A couple of weeks ago I wrote about using Mixi to practice your Japanese. This week I will be talking about another valuable (but fun) online tool that is a little easier on the busy learner. I started getting into Twitter because I thought it would be a cool addition to this site. Every day (or so) I am publishing little tidbits about Japan in 140 characters or less. These are things that don’t necessarily deserve their own article, but are important to know. If you’re interested, you should follow our Twitter.
I’ve only started twittering recently, but I’ve noticed that there is a huge population of Japanese Twitterers using the site. If you go to the public timeline, you will be surprised to see that 25% or so of the “Tweets” are in Japanese, depending on what time you’re looking. What makes it so perfect for us Japanese learners is that they are short. Very short. Anyone can easily translate one of them a day (or more if you are fairly proficient at reading). But first thing’s first. What the heck is this Twitter thing, anyways?
From the Wikipedia page on Twitter:
What is Twitter? Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send “updates” (or “tweets”; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service, instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to those in his or her circle of friends (delivery to everyone is the default). Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application.
In simpler terms, Twitter allows you to write really short blog posts that everybody (or people you choose) can see. Here is an image of the public timeline, with a Japanese Tweet and everything.
How Can I use Twitter to Improve my Japanese?
Follow Someone: You could just skim through, find a random Tweet that’s in Japanese, throw it into Jim Breen and figure it out, but that’s not nearly as fun. Create a Twitter account and go ahead and follow a couple of people (a feature that helps you keep track of individuals). If you translate a few Tweets from someone and you think they are boring, drop ’em. Follow someone else. The best thing you can do is find someone who really is interesting; Someone you can really get into reading. That will help motivate you more and ultimately make you learn more as well.
Tweet Yourself: In the past, I’ve suggested that you start a blog in Japanese to give you reason to practice. This may be too daunting of a task for some people. If this is you, maybe starting a Twitter account is the way to go. All you have to do is fill up 140 characters: not a very difficult feat. That’s only a couple of sentences. Forcing yourself to write a little bit every day can be very beneficial.
What do I need to Watch Out For?
- Ridiculous Japanese Valley Girl Talk: Keep in mind that (just like Western Counterparts) people don’t use Twitter to improve or practice their grammar. Internet grammar is just plain dismal. I would be careful which Twitter users you emulate or learn from. At least, keep this in the back of your mind. If you are interested in 7337 talk, then this might be one place for you to see it in action. Myself personally, I would only use Twitter for practicing vocabulary (as well as stalking people).
What are you Waiting For?
Go get yourself a Twitter Account today! Twitter may not be for everyone, but this is another way for you to practice your Japanese. The more ways the better, I think, since we all learn differently.