Increasing Japanese Vocabulary: JDramas
When studying the Japanese language, or any language for that matter, one of the greatest challenges faced by students is increasing relevant vocabulary. Especially for older students, and those in or entering professional careers, having usable vocabulary, and knowing how to properly apply it, can be vital.
Unfortunately, the majority of text books and study tools focus on younger learners and often fail to introduce such vital "grown-up" vocabulary and usage. Even if one has an excellent dictionary, learning the words is often not enough in Japanese, one needs to learn the proper usage of the words.
One way to increase vocabulary in a relevant way is to find Japanese Dramas (JDramas) that focus on topics and people related to your particular career field or focus. For some, this can be quite simple, but for many it may be difficult until you get the hang of it, especially if searching the internet in English only. This is not to say it is impossible, simply that it may take some time and patience.
As a graduate student of forensic psychology and one who continually tries to advance her Japanese, I have faced considerable difficulty finding relevant vocabulary tools for my field, and even if I learned the words, I may not inherently know the proper usage or application. One of the greatest JDramas for this so far is ミスターブレイン(Mr. Brain) starring Takuya Kimura, famous for his long-time role in the all-male JPop group SMAP.
Mr. Brain focuses on a neuroscientist, so there is a significant amount of vocabulary involving neural activity, processes, behaviors, emotions, instincts, and so forth. Additionally, he works for the Institute of Police Science, a national organization in Japan that specializes in research and proposed application of improved techniques for all police and law enforcement activities. (Just a note, this is a federal job in Japan and they will not hire you if you are not a Japanese citizen.)
Examples of Forensic Psychology Vocabulary
The following examples were obtained from the JDrama Mr. Brain, and are meant as examples of how one can build relevant vocabulary. These are but a few of the vocabulary words one can gain from this type of show, and depending on your current Japanese level you may learn anywhere from 5-10 to well over 100 new words per episode. In this instance, Mr. Brain is relevant for me because I am a Forensic Psychology graduate student, so this vocabulary may also be useful for other forensic professionals or law enforcement professionals, but probably not so much for those in fields such as history or engineering.
警視庁 （けいしちょう） Metropolitan Police Department
勘 （かん） sixth sense, intuition
鑑識 （かんしき） criminal investigation, forensics
鑑識課 （かんしきか） a crime lab
白状 （はくじょう） a confession
脳科学 （のうかがく） neuroscience
左脳 （さのう） left brain
右脳 （うのう） right brain
神経細胞 （しんけいさいぼう）neuron, nerve cell
究極の犯罪（きゅうきょくのはんざい）the ultimate crime
殺人 （さつじん） murder, homicide
殺人事件 （さつじんじけん） a murder case
死角 （しかく） a blind spot
記憶障害 （きおくしょうがい）defect of memory, amnesia
健忘症 （けんぼうしょう） amnesia, memory loss
大脳 （だいのう） cerebrum
大脳皮質 （だいのうひしつ） the cortex, cortical layer
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