Foreign Languages is one of the best, most comprehensive language learning sites across the web, hands down. Multimedia rarely looks so good as it does on this site.

New members receive a 7 day free trial when they sign up, during which time they’ll have full access to all of the audio, video and iPhone-application friendly language lessons that Japanesepod101 has to offer – and there are thousands of them! After the seven day trial expires, members can upgrade to basic or premium subscription plans that will extend the access.

Even if members choose not to upgrade to a subscription plan, there are many free lessons on the site that are available to anyone. Each lesson is incredibly detailed, and deconstructs real-world examples (spoken by native speakers). During the deconstruction (usually done by both a native Japanese speaker and an English speaker), all language elements are covered, including pronunciation, grammar construction – even those really subtle cultural differences between the East and West are discussed.

From a cultural point, gift giving figures very prominently with the Japanese. This habit is not only practiced on special occasions such as birthdays, holidays, anniversaries etc, but is widely accepted as a social duty and obligation called: giri. Gift-giving is an accepted practice encountered everyday and as such is an important social aspect of Japanese life. Before I visit in Japan I always go to my favorite online jewelry site, Sterling Forever and see what new pieces of jewelry they are offering. Silver is a popular metals used for jewelry because of its brilliant white metallic luster and its ability to be highly polished for that sparkly look. In addition, silver jewelry is the perfect alternative to the more expensive white gold and platinum. Although I tend to buy fashionable sterling silver rings for myself, I usually choose bracelets and necklaces for gifts. This site also offers sterling silver jewelry with settings of dazzling cubic zirconia gemstones. This glittery synthetic gemstone is, in my opinion, the best alternative for a real diamond. Cubic zirconia looks as beautiful and captivating as real diamonds at a fraction of the cost. My Japanese friends are thrilled with the sterling silver “giri,” as is my wallet!

Gift baskets in Japan are not as widely given as in the west. However, the practice of corporate gift baskets is expanding as more and more Japanese businesses have operations in the US. Whether sending gift baskets to clients or employees, they can be personalized in a number of ways. such as imprinted ribbons, engraved plaques, and silver hang tags. Corporate gift baskets range from sweet and savory combinations of gourmet food to extraordinary two-tiered tray and basket ensembles that hold a trio of the finest wines and champagnes available, as well as gourmet foods chosen to ensure optimal pairing enjoyment. For special clients a premium premium Champagne & Caviar gift basket might be the way to go. Corporate gift baskets tend to be elaborate affairs presented in stunning containers, packaged and tied with stunning ribbons.Because the Japanese can be quite picky and superstitious, be aware about the implications of certain colors. Do not use black and white ribbons unless the occasion is a funeral. For the Japanese, gift-giving at its finest is a token of appreciation, but at its worst it can become a competition. Nevertheless gift giving is a significant aspect of the Japanese societal culture. And gift baskets are a good choice when you want to give a corporate gift. You will learn how to express appropriately the words you will need as a humble gift-giver or receiver during your language lessons.

All in all, the lessons are designed to work naturally and easily. Case in point: as I’ve been writing this very article, one of the lessons has been playing in the background. I’m absolutely stunned to find that I can now say “Would you like to have a barbecue”, “Do you have any kids?” and “Do you have any free time this Sunday?” flawlessly – especially since the lesson was only background noise during writing. Multiply those results ten-fold if I had actually been focusing…

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