Let's Learn Japanese

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Let's Learn Japanese
GenreEducational television
StarringMary Althaus
Yusuke Mine
Miki Sugihara
Hiroyuki Kaihō

Nick Muhrin
Mitsuru Yamazaki
Midori Kimura
Kazuki Yao
Kumi Samejima

Tae Umino
Seiji Andō
Chinatsu Koyanagi
Yorinobu Kodama
Country of originJapan
Original language(s)Japanese
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes52
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)The Japan Foundation
Original release1984–1985, 1995
External links

Let's Learn Japanese is a video-based Japanese language study course for English speakers produced by The Japan Foundation.

The two seasons (Series I and Series II) were originally aired on television at a rate of one episode per day, with each episode consisting of two lessons. Text books which complement the series were also available; these contained vocabulary lists, explanations of grammar, transcriptions of scenes from within the program, and cultural information about Japan. By now, the first book is out of print but the second book is still available from some sources. Both seasons used a drama called Yan and the Japanese People for instruction. This drama consisted of scenes which focus on the experiences of a young man named Yan (played by Nick Muhrin), a foreigner living and working in Japan.

Let's Learn Japanese Basic I[edit]

Series one of "Let's Learn Japanese" was made in 1984 and 1985. It was presented by Mary Althaus and featured a number of skits, featuring Mine-san (Yusuke Mine), Sugihara-san (Miki Sugihara), and Kaihō-san (Hiroyuki Kaihō), who were designed to help the viewer memorize, and practice the use of, new words and grammatical structures. The series also followed the story of Yan's new life in Japan working as an architect.

Let's Learn Japanese Basic II[edit]

Series two was created in 1995 – 10 years after the end of the first series – and was presented by Tae Umino. The skits were performed by Andō-san (Seiji Andō), Koyanagi-san (Chinatsu Koyanagi) and Kodama-san (Yorinobu Kodama). In this series the story of Yan is continued (based on Episode 14–26 of the original Drama), only this time it is much darker and more interesting. Yan's heart is torn asunder by the young lady he had a crush on in series one, and he goes to Niigata to drown his sorrows in the wild winter Sea of Japan.

Other series[edit]

NHK Let's Learn Japanese Series[edit]

There was also another Japanese language study series named NHK Japanese: how to survive in Japan? which was produced by the Japanese TV Network NHK in 1989. This 40-part series was about David Roberts (ostensibly an American but speaks with an Australian accent) who went to Japan for work. He was assisted by a beautiful girl named Yuko Goto, and in later episodes they are joined by David's wife, Cathy Roberts. David was going to introduce to Japan American culture and food with the American Train.

Erin's Challenge! I can speak Japanese[edit]

A fresh start to the Japan Foundation program was the third series, "Erin's Challenge! I can speak Japanese", which aired first in spring 2007 and is also available on DVD and in the form of an interactive website. As it is especially designed for young people it features skits about Senior High School Students which are explained by computer animated figures. The main character Erin is learning Japanese with the help of the teacher Honigon and a small robot called N21-J. Besides the regular skits and explanations, there is also more information about Japan, its students and people around the world who are learning Japanese, too.

Episode list[edit]

Let's Learn Japanese Basic I[edit]

# Title, topics
1 I'm Yan. – わたしはヤンです。 Watashi wa Yan desu.

Skit: Yan arrives at the airport and meets Mr. Katō (加藤) and his son Tarō (太郎). They drive around town and finally arrive at the Katō family home.
Grammar: the copula です desu, greetings, possessive pronouns, the の no particle for declaring possession, demonstrative pronouns, questions with the か ka particle, apologies.

2 What's that? – あれはなんですか。 Are wa nan desu ka?

Grammar: Giving thanks, possessive pronouns, the も mo particle with nouns, simple negative replies to questions, demonstrative pronouns
Extras: 針金細工 Harigane saiku, the craft of bending wires into objects.

3 There's a cat. – ねこがいます。 Neko ga imasu.

Skit: Yan and Tarō visit a rental agent and look at different housing options. All three then visit the premises and meet the landlord. Yan moves in, with the Katō family helping.
Grammar: denoting presence with ある aru and いる iru, the よ yo particle, answering questions.
Writing: General information on the writing system.

4 Where is it? - どこにいますか。 Doko ni imasu ka?

Grammar: the に ni particle for indicating locations ("where at"), prepositions, the や ya particle for non-exhaustive object lists, the と to particle for exhaustive object lists, adjectives.
Writing and pronouncing the letters あいうえお.

5 Please give me some stamps. – 切手をください。 Kitte o kudasai.

Skit: Yan goes to the post office to buy some stamps and thereafter rushes to Shibuya. There, he phones Mr. Katō to meet him there. The two take a taxi to work, where Yan meets his future colleagues.
Grammar: asking for directions, making requests with 〜を下さい ~ o kudasai, counting numbers, counter words.
Writing and pronouncing the letters あいうえお once more.

6 Please turn left at the next corner. – 次の角を左へまがってください。 Tsugi no kado o hidari e magatte kudasai.

Grammar: the て te form for verbs, making requests with 〜て下さい ~te kudasai, giving directions.
Writing and pronouncing the letters かきくけこ.

7 May I look at this? – これ見てもいいですか? Kore mite mo ii desu ka?

Skit: Yan leaves for his second day at work, where he gets more enrolled with the group.
Grammar: the て te form for verbs, requests with 〜て下さい, asking for and giving permission with 〜てもいい ~te mo ii.
Writing and pronouncing the letters さしすせも.

8 May I write with a pencil? – えんぴつで書いてもいいですか? Enpitsu de kaite mo ii desu ka?

Grammar: て te form for verbs, 〜て下さい, 〜てもいい, variations on asking (using 下さいませんか kudasaimasen ka), the に ni particle to indicate a target location ("where (in)to"), the で de particle to indicate means of doing something.
Writing and pronouncing the letters たちつてと.

9 She gets up at 6 o'clock every morning. – 毎朝6時に起きます。 Maiasa roku-ji ni okimasu.

Skit: A day in the life of the Katō family, from morning to night, is depicted. Daughter Midori goes to school, son Tarō to university, and Mr. Katō to work, while Mrs. Katō does housework. Yan visits in the evening.
Grammar: expressing time.
Writing and pronouncing the letters なにぬねの.

10 He doesn't drink milk. – 牛乳は飲みません。 Gyūnyū wa nomimasen.

Grammar: expressing time, negative forms for verbs, で de particle to indicate means, the へ e particle to indicate direction (and sometimes, destination) of movement, the も mo particle with verbs, one-time and habitual actions using the 〜ます ~masu ending, the に ni particle to indicate time in combination with an action.
Writing and pronouncing the letters はひふへほ.
Extras: 折り紙 Origami, the art of paper-folding.

11 I went to Nikkō. – 日光へ行きました。 Nikkō e ikimashita.

Skit: Yan visits the Katō family to show pictures of when he went to Nikkō and Tōshō-gū (東照宮).
Grammar: time prepositions and words, polite and plain past tense verb forms, the 〜んです ~ n desu form.
Writing and pronouncing the letters まみむめも.

12 When did you go? – いつ行ったんですか? Itsu itta n desu ka?

Grammar: past negative verb forms, plain present form for verbs, expressing plans with 〜つもりです ~ tsumori desu
Writing and pronouncing the letters らりるれろ.

13 They're watching a baseball game. – いま野球の試合を見ています。 Ima yakyū no shiai o mite imasu.
14 He's drinking beer while watching TV. – ビールを飲みながらテレビを見ています。 Bīru o nominagara, terebi o mite imasu.
15 It's hot every day. – 毎日あついですね。 Mainichi atsui desu ne.
16 Is it hot enough? – おふろはねるくありませんか? Ofuro wa neruku arimasen ka?
17 I want to drink some cold beer. – 冷たいビールが飲みたいですね。 Tsumetai bīru ga nomitai desu ne.
18 Do you dislike fish? – 魚はきらいですか? Sakana wa kirai desu ka?
19 Mt. Fuji will come into view before long. – そろそろ富士山が見えるでしょう。 Sorosoro, Fuji-san ga mieru deshou.
20 It looks good. – おいしそうですね。 Oishi sō desu ne.
21 I can't speak English. – 英語は話せませんよ。 Eigo wa hanasemasen yo!
22 Is it possible to see the model room? – モデルルームは見られませんか? Moderu rūmu wa miraremasen ka?
23 Why aren't cars passing? – どうして車が通らないんですか? Dō shite kuruma ga tooranai n desu ka?
24 We're a little late so let's hurry. – 少し遅くなったから急ぎましょう。 Sukoshi osokunatta kara, isogimashō.
25 What's in the briefcase? – かばんの中に何が入っていますか? Kaban no naka ni nani ga haitte imasu ka?
26 Do you remember? – おぼえていますか? Oboete imasu ka?

Let's Learn Japanese Basic II[edit]

  1. I think I can be there by 4 PM
  2. Maybe you should go and meet her soon
  3. He said he's going to Nagasaki today
  4. I got them from a friend
  5. We're thinking of singing Beethoven's ninth
  6. Try reading the Japanese
  7. It's nice and clean now
  8. Will you turn up the volume on the TV a little bit?
  9. Turn the stove off when you leave the room
  10. I'm so bored I don't know what to do
  11. Shall I change the towel?
  12. Mr.Terada has been taking care of me
  13. If this design is chosen, I'll go back to my country
  14. You mustn't tell Yan
  15. He doesn't seem to be there
  16. Even if we invite him, I don't think he'll come
  17. I was in a hurry, so I couldn't buy it
  18. I'm planning to see the sea, visit old houses and so on
  19. It's hard, working like that in this snow
  20. What's this fish called?
  21. The sakura hasn't bloomed yet, has it?
  22. There's only one bottle left
  23. We'll miss you when you've gone
  24. I've never traveled abroad before
  25. Give it to him when he's come down
  26. If you're ever in Japan again please stop by

External links[edit]