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Senseis’ Voices


J-Teacher’s Favourite Onomatopoeia

A huge thanks to everyone who participated in the Japan Foundation: 40 Years in Australia J-Teacher Questionnaire in 2018. As part of the questionnaire, we asked participants their favourite Japanese onomatopoeia. We received 75 entries, with participants sharing various reasons for their choices. Our J-Teacher readers clearly knew their stuff – as many as 32 different onomatopoeia were submitted!

So, which was the most popular onomatopoeia? Well, there must have been a lot of hungry teachers, because the winner is ぺこぺこ (peko peko)!

Teachers mentioned that this was the first onomatopoeia they ever learnt, that it rolls off the tongue, and that it’s easy for their students to understand the concept. Other teachers were reminded of a popular childhood book Harapeko Aomushi (The Very Hungry Caterpillar), how they are always hungry, and commented that peko peko sounds like a rumbling stomach.  

 Close behind were どきどき and わくわく. The word doki doki made a particular teacher nostalgic for her first Japanese boyfriend. A teacher who selected waku waku, recalled “so many new experiences in Japan. Every day I had a waku waku moment”.

Do you like onomatopoeia? Learn more about Japanese onomatopoeia through the below resources, and have fun with them in your class!

Contributed by Michie Akahane, JPF Sydney
February 2019


Japanese Onomatopoeia: The Definitive Guide

Let’s enjoy Japanese! (日本語)

The JF resource  Japanese in Anime and Manga  also has a fun quiz section with sound effects.  Choose ‘Expressions by Scene’ and go to one of the four sections; Samurai, School, Love or Ninja, and click ‘Sound FX’.

Photo: whale | Haline Ly

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