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Title of blog post captures in Star Wars-like font

Long ago, in a land far far away...

I lived in Japan for about 5 years and I must unfortunately say: I really focused on teaching English - much to my long-term detriment. Yeah, I picked up Japanese along the way and if someone put a katana to my head, demanding me to reveal my skill level, for one who has never taken any official Japanese language placement test, I would still have to say that I am at the "conversational" level (sorta!).

To start...

To be quite transparent, I have started to study Japanese (again) and I am leveraging the app: Duolingo. And to be totally transparent, Duolingo is in no way sponsoring today's Monday Musing! I just like the app, it's fun and I want to write about it and soft-promote it as an easy way to jump in to learn Japanese.

Japanese attracts learners of many language backgrounds

Cartoon image of character from the Duolingo app and the person is stucying Japanese
Studying Duolingo

In addition to being one of the most popular languages to study in the U.S., Japanese is also #2 in China and #4 in Vietnam, and it's even #4 in Japan (!) — due to the tourists and business people from abroad who are motivated to learn Japanese!

Japanese isn't related to the languages spoken in any of these places, showing that Japanese learners aren't deterred by a challenge, like studying the language's 3 writing systems.

The countries with the highest percentage of people studying Japanese are the Philippines, China, and Malaysia. In the last year, interest in learning Japanese has grown the most in Bangladesh, China, and Nepal. I guess Japanese remains a a global phenomenon!

Learners study Japanese to connect with their interests

What makes Japanese so appealing to such a broad audience? Japanese learners are studying

Graph breaking down the differing motivational fators for studying Japanese

for a non-traditional reason: just for fun! Many people studying Japanese do so to connect with Japanese culture and help them understand more of the language they encounter in anime and manga, and 26% of new Japanese learners on Duolingo say "just for fun" is their primary motivation for learning.

The motivations of Japanese learners are unlike those studying the top 2 languages on Duolingo, English and Spanish. English learners cite school as a top motivation, and Spanish learners cite “connect with people” as their #1 motivation. On the other hand, people studying Japanese are doing so to connect with their hobbies and interests!

Young learners are the most excited about Japanese

People studying Japanese tend to be younger on average than those studying other languages: 86% of Japanese learners are under 30, and 70% are between 13 and 22. In fact, Japanese ranked #3 among this age group in the U.S. last year!

Graphic breaking down the age demographics of those studying Japanese

So... are YOU ready to study Japanese?

Are you already studying Japanese?

HOW well do YOU speak Japanese?

Do you want some resources to help you study Japanese (besides my blatant mentioning of Duolingo)?

Let us know as we are here to help you keep the learning going and while you are at it, check back on my progress and keep nudging me to keep going - I need all the support I can get.



Interesting Links:

Hi - Matthew Hall here - New England JET Alumni Association president. Hope everyone is doing well!

I'm still somewhat/kinda relatively new in the position and we continue to transition to a new team, we connect when we can and trust me, we are working to get our geta on the ground so we can be running full steam.

The team has had a few meetings and we are closing on the various activities and ideas that we would like to accomplish this year. We hope to have the calendar populated with a handful of Japan / Japanese-related activities in the very near future. If anyone has any specific ideas that they would be interested in seeing organized and even participating with, please feel free to let us know!

Who is the Us/We I am referring to?

You can check out the current board by visiting the OFFICERS page here. You will see that there are a couple of positions open so if you have any interest in getting connected and more involved with this alumni chapter, please feel free to reach out and contact me anytime at!

I will also do my best to keep the "Monday Mokusou" series coming out on each Monday - It will be something random, different each week and who knows...? It might be about some new Japanese trend, language studies or how about this for a 1st entry:

Top 6 Best Onsen in Japan

Surely that is a subjective use of the word "Best" but it comes from a website that I recently came across:

Check the article out - have you been to any of the onsen's listed on that page? Do you have a personal fave onsen that you recommend - and if "hai" - why? And for the onsen fans out there, and without GooglePeeking:

  • What is the minimal temperature of the water to be officially considered an onsen?

Answer will be in next week's Monday Mokusou / 月曜日の黙想



Full disclosure: I 💘 onsen!

Interesting links:

Film Screening: Mother’s Way, Daughter’s Choice

Showa Boston invites any interested JET alumni or friend of JET to attend its public screening of the film “Mother’s Way, Daughter’s Choice.”

A Q&A session with the film’s director, Ms. Kyoka Gasha, will follow.


“I love my mother, but I just don’t want to be like her.”

Why would successful women from the world’s second largest economic power choose to start their lives over in New York City? The documentary “Mothers’ Way, Daughters’ Choice” explores how several Japanese women struggle to reconcile their traditional upbringing and their desire to create unique lives. To understand these struggles, the director, Kyoko Gasha, shows the deep, powerful influences of Japanese culture on her own life.Kyoko also uncovers stories of other Japanese women in New York City, weaving parallel tales of guilt, denial, sacrifice and joy. This is a story of cultures clashing on a personal level.

Showa Boston offers free on-campus parking, as well as a free shuttle from Reservoir station (Green Line, D-Branch) at 4:50pm and 5:50pm.

To inquire about dinner options, please contact Alex Reavill at

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