An internet friend of mine tweeted me a bit back asking if I had examples of people for males to try shadowing. Since I take all my requests seriously, and I’m not a male, I had to push around the ol’ web to find some potentially good role models. While I’m guilty of semi shadowing from dramas and whatnot they’re not always the best choice, so I tried to focus on real as real can get.
In the course of those bashing the immersion type methods, you often hear them making fun of people trying to learn “poppeye” type characters and then making themselves look like idiots. I must say, in animated stuff I see that a lot, but not so much in tv shows, commercials, and dramas. Its not as popular to have extremely different speaking people. Time periods? Well, I think if you’re truly diverse in your exposure you wont be talking like an old samurai movie. I think our brains are great enough to know what’s “normal” for everyday and what is not. I don’t speak like Elmer Fudd or Roger Rabbit, even though I watched them a lot as a kid. I think variety fixes that issue.
As for accent, some people claim that you’ll learn some words like an Osakan, or some like you’re from Tokyo if you listen to to many different sources. Just like most television in America represents a sort of neutral accent, so does Japanese TV. Either way, even if all you do is speak to Osakan friends, and gain an Osakan accent, you’ll understand people from Tokyo and visa versa. I understand people from Boston and New Jersey with thick northern accents and they understand me with my southern drawl. It might just take you a moment.
Anyhow, on a side track demonstrating just that, my man of lifelong joy and I went to a local Japanese sushi and hibachi grill the other day. We sat in front of the sushi bar and got to talking to the chef there who happened to be Japanese. After chatting it up some he would every now and again talk to his aunt passing by in Japanese. I’ve been listening for a long time to a variety of spoken Japanese, but this accent is one I’ve never heard before. I’d begin to follow it quite well then bam! garbled mess, and then back to understanding again. 😀 The joy of other accents. Just as an example, I’ve heard たまご a million times between different shows I’ve watched. They said it with a stress on the ま as if it were たまあご. I could understand what he was saying, but it took me a millisecond more to know he was saying egg. And if I learned their way of Japanese, I’d be just as native as those who spoke it the more neutral way.
Alright, so long winded tangents aside, it doesn’t really matter whether you learn one accent over another. It wont prevent you from being successful in Japanese.
Where to Look
RhinoSpike: This lovely website is where you request audio in the language you’re looking for, and record in your native. You know whatever you ask to be recorded is going to sound right. And above those recordings shows their accent too, which is helpful if you care. There are both Male and Females who record on there so you can find a variety of sentences in your gender.
Youtube: I would think it would go without saying, but a lot of people overlook youtube as a viable place to get audio
Example for males:
- Jetdaisuke: Jetdaisuke is a speaker a friend of mine actually recommended I watch because he talks about a lot of goods that are in Japan and just random cool stuff. He has both a Youtube Page and a Blog. He use to not have subtitles on his videos, but luckily enough, we can turn them off.
とてつもない日本: While it may be political (I think :P), its still good for a male.
- ToshioOkada: Another random male speaker I found. He talks about random stuff like movies and time management.
Example for Females:
- Just Miyabi: While Miyabi speaks a lot of English in her videos she does speak some Japanese too. She even has a few vlogs in Japanese as well. She teaches about Japan, so its nice if you’re starting out, a few phrases while you’re learning about Japan’s culture.
- Binosusume: Like hair? Well learn how to talk about styling it. Sometimes she speaks Japanese and sometimes she types it out. English translations hardsubbed in are perhaps the only draw back.
- Hirokochannel: Hiroko has a wealth of videos in both English and Japanese. She also has a Japanese blog.
Examples for Both Female and Male
- Potapota: This channel is full of Japanese stories with both female and male speakers. While some of the audio quality is a bit bad, its still good old Japanese.
- CM’s: CM is just a fancy shortcut for saying commercial. While the Japanese is very neutral, and both male and female, they’re fun to copy. You know you always wanted to say, “oh my toe fungus is getting itchy!” So type in Japanese CM and just let that mouse go nuts. You’ll find lots of stuff really quickly. Just like this lineup of cms from Anpanmanson and random show clips from Entermaniaful.
- Stories: I linked these before, but they have audio and script and makes for good shadowing material. Plus the one site has animations! The Japanese Log’s forum listing and Kankomie
Really though, I wish youtube made it easier to find language specific videos. If you know of a banging speaker, post it by all means. I just did a little digging and found those. I’ve found so many without the people actually speaking. I guess perhaps I’m either looking the wrong way or Japanese people are shy on Youtube :D.
Japanese Specific sites are much better at having posts with speakers actually speaking! There are tons of videos here, so find someone whose voice makes ya happy.
Stickam Japan: This is a more recent find that I cannot give you better information on, sorry. But it seems to be a site devoted to live streams and videos of all sorts. I’ve found a few things, but I’m too much of a newb on it to give you examples.
ニコニコ動画: This site is really popular in Japan. Basically users upload their videos and people can comment on the exact timing of the video they want to make a comment. You can show those comments on top the video or turn them off if they annoy you. You must log in to be able to view videos (i think, i forget). Due to this being completely in Japanese, I’ve not made significant progress in being able to use it like Youtube. Hey, I’m still in progress here myself! haha, but I did find some funny stuff on here just from random clicking and reading.
Who to really copy
All in all, while those sources are great to just get a feel for Japanese, like text books and all that stuff though, they don’t go anywhere. They don’t respond to you, praise you, laugh at you for sounding weird, or anything like that. In the end, getting real Japanese speakers and speaking to them is the way to go. They’re like your siblings, your parents, those funny aunts that wouldn’t stop pinching your cheek and talking about how big you’ve grown. Getting in real live conversations and repeating after them is a nice thing (of course, them willing-which a lot are if you hook up with specifically for language and culture chatting through sites like lang-8 and smart.fm). I bet you’ll learn more in an hour speaking with them than hours of listening and repeating.