Archive for January, 2012

Speak Often, Speak Loud

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Hello!

There are four fundamental parts to a language – reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Reading and listening are input – you read for comprehension, you write for comprehension. Writing and speaking are output – you are putting out information to other people for them to read or heard and understand.

Just like input, output is key to learning the language – although this is relatively difficult because it’s hard to know where to start. Even the most basic sentences can become confusing. But as they say – “practice makes perfect,” and this is definitely true when it comes to output.

Even though babies go through a lot of input, they don’t learn the language in just this way. There are people all around them teaching them words and phrases, and they spend their entire life learning their dialect. Most importantly they attempt to speak as they get older, and even though it’s not perfect, they learn. Learning a language as an adult is a tad bit different.

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How to Pick Up Vocab Like a Ninja

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

It’s easy to learn the grammar of a new language and use it like a formula. You can write sentences with some words you know. And hey, you can even impress some of your friends by telling them 私の名前はxです (My name is x). But does this really do you any good, if you hardly know any words?

In my experience, picking up vocabulary seems like the most difficult thing about learning a language. Some textbooks present to you vocabulary terms that you would use in specific situations (like ごちそうさまでした, “it was a feast”), which are mainly social words. But vocab you would use on a regular basis (like 電車, train、車, car、バス, bus、みかん, melon、動物, animal、etc) are not introduced for quite a while depending on the book. Sometimes the vocabulary are rarely used. So how do you add more words to your language arsenal? Read on.
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Blog Is Now Working

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

So it took a while thanks to my wonderful net admin to get the forums and blog up and running, but they’re here and I will be moving certain posts from the former blog back here. Some posts were transformed in to guide posts on the main site. It will take some time before things get moving again due to the fact that I need to make the theme for the blog because using defaults is lame. In the mean time, if you want to read the posts on the old blog it’s still live on wordpress.com. Click here.

The blog now will generally cover Japanese and Japan in general, like reviews on games, books, manga, as well as happenings in Japan. So stay tuned. ;)

How I Study Japanese

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

There are many different ways to study a language, but there is certainly not one right way to do it. Well, actually, there is – the one that you enjoy doing, and one that helps you learn (and retain what you learned). That said, a lot of people have been wondering how I go about studying Japanese, so I’m going to share my method with you today in the hopes that it can help somebody out.

Truthfully, I didn’t always have a certain way of learning Japanese. I often bounced around, trying various websites and books out, but I had no direction nor was I really getting anywhere. For an entire year I knew only romaji, then I learned hiragana and katakana (miserably), and then the year after that (three years in) I had memorized by heart the JLPT 4 (before it was upgraded to the N series) kanji, thanks to the Learn To Write Kanji and Kana 1 work book. I knew a little bit about grammar (like the は、が、を、に、で particles), had a small base of vocab (I could say things like 私はラーメンを食べます), but other than that my Japanese was rather pathetic for such a long time span spent studying. That was when I decided I wanted to change things.
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Things To Look Out For In Manga

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Yesterday evening, I got myself started in something called 多読 (たどく), or tadoku. Tadoku is a program created by @lordsilent and heavily advocated by my good friend Lan’dorien. The idea is to read as often as you can for a month. You can register with TadokuBot to have your scores monitored and compare yourself to other Japanese learners. Not to mention, it’s a great way to network.

Because of this, I recently got into the Bleach manga in raw Japanese. While I’ve already read the first chapter of the first volume, I continue to go back and reread what I did before to make sure I remembered the vocabulary. Here’s the catch though – reading manga is nothing like reading something like the news or a twitter feed.

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Books You Must Have For Studying Kanji and Kana

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Over several years I have accumulated almost a library of books in the study of the Japanese language. Some of them were quick one-time reads, others were garbage, and the rest (a large portion) I read on a near-regular basis. A majority of these books are extraordinarily helpful for English speakers learning the Japanese language because they explain things in deep detail in a way you would rarely find on the internet or in a classroom.

A majority of my books are Kanji dictionaries while others actually teach things such as radicals and distinguishing between look-alike characters. I could easily say that without these books I wouldn’t have learned anywhere near as much as I have, and I feel that they will help somebody. I have linked to Amazon (some are on amazon.co.jp, which you have to separately register for) if you’re interested in purchasing (I’m not selling these books so profits go to either Amazon or a direct seller).

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Historical Japanese Writing

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

The Japanese language has certainly come a long way, as we saw in Origins of Kana and Kanji. The phonetic system has underwent changes, as people became lazier and lazier in speech. At the same time, its writing system (which had already been developing for hundreds of years, not to mention the countless before it for the development of Kanji itself), up to its present form to make up for these phonetic changes. The modern form we see today is as recent as World War II. That’s incredible, to think that Japanese was so different just over a hundred years ago.

But because these changes are so recent, there are still materials out there that are written in an older style of Japanese that is no longer used today except by a few people. This post aims to explain some of the changes that occurred over the years and what old Japanese writing resembled.

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