Sunday, January 2, 2011

Aiming where exactly

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what exactly it is I aim to do. The more I study kanji, the more the gap between what I can recognize and what I can actually pull out of my brain and put to paper widens. In the scheme of things, though, writing by hand is not a very important skill. Really, it's sheer vanity. It's something to brag about. Of course, things like your address are probably good to know, things like your friends names, maybe, if you like to handwrite letters, but the truth is most of the time you want to write (not type!) something, you can just look up the characters on your favorite (no doubt electronic/web) dictionary and copy them. Which yes, at that point it would be good for you to know the procedure for writing them, but then I'm sure there are also people who are able to do away with the entire writing thing entirely and just focus on recognition. It would be typical to point out that even Japanese people have trouble remember exactly how to write some of the characters they certainly KNOW, but it would also be true. Even my pro Japanese tutors would look stuff up.

And then there's just the whole challenge of projecting your personality on a mindset that is so different. The image gets distorted as you manage to acclimate to different bits of etiquette more elegantly than others. Being polite is a full-time job; if you can only do it half-way then you still feel inconsiderate and rude half of the time, or at least concerned. And it's harder if there are certain things you just don't agree with, sort of like attending church as a non-believer. I'm attending Japan as an American. It's not like we can't get along; we do, of course. I have so many cool friends here; it's really not so bad. I'm just trying to explain the fringe anxieties off the top of my head. Do you study Japanese in an attempt to become Japanese or in an attempt to show them who you are?

I think working on faster, smoother, more accurate consumption will not be hard. Producing is the hard part. Sure you have to commit to both, since it's always easier to do anything in your native language. Doing anything a foreign language is like walking up a steep hill when the next block over is flat. What makes it worth while? I actually like walking uphill, for the exercise. I guess foreign language is the same.

Monday, June 28, 2010

In Japan

This blog is sad now, because it has nooooo attention.

But this blog is happy:

or at least happier.

I'm happy because I'm in Japan. Going to try to learn a lot while working at the same time.

Friday, April 30, 2010

JLPT Study so far

Well, I'm trying to get caught up on kanji, mostly. That and vocab is where I hurt. I retain grammar the best, although it's been a while since I wasn't straight up reviewing, so we'll see how I fare. I think I can do it.

Also, the choice to go with N3 is the right one. I did example test questions for N5 (which I never doubted was too easy) and N4 (which I figured would be doable) and they were both a piece of cake, pretty much. I think the only times I messed up were times where I just hadn't paid enough attention.

One thing I need to be careful of is to not get too sucked into Anki. Flashcards are great, but in the end, flashcards are going to make you good at flashcards, and not Japanese. (Of course, people say that about the JLPT, too, that studying for the test only really makes you good at taking the test, or that it only tests your ability to study for a test...)

I have a LOT of textbooks. They all have example sentences and some of them have drills. Cross studying (out of order, heavens!) goes totally against my "chonology tic," but in this case the most important is really to just cover material. I definitely err on the overly systematic approach, so it's time to just study whatever is relevant.

Also, it's time to study. This blog has been giving me some grief lately. Some of the posts are super valuable (to me, at least) but some of them are just drama or boring. I might clean it up. I don't really want to start a new one just to "get serious." I think I can do that here :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010


This word means "appearances."

From the dictionary on my Macbook:
for the sake of appearances 世間体のために
that would look bad/be bad for my reputation それでは世間体が悪い

But these kanji readings seem kind of crazy to me. せけんてい
せmakes sense since it's the same as 世界
but けん is pretty different from かん like 間 is more commonly pronounced
and てい is different from たい like 体 is usually pronounced.

It's almost like the vowels for the whole word shifted to match the first one.

Anyways, it's hard for me to remember, but then I realized that if you get a little philosophical it's not so hard, based on the meanings of the kanji.

Think of 世 as world, 間 as a length of time, and 体 as body/phyisical.

So appearances are only valid in this life, the brief time your physical form (appearance) is on this planet.



Anyways, I hope that taking the time to write this post will help me remember the word.

I've been trying to think of what I can do to make this a little more functional for other people, since it's called How to not suck at Japanese, but really, as I think I have said, the key is just to take the time. Me writing whatever I write in here is meant to show that. Of course, I don't update all that often, but I'm working on it :X I HAVE been studying kanji and vocab in Anki. Semi holding off on grammar until I get the N3 books I ordered (textbook junkiiiiiie).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I always feel more compelled to study while out of town

Somehow the change of scenery drives me. Or maybe I feel like I have something to prove.

Anyhow, I've been studying from NJ. Working from/on Anki flashcards from/for Kanji in Context vocab. So, not much to report, except that I'm trying to get on track. I can't decide if I'd like to study in the morning or after work, but I'm beginning to think mornings. The only thing I don't like about studying first thing in the morning is that I don't want to stop. When I get tired, or I feel like I have accomplished what I would have liked to for the day, then I stop; stopping to go to work, as much as I love my job (literally, not sarcastically), is sort of depressing.

For this week I think may try out studying in the evening, though. I have been on the East Coast, so I feel like my potential for getting a swim/work-out in early in the morning is high. If I can get in that habit and make it work, I think it will be a good thing. If it's not ideal (which it may not be, food-schedule-wise) then, I will switch back to studying in the morning. Gotta give it a shot.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm back, finally + JLPT goals revealed

God, what was wrong with me anyways? I'm trying really hard. I decided to take a look at what exactly I have to learn and make a more long term view. Basically, I think I can pass the N1 exam after three years if I actually apply myself and quit slacking like a poser. In fact, I know I can pass the N1 exam after three years if I actually apply myself and quick slacking like a poser. So that is great. It's also very empowering to think that way. After all, it's me who is running this show.

I think in order to be properly prepped I might as well take the other exams, too, with the exception of N5. N4 I could probably pass now, but I'm not sure if I could do N3 by December. Level 2 was ~1,000, where Level 3 was ~300 as far as kanji goes. So if it's really right between there, I might actually be EXACTLY ready for N3 when the test happens in December. In fact, if I signed up to take that one, it would be pretty hefty motivation. Better to challenge myself? I would hate to sign up and then fail : / Theoretically, I could start with N4, skip N3, and do N2 the next year, the way the old schoolers did it; that might fit my schedule better, but by December, N4 will be really easy for me.

I guess I have until at least July to figure this out. I can see how I'm doing by then. I should be way further along so I can see how I want to split it up. It's funny, I've never much been interested in the JLPT, but somehow now I feel like it's the right thing to do.

Anyhow, I think the next three years, I will take an exam each year. That is the executive summary. N4/N3, N2, N1. That means that by 2012 I should be pretty freaking awesome at Japanese, but anyways, it's day by day here so I gotta get studying.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Being a quitter

I've decided I've had enough of both of my Japanese classes, which is unfortunate, but also....if you haven't noticed I haven't been studying lately. It's really awful to feel like you have to cram homework rather than enjoy yourself just...working through things and having fun.

It's making me feel like a quitter, especially in light of all the other things I've started and stopped over the past several months. It's not like I'm quitting Japanese, I just need to keep trying till I find a method that is what I want. I was settling into something really good right before I decided to try these classes, so I'm going to just keep exploring on my own.

I need to translate some more songs!! My guitar lessons are going well, so I need to make sure I can still sing はっぴいえんど!

I dunno. There is so much I want to do and I feel like spending six hours a week in class is keeping me from them. If I quit I just have to promise myself I will spend my time wisely and I think I can do that.