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Kuji’s Krazy Log II

 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
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kujichagulia
Senior Member
Japan
Joined 3075 days ago

1031 posts - 1571 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese, Portuguese

 
 Message 1 of 706
22 August 2012 at 3:00am | IP Logged 
QUICK LINKS:

My TAC 2014 Log (Useful links posted there on the first post)

My TAC 2013 Log

My first (pre-Portuguese) log - Kuji's Krazy Log I

* * * * *

I'm starting a new log because I feel that my old log became a bit untidy, with that "language crisis" and all. Now that I've started to settle down into a new routine, I've decided to start with a fresh log as well.

My Goals

JAPANESE (currently B1)
It's very simple: I want to become fluent in Japanese. Of course, that is a very broad statement. Who knows how long it will take? I need short-term goals to achieve in order to get there. So, my short-term goals are to complete my intermediate textbook, work on building up my vocabulary, and work on my listening.

PORTUGUESE (currently A0)
I'm starting Portuguese from scratch. This is a side project and just for fun right now, so I don't have any ambitious goals. My goals are to do a grammar lesson every week and enjoy the language via radio/TV/Internet/podcasts/etc.

My Methods

JAPANESE
So far this summer, I tried a lot of things to get my Japanese going. I tried slaving my way through boring children's books (for the Half Super Challenge), looking up countless numbers of unknown words per page. I downloaded a whole bunch of native Japanese podcasts and listened to a lot of what turned out to be incomprehensible input. That felt like a chore. If I continue to do stuff like that, I will end up doing what I have been doing time and time again for the past nine years: burning out.

Learning Japanese needs to be fun. This blog will mainly document my efforts to make learning Japanese just that.


With that in mind, I need to stick with what works. This may be heresy at HTLAL, but (gasp!) reading books doesn't work for me yet, especially fiction. Even in English I don't enjoy fiction anymore. I enjoy non-fiction. In particular, I enjoy biographies, histories of nations, and sports books. I also enjoy perusing through Wikipedia. And I'm certainly not ready for the Japanese version of those yet.

And listening to native podcasts doesn't work, either... at least in the Japanese language. I'll write more on this in a future post.

A lot of people become interested in the Japanese language through anime, manga, and/or Japanese pop music. I am not a fan of any of those.

So, what works? While I don't enjoy my textbook, I do find the grammar explanations and exercises useful and motivating. The vocabulary is also useful for my level. Podcasts like JapanesePod101.com are good practice for listening, and also a good source for vocabulary and kanji knowledge. Surprisingly, SRSing is also fun and motivating for me. That's all I have for now. Everything else I've tried feels like work.

Here is what I will do to study Japanese.

(1) Complete a chapter of my textbook, An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese, every two weeks. I've done 3.5 chapters out of 15 so far. Doing one chapter every two weeks, I should complete IAIJ by February 2013.
(2) Listen to JapanesePod101.com podcasts.
(3) Put new words and phrases into Anki and do daily reviews.
(4) Watch Japanese TV.
(5) Look for other fun and interesting ways to study Japanese.

PORTUGUESE
Here is what I will do to study Portuguese.

(1) Do one lesson a week from the DLI Portuguese Basic Course.
(2) Put new words and phrases into Anki and do daily reviews.
(3) When I have a chance, enjoy Portuguese media on the Internet.
(4) It's not a priority, but I have Brazilian PodClass on my iPod for extra Portuguese studies.

Wish me luck!

Edited by kujichagulia on 05 January 2015 at 3:03am

2 persons have voted this message useful



kujichagulia
Senior Member
Japan
Joined 3075 days ago

1031 posts - 1571 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese, Portuguese

 
 Message 2 of 706
22 August 2012 at 3:21am | IP Logged 
Last week I downloaded a bunch of podcasts aimed at native Japanese speakers, with the hope of improving my listening. While I could understand maybe 20 percent of what was said, it felt like a chore to listen to those podcasts, even when they were speaking slowly.

On the other hand, I have a few Portuguese language podcasts on my iPod as well, including news programs. I have no idea what is being said, but it's simply interesting to listen to the sound of Portuguese. (The same went for Esperanto podcasts, when I was studying that language.)

Why is it that I can enjoy listening to a podcast that I understand 0% of, but it's a chore to listen to a podcast that I understand 20% of?

I have a theory. It's called L2 Overload. I live in Japan. I hear Japanese everywhere: on TV, on the train, at work, at the store, on the street, at the gym. I think when I add Japanese to my podcast list, my brain just kind of rejects it. This will probably not be a problem once I reach an advanced level, but perhaps my brain is overwhelmed by the sheer amount of Japanese input it gets, especially incomprehensible input.

It doesn't just happen with podcasts. Sometimes when I'm watching Japanese TV, my brain will all of a sudden say, "No more, please!" Then I go to the Internet and turn on some sports radio from the U.S. At work, on rare occasions I will have to get up and leave the office when the other teachers start speaking Japanese to each other.

Compare that with Portuguese. The only time I hear Portuguese is via a podcast or Internet media. So I am not overwhelmed with it, and it is still enjoyable.

So, I think that for my Japanese studies, it is important to study for a good amount of time every day, but it is also important to take a break from Japanese when I need it. I need not feel guilty listening to an hour of radio from the U.S., or reading a book in English. (Actually, I should do that. I'm an English teacher; I need to keep up with the idioms and slang in my own language.)
1 person has voted this message useful



Brun Ugle
Diglot
Senior Member
Norway
brunugle.wordpress.c
Joined 4848 days ago

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

 
 Message 3 of 706
22 August 2012 at 7:34am | IP Logged 
Anyone who has ever lived in a country where they don't speak the language knows it's exhausting. I remember being tired and overwhelmed a lot when I came here. I also remember sitting for hours while people were talking about things I couldn't understand. I used to ask someone what they were talking about and would get the answer, "Oh. Nothing really." I felt a bit shut out. However, once I could understand, I found out that most of what they were talking about really was nothing -- just gossip about people I don't even know. And sometimes, I would long for the days when I could just filter it all out.

I think it's interesting that a lot of the things you seem to think are fun or at least pleasant are the same things the rest of us find to be torture, like SRSing.

I am getting to the point where I can read real books and find it enjoyable if sometimes frustrating, but my listening is lagging far behind. I need to find a way to improve that. I've thought about watching a lot of dramas, but my internet connection is still pretty bad. I have to get on my landlord to fix that.
1 person has voted this message useful



iguanamon
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Virgin Islands
Speaks: Ladino
Joined 3490 days ago

2224 posts - 6708 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole

 
 Message 4 of 706
22 August 2012 at 12:59pm | IP Logged 
I'm looking forward to following your log. It'll be interesting to see how fast and far you progress in Portuguese as a side project and in Japanese as your main goal. Good Luck, Boa Sorte!

1 person has voted this message useful



g-bod
Diglot
Senior Member
United KingdomRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4210 days ago

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

 
 Message 5 of 706
22 August 2012 at 2:00pm | IP Logged 
Good luck! Intermediate Japanese can be an absolute pain for a native English speaker. I can't imagine how exhausting it must be to be in country and struggling with the language, but I think it's no wonder you have such mixed feelings about it.

Focusing on listening sounds like a really good plan, and the results will probably be more immediately useful to you as well. I agree, listening to incomprehensible podcasts is probably not a good use of your time, especially if your daily life involves lots of incomprehensible input anyway. I think TV is a lot better because you have so much more context to assist in working out what is going on. Plus if I'm watching TV I sit down and pay attention whereas with podcasts I'll often day dream or concentrate on something else.

I found a combination of the JPod dialogues and dialogues from textbooks was really helpful in boosting my listening. I'd study the dialogues until I understood them and then add the dialogues to a mega play list on my MP3 player. I could listen to this on random on a regular basis for some guaranteed comprehensible input. I signed up to the premium membership on JPod for a couple of months just so I could download the dialogue-only files to save me time on editing them myself!

And don't feel guilty about keeping in touch with your English. An obsessive L2 at all times approach does amazing things for some people but doesn't suit everyone. The challenge is finding out what works for you and the only way to do this is to try different things.
2 persons have voted this message useful



atama warui
Triglot
Senior Member
Japan
Joined 2929 days ago

594 posts - 985 votes 
Speaks: German*, English, Japanese

 
 Message 6 of 706
22 August 2012 at 3:35pm | IP Logged 
If you didn't yet, take a look at Lang-8.com ... it's great and if your ego doesn't suffer from being corrected and you take the time to analyze what has been corrected, to what and why, and actually discuss those corrections with the natives, it's a great place to progress.

I think you have so much passive knowledge that only somehow has to be released... L8 is not the end solution, but a great first step.

がんばれ!

Edited by atama warui on 22 August 2012 at 3:35pm

1 person has voted this message useful



kujichagulia
Senior Member
Japan
Joined 3075 days ago

1031 posts - 1571 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese, Portuguese

 
 Message 7 of 706
23 August 2012 at 2:39am | IP Logged 
@Brun Ugle - You described exactly how I feel about living in a country where my target language is spoken. Also, I don't know why I enjoy SRSing, but it's something I never fail to miss every day.

@iguanamon - Obrigado! Thank you for following along, and thank you for your help.

@g-bod - Thank you for your comments. Yeah, full-on immersion may work for people like Khatzumoto at AJATT or Benny at Fi3M, but it doesn't work for me. XD I think being at an intermediate level of Japanese is like this: you start on a marathon, not knowing how long it is, and after 10 km or so you look back, and you think, "Wow, I've done so much. I've come so far. I'm da man! I can do this!" Then someone tells you how far you have to go, and you become depressed and frustrating. I just need to put my head down, get some consistency, and keep running. I'll make it to the finish line. But it's not easy.

@atama warui - Thank you. I've used Lang-8 off and on over the past year or so. I tried writing daily journals about my life, but that became boring, because my days are pretty much the same every day. What I'm thinking about now is writing a story. I used to write stories when I was in elementary and intermediate school, and I've thought about starting to do that again.

And you mentioned taking the time to analyze the corrections. I need to figure out an efficient way to do that. I used to just take the corrected sentences and put them into Anki, but they don't seem to stick that way.
1 person has voted this message useful



rewire
Groupie
United States
learninglane.tumblr.Registered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2775 days ago

82 posts - 90 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese, Mandarin

 
 Message 8 of 706
23 August 2012 at 7:30am | IP Logged 
Quote:
I think being at an intermediate level of Japanese is like this: you start on a marathon, not knowing how long
it is, and after 10 km or so you look back, and you think, "Wow, I've done so much. I've come so far. I'm da man! I
can do this!" Then someone tells you how far you have to go, and you become depressed and frustrating.


Yeah, it's such an awkward place, since you know you're actually doing alright in general, but also that there's just
so much left it sometimes seems really overwhelming, and you have to try to forget that the finish line is so far
away.

What you said about having trouble with reading makes sense to me too, though we do have different tastes in
reading material, heh. I've thought for a while that if I could just read, I'd be able to pick up more and faster, but
the problem has always been that I get really bored with things that are too simplistic, but couldn't handle too
much complexity without resorting to a dictionary (which slowed things down again and made it unbearable for me
to bother reading).


1 person has voted this message useful



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