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I was wondering if there is a simple way to say that "I learned a lot" by doing something, e.g. "I learned a lot about how to work well on a team in my first job". I know that there are the words 習う and 学ぶ, but I thought that both of these related to more formal, classroom style learning as opposed to something more informal and life-skills-like.

Thanks!

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勉強になりました。 is used quite often to say that something you took part in brought you some knowledge.

  • Simple, straightforward answer. This is what I was told by someone else too. – acerio Nov 13 '15 at 19:25
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学ぶ is the most common word you learn by something. 学ぶ can be used any activity you learn by, not only classroom style learning. You can use it even playing.

子供は友達と遊ぶことで多くのことを学びます。
Children learn a lot by playing their friends.

"I learned a lot by doing something" can be translated like 「私は 〜 で多くのことを学びました。」 You can substitute any noun into 〜 to make any sentence you like.

Example:

I learned a lot about how to work well on a team in my first job.
私は、初めての仕事でチームで仕事をうまく進めることを学びました。

  • What do you think about saying 習得 instead of 学ぶ? Isn't '学ぶ' where you actively study something (like kanji)? And, 習得 is where you passively come to understand something (like the benefit of teamwork)? I really don't know, but do you have an opinion? – david Nov 13 '15 at 4:51
  • @david Yes, you also can say 私は、初めての仕事でチームで仕事をうまく進めることを習得しました。 – Takashi Nov 13 '15 at 12:53
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    @david I think you're thinking in the opposite way. 習得 usually refers to mastering some specific skill after active training. Learning things like "how to get along with colleagues" is usually what you 学ぶ but not 習得する. – naruto Nov 13 '15 at 15:38
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Takashi already said it but 学ぶ is not always related to school or to formal things, in fact you can use it for pretty much all the things you learn no matter where and how.

Nevertheless, there is other options, one of them is 身につける. Literally, 身につける means "to put on oneself" and is often seen when talking about clothes, but in addition to this meaning, it can mean "to acquire knowledge".

An attempt at translating your sentence may be:

初めての仕事を通して、チームの中で他のメンバーと一緒に仕事を円滑に進めていく上での 多くの・様々な ことを 学びました・身につけました。

  • (ちょっと変えすぎたかも。スマソ。) – Chocolate Nov 13 '15 at 15:55
  • @choco 確かに (ゝ。∂) – 永劫回帰 Nov 13 '15 at 23:11

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