So it’s 4:45 am here, but I’ve managed to finish all 259 reviews. In the end I did 595 reviews in total because couldn’t remember some of the kanji so I had to go back through Remembering the Kanji and read their stories etc. Hopefully this is the start of making up a month of major slacking. See you soon!

anki deck "congratulations! You have finished this deck for now!" Review Count 595 Reviews

“You’ve finished this deck FOR NOW”

Since I haven’t been able to keep up my 1 post a week promise I figured I’d be safe to break it for the sake of telling you guys about my mini mission this weekend, and the way I will use this blog in the future.

First the mini mission! I’ve got 259 Anki cards (kanji) that need reviewing, and the large number has put me off doing it, so my mission for this weekend is to review all 259 of them and get ready for learning new kanji next week! That’s all there is to this mini mission, wish me luck?

As for how I will be using this blog from this point on, I’m going to move to weekly summaries of what I’ve learned. My posts will explain how many new kanji are in my Anki deck, how much grammar  I’ve looked into, what have I done in or listened to in Japanese. That sort of thing, almost like a journal I guess! I’ve been thinking about having a Pokedex style widget that counts how many kanji I’ve “seen” and how many I’ve “caught”. Seen would be that they’re in my deck and I’ve review them once or twice. Caught on the other hand would be the kanji I know the meaning to..  I’m hard pressed to find anything else to count, it’s not easy counting how many hours I listen to Japanese. It’s also hard to quantify how much grammar I know. Counting the time I spent watching anime isn’t a good quantifier either, just because I watched it doesn’t mean I understood it. I want to gamify as much of my language learning as possible, but I’m not really sure how :/. If you have any ideas, let me know!

Thanks for reading, looking forward to your comments, suggestions and ideas!

Sorry for the delay, let’s get right into it!

Basically, Fluent in 3 Months is all about how to learn languages. I would say this book is for people who want to learn a second language but haven’t a clue where to start and have yet to do any of their own research on it. I would also recommend the book to someone who was looking for new methods for learning (I believe, and I think Benny does as well, that the most effective method is the one that works best for you) languages.

The first chapter goes over Benny’s story, and is an almost classic “if I can do it so can you” story, he did mediocre in high school language courses and when he started learning wasn’t successful until he ‘got serious’. The things I like about this chapter is that Benny doesn’t sugar coat his story and he makes it a point from the beginning that learning a language takes work and there is no way around it, but he isn’t convinced it should take someone 10 years before they can talk about whatever interests that persons in their target language. It’s almost about making the language learning process fun, because that means you’ll put more time into it. This chapter certainly got me excited for the rest of the book, and overall it only took me two or so days to read the entire book.
The second chapter is there to break down the excuses you have or may in the future make, and I had to admit I’ve made some of these excuses myself. Personally, I didn’t learn a lot in this chapter because I’ve spent more time then I should have researching language learning instead of the language I want to learn. Again in this chapter Benny doesn’t shy away from the fact that you will need to put in the time to get the reward, and he even asks you how passionate about language learning are you, and how far are you willingly to go to learn your language? If you’re a guy, are you ready to tell people you’re girl in online chatrooms so you can get practice from random dudes who speak your target language? Maybe that is the only way you can get practice, so are you ready? This book has certainly made me ready!

Mentioning goals, if you’ve been on my blog before the third chapter might sound familiar. It’s an entire chapter about defining clear goals or missions, and turning the new years resolution of ‘I want to speak french’ into something like my Japanese quest. For me this chapter is preaching the choir. It also goes really well with the important Benny places on putting in the time. If you’re going to put in the time you should know what you’re going to put it into, right?

Now a lot of you might be thinking about the title of the book ‘Fluent in 3 Months’ is a lofty claim. Chapter 3 is where he covers this, and he basically says that it doesn’t mean you should aim for fluency in 3 months, more so that you should have a goal and time frame in mind. But what does he mean by fluent? Obviously I don’t want to summarize the entire book on here, but a lot of people have a very lofty idea of what fluency is, they make such high requirements that it may go above and beyond what they know in their native language. He gives a dictionary definition of what fluency is and points out what a lot of people think of as fluency is something they don’t have in their native language. I honestly think this is the most important section of the book, a must read for any perfectionists out there.

The next three chapters are about methods for actually learning languages, how to learn a lot of words, immersion without leaving the country and speaking from day one. the chapter on words goes over two different ways to remember words without using rote memorization, and gives you samples in the chapter, he even (kinda) proves to you by the end of the chapter that the first method is very awesome. The next chapter goes over a few ways to connect with native speakers for free or on the cheap, while not living in the country. Theres a lot of good links and ideas in this chapter for sure. Lastly we have the chapter on speaking from day one, which is one of the biggest parts of Benny’s method, that means from day 1 you speak in your target language. He takes you step by step on how one would learn and start speaking as quickly as possible. I can really see where he is coming from with this and I’m going to trying to speak and function more in Japanese, it does make sense that if you use the language more you’re going to remember and recall better.

Chapter 6 has some advice about certain languages, and yes Japanese is one of them! Personally I already knew the advice that was given so that wasn’t too much help for me but as a total beginner it wouldn’t hurt to read.

Chapters 7-9 are about going from fluent to mastery, getting mistaken for a native and moving one to your 3rd and 4th languages. If you’ve purchased the book and are working on your second language you could most likely skip these chapters, but if you’re interested in learning on what to do once you’ve gotten to an intermediate level and are having a hard time getting out of the intermediate stage then this is for you. Roughly, Benny says now is the time to grammar. When you started you didn’t  know the language, so none of the grammar rules make any sense, but after you’ve spoken the language and have experience under your belt, coming back and learning how to conjugate verbs and how sentence are formed now makes sense and you can understand what the heck is going on. Benny compares grammar to a pharmaceutical ‘powerful in small doses but deadly in large’. Grammar is notoriously boring, but Benny found after coming back to German when he started with his speak from day 1 approach grammar lessons became interesting when he turned back to them to improve his language. He covers a lot in this section I found it quite educational.

Next was being mistaken for a native. He had some pretty simple techniques, but doesn’t claim that you can totally blend in all countries, but instead be mistaken as someone who has lived there for a long time. It seems to make sense that his techniques in the section would work, but I obviously have no way of knowing or testing these methods.

Then about being a polyglot and how to build off into your third language, whether you should learn more than one language at a time and a bunch of other ups and downs about being a polyglot. Overall a good section, but I’m not sure if everyone who reads the rest of the book would be interested in becoming a polyglot.

The last section is a section on learning languages on the cheap or for free and gives a lot of links to good sites and tools (many of which I use) for learning languages.

Oh! I almost forgot, the book has a bunch of URLs in it that link to a private site for people who bought the book, and the site will grow and Benny will add more content to it as time goes on.

So what do I think about the book? I really enjoyed it, and even though I knew some of the topics he went over, it was worth the price for the motivational fire it lit in my belly alone so it breaks beyond even in my book. I think Benny is very passionate about languages and language learning and this certainly reflects in his writing. I would recommend this book to a friend who wanted to learn a second language but didn’t have a clue where to start, but I’m not sure if I would recommend this to someone who already knows a few languages unless they didn’t already use the methods contained in the book and were looking for new ones to try.

3DUSbook

Guess what I’ve been reading? Yeah, Fluent in 3 Months by Benny the Irish Polyglot ! I’m about halfway through it, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far, I’ll post a review of it next week maybe.

I don’t really have that good of a post for this week, I haven’t been sticking to my Japanese like I hoped I would, the work is getting heavy as the semester is starting to wrap itself up at school. I’m going to make an effort this week to squeeze more review time out of every moment I get, and at the same time I’ve done that to read this book, hmmm…

See you next week!

I feel that this is the most important part of language learning, outside of actually studying, I need my goals for Japanese clearly defined so I know what I’m working towards, so let’s go through some of this stuff.

Firstly, why Japanese?

    • So I can enjoy Japanese media without subtitles/ translations
    • Communicate with Japanese people! (in Japanese of course)
    • A working holiday in Japan after I graduate is something I’ve always been interested in, and having taken the JLPT and being able to speak Japanese would be a major asset, and could open doors to working in my field in Japan
    • I like politics, so much so that it’s my minor, and I’ve considered doing an independent study course on Japanese politics (Whether it’s about domestic politics or Japan foreign relations I’ve yet to decided). Japanese politics being Japanese, Japanese would be a useful asset in this case as well!

The big two for me are being able to enjoy Japanese media and communicate with people in Japanese, and do kinda of intertwine with the other two reasons why I would like to learn Japanese.

Now, goals?

  • Being able to understand Japanese media like Anime and Dramas, being able to understand everything being spoken that’s everyday language would be the aim here, and not yet worrying about the more specialized knowledge of medical terms or what have you.
  • Being able to speak with a native speaker about things I would talk about in English. Stuff about programming, video games, politics, and all that other good stuff.
  • Being able to read Manga in Japanese is another goal, similar to the visual media, being able to understand almost everything would be my goal.
  • News and other types of media that are more informative (the newspaper, podcasts etc) as its own goal, since they are much more informational and much less day-to-day speech.
  • I would like to pass the JLPT at a N2-N3 level.
  • More specialized vocab for Politics and Computer Science & being able to function at a professional level is a long-term goal for me.

“That’s all” I’ve got right now, we’ll see if the goals change over time, next is how long I have and what my daily schedule will look like.

Where I live, people write the JLPT in December, and registration opens on the 1st of September, so after some thought I decided that will be my ‘due date’ for Japanese, which means an intermediate level of Japanese by that time. I feel that 6 months is reasonable, and most of these months are during my summer break, so I will have lots of time to study.

The stuff I do daily will be:

  • 5 new kanji + review old (from Remembering the Kanji)
  • Memrise review (Kana and some words)
  • 1 Grammar Video
  • Japanese music/podcast/video, 2 hours of passive listening

I’m considering doing a course on Memrise that teaches you the 1000 most common Japanese words, so I have something to push-off of and can start reading and learning vocab from native material faster.

Of course, these numbers are daily minimums and I will do more if I’m feeling it or have the time. Just need the grammar and vocab so I can start enjoying myself in the language and hopefully it will snowball from there.

Obviously I’ll also be watching a lot Japanese media as well, but that isn’t an everyday thing and I prefer to study in quiet then with background noise. My current goal is to learn enough so I can start reading something! Reading something is better than reading nothing.

So that about wraps this up, anyone have any Japanese media recommendations? Especially stuff that would be easy but still enjoyable for someone who doesn’t know a lot! Thanks guys!

Last time I spoke about Memrise and how much I like it, so I figured this time I’d mention it since that is what I’m using for a lot of my Japanese.

I’ve used Memrise to learn Hiragana and some Katakana, but I didn’t really like the fact that all the courses I could find taught Katakana with English. I already knew Hiragana, so there wasn’t any reason for me to look at the English for the Katakana was well. This is where the nice part about Memrise comes in, anyone can make their own course and make it public. So I went and made a course that quizzes you on Katakana using the Hiragana. I find this better because now I can practice both my Hiragana and Katakana at the exactly same time, other than that it really doesn’t change how the course was before.

What I mean is that Hiragana is associating a symbol with a sound, and Katakana happens to share those same sounds but with different symbols. You can still use all the imagery one would use from English to Katakana, because it’s just a noise. The only difference is that sometimes it is more challenging because the English isn’t there, but I think that’s a good thing.

You can check it out here!

I’ve been thinking about making the same course in reverse, but I don’t really think it would be that hard to use the course as in to learn Hiragana if you already know Katakana.

I’ve also had thoughts about making a large course in Japanese that would teach Hiragana, then Katakana using Hiragana, then some very basic grammar and words.

What do you guys think? Has anyone else made courses on Memrise? Share them in the comments!!

Wow, so its been a while, huh? A couple of weeks turned into a couple of months. I don’t really have a good excuse about why I haven’t been updating the blog. My winter break ended, and it wasn’t a very plentiful one for language learning, nor was this busy January.

My 3 months of Esperanto is up! Even thought I didn’t spend as much time as I wanted on Esperanto, I’ll blame school for this, I still know a lot more Esperanto than when I started, and I’ve learned a lot on what I find the most enjoyable when it comes to language learning. I’ve also found more things to try. So let’s make this my 3 month post-mortem of Esperanto (I’m not sure if post-mortem is used outside of Ludum Dare, but here we go!).

The Good
The physical book to learn from (Teach Yourself Esperanto) was a definite plus for me, I just carried it around in my bag and read it when I was sitting somewhere waiting for someone or something. The paragraphs of Esperanto I was able to read really made me happy and I could see myself progress because I was able to understand more and more.

Memrise was a blessing from the heavens. The only thing I’d like to check is to have Memrise use a SRS like Anki. I like it better than Anki mostly because theirs a variety of mems to choose from, already made by other users.

Anki itself was okay, but I found myself using Memrise more because it was more enjoyable to use.

The Bad

Any sort of online learning site that functioned like a teach yourself book (for example:  Lernu) just didn’t work for me. The probability of me getting on a computer and going right to Lernu is very slim, and it is much more likely for me to end up looking at pictures of cats, so that is why I switched to the physical book.

I had a lot of trouble ‘finding time’ and upon reflection I realize there was a lot of different ways I could have made more, and I’m going to do my best in the future to use my time more wisely. Randomly browsing the internet is one of my weakest points and is certainly something I have to work on more.

More Learning?

One thing I learned is that the music in the language I’m trying to learn is important too me, and this is one of the reasons I wont be continuing with Esperanto for now. I had a terrible time finding any music that I enjoyed. Japanese music is much easier to come by, and is something I indulged in a lot during my 3 months in Esperanto.

I would say that it is the same for visual media in Esperanto. Which is unfortunate, and makes it really hard to learn the language if there no material that I enjoy to watch or read. I found like two movies in Esperanto but they were not about things I care about.

Which is unfortunate, because not having enjoyable and easy to find material makes it very difficult to learn the language. I’m of course not saying I didn’t find Esperanto content, because I did, I’m saying I didn’t find anything that I cared for, or that piqued my interest.

In Japanese I’ve got a large variety of j-dramas and anime to pick from, news, podcasts and music. I’m sure in some corner of the internet there are these things for Esperanto but I can’t find them, so again it makes it hard to learn the language.

Japanese on the other hand, as I mentioned before with the music, also has a large variety of television shows, media and podcasts. I found it a lot easier to find content I enjoy in Japanese then in Esperanto, and for these reasons a long with some others, I’ll be jumping back on the Japanese train and I am hopefully going to stay for a while.

I’m going to go back to one post a week, see you then!