Everyday I try to spend about 30 minutes watching Japanese TV. At first I tried watching the news or dramas but I found it much too hard to understand anything that was being said. I then thought I would try watching children’s programs but found it even more frustrating when I couldn’t understand these. I didn’t mind not being able to understand the news but to not be able to understand a word of Thomas The Tank Engine really made me feel stupid.
But I have found the perfect thing to watch – infomercials. I’m not overly fond of these and some are so badly made that they make me cringe but they have a number of properties that make them the ideal thing for me to watch.
The first of these is repetition. They keep repeating the price and the benefits of their product. They also repeat phone numbers and URLs. I really need to hear Japanese phrases repeated as I usually miss the meaning the first time I hear them. The repetition of numbers is also really helping me to understand the numerous Japanese counting systems.
The second is overacting. Everyone overacts in an infomercial. But this makes is really easy to see what sort of thing they are trying to tell you. Today I watched one advertising the roomba. I got to see lots of poor put upon housewives having to brush their floors by hand to suddenly have their life changed beyond recognition simply by having a robot that could clean the floors for them.
I also watched one that showed a sachet of herbs that would completely change the taste of all the food you cooked. This one was great. They had a panel of five people all showing different types of food and exclaiming about how delicious everything was. This contained examples of the food and it also printed their Japanese names beside them. From this I got to learn some of the Japanese names for food that I see all the time. And all the panelists repeated the same phrases regarding how good the food was.
The third thing that really helps is that they focus on one topic. In a normal TV program the topic of conversation wonders all over the place and can be really hard to follow. But in an infomercial they have one thing to show off and one simple goal – to make the watcher want to pick up the phone and order their product.
I have wanted to buy anything yet but I’m really glad that I’ve found something to watch that does seem to be helping me learn to speak Japanese.