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Learn Japanese with Images – A Lot of Pictures Are Worth a Lot

I was just 5 minutes ago talking to someone on MSN about one of my vocab memorization techniques. The conversation started, as one usually does on MSN, as ‘what are you doing’. It took me a while to explain, but my friend thought it was a good idea. He’s learning English, but the principle is the same. I do it whenever I’m trying to memorize a lot of words. Maybe it’ll work for you!

Step 1: Open a search engine. For Chinese, I use 百度, for Japanese, one might try

Step 2: Click on the ‘images’ tab (remember it probably won’t be in English though!) and write in the word. Let’s take something from today’s lesson; おめでとう meaning ‘congratulations’.

Step 3: Feast your eyes on all the lovely pictures. Each one has something to do with おめでとう. I found a chubby bride in a wedding dress, a pair of geeky looking girls with medals around their necks, two offical guys in suits smiling and shaking each others’ hands, and a birthday cake with ‘congratulations’ on it. In each one of these photos, the person with the camera has probably said 「おめでとう」 right before he/she took the photo.

You might even try it without the ‘images’ tab, and read through articles if you don’t find any pictures that help. Useful when the word isn’t something that is easily represented visually. I entered 「どういう風の吹き回し」 and even though I couldn’t read most of the articles, just the fact that I saw the phrase repeated in so many different places reinforced both it and its meaning in my brain.

It works for me! It seems a little bit longwinded, but I usually go to extreme lengths to avoid memorizing something by rote. I find the ‘Google-search’ method very helpful in reinforcing vocabulary. Instead of getting a dry boring example sentence out of a dictionary, you’re getting a real use of the word.