Songwriter Uses Music to Teach Japanese

Boston native Dan Bloom now lives in Chiayi, a small town in southern Taiwan. He has written a pop song to help Americans learn Japanese. Bloom gives Scott Simon a musical Japanese lesson.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Dan Bloom is a native of Boston and now lives in a small town of Chiayi in southern Taiwan. He's written a song to help Americans learn Japanese.

(Soundbite of song)

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) A like sounds like the ah in the English (unintelligible) I sounds like E in the English word machine...

SIMON: Dan Bloom joins us on his cell phone. Thanks very much for being with us.

Mr. DAN BLOOM (Hiragana Song Writer): It's my pleasure.

SIMON: I understand it's called a Japanese hiragana song?

Mr. BLOOM: Yes. And the hiragana is like the ABC of English. So I wrote this song as kind of like now I know my ABCs, but this is now I know my hiragana. And I wrote this in order to inspire Westerners - Americans and British people - to dig in and have fun with Japanese.

SIMON: How the idea come to you?

Mr. BLOOM: Well, I lived in Japan for five years, and I myself struggled. It took me three years to learn how to speak Japanese, but I finally did it. And then I moved to Taiwan, and Taiwan is just about 100 miles south of Japan. Japanese is almost the official second language of Taiwan.

One day I heard some high school girls reciting the (speaking foreign language) syllabi of the hiragana. Then I thought this would be a great way to help people learn Japanese. Maybe we could call it the Japanese Macarena.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Are you working on any other song stylings?

Mr. BLOOM: Well, you know, I have about four more songs. One is a Chinese song in Mandarin, and I'm writing another song about sushi and sashimi.

SIMON: Can we have a preview of the sushi song?

Mr. BLOOM: Do you speak any Japanese?

SIMON: No. I mean arigato and tekka make.

Mr. BLOOM: Okay. There's another phrase that's very useful. It's chodomadday(ph). And chodomadday means just a moment.

SIMON: Chodomadday.

Mr. BLOOM: So I've written a song called The Chodomadday Song, it goes like this:

(Singing) Chodomadday, chodomadday, chodo, chodomadday cho. Chodomadday, chodomadday, chodo, chodo, chodoma.

SIMON: Mr. Bloom, (foreign spoken)

Mr. BLOOM: (Foreign spoken) is you're welcome in Japanese. But the way I learned to say it - and you can learn this too, I can teach you very quickly - don't touch my moustache.

SIMON: You have my word.

Mr. BLOOM: (Foreign spoken)

SIMON: Don't touch my moustache.

Mr. BLOOM: Quickly.

SIMON: Don't touch my moustache.

Mr. BLOOM: (Foreign spoken)

SIMON: Don't touch my moustache.

Mr. BLOOM: You got it.

SIMON: Oh, my gosh. Thank you so much, Mr. Bloom.

Mr. BLOOM: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: Dan Bloom's written a Japanese hiragana song, and to hear it, you can come to our website, npr.org.

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