All posts filed under: motivation / daily study

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, …

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 …

Read the news in Japanese: one-week reading challenge!

I have decided to try something new this week and start a “reading the news in Japanese” challenge. I will read and translate one news article per day this week, starting today and ending on Sunday. I think that the more often you read the news, the easier it gets. Not only because you improve your reading skills in general, but because you get familiar with a certain vocabulary and know what the main topics of the moment are. Which articles? I like reading the site Mainichi.jp, so this is the news website I will choose. To avoid losing time every day in looking for articles worth studying and to be sure to pick a topical issue, I will choose mainly the editorials. As you can see on their website, they usually write two editorials per day so I can choose the topic that interests me the most (or even study both if I am motivated). I also like the editorials because I find that they are the most interesting articles. The others tend to …

September, at last!

September is here at last! (I don’t like Summer in Korea because it is too hot and the air conditioner everywhere makes me sick.) Only four months to go before the end of the year…! It’s time to look at the goals we set for ourselves in January and make some last adjustments to be able to end the year with a feeling of accomplishment. I always feel a new energy in September: I want to set new goals, and I am sure that I can achieve more during these remaining four months than I did until now. But let’s be honest with ourselves: if we could not perform well on a certain objective during the past 8 months, we probably won’t be able to achieve it until December. I think that a good way to define realistic and doable goals is to draw a third column table: In the first column: Write the goals you want to achieve, ideally. In the second column: Narrow it to something realistic. In the third column: Transform the …