TV presenter Bungyou Dan recommends studying a country's culture to learn its language

by Matthew Hernon

Special To The Japan Times

NHK announcer and Chinese instructor Bungyou Dan believes learning about the culture and history of a country can help develop language skills, particularly when it comes to her mother tongue. So perhaps a visit to the Tokyo National Museum to see the “Terracotta Army” would be a good place to start?

“Yes, definitely,” says the Tianjin-born TV personality. “I’ve never been to Xian so I really want to see the statues for myself. It also might motivate people to learn more about China and maybe study the language. I think before focusing on grammar and vocabulary it’s a good idea to first find out about a country’s past, traditions or even things like food. Having a point of interest makes things easier. I’ve always been into manga and this has really helped with my Japanese. It’s a much more fascinating way to study than just using a textbook, which can be quite boring.”

Dan, who recently appeared in the Masafumi Kuroda film “Baka-Doron,” first came to Japan in 2009 and two years later enrolled in a journalism course at Waseda University. Around the same time she also started working as a presenter and instructor for a Chinese-language program on NHK; a show on which she still regularly features.

She won’t tell us her age (she says it’s around 30), but she has already released a study book titled “Hajimete no Chugokugo” (“Chinese for Beginners”), and since graduating earlier this year has been working as a teaching assistant at Waseda University.

“It gives me such a buzz seeing Japanese people speak Chinese and then telling me they want to visit my homeland,” Dan says. “I know relations between the two countries aren’t good, but I really hope that can change in the future. We have a lot of differences, but in many ways we’re also very similar.”

Coronavirus banner