Month: September 2018

Japanese immersion: September week 4

To be exact, this post should be entitled Japanese non-immersion because the week was a complete disaster. I have been busy with other things and could not even hold to my weekly challenge (it was listening and repeating lines of Isao TAKAHATA’s film Only Yesterday). As for immersion, there was almost none, apart from some usual things I do like listening to a video in Japanese while cooking, but then I don’t really listen with attention. The only active step that I took was to watch the first episode of a Japanese drama. I chose 『慰謝料弁護士~あなたの涙、お金に変えましょう~』because it was on the list of the popular Japanese drama of our VOD’s catalogue. As almost every first episode of a drama is available for free on this VOD, I took the resolution, some months ago, to watch as many first episodes as possible until I find a drama worth watching and paying for. So I watched the first episode of this drama but it was not a success. I can see the appeal of such dramas, but it …

Currently reading: 『日本語びいき』by 清水由美

Once again, I find myself reading several books at the same time! I could not resist this book’s title and cover: 『日本語びいき』 is written by a Japanese teacher who teaches Japanese to foreigners. From what she writes in her forewords, I guess that there was/is a lack of understanding of what a Japanese teacher is and what skills it requires. People tend to think that anyone can teach his or her own language and are not aware of the challenges that lay behind this apparently easy task: 「私は日本語教師です。この職業も以前にくらべればだいぶ認知度が上がってきたようですが、念のために押しますと、外国人に日本語を教えるのが仕事です。国語教師との違いは、相手が日本語を母語としない人たちであるという一点です。 教えるのは日本語ですから、とりあえず日本語がしゃべれれば務まりそうなものですけれども、学習者から見れば日本語は外国語。教師の側にも日本語を外国語として見る目が求められます。そしてこの、「母語を外から見る目」を持つということは、日本語ネイティブのみなさんがなんとなく想像していらっしゃるより、おそらくかなり、難しい。」(p3) The author wrote this book for Japanese readers, and her point is to show to native speakers the difficulties, the charm, the strangeness even of the language they speak every day. She wants to bring the amazement Japanese learners experience to the native speakers: 「日々自在に操っていらっしゃる母語、日本語に、新鮮な驚きを感じていただければ幸いです。」(p.4) When I saw this book and understood what it was about, I immediately thought about 海野凪子(うみの・なぎこ)’s work 『日本人の知らない日本語』. The fact that 『日本語びいき』was first published under the title 『日本人の日本語知らず』tend to draw this two books closer. But they are in fact very different. …

Impersonation and language learning

Today’s post is about speaking, which is rare on my blog! What triggered it is this video I found on YouTube: It was a commercial, and for once, I didn’t skip it after 5 seconds. This Korean guy learns English by doing impersonations of Sherlock Holmes from the series by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. I always feel excited to see how many different approaches and methods people use to learn a language. I never used this one before, in any language that I have learned, but it looks fun and effective. I have heard about the shadowing method too but never tried it myself. If I understood correctly, shadowing means that you speak a text together with the original audio (?). What I did do, however, is to listen to a dialogue and repeat it alone, trying to get as close as possible from the original. What this guy does is a little different. He does not only learn the text by heart and repeat it at original speed, but he also tries to impersonate the character, …

Japanese Immersion: September week 3

My focus for this week was to read my novels, so I haven’t done many non-bookish things for my Japanese immersion. Japanese Songs This being said, I did work a little on my immersion with music. I already mentioned it in a previous post, but I have difficulty finding Japanese songs I like. The Japanese artists I loved before learning Japanese are mostly in the instrumental sphere. Now that I am learning Japanese, I am looking for songs with lyrics, but I am starting from zero and slowly building my Japanese playlist. (If you are like me, check these recommendations, they are a good starting point!) Here are two songs that I have discovered this week and like very much: 『夜の流れ』by Cantaro IHARA (井原寛太郎). The first time I saw the artist’s name, I thought it was a great name for a singer because it meant “let’s sing”. Then I wonder why on earth I was thinking that, and I realised that I was mixing Spanish “cantar” (to sing) and Japanese grammar -おう (let’s sing), haha. …

Currently reading: 『未来のミライ』by 細田守

Some months ago Topple commented on one of my posts to recommend the collection 角川つばさ文庫 (collection “Tsubasa” of the publisher Kadokawa). I have been on the lookout for a book of this collection since then and finally spotted one in a bookshop the other day: 『未来のミライ』by 細田守 (ほそだ・まもる). The collection First of all, let’s talk about the collection because I am sure it will interest all Japanese learners! Tsubame is a collection for children/young readers of the famous publisher Kadokawa. The books have a light green cover and a slightly bigger size than standard books. I don’t know if it is true for all the books in the collection, but mine has some illustrations inside. 「レーベル名には、物語の世界を自分の「つばさ」で自由自在に飛び、未来をきりひらいてほしい。」 角川つばさ文庫 The books are classified by levels indicated by one, two or three leaves on the cover. 『未来のミライ』has three leaves which means: “小学上級から”. No matter the level, all books come with full furigana, which is, of course, the best part of this series. They are also classified into 6 genres: A オリジナル B ベストセラー C ノベライズ D ノンフィクション E 海外の名作 …

My new study method: the One-week challenge/immersion!

I think I got it at last! The method that suits me best to learn a language. Learning Japanese on my own has been a mess of trials and errors, of abandoned study plans and seemingly revolutionary but unrealistic study methods. But somehow, it has been fun trying different things, and designing study plans is definitely one of the reasons why I love learning things on my own. But at last, I think that I have found a method that I can stick to, and that will help me improve my Japanese while being entertaining enough to not feel like hardcore study. One-week challenge/immersion study method My problem is that I regularly come up with things that I want to do on a daily basis, and of course, if these daily tasks pile up, it becomes impossible to do them all every day, and I end up dropping some of them. As a result, I am always a little anxious because I feel that I am not doing what I should be doing. If I …

Japanese Immersion: September week 2

どうぶつの森! I woke up this morning to hear the good news: Animal Crossing is coming for the Switch! To me, Animal Crossing is closely linked to learning Japanese: it is a game I play in Japanese, and it created an unconscious association between “Japanese” and “a fictional world I love, where the smallest acts of kindness matter and make you smile, your efforts always rewarded, where everybody is nice and where animals talk”. I started playing Animal Crossing because it was a refuge against the real world where your efforts are not always appreciated, people are not always nice and animals don’t talk. What is funny is that I watched Animal Crossing New Leaf videos in Japanese this week. I like the channel of a YouTuber called くるみ. I like how she creates stories (she’s dating the cat ジンペイ) inside the Animal Crossing world and makes a game released 6 years before feel fresh and new. LDP election But of course, my Japanese immersion of this week is mainly due to reading the news. I …

Currently Reading: 『流星の絆』by 東野圭吾

To me, the best way to start reading again after a long period of trials and errors is to start a novel by Keigo HIGASHINO. The magic worked this time too, with the novel 『流星の絆』(りゅうせい の きずな). It is a very long novel (617 pages), but I am confident that if you like Higashino’s style, you will like everything, from the shortest short stories to the longest novels. I felt committed to the story right from the beginning. I don’t know why I sometimes stay indifferent to what happens to the characters and sometimes feel immediately involved in their story. The author’s style maybe… Anyway, the beginning of the novel is completely engrossing, with a murder and a criminal investigation. This is exactly what I needed to start reading in Japanese again. After having made several attempts to start a novel, starting several books and giving up after a few pages, I was happy to feel engrossed in a story and read the first 100 pages without even realising it. Given the length of the novel, …