Correct Your Speaking Mistakes with Variety Shows

Everyone wants perfect sounding Japanese. No one wants to be told “your Japanese is great… but it sounds like a foreigner.” In your movement towards better Japanese, you will pick up mistakes. No matter how careful you are, mistakes will happen. And once they dig their claws in you, they can be hard to pry out of you, or even notice that they are there in the first place.

Most likely you’ve followed two approaches to shaking yourself of these unwelcome visitors.

1. Have other people correct them for you. Directly telling a friend, teacher, other person to let you know if you say something wrong.

2. Self-correct. Watch enough Japanese TV that you start to naturally pick up things you’ve been saying that are wrong.

But I’ve recently and unintentionally discovered a third, interesting option, that you may not have thought of as a tool before.

Variety Shows as mistake fixers

Variety shows are a major boon to most Japanese learners because they usually have Japanese subtitles. For anyone in the intermediate stages and up, this handicap allows you to watch Japanese TV over your current level.

One type of variety show takes this even a step further:

Variety shows where the topic is foreigners.

This has been very popular especially in recent years where they feature foreigners who speak Japanese.

Now at first you may be thinking this is actually what you should avoid. Most foreigners that appear on these shows are not fluent. Their Japanese has holes. Sometimes it can be really bad. Listening to other foreigners’ bad Japanese may rub off on you, which was a concern some readers on this site had which discouraged them from talking in Japanese with other foreigners.

But then steps in the golden combination for the win.

Just like all variety shows, the foreigner spoken Japanese is also subtitled. And most importantly, the subtitles foreigner Japanese gets are the correct versions of their mistaken Japanese.

If a foreigner says something wrong, the subtitle replaces it with what they should’ve said.

The benefit is obvious.

Foreigners make similar mistakes. Most likely the mistakes that you have unknowingly engrained in you are the same mistakes others have. While you may not notice it on yourself, subtitled foreigners will immediately reveal that something is a mistake.

The more you watch, the more you see these common mistakes, and the more you see it corrected.

And that’s a victory.

4 major currently running variety shows that focus around foreigners speaking Japanese that will allow you to make full use of this technique are:

1. ネプとイモトの世界番付け

Fix Your Japanese Mistakes With Variety Shows 3
2. YOUは何をしに日本へ

Fix Your Japanese Mistakes With Variety Shows 13. 笑ってコラえて

Fix Your Japanese Mistakes With Variety Shows 4

4. ホムカミ

Fix Your Japanese Mistakes With Variety Shows 2

Try it out. Rip those mistakes out. Kill those mistakes.

Any other good Japanese speaking foreigner shows (past or present) you want to add to the list?

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Correct Your Speaking Mistakes with Variety Shows — 6 Comments

  1. I saw some of “YOUは何をしに日本へ” when I was in Japan a few months ago. They were interviewing this guy from Holland, whose father owned a horse racing track or something…? I forget. But the very next day, I saw the guy they interviewed walking as I came out of a ゲームセンター in 池袋. Small world, eh?

    Despite months of constant immersion, I am nearly convinced I literally do not have the ear for Japanese. Like, I think I am Japanese tone deaf or something. I’m through the textbook phase, and I’m constantly looking at transcripts for things I’ve seen, and then start kicking myself when I realize they’re using words and grammar I know, but can’t pick up on. A character in テイルズオブエクシリア will say something, then I’ll read the line and think “What?! I can’t even hear the む in there!” If I try to read the line as fast as they say it, I get tongue tied; I just can’t catch a break!

    • Interesting coincidence. Did you say hello to him?

      Give immersion more time. There is no ear for Japanese. Give yourself a long enough chance to succeed. Immersion is extremely powerful, but slow. It doesn’t provide a quick return. Instead a slow but huge return on investment.

      You’ll get there.

  2. Another great tip Adshap, I’ll try this for sure! Just curious – did they ever have to correct your subtitles when you were on 笑ってコラえて? :P

    • I’m sure there were a few. Though usually it was to fix filler phrases. I had a bad habit of adding in words like ちょっと way too much. And they also change the subtitles when there is a smoother way of saying it.

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