All posts filed under: motivation / daily study

Taking a break… but not completely!

I have already mentioned it on Friday, but I am not studying at the moment. This does not mean, however, that I am doing nothing in Japanese! I think it is necessary to stay in touch with your target language on a daily basis. If you don’t want to or cannot study for a long period of time, try to define one or two short and easy activities that you will perform every day no matter what. It might take only 20 or even 10 minutes to do, but at least, you will have worked on your target language on a daily basis. I try to always keep good feelings attached to my target language, and I don’t want to feel the burden of mandatory homework on it (this is why I prefer to learn on my own than in a classroom.) If I am more interested in other things than learning Japanese, and if I skip my study sessions to practice these other activities, I will inevitably feel guilty. As a result, Japanese will …

How to start writing in Japanese

One of my goals for November is to write in Japanese every day for a month. I have been thinking about how to write in a foreign language if you don’t have a native to correct you, and I thought that I would write about it today. If you are like me, writing is not as much difficult than discouraging. You take the grammar and the vocabulary you know, build your sentences, and while you don’t really struggle to write, you end up full of doubts and incertitudes: “what I wrote does not sound Japanese”, “it sounds like an example sentence, but I doubt whether a native would say that”, “is it even correct?”, “why do I keep using the same grammar over and over again?” and so on. A method to write in English To begin with, I would like to present a book I find truly inspiring. Originally, it is a book for Japanese who learn English and is called 『Q&A Diary 英語で3行日記』. This book was translated into Korean for Koreans who learn …

Monthly Review: October 2018

October has been a month for discovering new paths: I have started studying Japanese history and I have watched my very first Japanese drama. The two books I had ordered about Japanese History have finally arrived, but before that, I had started reading as many things as possible on the Internet. I am taking notes in a notebook too, which allows me to use the new three Pilot Iroshizuku inks I bought this month (namely, 深海 shin-kai、月夜 tsuki-yo and 松露 syo-ro). I have finished watching the drama 『シグナル 長期未解決事件捜査班』(シグナル ちょうきみかいけつじけんそうさはん) and this is the first Japanese drama that I watch from start to finish. I am looking for other detective dramas now! But most importantly, I have achieved my goals for the month, which were: It was not a difficult challenge, but it helped me to stay focused and make an effort to finish the books I had started before commencing new ones. I finished『流星の絆』at the beginning of the month, 『未来のミライ』two weeks ago and 『日本語びいき』this weekend (I will write my review on Wednesday). I wanted to …

I am studying Japanese History!

Or at least, I will soon! I have been telling myself for a long time now that I should read about Japanese History in English or French. I have finally got down to looking at History books available in English and selected the one I wanted to read. The book I ordered turned out to be two books and I hope that I can receive them soon! Selecting a book I didn’t know what book I should buy, so I started by looking at recommendations on the Internet. I am mostly interested in the 20th Century but also wanted to know what happened before. I was, therefore, looking for a general History from Edo to the present. It was very difficult to select a book because looking at the different lists of “best books on Japanese History” made me realise that I was in fact interested in all aspects and periods of it and that I needed to read all the books listed. I finally chose The Making of Modern Japan by Marius B. Jansen, …

Korean resources to learn Japanese: how to download audio files

A discussion I had recently in the comments of this blog made me think I should write more about the Korean publisher Darakwon. Darakwon publishes a lot of textbooks to learn foreign languages (including Korean as a foreign language), and Japanese is, with English and Chinese, one of the main languages studied in Korea. I think that you can use some of these books if you are learning Japanese and don’t speak Korean. Why use Korean resources? Naturally, all these books are written in Korean. However, I think that you can still find some of them useful, even if you don’t read Korean. Not only are these resources of good quality, but it can also be interesting to look at learning materials in other languages. You might find that Korean ones have a different approach than English ones. I am far from being an expert in language learning textbooks, but I am sure that it is a good way to diversify the resources you normally use. Particularly, I think of two kinds of textbooks that …

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 …

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 …

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, …