JP VTuber class experiment
Japanese Media and VTubers Experiment
For a long time, I have witnessed fans talking about how Virtual YouTubers inspired them to pick up Japanese, or that they wished to start learning to better understand the media they consume daily. I always believed such motivation is paramount to language study, and soon found a unique community of Japanese learners in the VTuber discord Aonahara. After teaching (and learning) in that server for some time, I realized that language aquisition did not solely have to be through textbooks. We would play games like Among Us and take away some serious grammar that even textbooks did not provide, or make unique powerpoints in Japanese, practicing our skill. Yet, we all ignored the massive pile of content right in front of us - Virtual YouTuber videos themselves.
Well, starting soon, you'll be able to tell your friends you watch VTubers for more than just entertainment! We are launching an experiment in pedagogy, attempting to mix media and education, by teaching intensive Japanese to VTuber fans around the world. More than just a simple watchalong, this will be a rigorous ~10 week long course aimed to give casual fans with an interest in learning a structured approach to basic-intermediate Japanese, with VTuber videos!
If that sounds like something you wish to achieve, come join our classes, in the NeKommunity discord! Please read the following summary of what we plan.
As a language learner, our predominant hope is you can tune into a Minecraft stream (and other games) and take away much more than you previously did. Learning is a two way street; you will learn more if you actively follow the assignments and classes. Goals we have in mind include:
-Ability to comprehend specific terminology (game related, VTuber related)
-Pick up some casual slang used in VTuber streams (and online JP platforms)
-An idea of some of Japan's cultural aspects (honorifics, formal/informal speech, senpai-kouhai relationships)
-Deduction of meaning in normal paced everyday conversation
-Ability to rate oneself and understand how to self-learn
-Conversation practice ability
And perhaps most importantly, the ability to take your Japanese studies further after the lessons are completed.
An example class may go something like this:
A clip (preselected by teachers but sometimes with student suggestion) is chosen. Most likely, it will be Minecraft related (see below for more information).
Students complete one uninterrupted viewing of the clip.
Rate themselves: students later rate their ability to understand. All clips would have some subtitling, and therefore ratings will include ability to understand the spoken aspect + kanji, vocab, etc.
Discussion + teaching
Grammar (based on the JLPT N5 or prescribed in accordance with audience/video level)
After the viewing, instructors will go through an in-depth review of the script. This includes analysis of vocabulary used, grammar, and specific slang (such as gobi - the specific suffixes the streamers us to address each other like Pekora's peko). I personally encourage students to, during this period, note the new terms in flashcards - we will have a pre-class session discussing this in detail.
Repeat viewing: We will then rewatch the clip, with students having specific tasks (IE, tally the amount of times Pekora used imperative form vocabulary, etc)
Rate themselves again
Lastly, in-game, students practice the vocabulary and grammar in groups. The in-game tasks they perform will reflect the aforementioned clip, with slight modifications to suit an educational context. If possible, we ask that some groups record themselves, because metacognitive self-rating, and teacher rating will be a big part of homework. By in-game, we mainly mean Minecraft; please read the paragraph below for more information.
After the class, students will review their own recordings, and see where they can improve, etc. Instructors will review and assign lessons / homework based on performance. This homework won't always just be assigments, but may be a detailed write-up on a specific grammar point in detail, etc. If you are curious, this is what I wrote last time we had these classes with Among Us:
As you can see, this will also be the more "textbook" side of our learning, and will ensure that everyone can be fully caught up and comprehend the grammar.
The main focus game that we are choosing here is Minecraft. As a common game with unlimited freedom and lots of VTuber clips, it allows the class to have an engaging practice ground. Without Minecraft, it would be more challenging for learners to have a chance to talk, because trying to have empty conversations solely through discord just isn't that fun. Maybe if we rerun this project, we may find other games to use, but I thought this would be a good way to encourage learning + actual practice. Therefore, it would be highly beneficial if you had Minecraft in these lessons, so you could recreate the scenes you just watched with other students. I advise people not to underestimate Minecraft as a pragmatic educational tool - one of the instructors on this project has a PhD on this exact research and we have firsthand seen how effective Minecraft pedagogy can be!
If you need help with Minecraft (IE, installation, pricing) feel free to ask in the NeKommunity server (Or just DM Nekomikuri at 寝込みくり#7962 )
Considering the nature of clips and their sometimes very detailed vocabulary, we ask that participants have at least a few basic skills, and also the capacity to participate.
-At least be able to read Hiragana & Katakana, the basic scripts of Japanese. If you never studied these before and want a place to learn it, I recommend the JP Foundation's website. Click the button below for sign up information.
-You may also use that site to familiarize yourself with the basics of kanji if needed.
-Although the class will have some challenging JP, we probably will not dive into advanced Japanese. (Really, it depends on our student skillset.) If you are hoping to learn N2+ things, this may not be for you, but you are welcome to join and help out!
-Discord and the ability to talk, see screenshare, and chat is required.
-Minecraft is highly recommended for the above reason.
-We ask you try to commit to the full class time. This will be discussed in detail later
-If you could record yourself / your group for a little bit (just audio), it would be beneficial. Hopefully at least one person per group can do so.
-Can read the homework info/do all assignments
-Has Anki, a flashcard app (highly recommended). We can discuss this in the pre-class.
Hopefully, we can have some really fun lessons while getting to watch our favourite entertainers do funny things. Once you have read this all, please join my server below.
The classes will start soon, and a schedule will be posted. It will likely be on weekends (JP time) but will be discussed. Before they begin, we will have one meeting where I help everyone set up Anki and somewhat asses the general level / ideas people have.