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EDUCATION > English Language

English vocabulary books based on movies and manga attract all ages

  • February 25, 2015
  • , Sankei
  • Trending@Japan

They say that if you do what you love, you’ll succeed. So, if you want to learn a language, you should start by studying the language through things you love, like movies or manga. Sankei (2/18) wrote that a number of English learning materials based on popular movies, manga, and novels are being published in Japan these days, saying that such materials could help not only students who are struggling with English, but also adults who want to brush up on their language skills. For example, “Star Wars” fans of all ages would love to peruse the “STAR WARS Eiwa Jiten,” an English-to-Japanese dictionary published by Gakken in November 2014. The paper said the dictionary contains some 1,000 English vocabulary words that Japanese people learn in junior high school, with example sentences taken from Star Wars movies.

One of the editors of the dictionary said: “Unless you work as a language specialist like a translator, you don’t need a dictionary that contains a huge amount of words. What’s more important is a dictionary that has good example sentences. We picked actual phrases from the movies so the sentences are practical.” For example, if you look up the word “do” in the dictionary, you will see Yoda’s famous line from Star Wars: “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” Sankei said the book is popular among young people as well as those in their 40s and 50s who grew up watching Star Wars.

“Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure,” a long-running manga series written by Hirohiko Araki, has fans not just in Japan but around the world. A new book titled “Let’s Learn English with Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure!” which was published last October, contains famous lines and phrases taken from the comic. According to Sankei, American rock guitarist Marty Friedman, who has been based in Japan since 2004, helped supervise the writing of the book because many of the characters in the comic are named after real rock bands.

Friedman, who is fluent in Japanese, said in an interview with entertainment information website Oricon Style last August: “I focused most on using the type of English that I normally speak, not the English you learn from textbooks…There is some slang, but any native speaker would understand it…The English you find in Japanese textbooks is terrible. People [in Japan] study so hard but they can’t speak English that sounds natural. Their English is too uptight and this makes it difficult for them to master the language.” He also said: “The best thing about learning English from manga is that if you’re a fan, you already know the story so it’s easy to remember the phrases… It’s easier to learn [English] from things you’re interested in. If you like Jojo or manga, you get a double effect. Language can be a great weapon, so it is important that you learn from what you love.”

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