Akira Kurosawa: Japanese Language Teacher Extraordinaire

Foreign films are wonderful because they so expertly perform two very important functions; they expose viewers to a different culture and, at the same time, a strange new language.

I quite enjoy sitting back and exploring foreign lands through the wonder of cinema. Foreign cinema, however, is even more of a powerful force when one is trying to learn a language. Do you have any idea how many people have learned to speak English from watching crappy Hollywood films? Lots. I’ve met them all over the planet.

But what about native English speakers trying to learn a foreign language?

Finding foreign films to watch in America has become a lot easier in the last decade and I’ve quite enjoyed the increased opportunities to brush up on my Czech through various movies that pop up on IFC and other cool channels.

Recently, our friends over at Mahalo sent us a link describing how they’ve gone about learning Japanese. No, not from original versions of Speed Racer and Kimba the White Lion, but rather from Japan’s most decorated director: Akira Kurosawa.

Learning Japanese with Akira Kurosawa is a rather engaging way to learn a rather difficult language. The brief tutorial calls out specific phrases in specific scenes and describes the various nuances and differences in pronunciation. English subtitles naturally help the process (although a second lesson removes them entirely).

The coolest thing, however, for someone like myself with little interest in learning Japanese, is that that tutorial includes entire feature length films (as is the video above). So, at the very minimum, you might accidentally pick up some Japanese while watching one of this world’s greatest directors ply his craft. It’s a win-win situation if you ask me.