Welcome to Lazy Learning, where approximately every week I will be sharing whatever it is I'm trying to learn lately. I love to learn and I like to feel as though I'm not doing any work ;) (read: a lil' bit lazy)
So today's learn* is all about, um, Japanese.
I've studied this language off and on for years, I've been there twice, and I have a very basic understanding of pronunciation. However, I've only seriously started studying in the past two weeks. :D
Have you tried to learn a new language? Are you learning one right now? I used to think that I could only learn in a classroom setting, and for years I have used this as my excuse not to study at home on my own.
I believe there are two things that are essential to a good foundation for learning a new language:
Ideally, you start learning a language because you're interested in it, right? But no one is ever going to tell you that it's quick & easy to learn a second language.
'Cos it's not!
My problem has always been staying motivated when I feel like I will never learn because I'm not in Japan, surrounded by the language and people and culture, or because I'm not in a class specifically geared towards learning Japanese.
Enter AJATT, or All Japanese All The Time. If you've tried to learn Japanese before, you may have stumbled across this website, or heard others mention it. If you've never heard of this site and are interested in learning Japanese (or any language, really) then go check it out!
The site's creator, Khatzumoto, is a British guy that writes articles and provides resources stemming around the basic idea that learning a language should be fun, failure is okay, and classes suck.
Trust me, you will read one of his articles and be like, what the hell is this friggin' guy smoking?
And then you'll go back and read another article. And another. And maybe it'll start making sense to you. And you'll go, YEAH! I CAN DO THIS!
Or maybe you'll just think he's whack. You wouldn't be the first.
Now before you get all that Khatzumoto guy is pretty weird/crazy/full of British humor and I hate you for liking him, let me inform you that I am not here to sell his, or anyone else's product.
I have no money, son! I'm broke!
I'm not even saying his method will work for you. I'm saying that before I started buying into the seemingly backwards logic of his ideas --listen before you understand, aiming low, little and often -- I really didn't think I had enough of that HARD WORKERS GENE to even try to learn a language on my own. The more I read, the more I thought, this could work for me. His articles really motivate me, and encourage me to figure out what methods of studying work for me so that I don't give up and I keep learning. It gets me excited!
Anyway, whether you like AJATT or you think it's a load of baloney, if you want to learn a new language, you need to figure out what motivates you and how you can stay motivated.
This is like, a duh factor, but seriously, if you don't have the right set of resources for learning, all the motivation in the world won't help you get better at Japanese.
AJATT stresses the importance of total immersion. This means setting up an environment which makes it easier for you to hear and see as much Japanese as possible every single day. All Japanese all the time. You should immerse yourself by doing things that you find enjoyable. I.e. watching movies/anime, playing video games, and listening to music...all in Japanese.
Here's a list of resources I've been using to up my intake of Japanese and create an immersive environment**:
I listen to a lot of people speaking Japanese while playing video games because I'm a weirdo, but there are tons of other Japanese speakers doing their thing on youtube.
Basically you can watch lots of different anime here, but they have subtitles, which I generally try to ignore.
If you use Itunes, you can go to the Itunes store, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, and on the bottom right there is a button that should display whatever country's flag that you are currently in. Click on that and you'll come to a page where you can change which country you would like Itunes to display for. Click on the Japanese flag and voila! I've downloaded lots of podcasts this way for free and I listen to them on my Ipod at school, etc.
This website is great. It's a fun program that teaches you kana (Katakana and Hiragana) and Level N5 Japanese for free! After that you've got to pay, but I would say it's definitely worth it. It makes learning so much fun and interactive. [Note: Some people like to use Anki to practice sentences, kanji, and kana. I used it briefly until I was told about Read the Kanji, which has helped me get more excited about spaced repetition learning.]
I plan to use this when I begin learning kanji (yes, I'm still learning kana :D). As far as I can tell it's a completely free resource for learning Japanese grammar and has been recommended on other sites as well.
♦ Music, duh
Okay, so obviously there is J-Pop. I, however, would never ever be able to listen to J-Pop as a replacement for my regular musical intake, so I am now on a srs bsns search for Japanese music that fits my more obscure tastes. Thus, if you want J-Pop resources I don't have any, but a quick Google search will surely fulfill your strange desires.
Change your internet browser's default language to Japanese. You won't die. I promise.
Once you've found some Japanese musicians (and artists, and vloggers, and bloggers) that you like, follow some of them on twitter! It's very important to have as much Japanese in your face and ears as possible. Do it! (I just got my twitter, and I follow Hotel Mexico and a girl that calls herself Wham)
As I research and discover more resources every day, I will make a post in the future outlining a more comprehensive list. For now, these are just the resources I use personally and enjoy immensely. I'm always on the lookout for new things, and if you have heard of or use any resources that you'd like to recommend you should totally get at me in the comments :)
This post was really long and only has one picture and I'm NOT apologizing for it :D
Hope you enjoyed this little intro to studying Japanese and I would absolutely LOVE to hear about your experiences learning this or other languages (I also spent 3 months in China learning Mandarin, so I am familiar with that, too).
Thanks so much for reading! Knowledge is power, kids.
* Yes, I said learn instead of lesson
** I am no where near being highly immersed. Do you know how impossible it is for me to miss an episode of Scandal? Plus, I like reading blogs.
me in Tokyo Tower, January 2013