Characteristics of NHK’s Language Programs and Effective Study Methods

Studying Foreign Languages Through NHK's Language Programs

October 17, 2016

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Study Through NHK's Language Programs

I'm Yucchi. I'm still a rookie, having moved here from another industry last fall. Since I'm new to the translation industry, I have a lot to learn, but I've been studying and also learning all sorts of things from my seniors.

When I talk about working at a translation agency, people tend to assume that I'm skilled at foreign languages. But actually, I'm only able to speak about everyday topics in English--I'm still at a level where I have lots to learn. I'd like to learn more English so that my work abroad goes even more smoothly. Since I work in an environment where I have opportunities to come into contact with other languages as well, I'd also like to learn more about other languages. When I asked my seniors about best methods for language study, they recommended NHK's language programs. NHK's language programs were recommended to me when I was a student as well, but I wasn't very interested then and didn't try them out. But apparently NHK has been working on the content and level of its programs, so that they have become more interesting. So I decided to look into their language programs.

For Little Cost, You Can Choose a Program That Suits Your Interests and Ability Level

When I think about going to an English conversation class, I worry a little about the cost. With NHK's language programs, if you have a TV, radio, computer, or smartphone, then the only cost is that of the textbook. It's great to be able to get started without much expense.

Another point of concern is whether it will fit with your interests and ability level. When you look at the list of NHK's English programs, in addition to basic English, they also have news, business, English conversation, and listening programs, as well as programs where literary works are read in English. There's great variety and it all looks so fun! Since their levels run the gamut from introductory programs to advanced business, it seems likely that you'd be able to find something that suits you. The programs are also a bargain, since if you don't use the textbook, then no matter how many you watch, there's no cost.

Focused Content in a Brief Format

Above all, NHK's language programs are excellent for allowing concentrated study in short periods of times. The programs are crafted so that within the span of a ten to thirty-minute program, you can learn useful expressions and grammar, pronunciation, and even related expressions and cultural background information. The programs are appealing for being balanced and brief.

To give the programs a try, I listened to "Introductory Business English." You start out by listening to explanations of the day's expressions. Then you learn how to use the expressions through dialogues. For each dialogue, there is pronunciation practice. Three dialogues are provided, to make it easy to understand how to use the expressions. There are also examples of how one might use these expressions, as well as explanations of how the expressions might be used differently in writing. I found myself jotting down notes on parts that seemed potentially useful for my work. After I've listened to the three dialogues once more and practiced pronunciation, a native instructor tells a story about the day's expressions. I found it difficult to catch everything the native instructor was saying, but a Japanese instructor provided a simple explanation, so I knew that the story was about how the expressions were used in a real business setting. That was the moment when I felt that I wanted to get to the point where I could understand the pronunciation of native speakers! Though the broadcast was only fifteen minutes long, I was able to practice both pronunciation and listening. I came away feeling as though I'd really been able to learn.

I'd Like to Set Myself Up to Be Able to Continue Watching These Programs!

Even though I know that the key to language study is sticking with it, I find that I usually don't manage to do so. In order to stick with it, it's important to decide when you will do your studying and the style of learning you want to adopt. In my own case, I think that it would be difficult to watch the broadcasts in real time. So I'm thinking that for the most part, I will stream them and listen to them during my commute. I'd like to carve out as much time as I can for daily study by making use of wait time as well as in-between time.

My goal is to keep plugging away at this. I'm thinking that when I'm able to, I'd like to watch the broadcasts in real time as well. If I learned one expression each day, if I kept that up, in a year I'd have learned 365 expressions! I'm going to keep at it, without either getting impatient or taking days off!


I had actually heard of NHK's language programs previously, but I didn't have a detailed idea of what they were like. They give an impression of being rather somber, but I discovered that they are full of variety and suited to many different ability levels. As I was listening, I also liked that the programs were brief and balanced and that the points of study were clearly defined. If you have a computer or smartphone, you can easily make use of little bits of spare time to fit in this kind of study. It seems that this method would lead to a sense of accomplishment. Another advantage is that because it costs very little, it's easy to get going right away. I'm already looking into trying out one of their other languages besides English!

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