I’m trying to use tools or workbooks that can be used at home, from work and while commuting.
So far, I mostly relied on books but in crowded train trips, it not the easiest way to practice. So I switch to Internet tools:
- Textfugu : perfect to begin with. The righ amount of grammar, vocabulary, kanji, … And just the craziness that’s necessary to make learning fun. 120$ for a lifetime account but it’s truly worth it
- Gakuu: not used thoroughly at the moment but really interesting. Real Japanese, real life situations, issues and vocabulary. 99$ initially but with a really good deal if you come from Textfugu
- Twitter: just pick what you want. You want 猫 pics, リラックマ updates, direct feeds from journalists? Help yourself, find a few and the rest will come.
Still far from understanding most of what I read but still making some progress!
Do you have any suggestions of your own?
I’ve been doing so for quite a long time, even when I wasn’t really trying to learn Japanese.
The main purpose at the moment is to get used to the rythm, the music of the language. I try mixing some formal (through news podcasts) and informal language.
This is the podcasts I subscribed recently:
It gives me about 4 hours a day to real Japanese listening. I only grab a few words in each show but it has recently been increasing.
I also listen to podcasts about Japan, in English. Here are the links, even if they don’t need me:
There’s also a handful of Youtube vloggers. But I can’t watch their show at work…
I’m just starting to learn Japanese and I lack both Kanji and vocabulary skills.
But, I still want to learn and try to “read” as much Japanese as I can, mostly via Twitter.
Those are tools or apps I use in order to get the meaning of words/phrases I don’t understand
Rikai: Kanji and vocabulary look-up
I’ll try to post more regularly from now on.
Only six days left before JLPT N5
During my holiday in Japan, I felt really dumb knowing the hiragana and katakana but no kanji. I thought I would be enough to travel, finding my way in a railway station or in a touristic place, but kanji are just everywhere and you can’t walk around without bumping into them.
So back in France, I had set my mind into learning them. Some googling later, I found that:
- the General Use kanji were what I was looking for: some 2000 kanji needed in everyday life and taught to children starting at the age of 6
- two methods were wide spread: either Remember the Kanji (known as RTK, focuses on learning the kanji by their subcomponents and the story their assembly tells in order to remember the meaning) and Henshall’s guide to remembering the Japanese Characters (focusing on the origin of the character). I chose the later
- Spaced Repetition System (SRS) is the most useful way to learn something, in my case, the kanji. Anki, AnkiDroid or AnkiWeb being the most advanced software to support it
My goal was to learn the first two levels before the december 2011 JLPT session, about 200 kanji in about 3 months.
Working on computer or smartphone alone Not being the way for me to learn stuff, I made time to my schedule to learn those kanji by writing them down, thus learning the stroke order and giving me time to learn the different pronunciation of each one.
Sorry for the lack of update the past weeks, I have been pretty busy with my job.
Where am I now in my learning Japanese?
First of all, I managed this week to finish learning the 235-ish general use Kanji of the first two level of the Joyo Kanji. In itself it’s useless given that everyday kanji are part of the whole 2000 general kanji and that I only managed to learned about 10% of them so I am not able to read any amount of text above 50 characters, even Twitter is still beyond my reach, for the moment.
In the meantime, I switched most of my apps and softwares language to Japanese in the hope I could learn some vocabulary this way. So far, no great results, some embarrassing mistakes but some of it is beginning to stick.
Regarding the lessons I attend, I am a bit disappointed. There is not so many opportunity to speak and the progress are quite slow. After a month or so, we are not finished with the hiragana, we only started to work on the これ、それ、あれ, … Issues and most of the other student find it hard. Some of them even seem to discover that Japanese is a real language with rules that aren’t this simple and that it needs time and work in order to get results.
I suspect some of them thought that by watching anime, they were already fluent (Tofugu wrote about that a long time ago and it’s still very true).
The fact that I am trying to work beyond what is asked for the lessons doesn’t help to feel this gap but I feel I gain more results this way.
As I was working in a cafe yesterday, I had the chance to be seated in front of a Japanese family, teaching their 4-year-old girl some hiragana. I was glad to understand almost everything but was beaten by her because I wasn’t able to speak anything but really simple sentences. Otherwise said: I still don’t have the level of a 4 years child. Let’s go back to work then.
Last of all, in four weeks now, it will be the JLPT examination. I am confident on the vocabulary but not on the grammar part. Still one month to improve…
As part of the course, I’m taking, there are some events mixing Japanese and French Student. The first one happened last Friday and it was a song event.
The theme was around seasons and feelings. Japanese student had to study “Colchique dans les pres” and we, French students, worked on 森山直太郎-さくら Moriyama Naotarou – Sakura
泣くな友よ 今惜別の時 飾らない あの 笑顔で、さあ
What was kind of fun, was that the event was open to non-student. And among those, one was a perfect Gaikikoojin. His only reason to be here was to get numbers and email adresses of the japanese women in the room. He didn’t participate, just asking: “What’s your name? How old are you?” and showing a JP comic he had . He got ditched everytime.
PS: It’s getting hard to write English and Japanese on a french keyboard… someone know were I could get a EN/JP keyboard ?
As I said in a previous post, I set up a daily/weekly routine on order to avoid hitting the wall and dropping Japanese learning
On week days:
- before work: Joyo Kanji
- while commuting: SRS kanji learning
- at work: listening to J-music and/or podcasts. If you have good resources, I’m all ear
- back home: grammar, manga reading.
- more kanji
- more grammar
Why listen to or read Japanese if I don’t understand a single word, you might say. The goal is to make me hear Japanese all the time (@ajatt) in order to gain the correct pronunciation, grab some vocabulary trough context and exercise my ears to Japanese. I reckon it’s often quite hard to switch between French (mother language and everyday environment including at work) English (work, web, Japanese learning), German (working environment) and of course Japanese.
Keeping to this schedule is quite hard at times. I can always find good reasons to skip part of it, friends and work being regular ones. On the whole, I manage to keep it quite well at the moment and I can start to see some small results
One of the first thing to kick off my Japanese learning was the preparation a short trip to Japan last summer. I didn’t knew a single useful word (but thanks to anime, I was able to say “I want to kill you” in half a dozen way). And what was worst, I went alone.
As I said on a previous post, I decided to take japanese lessons in addition to my daily routine.
It is easy to find courses in Paris, in a few minutes on Google, you can find at least 5 place to learn, from associations to conventional high school. Looking a bit closer, you can find more informations about the course : methods, book used, …
What was most important to me was the ability to speak. I lost most my English and German abilities by not speaking a word but still am able to read both quite well.
I joined AAA, Association des Amitiés Asiatiques (Asiatic Friendships Association). Located near the Opera (and the Japanese streets), and on my way home, their first goal is to … teach French to Asian Students (mostly Chinese, Korean and Japanese). There is always students in the main room speaking, mixing French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean. Some special events are organized for the students, in their native languages.
The first lesson took place last Thursday. It was fun to see the Gaikikoojin from the JapanExpo had all disappeared. Of the 8 we are, 3 already know Japanese to some extents and decided to start again from scratch. The other five are ranking from total beginner to basic understanding.
The lesson in itself was simple. but the teacher knows her job and don’t seems to take us as childrens
Next episode on next Thursday.