Category Archives: Japanese

Why I’m taking a break from Vietnamese

I recently posted a video of myself speaking Vietnamese. These few sentences came after quite a fair amount of time. And now I feel like I am going nowhere slowly. There are a few reasons for this. 

Firstly, Vietnamese is a language that is vastly different from other languages I have studied. So I’m finding it quite difficult to retain vocabulary. Secondly, I don’t have a lot of time for learning in the evening, and at the moment an additional burden on my time is that I am nursing my very old pet rat who cannot do too much for himself anymore. Sadly, in a month or so he may not be around any longer, but for now it’s an added pressure on my schedule as well as being a bit emotionally draining at times. The third problem is that I am currently only learning from Duolingo. I’m trying to maximise what I get out of it by writing down the sentences. But here’s where the time issue comes in: I am only getting through one or two lessons per evening and I am finding it a slog with not much to show for it.

The good news: I made the decision to buy a Vietnamese book to learn from, along with some other Asian language resources, with some a virtual currency I get through my bank’s rewards program. It will probably be a few weeks though before I have these in hand though. I think having a book will allow me to see things at a glance and hopefully speed up my progress a little. Whereas Duolingo is pretty linear. I think the two resources would probably complement each other.

But until then, I want to enjoy my language learning. So I am going to pursue a language I think is fairly easy (I am already part-way through the Duolingo tree), and which I am also really keen to learn: Swedish. I am going to use Duolingo, the FSI course text, and a website I just discovered which looks great: learningswedish.se

I will still continue reading the Italian novel I mentioned. But my Kanji learning was pretty much already starting to take a back seat to the Vietnamese, and I am ordering a Japanese book as well in the same batch, so I will put that aside for this month too.

So, a brief Swedish interlude… I am looking forward to it. I hope I don’t forget too much Vietnamese. But I think once I am a bit better equipped with resources, I will be able to make better use of my time and progress faster.

Many (Language) Loves

Today I want to do in blog form what many people have done on video: introduce the languages I am learning or have spent time learning, as far as possible in those languages.

Since I really don’t focus on output at all, this blog post is intended to be a start in that direction. I think the fact that I am writing this to be read by others is more motivating to me than the idea of keeping a journal. I have never been much of a journal writer – even in English. However, because I am not in the habit of writing in foreign languages, I have struggled with writing the below, and I am certain that it is full of errors. But it’s a first step of hopefully more to come.

Afrikaans

Afrikaans is my ‘eerste’ tweede taal. As Suid Afrikaner, het ek ‘natuurlik’ Afrikaans as tweede taal op skool geleer. Ek dink dit was miskien vanaf die derde graad, toe ek so tien jaar oud was. Maar ek gebruik die taal eintlik nie gereeld nie.

Deutsch

Ich habe Deutsch zwei Jahre auf Universität studiert, und danach das Zertifikat Deutsch besteht. Seid dann, habe ich noch manchmal Nachrichten gelesen usw. Deshalb ist meine Verständnis, ich glaube, nicht zu viel vermindert in die vergangenen Jahren.

Français

J’ai aussi Français en université appris, mais seulement un an. Je trouve Français un peu difficile – de comprendre ce que j’écoute, et aussi le grammaire. Mais, j’ai besoin d’étude!

Italiano

Ho imparato un po’ italiano in una classe di Scuola Italiana. ‘E stato molto lentamente. Ma io sono continuato con il mio studio da solo. Come ho detto, io leggo un libro in italiano al momento.

Español

No habla mucho español, mas lo es similar al italiano, y ese ajuda con comprensión.

Português

Eu ‘falo’ pouco português, mais entende mas que eu posso falar (quando eu leio). I have pretty much only used Duolingo for Portuguese, which was a really helpful start, but it needs a lot of work.

日本語

私夫は大学に1年日本語ならった。 私もひとりでべんきょうしました。アニミからたくさんことばおもいました。 かんじはたいへんむずかしいとおもうけど,がんばります!今はMEMRISEでべんきょうします。

Tiếng Việt

Tôi đang học tiếng Việt. Nó là kho làm. 

Other languages

Other languages I have dabbled in / studied and mostly forgotten, but I fully intend to continue learning in the future, include:

Русский язык: Здравствуйте. Я говорю по русски (So I can lie. In Russian! I think…?)

Ελληνικά: really can’t remember a thing in Greek, sadly, but it’s sitting there on my Duolingo list, waiting to be reactivated. I used the FSI course to learn a little of it a few years ago.

Xhosa. Molo. Igama lam nguKate. Ndisazama ukufunda isiXhosa. I actually had a year or two of Xhosa study in primary school. It’s actually frightening how little one can learn of a languages in a classroom situation in one or two years. Nowadays, I have a Teach Yourself book that I dip into from time to time.

Korean. I was delving into this and Mandarin Chinese a year or two ago. I am not quite ‘fluent’ with the writing system, and I only really remember a few words. My favorite word is from Korean dramas: “jinjja!”. 

Mandarin Chinese. Same story as Korean, only the writing is WAY more of a barrier, especially for someone like me, who focuses more on reading.

Well, it’s been fun. Until next time!

“Summer language learning goals”… or not

…because it’s winter here in the southern hemisphere. Also, my university days, with those amazing 2-month long summer holidays are, sadly, long gone. But I have discovered some new pologlots online lately and have been quite inspired to:

  1. Really try and give this language blogging thing a proper go, and hopefully do some blogging in other languages too – practising that output!
  2. Get more structured with my learning!

You can find the very inspiring Polyglot Progress and DevenirPolygotte on Youtube. They’re also on Twitter and elswehere and DevenirPolyglotte has a WordPress blog, which I have browsed through and plan to keep reading more of. They have both recently done the ‘Summer language goals’ thing. As for me, this is just my ‘general language goals for the interim’.

So, onto my language learning goals for the next while. I do know that goals are supposed to be a bit more specific and mine aren’t really, but anyway…

Vietnamese

This is the main language I am focusing on at the moment. I think I started it this year. I have some Vietnames friends, so I might be able to get a little practice in, once I have got to a reasonable level for trying to talk. So far I am finding the grammar fairly simple, but I need to work on tones! I also struggle to remember which diacritics to apply to each word, but that is probably because I am not properly distinguishing tones and pronunciation.

Japanese

I do have a bit of Japanese vocabulary already, but it needs some grammar study, filling in gaps and, very importantly, learning to read some Kanji! At the moment Memrise is my main tool for attempting to learn Kanji. I’ve chosen a set that teaches kanji and vocabulary built from kanji, alternating kani-english and then kanji-pronunciation, so that each portion is taught twice. I’m feeling positive about it. So I’ll see how that goes!

Italian

I have a novel in Italian that I found at a second hand book store some years ago. It’s called “Il Romanzo di Ramses: La Battaglia di Qadesh” by Christian Jacq (it’s a translation from French actually). Where I live, you are more likely to find second hand Dutch, German and French books, so this Italian book was a rare find. I have also recently aquired a book of Spanish poetry – equally rare! I think I tried to start reading this novel back then but didn’t get past the first chapter. Now I am five chapters in and managing okay – progress! The chapters are each quite short luckily – nice for one or two sittings per chapter. It is going slowly though, and needless to say, it is going to take a long time to get through the whole 400-odd-page book. But my goal here is to persevere through it.

Well those are my main goals for now. I don’t have much more than an hour or so each workday evening, though the weekends give me a bit more time. So if I want to get serious about the above goals, I will have to try to avoid the tempatation of other languages for now. But I will no doubt dabble from time to time.

Perhaps in another post I will talk about my ‘hit list’, as I have heard it called, and more about myself. But to be honest, it has been so long since I last wrote on this blog, that I actually am not sure what all I have said before. Shocking! And I really would like to do some blogging in my other languages – at least German to start with.

Good-bye for now.

 

The Japanese Page

Just a short (or shorter than usual) post today. Today’s resource is The Japanese Page. This is a community website for people learning Japanese. There is a variety of lessons, cultural information, and of course the community.

I started teaching myself Japanese a while back, but then I stopped after a while. I’m not sure why, I was probably too busy. Of course, I generally practise my language knowledge by reading, and Japanese is difficult to read if you don’t know the Kanji. They have a syllabic alphabet writing system consisting of about 50 characters (if I remember correctly) – actually there are two versions of this same set of syllables, which basically just doubles the number of characters you have to learn, but they use the different versions for different purposes.

Then there is the Kanji, which is the same as the chinese characters – each of them has a specific meaning and there are thousands of them. Unfortunately, Japanese combines the two systems of writing. The Kanji character is used for the root of a word, and modifiers are added in Kana (the syllabic system).

I am speaking from my limited knowledge, but I do know that even in manga you will come across plenty of Kanji. If you are going to tackle the Kanji, good on you! Ganbatte! In fact, they have downloads of lists of Kanji by level based on the standard testing system – as far as I know ‘level 4’ is where you start and ‘level 1’ is the top.

The Japanese Page is not a structured system of lessons; as I said, it is community based, so I would use it as an additional resource to a structured course. As such, it seems very interesting and useful.