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I’ve been dipping into this book by Masami Utsude about adding speed to your learning methods. He recommends learning English by watching and reading materials that you enjoy. Good advice for learning any language!

As part of my Japanese immersion project, I have Japanese books stashed all over the place: in  my man bag, by my bedside, by the computer, etc.  At the Writer’s Room, where I spend 45-60 minutes each morning studying or working on my writing, I have several books.  At the top of the pile is 1分スピード記憶勉強法: Study Method with One-Minute Speedy Memorizing by Masami Utsude.   I dip into this book every now and then because it is simply laid out, has a lot of pictures, and is inspirational.

A whole section is devoted to learning English,  but these methods and ideas can be applied to any language–for fun and profit :).  Here are some of my dash of soy sauce translations of some of the best ideas.  [I put brackets around where I mistranslated “English” into “foreign language.”]

Guarantee Improvement While Having Fun!:  One Minute English Study Method.“楽しいながら確実に上達!「1分スピード英語勉強法」”  

Unless the text is completely compelling, these days I am choosing Japanese books with pictures. 1分 has a lot of fun pictures. This one emphasizes that it is more fun and easier to learn a foreign language through quick and repeated reviews.

Utsude argues that one of the main reasons Japanese people don’t learn English is because they don’t give themselves enough opportunities to read, speak, and hear English.   The best way to actually review is to read, speak, and hear materials that you enjoy in a foreign language.

The Shortcut to Learning a [Foreign Language] is Repetition“英語上達の近道は「くり返し」増やすことに尽きる”  

Utsude explains that you wouldn’t expect to become a better swimmer by reading a book and getting into a pool once.  To become better you need hundreds of hours of actual practice.  Utsude was writing about English but you can fill the blank above with any language or skill you want.

What are the Two Walls that Keep (Japanese) People from Learning a [Foreign Language]?日本人の英語勉強を阻む「2つの壁」とは?  

  1. Your Environment:   Are you surrounding yourself with good materials in your target language?  Ajatt.com recently echoed this sentiment by explaining how learning a language is a lot easier when you modify your infrastructure: “So any issues an able-bodied, sound-minded adult is going to have with learning (getting used to) a language will be entirely due to infrastructure, not linguistics, not biology.”
  2. Your Self (自身)  Are you clear and confident in your goals and motivation for learning a foreign language?

In Order to Remember/Review Your [Target Language]  Relax and Surround Yourself With Materials You Like ラクにくり返しをして記憶するための一番コツは、あなたの「好きなこと」「得意なこと」と英語を結びつけてしまうのです。

It’s the infrastructure issue all over again.  Masami Utsude urges his readers to “review” while having fun learning from English dramas, movies, newspapers, etc.  It’s the reason that I am reading Japanese books about learning.  I have a natural motivation that keeps me motivated and moving forward.  No birds.  No stone.


How to Smoothly Read [Foreign Language]  Books 英文がスラスラ読める効果的な方法

  1. Read the Table of Contents First–It Gives You a Road Map and Gives You a Native Experience of the Foreign Language
  2. Relax and Read without a Dictionary
  3. Read the Titles
  4. Make Sure You Are Reading the Genres You Enjoy

Getting The Most out of Watching [Foreign Language] Television and Movies「好きなテレビドラマー映画を楽しんで観る」がコツ 

  1. Watch without subtitles.   Even if you don’t understand just enjoy the atmosphere of the movie and let it fill your heart.
  2. Repeat scenes that you love over and over again.
  3. Let yourself feel like you are part of the movie or drama.  “Shadow” the dialogue and repeat what they say.


1分スピード記憶勉強法 has a lot more great ideas about learning foreign languages.  If you are a follower of AJATT or antimoon, these ideas are not new.  In a way, that’s why I chose the book–because it affirms messages that I already understand and know.   Reading about these methods reinforces both the positive advice and Japanese itself.

In learning a foreign language there is a time for pushing and a time for relaxing into the language.  Both are important.  I push by making new flashcards, reading definitions of Japanese words in Japanese, and studying flashcards.   I relax into the Japanese by listening to Japanese music, television, movies and by random channel and web surfing.   I’m not “fluent” yet but I consider it a milestone that I just read Japanese books for fun now.

Don’t give up on your dream of learning a foreign language.  Take a minute to have some fun.


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