Month: October 2018

Japanese Immersion: October week 2

I have been a little sick this week and haven’t done much for my Japanese. First of all, I was a little disappointed, when I watched the 5th episode of the drama 『シグナル 長期未解決事件捜査班』, to find it very difficult to understand. I thought I had made progress, and it is discouraging to realise that I still have to struggle as soon as the actors speak a little faster or use difficult words. Not feeling well certainly did not help me because I was not willing to put in the extra effort and look up words as I would have done otherwise. I also watched the first episode of 『流星の絆』. I have finished the novel by Keigo HIGASHINO and wanted to have a look at the drama, but I didn’t like it. It is a good listening practice though, so I might continue to watch it, but I don’t like it enough to study it or listen to it several times. As they made 10 episodes out of a single novel, they had to add scenes, …

Book review: 『流星の絆』by Keigo HIGASHINO

I would like to congratulate myself on having read a +600 pages book in Japanese! As it was a book by Keigo HIGASHINO, it was not a challenging read. I consider his books to be among the easiest books I have read in Japanese so far: a writing style that I think is easy to get used to; a detective story that focuses on the plot, and does not attempt to show literary feat by making long descriptions, using difficult words and complicated sentences; enough suspense and tension to make you turn the pages without realising it. Every time I read a novel by Higashino, I am amazed by his capacity to write so many books that are both very similar in style and contain a unique plot, story and mystery. When I started reading the first page of 『流星の絆』, I felt immediately close to the characters and involved in their story. I wanted to know what would happen to them. The sympathy that bounds the reader and the three protagonists together during the very first …

Focus of the week: listening exercise

Why I find it so hard to improve my listening I am used to roughly dividing listening practice into two different activities: Passive immersion: just let an audio run in your target language, you don’t have to pay special attention to it or try to understand what it says. Active study: work on a short audio adapted to your level. You can either look up words, write down what you hear or repeat after the speaker, etc. Being the lazy person that I am, I have always wanted to believe that doing the first activity would be enough to improve my listening. As language learners, we certainly all have heard stories of, or know people who have learned a language by watching films or listening to their favourite music band. Every time I hear such a story, it revives my faith in passive learning and I feel motivated to immerse myself in a Japanese environment. The thing is that it never really worked for me. Listening passively to Japanese never seemed to have helped me …

Japanese Immersion: October week 1

Watching a drama, at last! I finally found a drama I like: the Japanese remake of the Korean drama “Signal”: 『シグナル 長期未解決事件捜査班』. It is about a police investigation team specialised on old unsolved cases. A walkie-talkie allows one of the members of the team to communicate with one of the detectives from the past, who is living at the time when the murders they are working on were committed. I have always tried to watch romance or daily life comedy because they are easier to understand than dramas with a criminal investigation that are set in a police environment. The problem is that I don’t usually like romance and comedy while I would buy anything even remotely connected with a police investigation. While it can be wise to choose something at your level and force yourself a little bit to study it even if it does not interest you, this method does not work for me. If the drama does not interest me, even if I can feel that it helps me to improve my listening …

Currently reading: 『こころ』by 夏目漱石

I have always considered that reading Soseki in Japanese would be one of the greatest achievement of this whole Japanese journey. Since I heard from a Japanese that reading Soseki was hard for Japanese too, I thought I would keep it for “when I am fluent” or something like that. What made me buy 『こころ』the other day was this particular cover that I found very beautiful. Somehow, it is gratifying to buy one of the masterpieces of world literature with a cover that has an attractive pattern for only 360 yen. I started it, thinking I would give up soon, but it was unexpectedly accessible. I think that the real challenge lies in vocabulary but after some work on it, there remains no real difficulty. Soseki uses relatively plain and simple sentences. Looking up words is enough to understand most of the sentences and it happens very seldom that I should still be puzzled by the meaning of a paragraph after having cleared my way with the dictionary. Looking up words requires a little devotion, …

Monthly review: September 2018

Monthly review: September I have tried a new thing this month, which is to define some monthly goals and publish them on my homepage. The goals I have chosen for September were: And now, it is time to see how far I went! First of all Anki! My usual practice is to save in my electronic dictionary all the words that I look up and want to add to my Anki deck later. The problem is that I tend to never add these words to Anki and end up with a hundred or more words to add at a time. I got down to adding these words right at the beginning of the month. It doesn’t take too long with a cup of tea and some good music. So I managed this task very soon, but what did I do for the rest of the month? I looked up a lot of words while reading books and the news, saved them in my dictionary and didn’t add them to Anki gradually as I should have …