EL Competition 2022: How I learn English, by MA He (Millie)

Words are the foundation of learning any language. If you want to build a fortress of English, words are the bricks. So, learning English is, in simple terms, a matter of how to input words and how to output the words you input.
To remember words, I use more Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve. In fact, the most important thing to remember is to constantly associate and constantly review. The more associations you make, the more you can remember. The more you review, the more you can remember. And Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve is a good solution to this problem. It allows you to learn in a linear as well as in time, not in a dotted.
After the input word problem is solved, it is the problem of how to output. I think persistence is the most important thing in output. For example, keep chatting with foreigners and write a short essay in English every day. It may be difficult at first, but after a long time, you will feel that everything will be natural.
These are my ways to learn English.

EL Competition 2022: My Best Friend From Italy, TAKAHASHI Koga

I will introduce my best friend who came from Italy. His name is Alessandro. I call him Ales. As I found out later, “Ales” means “wing” in Latin. As his name suggests, he is a cool and kind man. And I like his smile very much. However sadly, he is leaving Hirosaki in February. That is why I decided to try to write about him.
One day, I asked Ales what bring him learning Japanese. He told me about his background. He originally studied biology at his university. But he found it difficult and went to US for three months to study English. And then, he worked as a waiter in Luxembourg, or one of the richest countries in the world! After that, he returned to Italy and worked in a restaurant. However, Ales, who does karate and who is interested in Japanese culture, finally made a decision to start studying Japanese. And now, he is here. He was able to come to Hirosaki University.
Through Ales’ story, I realized the importance of the ability to do what you want. I also found that taking on challenges helps you experience many things and enriched your life. Like Ales, I will try as many things as I can. And I would like to improve myself through various experiences. Ultimately, I will convey the joy of trying something to others.

EL Competition 2022: English and Going a Little Further, Oba Galvao Marina

Even as a non-native speaker, the English Language was always there, present for as long as I can remember. Not exactly there for me, yet not always a barrier. Sometimes, English was just… there, be it in the songs my mom listened to on the radio, or in the names of companies or stores, or even in the opening songs of my cartoons and children’s shows. So, when I started to pick up on the language, not only was I able to bridge the gap between me and the content I wanted to consume in English, but I also started to see lots of things –daily-life details, that I had never paid much attention to— in a new light. I was going a little further, looking for new meanings in everything. For example, who would know that “kindle” is an actual word and not just invented for the sake of naming the device? Or that Twitter’s logo is a bird because “tweet” is the onomatopoeia for a bird chirping? Or that shopping malls (in Portuguese, “shopping”) have that name because you go there to shop? Or that “cooler” is something that “cools off” your device? Certainly not someone without a good grasp of English. Studying this language has enabled me to expand my horizons – my interests, my circle of friends, my academic opportunities— and also to better understand the world I live in, even in Brazil or Japan, and I think that is something most people overlook when talking about the impact learning English can have on one’s worldview.

EL Competition 2022: LR problem, by NAKAMURA Genki

When learning English, you may come across pronunciations that are difficult for Japanese people. If our understanding of them is vague, we often face communication problems and gaps.
Speaking of pronunciation problems, the biggest one is the difference in pronunciation between “l” and “r”. Distinguishing between these two sounds is a very difficult task for Japanese people who do not usually use their tongue to pronounce words. In Japanese junior high school English classes, we are often taught to pronounce “l” with the tip of the tongue touching the base of the front teeth and “r” with the tip of the tongue does not touch the mouth. It’s easy to understand when you hear it, but it’s hard to actually try it. I think this is the impression many people have, including myself. I have an experience that I felt embarrassed because I was not able to distinguish these pronunciations.
When I was in junior high school, I was chatting with my ALT and the topic of food came up. When I started talking about rice, the ALT frowned and explained that “lice” is a disgusting insect and that he doesn’t want to hear this word when talking about food. It was the first time that I realized how big the impact of the difference between “l” and “r” is. Since this incident, I have become sensitive to the difference between “l” and “r”.
There are many kinds of miscommunication caused by “l” and “r” around us. For example, “light” means something that shines, and “right” means the qualification to do something. Of course, they are often distinguishable from the context, but Japanese people need to make an effort to pronounce these two sounds correctly in order to communicate correctly.

EL Competition 2022: Take It Easy, by HORIKOSHI Anna and ONO Aika

“Take it easy,” the bus driver briskly said to me, who had overslept until I found myself being at the last bus stop and was completely alone in the cold dark. He drove me home without any signs of reluctance, even though it was not his duty to do so. This memory is just a small part of my precious memories in New Zealand. My friends and I stayed there for two weeks to study English at AUT, enjoyed shopping after school and appreciated Māori cultures on a short trip to Rotorua. (See attached video to see how it looks.)
Every time a sudden happening occurred, the “Kiwis”, the New Zealanders empathetically listened to us to help us overcome difficulties. Such a valuable experience would not have been possible without learning English and my decision to study abroad. That is why I think the most significant benefits of speaking English is that it enables me to interact with English speakers and have wonderful exchanges. I strongly encourage you to feel whether they are kind, humorous, or even angry by communicating directly with them. I guarantee you that talking with many people will enrich your life experience. Even among Japanese students, you can make friends with people who share the passion for studying English.
Needless to say, I am not a native speaker, and none of my friends I had a great time with speak perfect English. The frustration of wishing you could have spoken better at the time should lead to improving your speaking. No one speaks ill of your English. As far as I know, the harder you tried to speak, the more people will lend a hand. Why not talk with English speakers and experience the heartwarming kindness of them? You can do it. “Take it easy.”

EL Competition 2022 奨励賞: Why Are You Learning English? by ABE Tatsumi

Why are you learning English? How would you answer this question?
Some may have clear answers, such as “to watch foreign movies without subtitles,” or “to speak with locals when traveling abroad,” while others may not be able to give satisfactory answers themselves.
The answer to this question is, of course, different depending on the person. We will probably conclude that it is important for each person to find the meaning of learning English, which will greatly help them learn.
In this blog, I would like to introduce the following two TED Talks to anyone who is struggling with the meaning and purpose of learning English.

1. The secrets of learning a new language (Lýdia Machová)

2. 4 reasons to learn a new language (John McWhorter)

These two TED Talks are so well known that you may have already seen them. However, when I saw this video, I suddenly realized that it is okay to learn English because it’s “fun”.
I’m sure that some of you have had at least one experience where learning English was “fun”. I was so happy when I understood what Michelle was saying in my favorite sitcom “Full House,” and I still remember how much enjoyment I got from talking about “One Piece” with people from other countries.
Learning English is “fun”. We should take in the little “fun” that comes from learning English. That is more than enough motivation for us to learn English, and that is probably what will be important when we learn English.

EL Competition 2022 奨励賞: Enjoy and learn English with movies! by OTA Izumi

I recommend watching some movies in English. I believe we can learn many words and phrases in the movies. we also can enjoy its story. I introduce my 3 favorites in a ranking format.
No.3 is “The devil wears Prada” (2006). The main character is Andy, an unrefined girl. She starts working in a publisher of famous fashion magazine. She grows up there by her very strict boss. She is an unreasonable woman. However, Andy put up with it and turns sophisticated through her hard job. I was excited about how she grows and becomes a nice woman.
No.2 is “Aladdin”. As you know, this is a famous Disney movie. I would like to recommend you live-action version (2019). First of all, I really like the beautiful songs in this movie. If you like singing, I think it is a good way to improve your English. Especially “A whole new world” is one of the best scenes in my mind. Aladdin and Jasmine take a trip on their magic carpet and sing a song while looking at the beautiful night scenery of Agrabah. In addition, almost all of Disney songs are easy to understand, and they are not too fast. So, I really recommend you this.
Finally, No.1 is “The greatest showman” (2017). I watched it for the first time when I was a high school student and I love it. So, I have watched it many times until now. This is the biography, musical film. I love their songs, actors, actress, and the encouraging story. The main character, P.T.Barnum manages his small circus, and it grows in his town. However, he has to overcome many troubles such as discrimination, prejudice and so on. The characters build trust and become good friends each other. I should stop telling you the story, so not to spoil all the fun. Anyway, you should watch this!
I think these 3 and any other movies will help our learning English. And I hope you will like my favorites!

EL Competition 2022 優勝: “Joint” Adventure: A Fun and Effective Way to Build Up Your Body and Vocabulary Simultaneously, by K.A.

If your academic supervisor were to ask you to significantly improve your TOEFL score, increase the amount of muscle in your thighs, and defeat an evil dragon trying to conquer the world, all within one semester, you would probably protest that such a request is extremely unfair and irrational, even if offered all your course credits for graduation with the highest grades.

However, there is only one way to possibly complete all these tasks at once comfortably. Play a fitness video game with the language settings set to English!
I have played the fitness video game “Ring Fit Adventure” by Nintendo for both maintaining my health and learning English. You use a ring-shaped controller and go through an RPG-style fantasy adventure by running, stretching, and strength training in your room.
By playing in English, you encounter various expressions from different genres in the game instructions and characters’ dialogues, full of technical terms and slang. They include not just expressions of body parts and movements, but also those of food, clothing, and fantasy things. The biggest advantage is that while enjoying the gameplay you’ll find yourself picking up new vocabulary without even realizing it.
Also important is the fact that the typical style of language learning where you sit in front of a desk for long hours poses health risks. In this respect, the learning-while-exercising method allows you to avoid risking your health, and even promote it in a more entertaining environment.
Furthermore, you can also benefit from the in-game feature to share your progress and compete with friends and family. It is well known that working on things together with others helps you keep yourself motivated.
Incorporating the “joint” approach into your English study routine can be a fun and effective way to build up your body and English skills.

EL本棚紹介(74) The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, A Link to the Past, by Akira Himekawa

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]


Like Ocarina of Time, this comic was inspired by the beloved Zelda video game series. The two stories in this book are much shorter than in Ocarina of Time, but the stories also feel a little deeper and more complete. Majora’s Mask is about a dark, strange world that will be destroyed in three days by a boy with a powerful magical (evil!) mask. The story focuses on characters’ emotions and relationships, so it is not all about swinging swords and casting magic. On the other hand, A Link to the Past is more of a traditional adventure story, where the hero has to save the royal family, learn about his parents, and fight against an evil wizard.

You already know the main characters in these books, and even if you have not played the video games, I think you will find them easy to read and understand.

My two cents: I highly recommend the very short “Majora’s Mask bonus story,” which tells the tale of a mysterious ancient dragon and the warrior sent to destroy it and claim his magical armor. I think it is better than the entire rest of the book, combined.

EL本棚紹介(73) Dragonball, by Akira Toriyama

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]


Like Sailor Moon, Dragonball is one of the most recognizable Japanese anime/manga around the world. It was one of the first anime to be broadcast in the United States, and Dragonball Z was probably one of the first anime to become broadly popular. However, I don’t think many Americans know that the early Dragonball comics were “gag manga.” This book has a surprising number of “blue jokes” in it, so you should avoid this book if you think you will be offended by it.

That said, Dragonball is a silly book and very enjoyable to read at times. There is action, comedy, and adventure as the group of heroes search for the dragonballs and train to be great martial artists. The art style is unique, and Akira Toriyama’s style of drawing machines and fight scenes really stand out. The translation is also very skillful, with a lot of creative and non-textbook style English.

My two cents: Although I’m not a fan of the blue humor, I am glad I read this classic piece of Japanese popular culture.