same time! First, there’s the obvious method of just listening to Japanese music while working out or walking. Simple and effective. Another idea that’s more difficult to carry out is to use a treadmill or something so that you can work out while watching Japanese TV. Finally, I was recently referred to a podcast that helps you run (it tells you when to start and stop running, and becomes a harder workout week by week). Unfortunately, this podcast is in English, but if someone found something like this in Japanese, I think it could be a great study tool.

The very specific way that I do it every time I go home (and have access to a treadmill) is the following. I’d use the podcast I referred to earlier (Robert Ullrey’s Couch to 5k Running Program). On top of my treadmill is a convenient spot where I can place my laptop. And although I’m listening to the podcast in English, I’m watching a Japanese variety show, which has those handy Japanese subtitles to practice reading. The show I always watch is VS Arashi as it’s very action-oriented and just seems more appropriate for exercising!

So there you have it. One of my personal methods that you could maybe pull ideas from! :)


  1. My method was to think in Japanese as much as possible. Like when I got thirsty: 「のどが乾いてきたな」

  2. There are added benefits to including movement as part of your language learning, when you associate language with physical action it strengthens your ability to recall it. It all depends on your style of learning, I learn through movement, that's why writing is important to me.

  3. What kind of japanese music do you listen to when you're running?

  4. That is a really, really great method simply because you can practice by *thinking* anytime and anywhere! It may require a bit of discipline, but it's extremely effective. Thanks for the input :)

  5. I agree, writing kanji is very important in the learning process for me as well. Thanks for the wiki link, it's a very interesting topic I hadn't put too much thought in before! I remember now that the way I learned direction words ("mae", "ushiro", "ue", "migi", etc) was by a class activity where we actually punched the air in the direction that was called out. Within a few minutes, I had all the directions down no problem.

    Thanks for the input, Brett! :)

  6. Hmmmm I would say mostly pop/kinda techno-y stuff (although that would apply even if I was listening to english music!). What I love about Japanese pop is how happy and bouncy it can be - for me, I get pumped up through that.

    Some people might function better with jrock, though - something more aggressive and intense. It all depends on the individual. ^-^