Learning Chinese – It’s easier than you think

Hello fellow website readers who love Japan and learning things Japanese. How are your studies for Japanese going today? Have you seen our articles on JLPT, etc? Want a big studies curveball thrown at you? Here it comes!

But wait, some people might have been asking you, you’re learning Japanese right? Have you considered Chinese? Now why is this? Well, there are lots of opportunities that you’re told for people who speak Chinese. Even though politically China and America are at ends, China is the manufacturer of the world and so many business and political opportunities open up to people who are learning Chinese.

That is all great and dear, but, can speakers and learners of Japanese actually really learn Chinese easier? I mean, yes they share an alphabet (Kanji in Chinese is Hanzi), but, how many Japanese people do you know that can speak Chinese fluently? There could be some, but, with tensions between the countries still going high and differences in the pronunciation of Japanese vs Chinese, it might be a difficult language to learn.

Also, there’s the daunting task of taking on the “hanzi” (Kanji, remember?). In Chinese, there is estimated to be about 10,000 characters. Ok, well not that many are required. You can probably get by regularly with knowledge of 5,000, but still, it’s much more than the 2,000 you learned to pass your JLPT N1 exam! (I’m assuming you’re an excellent Japanese speaker, don’t worry, most people who study Japanese never reach the JLPT N1 proficiency).

I’m here to argue that actually, for English speakers who have learned Japanese, Chinese is a much less formidable challenge. Here’s some reasons to walk away with:

#1 – Chinese is tonal, not phonetic like Japanese. Very difficult for someone to learn whose native language is phonetic, but guess what, for English speakers actually pronouncing Chinese is much easier. Yes, overall, English speakers can pronounce Chinese much quicker than their fellow Japanese and Korean native speaking classmates.

#2 – If you know a good amount of kanji already, you can do a job search in Chinese and figure out what’s going on. You can’t read it yet, but that’s a huge jump over someone who’s just trying to learn Chinese from scratch. Knowing kanji gives you a large advantage.

#3 – Learning Chinese (I’m sure people will debate this) actually makes your kanji knowledge and comprehension of Japanese better. You learn the logic of these characters, how they were originally formed, and why they are the way they are.

#4 – Finally, learning a language with simple grammar kinda gives you a sigh of relief. Finally, “I eat food” will work and is a very simple sentence. No more worrying about transitive / intransitive / particle mayhem.

All in all, Chinese is doable especially with your Japanese background. Hills Learning offers Chinese Classes in NYC as well as Online. There are multiple options for learners of Chinese in the New York area though, like Chinatown or Flushing as well 🙂

Seriously please consider taking Chinese classes, it’s a rewarding and fulfilling experience to learn the tongue of the most populated country on Earth. And please do leave any comments, Japanese learners who have also attempted Chinese, we want to hear from you!

Learning Japanese Online During COVID

It has been over one year since COVID has ravaged the world and changed a lot of our daily lives. Education seems to be on the fore front of people’s minds, when will the kids be able to go back to school? When will college kids get to socialize and attend their universities in person? How is the virtual online class experience going for the children, and what kind of impact will it have on their psychological and academic well being?

Fortunately there seems to be a silver lining in the COVID world of education, where as the answer to children going back to school is a resounding “Yes!”, arguably, in the world of language education there are some advantages to learning languages online. Students, both adults and children alike, have found that while socializing is important in any learning environment the online classroom also has its advantages. Let us try to outline a few:

#1 – Utilizing an online platform such as zoom or google meet allows for teachers to record their classes, and then send those recordings to students. Especially when learning Japanese, there are many advantages to being able to go back into the recording of your interactions in class and see “ahh, my teacher said it this way, and I kept saying it another way.” It trains the ear, and, you can press stop and play to repeat and try to get pronunciation right (it wasn’t kane, it was kani)

#2 – The classroom style itself is more regulated. While spontaneity is of course important for learning in the classroom and really speaking a foreign language itself, it is also helpful that the quiet students in the classroom now get to speak more and interrupt other students less. Arguably, when teaching online you can pay more attention to the individual student.

#3 – Sharing of files is possible and more efficient in the online environment. Instead of having a teacher in the front of the classroom trying to outline things on a whiteboard, you now get to interact with your teacher online and click a file (and have her update it) to see what mistakes you have made and save those for later when reviewing. It’s never been easier to learn Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji!

#4 – The breakouts…if you haven’t taken an online language class then you should experience the breakout rooms (at least, that is what they are called on zoom). It is basically the ability for the teacher to create a separate room, and funnel students into it. It is pair work that is truly personal, where you can practice your language patterns with your partner and no one else can hear you in the classroom.

While Japanese is a great language to learn online, there are also other languages that have proven to be useful when learning, such as Arabic, Thai, Chinese, Cantonese and Korean. So don’t just stop at trying one language? Or something like that.

We hope that this article encourages students to try learning languages online. Of course there are disadvantages that we are happy to hear and please leave your comments in the chat. Thank you!

5 Recommended Ramen Restaurants in NYC (+ 1 Soba)

1. Ippudo


Description: A fairly large restaurant. The spaces between seats are pretty cramped, but there is a friendly atmosphere and the lights are dimmed. Hard to come by yourself, but great for groups. Combines Japanese traditional ramen styles with a little something, such as the Wasabi Shoyu Ramen, but also has things not available in other ramen stores that are originally from Japan (such as Kae-Dama)

2. Minca Ramen


Description: Very good for picky ramen eaters, because you can choose almost everything about your order from the thickness of the ramen to the broth type.

3. Totto Ramen


Description: A very small yet popular restaurant hidden next to a staircase. It’s crowded and there’s little space to move around, but you can see the ramen and other foods made right in front of you, always an interesting experience. Although you may have to wait 30 minutes, you can write your name on the list and walk around until the time comes. The spicy ramen is well worth the wait.

(No takeouts allowed)

4. Momofuku (Noodle Bar)


Description:Not focused on ramen, but in general Momofuku is great. Healthy, nutritious, and delicious. Very clean atmosphere. The menus vary depending on which store you’re at. Be sure to check the site for which one to go to. The porkbuns are recommended.

5. Menchako-Tei Noodle


Description: The thickness of the men (noodle) is easy to eat and it’s not too thin, and the original broth is very nice.

6. Soba-ya


Description; It’s not a ramen store, but its soba is great. Great environment, and the tables are enclosed for lots of privacy. Although you cannot see the soba being made in front of you, you can catch a glimpse if you’re lucky of the men  (base of the noodles) being made. The kara-age (Fried chicken) is very pleasant, as well as the selection of traditional Japanese desserts.

(New!) Spanish Classes NYC

Dear Learn Japanese Readers:

Earlier we talked about Arabic classes and how they’re being offered in NYC by this website’s sponsor, Hills Learning.

Now I’d also like to talk about their Spanish program. The Spanish classes aren’t new to Hills Learning, actually they’ve taught classes previously for kids and businesses in a couple locations in the US. Actually their main experiences are teaching Japanese people Spanish.

Through this experience, interestingly enough there are some similarities between Japanese and Spanish. Actually the vowel sounds in Japanese (AIUEO) sound actually exactly the same in Spanish. Also, a lot of students want to learn Spanish due to practice conversation, which is similar reasoning for why students are learning Japanese.

Hills Learning was originally an Asian language school, unique in NYC. So their Spanish classes nyc are also hoped to be unique, combining the experience and diligence of Asian culture with a mix of Spanish internationalism. Please visit their website for further information.

(NEW) Arabic Classes in NYC

Dear Learn Japanese Readers:

The sponsor of this website, Hills Learning, a school that has mainly specialized in East Asian and some South Asian languages, is proud to announce that they are now offering language classes for Arabic in NYC.

Although Arabic and Japanese are languages that are not directly related, the method for teaching these languages will be similar at Hills Learning. As in Japanese when you’re learning Hiragana and the basic sounds of the language, Arabic as well will be introduced a character at a time and in turn with those characters either the vowel or consonant sound will be introduced. As in Japanese, where the best way to teach pronunciation is through reading Hiragana, the Arabic Script will also be taught.

The similarities don’t end there though as both Japanese are Arabic are considered Category IV languages by the DLI (Defense Language Institute):


In case you’re interested in Arabic Classes NYC please do visit their new site which details out the curriculum for Arabic, their teachers and their programs and how they will be unique in NYC.

Part-Time Japanese Speaking Position – Relationship Manager

MunchAdo.com is a food discovery platform where users connect with restaurants through next-level search, online ordering, reservation and couponing – all in one place. We’re a New York City startup looking for people with 2-3 years of experience who have a taste for tech and food to join our team and make inroads in the NYC restaurant community.

As part of our NYC outreach program, you’ll work in a team to engage restaurants, identify decision makers and talk intelligently with them about the benefits of MunchAdo.com. You’ll be educating restaurants about Munch Ado, signing them to the platform, and walking them through the on-boarding process before transitioning them to the account person at Munch Ado.

The right candidates for this role will have a passion for food and for the way technology simplifies and improves our lives. You should possess the natural talent to start and carry on conversations with people of all ages and backgrounds.


Everything written about above

Bachelor’s Degree

Fluent in Japanese

Available Part-Time (20/hrs. a week)

2-3 years of work experience


Please submit your resume to jobs@munchado.com with the Subject Line: “Relationship Manager – Japanese”


Love Japanese? Why Not Try Korean

Thank you for visiting the Learn Japanese website. We get a lot of requests from students who are learning Japanese about Korean. Surprisingly enough, Korean is quite similar to Japanese grammatically. They are both altaic languages, meaning the verb is at the end. They also come from the same root source of languages in Asia, Chinese.

Here are some helpful tips for language learners thinking about taking the next step after Japanese and learning Korean. They are written by Desteny, a current student of learning Korean at Hills Learning:

As a lover of Korean culture my long term goal is to eventually go to Korea myself and have a firsthand experience with things that I’ve only seen on television or through my computer screen. New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the U. S with a population of 8.406 million as of 2013. Most if not all of that number comes from foreign born residents.  With numbers that high there’s more than enough places and ways you yourself can learn Korean.

Here are a couple ways you can practice your Korean in your everyday life:

Group meet ups

With social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram communicating with people that have similar interests has become extremely easy. There are a number of groups and forums were Korean language learner’s pf all ages and ethnicities meet up throughout the city and come together as one. All you have to do is choose a time and a place and in an instant you’ll be connected to a new network of friends that you can practice your Korean with.

Cultural Events

There are many kinds of Korean centered events that take place throughout the year but for those who would like to dive into the culture I’d recommend taking the time out to participate in the many cultural events and activities that are hosted by the Korean Culture Service of New York. “KCSNY provides diverse cultural and artistic activities including gallery exhibitions, performing arts concerts, film festivals, and educational programs.” The Korean Culture Service of New York states on their website.

Concerts & Meet and Greets

From variety heavy weights like Kim Jongkook and HaHa to rookie idols groups Topp Dogg and VIXX. New York City has become and popular stop for famous Korean acts’ tour in the U.S. gaining much attention and visits from acts such as 2PM, rap label Illionare, 2NE1, actress Park Shinhye and Lessang member Kang Gary.  If you follow the Korean Entertainment industry these events are just for you. What’s better than having the opportunity to actually speak to the artists you listen to, showing them your skills with their language.


Of course the best way of learning Korean is taking classes. I’ve been taking classes at Hills Learning and they’re obviously my top choice for Korean language classes nyc. But it doesn’t there aren’t other options out there, such as the Korea Society, or KLC in Koreatown. Each school has their strengths and weaknesses and you should do a thorough check on all of them.

UPDATED – Hills Learning has also expanded to offer classes online and classes in LA

Thank you for your time! Please let me know of any questions about learning Korean.

Learning Japanese through Song – リンダリンダ

Learning a song in another language is a wonderful thing. You can practice listening comprehension, in addition to learning about the culture from which the song came!

In Japan, the best way to learn (or re-learn) a song is through カラオケ and without a doubt, one of the most popular songs to sing is リンダリンダ by The Blue Hearts.


Listen to the song or watch the music video (please excuse the Spanish subtitles):

Thanks to the front man’s endless energy (and simple grammar), this song is both fun and entertaining! Let’s look at the lyrics:
Listen to the song or watch the music video (please excuse the Spanish subtitles):


I want to be beautiful like a rat


Because you have a beauty that can’t be reflected in pictures

リンダリンダ  リンダリンダリンダ

Linda Linda    Linda Linda Linda

リンダリンダ  リンダリンダリンダ

Linda Linda    Linda Linda Linda


If someday I get the chance to speak with you


Won’t you please me the meaning of love at that time

リンダリンダ  リンダリンダリンダ

Linda Linda    Linda Linda Linda

リンダリンダ  リンダリンダリンダ

Linda Linda    Linda Linda Linda


You’re nicer than anyone, like a rat


You’re warmer than anything, like a rat

リンダリンダ  リンダリンダリンダ

Linda Linda    Linda Linda Linda

リンダリンダ  リンダリンダリンダ

Linda Linda    Linda Linda Linda


If someday I get the chance to speak with you


Won’t you please tell me the meaning of love at that time


Even if it’s not love, even if it’s not passion, I can’t let you go


(As long as) I hold great strength that can never be defeated

リンダリンダ  リンダリンダリンダ

リンダリンダ  リンダリンダリンダ OH!

Linda Linda    Linda Linda Linda

Linda Linda    Linda Linda Linda



Grammar and Vocab

Here’s a list of the grammar and vocab seen in the song, by order of appearance:






Additional Songs

Here’s a list of popular songs that are easy to learn, most of which my friends and I regularly sang at カラオケ in Japan.

上を向いて歩こう – Sakamoto Kyu (Ue wo muite arukou, also dubbed  ‘Sukiyaki’)

明日があるさ – Sakamoto Kyu (Ashita ga aru sa)

世界に一つだけの花 – SMAP (Sekai ni hitotsu dake no hana)

キセキ – Greeeen

手紙 – Angela Aki (Tegami)

3月9日 – Remioromen

風が吹いている – Ikimonogakari (Kaze ga fuiteiru)

サヨナラじゃない – Funk Monkey Babys (Sayonara janai)

夜の踊り子 – Sakanaction (Yoru no odoriko, lyrics here)

AM 11:00 – HY

HS Japanese Teaching Position

new heights charter school logo

Teach at New Heights Academy Charter School!


Our mission is to graduate students who are prepared to succeed in college and life.


Founded in 2006 by a team of experienced educators, New Heights Academy Charter School quickly grew to become one of the largest charter schools in NYC, serving 750 students in the upper Manhattan neighborhoods of Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, and Inwood.  We are a grass-roots school that is not affiliated with any other organization or business.  We are both a middle and high school, serving students in grades 5-12 in a model that eliminates the transition between middle and high school – one that often negatively impacts the academic success of students from our community.   Our middle school has earned a B for the last 2 years on the NYC DOE Progress Report.  Our high school has earned an A for the last 3 years, a time period during which more than 80% of our senior classes have graduated within 4 years and greater than 90% within five years.


photo - 1Our Students

  • 90% Latino and 10% African American
  • 95% qualify for free and reduced lunch
  • 20% English Language Learners (served using inclusion; no bilingual classes)
  • 13% Students with Disabilities (served using ITT and SETSS; no self-contained classes)
  • Our average daily attendance rate is 95%.
  • Spanish is the dominant language in most homes; about half of our parents do not speak English
  • Most will be the first in their families to attend college; many will be the first to graduate from high school


Student Life

Students at New Heights attend school from 8:30am-4:00pm Monday through Thursday, with an earlier dismissal at 3:30pm on Fridays.  We follow the NYC DOE calendar, with school starting after Labor Day in September and running through the end of June.  Classes run for 60 minutes and students participate in a 30 minute Advisory class four days a week.  Class size is generally capped at 24 students.  In the middle school, students’ daily schedules include English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Writing, plus two alternating elective classes (American Sign Language, Art, Drama, Music, or Physical Education).  High school students’ daily schedules include English, Language (Italian or Japanese), Math, Science, and Social Studies, with alternating days of Arts and Physical Education.  Special education students are integrated into general education classes for the full day.  English Language Learners receive targeted support through ESL and READ 180 classes.  Students may be assigned to after school tutoring based on current academic performance or past performance on standardized exams.  Students may participate in after school clubs, including athletics, if they meet academic eligibility requirements.



photo - 2Teacher Life

Our teachers’ official hours are 8:15am-4:15pm, although many arrive to school earlier and stay later.  The school year kicks off with a 2 week Staff School, starting in mid-August, during which time is spent developing curriculum, creating assessments, building teams, attending professional development sessions, and generally preparing for the students’ arrival.  Teachers work closely with their department chairs to plan using the Understanding by Design model.  They use our data management system, eDoctrina, to ensure that data drives their instruction and that targeted interventions address students’ needs.   Teachers receive regular feedback on their planning and instruction through observations and one-on-one meetings.  Teachers are encouraged to grow professionally, and as such, frequent PD opportunities are made available to staff, in addition to the one half-day each month devoted to professional development.


Ready to Join the New Heights Team?


Become a Member of the NHACS Team

Working in our school requires a lot from our staff, but the rewards are worth it!  We are looking for smart, dedicated, solutions-oriented, reflective, and passionate professionals who can:

  • Work relentlessly to close the achievement gap
  • Use data to inform instruction/interventions
  • Set high professional goals
  • Maintain a positive mindset
  • Focus on creating a positive school climate conducive to high academic achievement
  • Develop supportive and caring relationships with students and colleagues
  • Communicate professionally
  • Collaborate
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Be responsible to self, team, and school
  • Assume team membership and individual leadership
  • Adhere to deadlines


Required Qualifications

All teachers must hold current NYS certification, preferably in the content area for which you are applying.  We seek teachers for these positions:  English Language Arts (grades 5 or 6), ESL (grades 5-8), Japanese (HS Levels I, II, and III), Mathematics (grade 8 and HS Trigonometry/Advanced Math), Special Education (grades 7 or 9), and English/AP Literature (grade 12).


To Apply

If you possess the qualities outlined above, we want you to join our team!  To apply, submit a current resume and cover letter to recruitment@newheightsacademy.org.

  • In the subject line of the email, please name the position for which you are applying.
  • Please make sure that your resume indicates your certifications (teaching or other).
  • In your cover letter, please:
  1. Describe why you are the perfect fit for the position for which you are applying.
  2. Explain why you desire to work in an urban middle/high school setting.

Japan Day 2013 – Language Tent and General Information

Welcome and thanks for your interest in Japan Day! Japan Day is a unique event in NYC that draws about 50,000 people to come and learn more about the Japanese culture and language. There are multiple activity tents, and food tents have also been added to the Japan Day 2013 line up.

Hills Learning was fortunate enough to be selected to teach Japanese at Japan Day in 2013! Here’s more information about the language tent, activities in general, location, and timeframe for Japan Day 2013.

The Language Tent and Description of the Activity

hillslearning karuta

Karuta being played at Hills Learning

The language tent at Japan Day will be manned by Hills Learning, a language school in New York City that teaches Japanese to all ages and offers group as well as private classes. The activity for the day will be Karuta, a fun interactive card game that will teach the Japan Day 2013 vocabulary. The activity actually encompasses all levels, beginners learn the basic vocabulary where as intermediates and advanced students can form sentences with the vocabulary or also be challenged by flashcards and other resources the teachers have brought for the event.

language location at Japan Day - with arrowThe language tent is located towards the entrance of Japan Day on 72nd street. The tent is located where the red arrow is pointing. It will be in the same tent as the Hello Kitty activity being held at Japan Day 2013. The Hello Kitty Activity is also quite a popular tent, so please don’t forget to visit that along with the language tent.

The Location and Time for Japan Day

Address – http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl – Here is a link to where Japan Day is according to Google Maps. Please note, to get to Japan Day you can enter either from the West or East side of Central Park and keep walking along 72nd Street. The bandshell area is where the main stage is located.

The Japan Day website also lists 69th street and 5th avenue as the main entrance. So you can enter from that location and go north, or just follow our suggestion of coming in on 72nd street and then head south.

Time – 10:30am to 4:30pm is the official timeframe for Japan Day. This is when the activity tents and the stage performers will be working. However, many activity tents will be there and setting up from 9am or so. Please note, the food tents are only from 11:30am to 2:00pm and are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Other Stalls and Activities

This year is the first year Japan Day is planning on offering food and beverages along with their usual line up of fun activities and stage performers. Here’s a basic description of what will be offered at Japan Day 2013:




Gyoza – Gyoza are Japanese dumplings, either fried or boiled, usually filled with pork and / or vegetables. They’re boiled on one side and crispy on the other side, definitely a recommendation!

Miso Soup – The classic Japanese soup, Miso is a great protein and a delicious middle of the day snack. Usual ingredients in the soup are seaweed and tofu.



Okonomiyaki – (Make your own pancake) – Although they’re Japanese style pancakes, they’re not the typical western breakfast food. In fact, they’re eaten for lunch or dinner, and contain cabbage, meats and other vegetables. Highly recommended for someone that hasn’t tried one previously.

Ramen – Ramen is a classic offering of Japanese food and please keep in mind this isn’t the typical grocery store style “ramen” noodles. Rather, it’s a full bowl of ramen with vegetables and meat included. Highly recommended!


Calligraphy – An opportunity to learn about brush strokes and how to write characters, the calligraphy tent is a traditional arts tent and a very popular attraction.

Hello Kitty + Language (Sharing a tent) – Learn Japanese at Japan Day! Hills Learning teaches Japanese through a fun and interactive karuta game. Hello Kitty is in the second half of the tent, which is a very famous Japanese children’s icon.

Kabuki Face Painting – This is the only activity tent in the bandshell area with the performers. Very popular tent with the kids!

Origami – Another classic Japanese art, people enjoy learning how to do various origami shapes and they also get a take home prize.

Yo yo Fishing – Quite a popular activity, this is run by the JET Organization and the Japan Society. Get ready for fun with balloons!

Yukata Try On – A Yukata is traditional Japanese dress, basically a version of the “kimono” but can also be worn easily in summertime. The yukatas are also in general less elaborate and less expensive than the Kimono.

For any further information on Japan Day please visit their website at http://www.japandaynyc.org/