Professor Teaches Japanese Language Class Within Minecraft


You ever feel like you’d just die if you get a test answer wrong? In Kotoba Miners, s a Japanese language class taught by James York within Minecraft, you can. But don’t worry, you’ll respawn.

Kotoba Miners is a full language class intended to immerse the player and get them to learn conversational Japanese. A lot of this is done through lessons and teamspeak, but there are also lesson where the player needs to be able to communicate with a partner in Japanese to do a task or get through an obstacle. Be unclear, and you might get a pressure plate to the head.

York is an English teacher at a Japanese university. In an interview on, he said his original purpose for the class was to teach English to Japanese students. He invited native English-speakers to the server to help out.  When the Japanese students  finished the class they quit playing, but he had lots of English-speakers still around that wanted to learn Japanese, so he decided to keep it going.

York said the simplicity and pleasing aesthetics of the Minecraft experience makes it a better virtual classroom than, say, Second Life. It also includes the chance for “learn by dying” feedback loops that hammer a point home.

“However, the biggest advantage for Kotoba Miners is the fact that people can log in from all around the world at the same time and connect with other Japanese learners and actually practice SPEAKING the language. The majority of students that come to Kotoba Miners that have been studying Japanese in the past invariably say something along the lines of: ‘I’ve been studying Japanese for a while, but I’ve never actually spoken it…’So I think the lessons we do on Kotoba Miners are a great place to improve your Japanese speaking and listening ability,” York said.

Check out the full interview to find out more about Kotoba Miners.


Image from Kotoba Miners

About Shawn Hopkins

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