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旅立ち/Катюша-Woodsei’s TAC 2014

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Bilingual Diglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3201 days ago

614 posts - 782 votes 
Speaks: English*, Arabic (Egyptian)*
Studies: Russian, Japanese, Hungarian

 Message 1 of 162
02 January 2012 at 9:33am | IP Logged 
Hi all!

EDIT: TAC 2014 ( my third year in TAC) starts page 18, message 142

I love anything to do with languages and cultures, in addition to a host of other
interests. I've been following this forum since September 2011 when i stumbled across
it through one of Professor Arguelles inspirational
and informative videos, and haven't looked back since. I don't usually participate on
forums for anything, but the passionate and dedicated ambience I get when reading logs
and posts is unmistakeable, so I decided to join. I discovered a lot of really useful
methods that ring true to me, and so i decided to seriously begin may long overdue
Japanese and Russian studies.

So, where do I start? I live in the US, I'm a graduate student, and I speak
both English and Arabic, and have studied French and German up to a low
intermediate level sporadically during middle school and
college. I've had a really bad experience with French classes (that's the language I
studied during middle school), and, at first, I really thought I disliked the language.
That was due to negative class instruction and sleep-inducing French teachers, not the
language, I later discovered. When I started college later, I wanted to seriously
resume studying a language, and have always been fascinated with German, and so I
enrolled in German classes for six months until I was ready to start at the
intermediate level. My experience was very positive with German, and I realized that
the reason I have been avoiding French was because of the
experience, not the language. I decided to give French a second shot, and, needless to
say, I'm glad I did. However, university and school work got in the way, and my
language studies fizzled and came to a halt. That was a few years ago.

Recently, though, I made a resolution that I will resume my language studies with
renewed passion, and not stop until I've achieved near-native or native-like fluency.
My story with Japanese began a few years ago. I
grew up watching Japanese anime dubbed in Arabic and English (for some reason, I
preferred the Arabic version, I think it sounded more natural?) but never in Japanese.
A friend I have loves watching anime and
Japanese drama, and anything Japanese, actually, but never got around to studying the
language because of full-time work and studies. She could, however pick up words and
phrases, and get the gist of whatever it is she's listening to, all just through
exposure. I started watching Japanese media, and was instantly hooked,
and the language sounded so beautiful, almost melodic. It developed into an all-time
interest. At first, of course, it all sounded like gibberish, but now I can distinguish
individual words almost all the time, and understand various words, phrases, and
expressions when listening to or watching Japanese content. I've never picked a
Japanese textbook, so when I read about L-R, and what was on AJATT forum concerning
immersion, I found it made some sense, because I've been experiencing it already. The
writing system is also gorgeous. It's like deciphering code :) I'm really enjoying it!

Russian is such a pleasure to listen to. In Egypt, the resort towns are literally
overflowing with Russian tourists. There are more Russians there than there are
Egyptians! I just fell in love with language and decided, 2012 is the year to tackle
this awesome Russian czar! Unlike Japanese, though, I have no experience with it at
all, but I'm planning for it. I know this sounds greedy, but I'm kind of hoping my
veteran and inspirational comrades of Team Sputnik might be able to pitch in with some
resources and ideas :)

Anyway, here's what I've been doing so far. I started serious Japanese study recently,
sometime around mid-December of 2011, with kanji. Actually, I dmost he first 276 kanji
in 3 days, and I'm almost positive I can do Heisig's first book within a month. I know
all the hiragana, but most of the katakana is still untouched, and I do want to get
back to it. I found that if I come across a sentence with kanji I know, I
could deduce the meaning, and be able to match each Japanese word/structure with its
corresponding English translation, but not with unfamiliar kanji. It was a painful
task, really. I realized it'll be faster, and much more efficient if I get kanji out
of the way first.
Alright, so I've rambled on long enough, right? Not to worry :) Here's my plan for
the upcoming year. I decided to focus solely on Japanese for the first half of the
year, and on Russian for the second. I'll be trying to introduce myself to the Russian
language slowly and gradually, sporadically during my Japanese half-year,
getting to know the alphabet, a general idea of the grammar, and maybe some native
media like songs, radio, movies, etc. Nothing too serious though, because I'll be
focusing completely on Japanese. I'll switch the order in July, focusing on Russian,
while maintaining Japanese. Here's a detailed outline.

1. Japanese:-

A. Kanji: Finish Heisig's RTK. I'm still trying to figure out a way for doing the
readings. I tried including them in the story mnemonics, but, I don't know, it felt
unnatural, and I couldn't remember any after a few kanji, so I stopped. One thing I
gleaned through kanji study is that Japanese is a context-heavy language. Two words
could sound exactly the same, but have two different meanings if written in different
kanji. I found that the readings that stuck were through vocabulary, and not just any
vocabulary, but what I already know. For instance, I was watching an NHK Taiga drama (
a historical drama) called Ryomaden ( it'sone of the best Japanese dramas I've ever
seen, I'm half-way through it) and learned that the kanji's ON reading for samurai is
pronounced SHI. I can never forget it now, even if I wanted to. This sort of gave me
a loose idea about how to approach readings, and I'm still working on it. Kanji
chaining that I read on Reviewing the Kanji forum sounds interesting too, but I'll have
to research more thoroughly. We'll see how it goes, and I'll post my
observations and progress as I go. I plan to finish Heisig by the end of this month. I
know it sounds crazy, but I'm convinced its doable. and I was able to finish almost 300
kanji in 3 days, and it wasn't difficult. That is, the meanings and writing. It'll be
great if I can do the readings too, but it depends on my progress and what I can
do about it. My goal through finishing the characters before tackling Japanese books or
sentences is to be able to move my eyes smoothly across the script. It will take time,
I know, but I believe it will immensely help knowing the meanings beforehand. If I
can't do the readings in a way that will make them stick, I'll just leave it
to listening/reading, which will most likely take care of it. Song lyrics are also a
great source, as is anything with audio and a corresponding transcript. I'm not too
worried about the readings at this point.

B. L-R and Sentences: I found the awesome thread that a member here posted for
Japanese audiobooks, and I'm downloading the files that I can find. I'm very intrigued
by the idea, and want to try to approach it first as it was described by
siomottekiru/atamagaii before modifying anything. I want to see how that will work for
me, and what I need to do. I like the idea becuse it's fun, and gives you natural
language, not the stunted one I find in textbooks. I have nothing against textbooks,
but I get bored very easily, and the content isn't
interesting at all. Furthermore it is too slow. I checked out a copy of Assimil for
Japanese. The concept is great, almost like L-R, but the recording was too slow, and I
already could understand most of the content almost through the first book. The aural
one, of course, not the written, since I'm still working on kanji. I was
really surprised by how much I picked through watching anime and drama, and that
further reinforced the idea that L-R would be a great method to try. I also love
reading and all kinds of literature, classical and contemporary.
I can read books for extended periods of time and finish them in one sitting if the
content is interesting enough. I understand it's vastly different with reading a
foreign language while also listening to its recording, but I do enjoy reading, so it
won't seem like a task. I don't mind "wasting" time on it :)

I like the idea of sentence-mining too, because you can get any sentence that doesn't
have to be in a book. It'll help me focus on the more contemporary/colloquial written
and spoken language. So I'll be doing that too.

Somewhere through this phase I'll try to look closer at the grammar, but I don't want
to push anything initially. I just want to acquire natural Japanese, and I'll only
reference the grammar to confirm or explain anything I come across that I can't figure
out on my own.

C. Native Media:I already watch and listen to Japanese a lot, and I keep it in the
background when I'm doing other things, so I'll keep on doing that. I want to be fully
immersed in the language. However, I'll try to pay more attention to what I'm listening
to, plus look at and read Japanese script as much as I possibly could.

Team い, you are full of members that have helped a lot with my Japanese studies
through their logs and posts, so let me know what I do right, and what I do wrong!
Seriously, though, it's great to be part of that team, and looking forward
to reading all your comments, and logs too! You have inspired me!

2. Russian:-

I plan to do the same for Russian, of course with the exclusion of a time-consuming
writing system. Alongside my Japanese study, I'll try to have a firm knowledge of the
Russian alphabet, and get a general idea about the grammar, just to know what to
expect. As I progress through the year, I'll give a more detailed outline for
my Russian study, and what I plan to do. Currently though, for the first half of the
year, what I have mentioned above is what I plan to do. Team Sputnik, I'm depending on
all your help and encouragement! Honestly, I would've never joined the forum had I not
been inpired by reading the logs and witnessing the mind-blowing progress of the
veteran members on the team. Thank you!

3. Goals:-

Short-term: I want to get as advanced in both languages as I possibly could by the end
of the challenge. I would be very happy if I could get to a B2 going on to C1 level. I
have no idea how realistic my goals are, but I'm convinced that with enough hardwork,
dedication, and a planned structure, it's doable. As the year progresses, we'll see how
accurate my goals are. I'm pretty sure that I might come across different ideas and
re-adjust some steps, but that would reveal itself in time. I'm open to any thoughts
and suggestions you might have to offer.

I already mentioned that I'm dividing the year in two, first half for Japanese, the
second for Russian. I also plan on using some Japanese through Russian studies. For
instance, if I L-R a book that has both Japanese and Russian versions, I will use it.
Or watch a Russian film with Japanese subtitles and vice versa. I guess
this is what is described as "laddering." It makes sense to me, but I'm not sure if
I'll be advanced enough in Japanese at the point I start Russian to do so. That's why
I'll only be using resources I'm familiar with and know well in Japanese to approach
Russian. I'm hoping I'll be able to maintain Japanese in this manner while learning
Russian, in conjunction with pronunciation/shadowing practice, and short essay writing.

Long-term: My resolution is to reach advanced fluency in Japanese, and if possible
Russian, by the time I'm 30. I have two whole years left, so we'll see!

4. Lang-8 and Skype:-

This is a production phase, obviously, where I get to put all my passive knowledge to
use, and will be somewhere down the road for both languages, but I definitely plan on
getting there this year. I have a friend who speaks fluent Japanese, and knows a lot of
Japanese people, and who's willing to introduce me to some of them, as well as help me
through conversation practice. I yet have to track down someone for Russian, but
I'm guessing maybe I'll be enlisting your help for that, Team Sputnik! I'm really
looking forward to our Skype meetings! I just don't know how useful it is to
participate currently, since most of you know at least some Russian, while I know none.
Would someone be willing to explain the nature of the meetings? I'm just concerned
about being more of a hindrance to everyone, based on my current unenviable Russian
situation, and the mentioned-above plan.

5. Resources:-

As mentioned, the L-R audio and transcripts that are availabe through the audiobook
threads on the forum are the ones I'll be downloading. Additionally, I'll be using
blogs, movies, dramas, anime, newspaper articles (online of course) and recordings,
online dictionaries, etc. for both languages. For Japanese, I'm also currently using
the Reviewing the Kanji site for my kanji studies. Here's the link:


I love this site. It has helped immensely with kanji, especially the ones I get stuck
on, because of other people's stories. The great thing about Heisig is that the kanji
are constructed through stories in a certain way that makes them impossible to forget.
But I'm digressing here :)

I came across a site that has subtitles for J-dramas. It has English, Japanese, and
subtitles in other languages as well, in addition to Russian! I believe it's called D-
addicts. I also like Dramanote. I think they're great because it's kind of like L-R,
but gives you script for the spoken language, not the more formal, literary one. And I
want to master both fronts :)

I hope both these sites are approved, since I have no way of knowing if they are or
aren't. Just let me know.

I also got an iPad for my birthday a couple of months ago, and I absolutely love this
thing. It gave a huge boost to my productivity. As I post on my log, I will be sharing
some of the useful applications I find and try.

This has been a really long post! Hopefully, I won't burden anyone with lengthy posts
in the future, but since I'm new, I wanted to explain my situation. I can't think of
anything else to add off the top of my head right now, except that I'll be resuming my
kanji studies and watching/listening to Japanese as much as I possibly could, with the
intention that Heisig will be done by the end of this month. Your support would be a
great boost to my psyche, but let me know where I need to keep my flights of fancy in
check :) It's because I try to set big goals that I usually find the motivation to work
towards them :)

Anyway, that's all for now. I'll update this log weekly every Sunday night at the end
of the week, summarizing my progress, observations, methods/resources used, stories and
adventures, as well as any word or quote I come across through my Japanese and Russian
journey and probably post them as quotes of the week :) I was watching a fantastic NHK
program called Begin Japanology (google it, it's great!). In every episode, a topic
about Japan, the people and the culture, is discussed. I found out a lot of intriguing
facts, and I'll be sharing those too along the way. I might end up trying some too,
like Japanese calligraphy! I love Arabic calligraphy, and can't wait to try Japanese,
but that's for later :)

On a sidenote, speaking of Arabic, if anyone is studying or planning on studying Arabic
and has questions, feel free to ask. I'll do my best to answer your questions.

I hope this wasn't too much. Good luck on all your studies.


Edited by Woodsei on 08 April 2014 at 5:05am

1 person has voted this message useful

Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Joined 3738 days ago

4143 posts - 8863 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 Message 2 of 162
02 January 2012 at 11:50am | IP Logged 
Great intro,Woodsei, and we in Team Sputnik will do our best to support and help you with your Russian! I have only one beef with you, wich is that at the end of your post I felt this sudden urge to start learning Japanese! And I cannot, in any way, add any more languages to my already overflowing language agenda.

I am sure you will be an amazing ressource for our team though, and don't worry about being a beginner. I have posted a suggestion in the Russian thread as to how we can get around that - have a look.

Arabic is a previous language love of mine. I made some Arabic friends when I was doing a French course in France when I was 17, and I came home and started studying Arabic at the University next to my French studies. Due to my work load I had to drop it after 6 weeks, and since this was in the early Jurassic period, I have now forgotten all of it, apart from a couple of greetings and a profanity. I absolutely loved the language though, with its beautiful script. I envy you being able to speak that natively. If I ever get the urge to find my Arabic books again, you will be the first one I'll come to for help!
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
United KingdomRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4386 days ago

1485 posts - 2002 votes 
Speaks: English*, Japanese
Studies: French, German

 Message 3 of 162
02 January 2012 at 12:34pm | IP Logged 
Hello Woodsei, and welcome to Team い. I'm pretty sure you will have your work cut out working on both Russian and Japanese, however your passion shines through already. I'm looking forward to following your progress.

I've developed quite a soft spot for Japanese TV dramas too, although I haven't tried following a Taiga drama yet. Ryomaden is on my "to watch" list now!

And Solfrid Cristin, we would *love* to have you on Team い too!
1 person has voted this message useful

Brun Ugle
Senior Member
Joined 5024 days ago

1292 posts - 1766 votes 
Speaks: English*, NorwegianC1
Studies: Japanese, Esperanto, Spanish, Finnish

 Message 4 of 162
02 January 2012 at 12:43pm | IP Logged 
Wow! That was a long intro. And I thought I wrote long posts. It was very interesting though.

You are certainly ambitious! Japanese and Russian are probably two of the most difficult languages you could pick, and to want to be at B2/C1 at the end of a year! You do seem to have an ear for it though, since you were able to pick up so much from watching anime. I had a lot of trouble with listening until I started with L-R. After only a few hours of it, I found I could understand Japanese. Not everything of course, only those things where I already knew most of the necessary vocabulary.

Heisig is great, and I am a big fan. I was doing about 35-40 cards a day for a while, but I think any more than that would have made me crazy. The first 500 or so were easy and went fast, but it gets harder as you get more keywords and many of them are rather similar.

The readings come with time, so I wouldn't worry about that too much right now. You'll find after a while that many times you will be able to guess the reading because you'll be able to figure out the meaning from Heisig and context, and you'll realize that the word is something you already know from hearing it or from your textbook. Also, you'll start to notice patterns after a while like many Kanji that contain 中 can have the reading ちゅう. Heisig's second and third book list many of these and call them for pure groups or semi-pure groups if they have an exception. I find trying to learn the readings from his second book to be too tedious, but it is a nice reference.

1 person has voted this message useful

Brun Ugle
Senior Member
Joined 5024 days ago

1292 posts - 1766 votes 
Speaks: English*, NorwegianC1
Studies: Japanese, Esperanto, Spanish, Finnish

 Message 5 of 162
02 January 2012 at 4:21pm | IP Logged 
Thought this link might help you. It's about setting up and using a Japanese IME so you can write Japanese characters easily.
1 person has voted this message useful

Bilingual Diglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3201 days ago

614 posts - 782 votes 
Speaks: English*, Arabic (Egyptian)*
Studies: Russian, Japanese, Hungarian

 Message 6 of 162
04 January 2012 at 1:18pm | IP Logged 
Yikes! I just looked at my post today and thought- whoa! Am I torturing people?! Pleases forgive me. I really
want to make this an enjoyable reading experience, not a masters thesis :) Since I do write a lot, I was
considering popping in every other day or so to post any observations, share ideas, trivia, reply to any
comments or questions, etc. to keep the posts in sizeable chunks. My outlined update at the end of every
week still holds, and it will be the main one, but I didn't want to jam in everything into an excruciatingly long
post, since the objective here is to study more and spend less time online.

@SolfridChristin: Your line about the Jurassic period and knowing a few words and a profanity cracked me up
:) You'll eventually get around to Japanese soon, I'm sure, I just have so much respect for the amount of
languages you speak, it's so admirable and humbling. And of course, you can come to me anytime should
you take up Arabic!

@g-bod: Thank you! My story with Taiga dramas was about a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled across
one called Gou-Himetachi no Sengoku ( Princess Gou-The Warring States of the Princesses or The Sengoku
Period of the Princesses.) I liked it a lot, it had great acting, and really drew me in. The added bonus is that
you learn about the history and culture of Japan and the formal language used by royals and the higher ups
of that period, all the while listening to Japanese being spoken and being entertained! It also had a mini-
travelogue at the end of each episode highlighting key places to visit relating to the sites/events/people
depicted in that particular episode, which I thought was awesome. I'm currently writing down all these places
so that when I go to Japan someday I'll definitely visit them! I liked the drama so much I googled Taiga, and
found Wikipedia has a complete list of all these dramas, which apparently go all the way back to the 1950s.
Found Ryomaden and since it had good reviews, decided to try it. I was instantly hooked, it's just so
addictive! Granted, it's a guys' drama, and I'm a girl so wouldn't end up speaking like them, but I think it's
awesome, really. You won't regret it. Be warned, though, like any period drama of warring times, this is bound
to be a real tearjerker. But you'll love it :)

@Brun-Ugle: Thanks so much for the link! I also will heed your advice about kanji learning, and I also believe
your thoughts on the readings are so true; I like it more than trying to force meaningless sounds into my brain
without context. I have one question, though. Did you do RtK 3? What are your thoughts on it? Is it a good
idea to go through it before plunging into L-Ring and others? I was planning on going through it, but have not
made a final decision on anything yet.
It's great to have your experiences and learn from them! I think the list of resources you had on your log was
superb. I really liked Erin's site and I'm currently trying out different things with it and love it. Keep up the
great work! Reading your log gives me a huge spurt in motivation, so keep the momentum going :)

A question to the forum. I hate the name of my log. I had a bad cold and apparently made a halfhearted
attempt at a title. Is it possible to edit it to also indicate what teams I'm on? Advice would be greatly

Good luck! :)
1 person has voted this message useful

Bilingual Diglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3201 days ago

614 posts - 782 votes 
Speaks: English*, Arabic (Egyptian)*
Studies: Russian, Japanese, Hungarian

 Message 7 of 162
04 January 2012 at 3:36pm | IP Logged 
Hey, all, I was able to edit my log name, thankfully. But I have another problem. I can't seem to be able to
remove that micro tag that appears at the top of each post I make. I think I made a mistake when I was
creating my log. Does anyone have an idea how to fix this? Thanks a lot!
1 person has voted this message useful

Brun Ugle
Senior Member
Joined 5024 days ago

1292 posts - 1766 votes 
Speaks: English*, NorwegianC1
Studies: Japanese, Esperanto, Spanish, Finnish

 Message 8 of 162
04 January 2012 at 4:06pm | IP Logged 
I think the Microtag thing is on the top of every post in your own log. I don't think you did anything wrong. I have it too. I think you can only see it on your own posts on your own log. When I look at your posts here, I don't see the microtag, and there is no microtag on my posts here, but there is a microtag on all my posts on my own log, which I assume you can't see.

I am going to start on RTK3 in a few days, so it's definitely not necessary to do it before you start reading. At the time Heisig made RTK1, it contained all the jouyou kanji. The list has changed somewhat since then and he is supposed to modify the book so that all those kanji will be in it. Most of them are currently in RTK3, but a few aren't even included there.

There is a supplement that will give you all the jouyou kanji that are missing from RTK1. Heisig made it publicly available while he prepares the new edition. I haven't gone through it yet, but you might want to do that before RTK3 just to have all the most important kanji down. I think it contains about 135 kanji, if I remember correctly. Most are in RTK3 anyway, but 23 are not. Anyway, it shouldn't take too long to go through it. Here is the link.

1 person has voted this message useful

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