Monthly review: March 2018

I have decided to start a new category on my blog and write a monthly review at the end of the month to talk about how I have been studying Japanese and other things.

Blog

What is new on my blog is how I write my Friday post. Instead of studying a news article on Friday, I write a review of the week concerning Japan politics and society. To write this post, I have to check the news at least once a day (I open NHK News website and listen to NHK radio news). It sometimes brings a little stress, but the benefice is more significant than I had expected:

First, reading the news is an activity that slowly becomes easier. Given that several subjects go on for several days or weeks, once I know the vocabulary I can read on the same subject with a little more confidence.

But the greatest benefice is this: I know what is going on in Japan even if I am not living there and it creates some kind of relationship with the country. I have an interest in Japanese literature, I love a lot of Japanese culture aspects, but I am not a fan of Japan’s pop culture as many learners are. As a consequence, I sometimes feel that what links me to Japan is very thin. Through reading the news, I feel implicated in what happens in the country, and it motivates me to keep on studying Japanese.

Finally, I have always considered that reading the news in a foreign language is an immense benefice of language learning. You can have a direct insight into a country’s state and the way media works there. It is also interesting to see how other countries see some major events, or how things that happen in your own country are seen in foreign media. Anyway, it’s exciting to have several points of view.

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Japanese

I am not doing much study since I passed N2 in December of last year, but I enjoy doing what I am doing.

I still write down Japanese names to slowly get closer to this ideal state: being able to read a name when I see one. Last week, I posted about the 紅白本合戦, and I saw a picture of the 20 books ranked during the conquest: there are two lists of 10 authors whose name I cannot even pronounce. And it’s a picture so I cannot copy-paste it. So frustrating!

I am still studying my new deck of onomatopoeia. This works pretty well, and I am very satisfied with it. I finally could remember some onomatopoeia! But the most important point is that I enjoy studying this deck. Before, when onomatopoeia appeared in my regular Japanese deck, I was so bored I just dismissed them with a “correct” answer and tried to ignore the sense of guilt that Anki tried to instil into me. The reason why I enjoy studying my onomatopoeia deck is that it is full of sentences I saw in novels I liked, and I can recall the scenes exactly as I imagined them when I was reading these books.

Also, I am writing in マイブック on an almost daily basis. In the beginning, I was glad when I wrote half or even one-third of the page. Now I always reach the end of the page. I started in February, so it’s a little soon to claim that I got into the habit of writing in Japanese every day, but I am on my way!

English

I have done very little to improve my English this month. I feel discouraged by phrasal verbs. There are so many!! I am sure that we mostly learn the one-word substitute instead of the phrasal verb at school. It seems much more natural to me to say “please remove your shoes” than “please take off your shoes”, even if I’m talking to a friend in a casual situation! I feel like I am starting from scratch with phrasal verbs. Maybe I will take a pause with it, and learn English idioms instead. It’s more fun!

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Books

In Japanese, I have read 「ぶたぶたラジオ」by 矢崎存美 and started 「イノセント・デイズ」by 早見和真, and in English, I am reading The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. I am much ashamed, but I have read mostly French literature, and there are a lot of British authors that I have never read… Doris Lessing is one of them. I thought that The Golden Notebook would be difficult to read, but it’s not. As every book that inspires me, I wish that I had read it sooner. I love the many insights into Communism at the time, I am learning and understanding a lot through this novel. Experiences are also seen with different lights, describe differently or with a different mood and what is striking is that these different points of view are all emerging from the same person, Anna. The notebooks contained in the Golden Notebook are like a palimpsest where new writings come over the old ones, but we still can read through. We see how, through the writing of experiences and memories, a novel takes shape, and these insights into the creative process are very inspiring.

I am also “reading” my first History book in Japanese! “Reading” is not exactly the term, I would say that working my way through it with a dictionary and Wikipedia is a better definition. But it is an exciting journey, and I will post about it on Wednesday!

Conclusion

That’s all I can think about for the moment, but it’s the first time I write a monthly review… Now that Winter is over, I will feel guilty again to stay at home on warm sunny days. But I like Spring too, it brings new energy and feels like a new beginning!