Anyone who was able to learn hiragana and katakana by listening to these eight catchy songs may be wondering if the same method could work for learning Japanese in general.
I actually don’t think it’s possible—at least not to a very high level—and even though learning with songs can be refreshing as a break from other studies, as the centerpiece of a learning strategy I imagine it would get old fast.
But, and this is important, you can learn a lot more Japanese than just the kana with songs. And as a supplement to learning in other ways, there’s almost nothing better. After all, even if they’re initially incomprehensible, you can still enjoy them.
What songs you pick matters, however, especially at the start of your studies. Songs with subtitles are better than songs without. Songs that use simple, easy-to-understand phrases are better than songs that don’t. And songs that are sung in a clear voice are better than songs that aren’t.
For all of these reasons, songs made for Japanese kids are great resources to start learning Japanese with, and the following seven songs by TokioHeidi are incredibly useful:
This song is about brushing your teeth. One of the memorable phrases from this song is when バイキンさん (or Mr. Bacteria) says, やーめて！ハミガキするのはやめて！ (or “Stop it. Stop brushing your teeth!”) and then, when the child doesn’t listen, screams for help, たすけてー.
This song is about a helpful spoon making everything more delicious. One of the useful sentences from it is how to ask if something is yummy, or おいしいかい？
This song is about putting on your clothes. For being so short it teaches a lot of things. Just one of the simple phrases you’ll learn, for example, is how to say you accomplished something, or じょうずにできました！
This song is about a boy walking around all day. Along the way, you’ll learn how to casually greet your neighbor in the morning おはよう to how to welcome your father back home politely, おかえりなさい.
This song is about a boy joining a lot of ghosts to make pancakes at night. Like the songs before it, and those that come after, there’s a lot of good onomatopoeia in this one. One of the useful phrases you’ll learn to express that you’re full is おなかがいっぱいだよぉ.
This song is about an apple’s trip from the apple orchard to someone’s house. The tune is great and it makes it almost impossible to forget that りんご means “apple.”
This song is all about the production of poop and it almost defies description. It’s one of those videos that you’d only expect Japan to make. And you just have to watch it. As for a useful vocabulary word, I’d say this video makes すっきり unforgettable, but there’s a lot of them in this video, so you can take your pick.
But Wait, There’s More
There’s got to be more, right? Whether easy-to-understand pop songs or the opening theme song to your favorite anime, I’m guessing you guys have a ton of songs that taught you a lot and which you can recommend. If so, please share them in the comments below!
I love reading books in Japanese and plan to start translating them into English in 2015.