Kanji and the woman

18 de January de 2019 at 13:41

Source@Wikimedia commons

While preparing materials for a Japanese course, we read that the kanji meaning “come back” or “return” (帰) comprises two parts, the left meaning “follow” and the right, “broom” and “woman”. Together, it represents a woman following her man. This kanji, we read, also means “wed” or “return to the house of one’s man”. Such etymology caught our attention and, out of curiosity, we checked some dictionaries and found that some have dedicated more space than others to detail this kanji’s origin.

Fighting the cold!

18 de December de 2018 at 17:58

Source@Wikimedia commons

Now that it’s really started to get cold, here are some of things the Japanese do to keep warm.

Video: “Japanese for Tourists”

6 de December de 2018 at 13:02

The Travelling to Japan: Keys for Communicating and Discovering the Best Places to Visit event organized by the Centre for Modern Languages took place at the UOC’s centre in Madrid on Thursday 25 October. Dr Emi Takamori, professor at the Asian and African Studies Department at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), gave a very engaging class on Japanese language and culture, entitled “Japanese for Tourists”, which gave helpful insights on handling some of the situations that arise during a trip, such as using public transport, shopping or finding accommodation.

Video: “Japan: A Welcoming, Affordable Destination for Any Tourist”

2 de December de 2018 at 17:15

The Travelling to Japan: Keys for Communicating and Discovering the Best Places to Visit event organized by the Centre for Modern Languages took place at the UOC’s centre in Madrid on Thursday 25 October. Hajime Kishi, Manager of the Japanese National Tourism Organization (JNTO) office in Madrid, gave a talk titled “Japan: A Welcoming, Affordable Destination for Any Tourist”.

Kanji and feminine gender

27 de November de 2018 at 9:11

Although the Japanese language has no morphological markings for gender when it comes to nouns and adjectives, like in Catalan or Spanish, we do find several ways in which the feminine gender is expressed in names of professions. These names have been undergoing changes as social consciousness evolves and new laws develop. Some of these ways of expressing feminine gender are still widely used today, while others have already become obsolete.

Autumn and chrysanthemums

8 de November de 2018 at 17:28

Source@Wikimedia commons

The chrysanthemum (kiku) is a typical autumn flower in Japan and can be spotted in different spheres of life.

Event on tourism in Japan and the Japanese language

11 de October de 2018 at 13:39

Source@Wikimedia commons

The UOC’s Centre for Modern Languages and Faculty of Arts and Humanities are organizing an event on tourism in Japan and the Japanese language. It is to take place on Thursday 25 October at 7 pm at the UOC centre in Madrid (Plaza de las Cortes 4, 28014). The event is open to the general public and there will be two talks. You need to sign up in advance if you’d like to attend:


Meet a teacher – Part 2

4 de September de 2018 at 15:01

Previously in this blog we met Nelson Pringle who works on our C1 English courses. In this post we’ll meet Sue Mellor. Sue has taught on the UOC since 2005 on our B2.1 level course, also known as IM I. You can find out more about Sue here…

Summer customs

23 de July de 2018 at 12:30

Source@Wikimedia commons

In some parts of Japan, it’s hard to get through the summer without air conditioning or a fan. Obviously, in times gone by, the Japanese didn’t have electrical appliances and had to come up with ingenious ways to cool off during the summer months. Some of these customs are still kept up today or still widely known. New customs have also arisen.

Would you like to practice your spoken English with a native speaker?

27 de April de 2018 at 22:30

We are looking for students of English (at the lower intermediate level) for a language study on the acquisition of English conducted at the Centre d’Idiomes Moderns (by professors Aleksandra Malicka, Laia Canals, and Gisela Granena) of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). Participation involves completing a series of tests online individually plus performing some oral interaction tasks with a native speaker via Skype (day/time to be agreed, between June and September, 2018). This is an excellent opportunity to keep practicing English and to ask any language doubts you may have to a native speaker.

If you are interested, you just need to: 1) fill out and send this form (in Spanish or Catalan) to englishb1study@gmail.com, and 2) complete the first test. During the test, which will take you about 10 minutes to complete, you will be asked a few personal questions and a few language questions which will help us determine your level of English. You can access the test through link:


We will then contact you with further information and we will agree on a day/time to complete the other tests.

If you have any questions or doubts, please contact Gisela Granena (englishb1study@gmail.com).