夏の漢字ライダーズ

Sometimes kanji loves me and other times it kicks my ass. I’m sure a lot of you have felt the same way. I decided to pick up my sword and go in swinging wildly at my foe and friend-漢字.

Really though, don’t go in swinging wildly with any sword. It’s your best chance at getting locked up, hurting yourself, or being wiped out completely in Devil May Cry.

I joined this challenge on Japanese Level Up, otherwise known as Jalup, which is a wonderful site with a great community of Japanese learners. The blog posts and comments are inspirational and helpful. You can definitely pick up some new tips and methods from them so if you’ve never stopped by the site before, go ahead and try it out: http://japaneselevelup.com/

Here’s the challenge I’m doing: http://japaneselevelup.com/jalup-group-challenge-the-summer-of-rtk/ (Can you find my comment? :3)

What I’ll basically be doing from June 1st to August 31st is learning kanji as a separate system- the same way we learn hiragana and katakana, but with RTK (Remembering the Kanji by Heisig) through Anki, a SRS (spaced repetition system). Now, I’ve tried it before and quit too early because I’m not very fond of SRS even though it does help me sometimes. I have a hard time staying consistent with things these days and I hate hate hate that about myself. (Just look at how often I update this blog…) I used to be so hard-working, but now I find it difficult to keep up with anything. Enough of me complaining about me.

What I’ve been doing to learn kanji, and what I prefer to do, is to learn them as I see them. When my textbook introduces 15-25 kanji, that’s what I learn. If I see a particular character a lot, I learn how to write it and try to iron it into my memory. If I learn a couple new words, I always write the kanji out and not just the hiragana. However, I won’t try too hard to remember these. I’d just passively learn it. In Japanese class I was so ambitious and eager to learn kanji and it really paid off. I actually pick them up quickly. Can you naturally have a thing for learning kanji?

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Imagine looking through your kanji dictonary like “uh-huh, uh-huh, know that, know that, easy, oh a new one, know that, know that…”

A lot of Japanese learners have done the RTK method successfully and well, I’d like to be one of them. I’m going to give this my best shot. I’m going to learn 20 kanji each day and keep up with my reviews on anki. It’ll be easy while I’m going throw the couple hundred kanji I know and am familiar with, but once those new ones start coming in, woo it’s gonna be a party. And by party, I mean battleground.

If I do manage to complete this challenge successfully, I’ll be able to spend more time and effort on other areas like reading and learning grammar. Actually, reading would become a lot easier for me because although I may not know the pronunciation of the word, I’ll know the meaning and won’t have to cry every time I come across blocks of kanji. It’ll ease the learning process up a bit. This is my main reason for wanting to try this out.

And so, my readers, I proudly announce that I am now part of 夏の漢字ライダーズ or Summer Kanji Riders. Just look at that name, haha. Love it. I wish I posted this earlier so that anyone could join the challenge as well, but May 31st was the last day to post that you were joining. Do feel free to still try it out if you’d like to.

Hey, ever have that moment when you’re writing a blog post and want to add pictures but you don’t wanna randomly add just any picture so you just internally cry about the big block of text you wrote and hope that none of your readers get bored with all the words? Or is that just me?

Yes… I went back and took a picture of a random page in my kanji dictionary just to ease up the words.

To Workbook Or Not To Workbook

This is always the question.

Short post, but how does everyone feel about workbooks? I don’t really use them because instead of efficiently working through ch. 4 of the workbook AS I do ch. 4 of the textbook, I do ch.4 of the workbook when I’m a) on chapter 12 or b) done with the entire book.

It’s like my brain does a memory dump on what workbooks are and that they exist.

I noticed that even though I can breeze through learning Korean vocab and grammar, it doesn’t stick like Japanese did. I thought it was because I was more familiar with Japanese, but then I noticed it was because I was using a good workbook with the main material. When I use a good workbook (not a non-self-study friendly boring one), it lets me put the medal to the pedal (whoops… pedal to the medal…. metal? medal? See, I can’t even speak my first language and I’m too lazy to look it up) and see what I can remember on my own without re-reading notes.

So yeah, workbooks work for me… Hee hee. Workbooks, WORK. Ha. Haha. Ha.

I’ll stop now.

So do workbooks earn minimum wage? Imagine a lil book going to its office with its lil suitcase.

….Okay, now I’ll stop. I couldn’t help it.

They have their benefits, however, it’s always a question of “Do I want to part my bank account with its money and make it weep like a kid who got their lollipop taken away?”

So how do you all feel about workbooks? Good workbooks. We all hate the bad ones of course. Are they worth the extra money or are they nice to have but not really worth it?

(I’m trying to decide whether to get Ewha and Yonsei workbooks later on, that’s why haha.)

Vocab Lists Should Be Banned

I am so serious.
There should be a large protest against vocab lists.

When I was taking Japanese at college, we had to learn a page of vocab from the Genki textbook we used. This would be anywhere from 20 – 30 new words for a little quiz on a randomly selected 10. You were then expected to remember that word for the rest of your Japanese learning life.

Guess how many of them I forgot?
Don’t actually try because I don’t know the answer and I don’t want you to hurt your brain. Those are precious brain cells you have there.

The point I’m trying to make is that stuffing all those words on lists into your head won’t help you. Well, it didn’t help me nor did it help most of the other students in my class. You’re going to forget it. You’re much more likely to remember a word if you learn it from a conversation you heard or a passage you read.

This example is with my Korean studies, but it’s all the same vocab business:
Not too long ago I was doing a bit of reviewing with Korean. There were words I tried to learn and remember through SRS and vocab lists and I remembered ZILCH. I couldn’t even recall most of them. However, the words I learned IN CONTEXT from Sogang’s free online lessons were sooooo easy to recall even though I hadn’t looked at them in 8 to 10 months. These were the words I learned from the dialogues and readings.

Although I’ve proven to myself I remember much better from context than lists, I still feel like if there’s a word I don’t know on my list for that chapter, I NEED to learn it then and there or it’ll disappear into the mass of other words in the language never to be seen again.

I’m so dramatic.

The thing is, the word will definitely come up again- especially if it’s a word from the early stages. I can’t run after every word all the time especially since I’m out of shape stamina-wise. I wouldn’t get too far.

I highly suggest learning in context and at your own pace. Think of it as food. You don’t wanna scarf everything down at once and get indigestion. Enjoy your food at your own pace (and ignore all the pesky people who ask why you eat so slow or so fast).

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Yay context!

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BOOOOO STINKY LISTS!

Oh, remember what I said a couple posts ago too: Don’t be a me. Don’t be a Keisha and have to go back and review chapters and chapters. I’m not learning anything new yet. I’m still reviewing stuff. 6 more chapters to review/re-learn.
( ´Д`)ノ(´・ω・`)

BOOKS!

I’m yelling about novels in particular- novels in the languages in learning to be even more particular.

I’m soooo eager to read a novel in another language, but honestly I’ve been delaying it because I keep telling myself it’s too early. I can’t wait until I feel “ready” because I’ll never really feel “ready” BUT most novels would require me to look up every other word which may or may not bother me. It literally depends on the book, the day, how I feel, the positioning of the sun, the wind velocity, etc.

Let me give you an idea of just why I’m dying to start a novel:

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Yes, all of these are mine. This is from two trips to BookOff! in NYC. Good news: I have lots of reading material and it was all for cheap. Bad news: I have lots of scary reading material with big mean words I don’t know yet.

The most I’ve done is read here and there in 세상에 너를 소리쳐! and picked up 우리들의 행복한 시간 at the library. But that’s for Korean.

So yeah I’m skeptical to read a full novel right now but the difference is that for Korean I’m like (゚¬゚*) and for Japanese I’m like Σ(゚Д゚ノ)ノ and щ(゚Д゚`щ). Guess which one I’ve been studying longer? (Hint: The one with the emojis that look ready to leave life.) I think my comprehension has to do with the fact that I casually read BAP’s tweets and translate them so little by little I got better at reading Korean. So basically, it’s BAP’s fault.

Also, Japanese is written very abstractly (which I love) and adds to the difficulty of understanding what you read (which I hate).

I actually don’t know what I’m saying anymore or what you’re getting out of this other than that I’m a wuss when it comes to trying to read Japanese.

To everyone out there learning languages, when did you start reading your first novel? Did you feel “ready” when you started? How much did you need to rely on a dictionary?

Backtracking

As some of you may know, I studied Japanese in college before I went full-force self-study with it. Because of that, I had to cram information in for tests and had a lovely habit of forgetting vocabulary and grammar… and kanji. OTL Sure, I understood everything I was taught, but only enough for short term memory. I’d forget that I learned a ton of words 2 weeks ago because I was learning another ton of words in the current week. I’d forget all the lovely grammar too. It’s like when you’re the chosen one in a movie and you don’t remember your past life until you’re awakened. You didn’t “forget” the info, but you forgot that you knew.

Woah.

But anyways, I’ve been doing some backtracking so I could smooth out all the bumps, twists, twizzlers, and loops in my knowledge before plunging into anything new. I’ve FINALLY finished backtracking through Genki I and can now backtrack through Genki II. LAWD I’VE BEEN WAITING. (And by waiting I actually mean dancing around in Korean books and avoiding my mission.) I got so happy that I hopped into my WordPress app to make this little post lol.

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I’m one step closer to starting Tobira. キラ――( ☆ω☆)――ン
(Tobira is this lovely intermediate textbook I got my hands on.)

Lesson learned. Take your time while studying. Feel free to try a class outside of college that allows you to retain information better or go on your own route completely and self-study. Don’t rush or you’ll throw a pillow at your poster of Yunho.

 

I Did It Again

I really hate coming back and making a post after not updating in a long time. I don’t hate the updating part. I hate that I took so long to post something. >.< One of my resolutions for this year was to post regularly (every day I think omg) and I still have the rest of the year to work on it. I got this. キラ――( ☆ω☆)――ン

I've been studying. I just haven't been blogging lol. I've been commenting on fellow learners' blogs and getting inspired by them, trying out different study methods, making attempts to study (even if it's just for 20 minutes that day), and tweeting in Japanese and Korean.

I've noticed that I have a weird habit of studying one language 90% of the time and other 10% and then switching the "favoritism" every 3-4 weeks. It kinda works and kinda doesn't so I'm implementing a new plan.

I'm not going to worry about if I study one more than the next or if there is a gap in levels. I'll study whatever I'm in the mood for. This goes material-wise too. If I'm feeling up for a long study session then I'll go for it, but if I don't and I haven't studied that day or in a while, I'll do something that takes 20 minutes just so I don't have large gaps in between study sessions. I think I think too much sometimes. (Wow… Think I think too much. Think-ception.)

This is another one of my "I'm good and alive and survived the apocalypse" posts. XD

I'm starting to second guess my decision on taking the N3 this year. I could probably do the N4, but the whole point of aiming for N3 was because N4 was too easy. I'm still going to work towards it and wait for registration to roll around. (The thought of aiming even higher and going for the N2 in 2015 has crossed my mind a couple of times. LOL NOPE.)

JLPT N3

I almost made a mistake and posted this as N2… No… noooo no no no. Not now.

I mentioned it in a post last year, but didn’t officially announce it so I’m going to do it before I chicken out.

I’m taking the JLPT-N3 this year. *-*

 

I’m regretting this again… OTL

I’ve been slacking off with learning (which is why I’ve been slacking off on blogging) so if I want to do well on this test, I need to give life to my studying. I was thinking of aiming for the N2 next year, but let’s do things one mission at a time. One day we’ll get up to satan…. I mean N1. >.> That test is a beast.

It looks like registration information will be posted in August, so by then I’d like to look back and see how much I’ve learned (read: See if I have a fighting chance).

Oh, by the way, I did the switcheroo again. Now I’m paying more attention to Korean than Japanese. XD I meet with my Japanese language partner every Tuesday and I don’t know how many times Korean was about to spill out. Speaking of speaking Japanese (hahaha) sweet baby batman riding on a scooter with toast I am forgetting words left and right. I hate feeling like I should go back and solidify what I’m constantly forgetting. I just want to move forward.

The Struggle

I’m having a difficult time with studying Japanese. I’m stuck. I don’t see the improvement I want and I feel like I’m not working hard enough. I’m so frustrated with myself. Do I start over? Re-do everything and study hard as I solidify the things I know or have ideas of and pick up tidbits of info I didn’t know before? Do I keep going forward and stop trying to go back to what I don’t know? Do I go forward and review old things gradually? It’s so confusing. When I go back, I hate it. I get bored and thus cannot concentrate on what I’m reading because it’s too easy. If I go forward, I hate it. I see so much that I don’t know but should and then I get confused. I’m not sure where to go. I know I love learning Japanese, but I don’t know where to go.

Sometimes I think, “If only I studied better and practiced more.” I kinda wanna blame my Japanese class for this because we run through things at lightning speed and there is no time to really learn things correctly. Memorizing lists of 30-40 grammar words twice a week for a quiz on just ten? No real practice that makes you think (other than the workbook homework)? Overuse of English? Simple tests that don’t really show how much you understand? I’ve gotten all A’s in these classes, but I feel like my knowledge level is at a C.

If you really want something, you’ll become determined enough to make it happen no matter what. Maybe I wasn’t determined enough. I mean, I was busy as hell during school with three other classes, work and performances all over the place, but maybe I should have been more dedicated to studying.

 

I’m kinda just venting in this post. I want to put the ups and downs of my language studies on my blog because I know everyone has these moments and I don’t feel like I’m being honest unless I show the good and the bad.

Book Off NYC

After meeting with my Japanese language exchange partner (Is there a shorter word for that?) earlier this week, I ventured into Bookoff. I first heard of the store from Shanna and for some reason I thought it would only be in Singapore and Japan, but luckily there’s one in NYC too. It’s about three blocks from Kinokuniya NYC. Do you hear me cheering in the background?

Now, yes, Bookoff is a second-hand books bookstore, BUT their books look so new and the prices are so cheap that if you’re studying Japanese you’ll want to take a bookshelf home with you. I don’t even know if that’s possible, but I know I’d do it given the money. There are also DVDs, books in English, manga, games, and such, but I was on a hunt for one thing: Japanese novels.

I decided to woman-up (I can’t really man up because well… I don’t have man parts…) and finally go and purchase Japanese novels. I almost did in Kinokuniya months ago, but chickened out by telling myself I wasn’t at that level. Lately I’ve been reading “Read Real Japanese – Essays” and I understand a good bit of it so I thought, why not?

I really wish I took pictures in the store omg. I’ll probably re-visit it next week because I have this $3 coupon and omg yay.

On to the books! I purchased most of them at a little below their original price in yen or much cheaper. For me, this is better than going to Kino and paying almost double the price because it counts as an import and blah.

白夜行 :東野圭吾 US$7.00

ストロベリーナイト :誉田哲也 US$5.50

蛇を踏む :川上弘美 US$3.00

100万回の言い訳 :唯川恵 US$1.00

The first two I picked up because I remember Shanna was reading them and I really enjoy horror, mystery, and all that good stuff. Apparently both books are very popular in Japan. The third is by an author in “Read Real Japanese – Stories.” It’s one of her earliest novels and there’s something very interesting about the title. 蛇「へび」means snake, but it can also be used to describe a heavy drinker. 踏む「ふむ」is a verb that means “to step on” but can also mean “to follow rules/morals.” So the title can either mean “to step on the snake,” “to step on the drinker,” “to follow the morals of a snake,” or “to follow the morals of a heavy drinker.” This is why I love Japanese so much, haha. The last one I picked up literally because it was $1 and I could understand the title, haha.

The novel I’m diving into first, thanks to random.org, is 白夜行. Also known as, the longest book. About 800 pages of Japanese. I’m excited and scared. I literally did the random.org thing three more times, but kept getting that same one. It’s like the forces will it.

Interesting note about Japanese novels:

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Books are arranged by publisher and then あ、か、さ、た、な order of the author’s family name. Be careful because authors may write under more than one publisher. See the ほ and the 4-1? The ほ is for 誉田「ほんだ」. The 4 is 誉田哲也’s “author number” under that publisher and the 1 means it’s the first book he wrote under them. So 4-5 would be his fifth book under the publisher. I love this. It’s so interesting to me and makes it so much easier for me to find someone’s books in chronological order.

I said my next post would be a Genki I & II review, but did this instead because I just had to post it and it was faster to write. 10 days into January and I finally make a post this year. At least it has pictures? Well, better 10 days than a month.

Is anyone else having trouble with the instagram embed code? It won’t work for me. ;A; Never mind. Just copy/paste the URL. OTL

GOODBYE 2013, HELLO 2014!

I think the USA is the last country to enter the new year… So many people are already in 2014 and I’m here still in 2013. It’s like I’m stuck in some time warp. DARN YOU TIME ZONES!!!


よいお年をお迎えください! あけましておめでとうございます!

I used both because I don’t know when you’ll be reading this.


The first one is used before the new year and literally means “please welcome a good new year.”

よいお年をお迎えください

よい =  good 「いい」also means “good” but 「よい」is the pre-WWII way of saying “good.” Maybe that’s why it’s used here? Usually you’ll see 「よい」when 「いい」is being conjugated.

お年 = year ( お is added for respect)

を = particle

お迎え『迎える』 = “to greet” or “to welcome” or “to mark the coming of” (お added for respect again)

~ください = sentence pattern used for polite requests

The second one is used only when the new year has arrived and literally means “congratulations on opening (a new year).”




あけましておめでとうございます

あけまして『あける』= opening [to open]

おめでとうございます = congratulations




새해 복 많이 받으세요!

새해 = new year

복 = “luck” or “good fortune”

많이 = many

받으세요 = please receive

As you can see, I can go more into detail in Japanese. I’ll work harder this year. OTL

For resolutions, my big one is to cook for myself to make sure I get all the nutrients I need. The aim is to cook a “new” recipe every week. For language learning… uhh… I really really don’t know. Probably to study more diligently and bring my Korean up to par with my Japanese, but I want to make the language goal a little more specific. Specific goals are much easier to do. Unless it’s something like walk the grand canyon while balancing three porcelain bowls on your head. Then… I don’t know what do you with you.

But once I get a resolution for my language study, I’ll do it for 40 days because if I say I’ll do it for the year, the time frame is so large that I think I have time and then POOF I didn’t do it. >.> 40 days makes it easier to become a habit so you don’t even think about having to do it.

WAIT! I made a resolution to post here every day! That’s what it was! No wait, that’s more blog update related than study related so… Yeah. I’ll come back with a language resolution haha.

Any resolutions you’d like to share? :D

Up next: Genki I & II textbook and workbook review (‘Bout damn time I started book reviews)