using anki

learning vocabulary from reading

hey guys! I just commented on someone’s post about this, and I realized I haven’t shared my method with y’all yet. I started doing this recently, with Jane Eyre in spanish! there’s a lot of words I don’t know, so this is really helping me! hopefully it comes in handy for you guys, too!

step 1: read the passage.

obviously, to learn vocabulary, you need to read the vocabulary you’re learning. but here’s the thing: don’t stop to learn the vocabulary. i want you to read the entire passage and try to understand it as best you can. you need that reading practice, too!

something my spanish teacher taught me is that when you immerse yourself in something that’s challenging and “monotonous”, you get overwhelmed very easily and do worse than you would if you slowed down at worked at your own pace. (monotonous meaning without change, i don’t mean to say it’s boring. the idea is if you stare at the same page for too long, you zone out.) she said that listening is the hardest, because students can only pay attention for ~30 seconds before getting stuck and being unable to focus on the rest of the listening. (because of this, she pauses the listening every once in a while to ask questions).  

because of this, it’s best to section off your reading in chunks. if it’s a short article, you can read the whole thing through. but if you’re reading a challenging book, where the chapters are more than a few pages, you’ll want to break it up - or else you’ll forget what you’re doing!

step 2: underline unknown words.

you can do this during or after reading. for me, i haven’t figured out which works best yet. go through the section and underline any words you don’t know - even if you could guess their meaning from context. basically, anything you haven’t studied. if you can’t think of the word in your target language while speaking in conversation, you should probably underline it. 

if done during reading: make sure you don’t focus on the unknown words! underline them in passing while trying to understand the reading as a whole.

step 3: make a list of those words!

you can do this in the margins or on a separate piece of paper. you’ll want to make the list so that there’s the unknown word, then room for two more words, then however much space you want between your list items. (for instance, using 4 lines on a page: unknown word / space to write / space to write / space between vocab words

step 4: guess the meaning!!

this is what that extra space is for! go back through the passage and try to understand the unknown words. write what you think the words mean, either by literal translation to your native language, or describing the meaning in a phrase. this is super important because it forces you to practice using context to understand unknown words, and your basic knowledge of the language to understand things like whether it’s a noun or verb, singular, plural, etc. when using the language in real-time situations, you can’t just pull out a dictionary!

step 5: look up the words

plain and simple, use that final space to write the literal definitions. you might want to rearrange the order of your list, like putting the definition and the word side-by-side or something so you can study more easily. in the end, your guess doesn’t really matter; it was the act of guessing that made you improve.

(optional) step 6: check your answers

now, you can go through the list and see what you guessed right! you can be loose with how you measure yourself - for instance, if you didn’t know the word for “bush” but you guessed “some kind of plant,” by my standards that would be correct. you’re not going for the exact perfect meaning; that’s nearly impossible. but you got the basic idea of what it was describing, and that’s what matters. 

totally optional, but one (arbitrary, probably meaningless) way i measure progress is by making a score for myself for each passage. correct guesses out of unknown words (in a percentage). hopefully by the end of the book, my average will go up!

step 6 ½: study!

finallyyyy, study the words! use your own methods. if you like quizlet or memrise, make yourself a deck using your list. personally, I use Anki, and I have a separate deck from my vocab list deck, meant for miscellaneous vocab that i learn from reading and speaking. on the other hand, if you like playing memory games to learn vocab, or writing the word over and over - more power to you! i’m not here to tell you how to study vocab, just to help you get a better grasp on it when you first come across it.

i hope this helps! happy studying!! <3

How I learn languages

So, depending on the level of interest people have in my way of doing things, I might create a more thorough guide in the future. However, in the interest of brevity I will create a very rough step by step guide for people because why not.

1. Pick a language - Pick one you like; don’t worry about it being “practical” or “useful.” If you don’t like the language you’re studying, it’s going to be a miserable experience and learning languages should be fun!

2. Learn IPA - Learning how to read IPA characters (International Phonetic Alphabet) is imperative to being a successful language learner. If you haven’t already, put some time into learning how to read IPA transcriptions because it will save you a lot of time and give you a much better accent when learning the sounds of your target language. Avoid “english-y” transcriptions (e.g. très = TRAY) like the plague. They’re bad and people who make them should feel bad.

3. Learn the alphabet/writing system - Usually it doesn’t take a super long time, and if you’re studying a language like Japanese or Chinese it’s best to get used to using the writing system from the very beginning. You’re gonna have to deal with it eventually so you may as well hop right in. Relying on latin character transcriptions will only put off the inevitable.

4. Learn the pronunciation of your target language - I advocate a pronunciation-first approach. This will be easier or harder depending on how many unfamiliar sounds there are in your TL, but it’s worth going over the phonology (sound system) of your language early and getting used to how its sounds interact. If you don’t learn proper pronunciation in the beginning, you’ll ingrain incorrect pronunciations into your brain which will be hard to undo later on. You don’t have to try to make your accent perfect, accent reduction can come later, but it’s worth spending some time on. This is especially true for language with odd sounds or features (tones, voicing distinctions, etc.)

5. Pick ONE course/book - A problem I see a lot, and one that I have fallen into many times myself, is hording language learning resources. In the beginning, and especially for beginner polyglots, it is better to pick ONE really good course or book to follow, and focus on mastering the material within. If you try to split your time between too many resources or books or websites, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed. Some books/courses/series I recommend that can commonly be found for all languages are: Teach Yourself, Assimil, Duolingo, Linguaphone, and Pimsleur among others. You can always use one of those while you keep searching for more resources, but resist the temptation to dig into multiple books at once.

6. Use an SRS to learn vocabulary/grammar - SRS’s (Spaced Repetition Systems) are my bread and butter when it comes to memorization. Put simply, they are tools for spending your studying time more efficiently, and they warrant an entire post by themselves. Rote memorization is for the birds, so use a spaced repetition system such as Anki, Supermemo, a Leitner Box, or Memrise to avoid wasting your time. (Use Anki. Just use Anki. You’ll thank me later.)

7. Don’t translate - I used to learn vocabulary and grammar using English translations, but you’ll soon find that it’s only useful to an extent as your vocabulary gets bigger and you start running out of unique ways to translate synonyms. A more robust approach to flash card creation can be found in the book “Fluent Forever” by Gabriel Wyner, which I would definitely recommend reading. The short version is: use pictures instead of English translations for picturable words, for more abstract words and grammar concepts, use example sentences with cloze deletion cards (easy to create using Anki. seriously, just use anki.)

8. Speak the language! - Probably the only thing I actually learned from He Who Shall Not Be Named (anyone who’s been in the polyglot community for longer than 30 seconds knows who I’m talking about.) It seems simple but you should really speak the language as much as you can straight from the beginning. “But how can I speak the language if I’m not fluent or if I’ve just started?” Simple, use what you know, and do whatever it takes to make yourself understood. It really doesn’t take much, maybe 100 words or so (a day’s worth of work if you’re dedicated) to start to be able to put sentences together. Learning phrases is even better for this. For this reason, a phrasebook (Lonely Planet is a popular choice) is a worthy investment.

9. Immerse yourself as much as possible! - Watch TV, read books, nespapers, and articles, and listen to music in your TL. Get yourself used to being around the language. Ideally, you’d be able to move to the country or region where the language is spoken and truly immerse yourself, but for many total immersion can be either unrealistic or overwhelming. It’s totally possible to give yourself enough contact with the language and even create a 100% immersion environment all from the comfort of your home. The important thing is to have contact with the language and get used to being around it. This is where you’ll pick up on the rhythms of the language, tonality, intonation, all that good stuff. More importantly, it will get you used to how FAST people talk.

10. Keep looking for things you don’t know. - This is probably the best advice I could give anyone. There are things out there that you don’t even know you don’t know, so the best thing to do is to keep surrounding yourself with new facts, new vocabulary, new grammar structures, etc. If you’re looking for a new course/book, look for one that seems like it has a lot to teach you. Don’t rehash things you already know, it’s a waste of time. This is the basic principle of SRS’s, don’t review until you forget. Going back over concepts you already know is pointless and it contributes to “plateau syndrome” (when it feels like you’re not making any progress in your TL). Review what you need to, when you need to, only so long as you need to. Learning one new concept is worth more than going back over two you’ve already mastered.

11. HAVE FUN - The road to fluency is long. Like super long, I can’t stress this enough. You may not be fluent in 3 months, a year, two years, maybe even 5 years. It all depends on how much time you are willing to spend on the language and to a VERY VERY SMALL DEGREE how talented you are. The important thing is to not rush it and enjoy the experience. If you’re not having fun, modify your goals and your approach until you are.

This is nowhere near everything I have to say, but it’s a start. These are just some things I wish I had known when I started studying languages. So if it helps at least one person well hey that’s enough for me. :D

anonymous asked:

i would like to learn japanese (so i can read any raw manga hahaha; what a impure motive -.-") mind to give me some advice?? Like, um, how to start it?? Thanks

Hello anon! 

It’s nice to see new people starting to learn japanese. o/

First, I would recommend you to learn the hiragana and the japanese sounds. I remeber using the website to help me memorize the hiragana. I think they might hava an android app as well :)  Also, write the hiragana table from your memory, it helps a lot. I recommend you not to neglect writing japaense in the beginning, because it helps you remeber things better.

After you learned the hiragana well, I suggest you use some textbook to guide you. I used both “Genki” and “Minna no Nihongo” and they are great books, though, I think Genki has easier to understand explanations. If they are too expensive, you can easily find them on the internet, just search a bit. ;)

Also, start learning kanji soon. Genki has a kanji section and you can start from there. Other kanji books I think are good for beginners are “Basic Kanji Book” and  “Nihongo Challenge N4 & N5 Kanji”.

And for vocabulary I recommend you try using flashcards like Anki, they have helped me immensely.

You can read this page with some suggestions for those who are starting to learn japanese. That website is super useful!

Lastly, I just wanted to warn you that learning japanese is not easy and takes lots of time and practice, so try to keep motivated even if you can’t start reading manga in japanese right away. Imo, it’s very important to keep yourself motivated with your studies ^^

lahatmahal  asked:

What are your favorite anki decks to study? What would you recommend for learning grammar (anki or textbook)? How do u get it all to stick so u remember??

If I’m studying vocab/grammar, then I use my own. Lately I’ve been exclusively using the subs2srs decks that can be found here. I would recommend learning grammar first via a textbook (or any other online resource - like nihongonomori on youtube, for example) and then utilize anki to keep that knowledge fresh. So if you learn 3 new grammar points via your textbook, maybe create cards with an example sentence on the front, and any additional grammar/vocab notes on the back. That’s just a simple format I’d use but there’s so many different ways to use anki tbh. You just gotta keep reviewing what you’ve learned, whether that’s with anki or reading a lot of japanese. 
I would strongly advise against learning grammar solely from an anki deck, especially one that you have not made yourself. Anki is best for reviewing what you’ve already learned, not for learning fresh material. 

Day 116

Another day of review :) I should really start using anki again 🤔 Also grammar ^^; Awesome thing that happened today: I was watching a video of G-Dragon on Inkigayo for the millionth time (this one) and up until now I haven’t been able to understand anything of what he says at the end when he’s thanking people but today I actually did? I didn’t really notice it at first either so I had a moment where I was really surprised and somewhat confused ^^; I guess I’m making some progress after all :)

P.S. Thanks for sending me links for resources :)

P.P.S. @kongbuhalkeyo started a Korean discord server so you guys should check that out ^.^

anonymous asked:

Do you use anki?

I use Memrise. The Anki programs I see don’t allow you to type in your answer to the flashcard as you study. Having to actually type the word with Memrise helps me remember vocabulary more easily, especially the spelling of words.

3 months

asked my wife about getting a pressure cooker (so nattou takes 6 less hours to make) and she replied “but we’re only going to be here for 3 more months…”

3 months?! she’s right! august is almost 3 months away! somehow it felt like 5 months! suddenly i’m a lot happier.

okay, i have to get going:
1. finish N2 vocabulary tonight; N1 this month (within May)
2. “study” a bit for the swedish proficiency exam that’s next week
3. clean out the files on my computer; clean my room
4. read/watch a ton of things on memory techniques again. and PRACTICE them.
5. make a youtube channel and crowdfunding account

at my current stage in class i’ve evolved past the need to use memrise/anki but that won’t be the case when i’m actually in japan, so i have to set up that stuff too…

Tips for learners of Japanese

As someone who has been studying Japanese for a couple of years now, I realise there are some things I wish I had known earlier on in my studies. Of course everyone learns differently, so this might not be useful for some people, but hopefully some of you will find the following advice useful.

1. Some of you may have heard loan words described as ‘free words’ for native English speakers. This may be true to an extent, but be wary - katakana is not your friend. There are two main reasons for this.

i) If you pronounce it wrong, you may not be understood. On multiple occasions I have heard from native speakers that cutting long vowels short or skipping over small tsus might not seem like a big difference for foreigners, but for Japanese people these sorts of mistakes can make someone’s Japanese really hard to understand. Of course this doesn’t only apply to words written in katakana. However, I feel that the loan words = ‘free words’ mentality can make it easy to be complacent when learning the katakana rendering of words borrowed from English. One time when I was talking with a friend, I didn’t know the word for ‘mayonnaise’ so I said something like メヨネーズ as this is similar to how I pronounce it in English, and it took a couple of seconds before my friend realised what I meant. So it is best to remember the Japanese pronunciation even if you feel that you already know the word and don’t really need to ‘learn’ it in the same way you learn kanji compounds and ‘native’ vocabulary.

ii) Even if it is borrowed from English, it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing (any more). Do a google image search of ‘jacket’, and then of ジャケット. Then search ケーキ and see how many more strawberries there are than when you search ‘cake’. How would you translate the sentence 色々チャレンジしていきたいと思います into English? It is difficult because チャレンジ has acquired a meaning in Japanese that can’t be expressed by the English word ‘challenge’ alone. This is another danger of the loan words = ‘free words’ mentality. Just because the loan word comes from English, the scope of meaning may differ between the two languages. This leads on to my next point.

2. Learn vocabulary in context. It is true for all languages that word-to-word translations are deceptive in that they often make us think that words from different languages map onto each other perfectly. This may be true (to an extent) for some words (e.g. コンピュータ/computer), but there are many words for which it doesn’t apply. The gap between between ‘equivalent words’ is probably greater for languages that are unrelated, for example, Japanese and English. Spaced repetition methods work really well for some people, but be careful when using resources such as Anki or Memrise which can result in strong word-to-word understandings of words across languages. For example, someone who has learnt シャワー as ‘shower’ and とる as ‘take’ might try to say シャワーをとる, which is incorrect.

3. If you only have time to study one thing today, study kanji. I’m putting this last because it doesn’t really apply for people who are learning Japanese more casually. However, for anyone who intends to be in Japan for an extended period of time, learning kanji is pretty important. Paired with that, for myself and other learners of Japanese I know, knowledge of kanji seems to decay faster than other aspects of the language. Once you feel confident with a grammar point, you probably won’t need to review it any more, but even going a few days without studying kanji can mean undoing hours of work. Of course if you only study kanji every day, your Japanese won’t really improve, but it is probably worth getting into the habit of studying kanji daily.

Hopefully some of you will find this useful!

Android Apps for Learning Kanji

I should preface this by saying I don’t have an android device BUT I


 used some of these apps on IOS and recommend them. Others come with recommendations on the Japanese resources pages of reddit and the community side of Tae Kim’s guide to grammar.

  • Wanikani, If I hadn’t already got about 1000 kanji into Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji before I heard of wanikani I definitely would’ve used it more- I tried it out and really loved it, but once you’ve committed to a learning system with mnemonics, it’s best not to muddy the waters and re-learn things using new mnemonics. I definitely think it’s worth serious consideration for new kanji learners. The app is free, but access to the wanikani site is $8 a month, some content is accessible for free when you sign up as a beta user though, so try the free content and see if it’s right for you.
  • Skritter, I’ve used this on iPad, I liked it- it’s simple to use, free and helped me to learn the right stroke order for quite a few kanji.
  • Anki, I use this all the time on mac and iphone, it’s really popular for a reason- it works. There are a wealth of user generated kanji decks to choose from and it lets you sync across platforms. Highly recommended.
  • Memrise, I use memrise on mac and iphone too, the interface is user friendly and it’s easy to make custom meme cards on a computer (this option is lacking from the iphone version I think, so I learn on mac and review on the go). It’s free and works using SRS like Anki, but offers some different content and supports learning using mnemonics better than Anki.

From here on I have not personally tried the apps- but I have tried to find ones from what people have said are their favourites and looked for the names that crop up over and over:

  • Obenkyo, I haven’t tried this, but it seems to be interlinked with Tae Kim’s guide to grammar (I hope officially) and so should support learners not only with kanji, but also with grammar as they develop their skills. It’s got a high rating on the android store from a TON of different users, so it seems pretty solid. (Here’s Tae Kim’s official android app, which I recommend for all learners, it’s free)
  • Kanji Read and Write, again, I haven’t had a chance to try this, but it comes with a 4.7 rating on the android store, so it might be worth investigating.
  • Kanji senpai also has good reviews.
  • JA Sensei (free) and JA audiobook (not free) were also mentioned, audiobooks in Japanese are hard to find for learners, so this might be worth trying out.

oujirain​ I hope this helps you. There are some other posts about apps if you search my blog for the apps tag, I know I’ve posted some android stuff before.

Followers: what are your favourite android apps for kanji study?

How To Learn Multiple Languages At Once, A Masterpost

I’ve shared posts on this topic before, but I feel I need to touch on it again with my own words, especially right now. I’ve been re-organizing my language learning schedule and strategies, since my school schedule will be calming down on the 17th, my last day of the school year until August. Currently, I’m learning French, German, Spanish and Japanese.

A lot of people, even in the polyglot community, think that learning multiple languages at once is impractical, a bad idea, impossible, or all three. This depends on who you are, your learning propensities, and your schedule. If you have a lot of work all the time, it’s not a good idea to be trying this. I was working on papers, presentations, and extracurricular activities, so I concentrated on French, because I was preparing for my final exam. This is because it was difficult for me to balance four languages and all my schoolwork, and so I prioritized. This is the key to learning multiple languages. When you’re thinking about how to organize your multiple-language learning, ask yourself these 3 questions:

How important are these languages to me (in descending order)?

How much time (per week) can I commit to studying?

Do I have decent access to resources for these languages?

The first two are fairly self-explanatory, but the last one may confuse some people. This question is important, because you don’t want to be spending a lot of time looking for resources. You should make sure you have organized your materials before hand. Know what you’re using to study, and you’ll streamline your learning!

For example, I use Anki and Memrise for my vocabulary learning for all my languages, since I can usually find a decent set of vocabulary cards. For grammar, I locate a reliable and accessible grammar site or book to read from. Always keep your sources consistent, because even if you might learn something wrong, you can easily find where you wrong. The thing is: you should also cross-reference! Make sure that multiple sites or books on grammar say the same thing about certain principles, especially the ones that confuse you. I have some three or four different resources for German, and I always cross-reference if something stumps me. For some languages, I know there aren’t that many resources. For Indian languages and many minority languages, it can somewhat to very difficult to find decent resources. The Langblr community is a great place to ask about finding decent resources! Just ask us! If we don’t know, we will still post your ask with something like “ I’m sorry I don’t know but maybe one of my followers knows?”

Wikipedia is always an OK start to reading about grammar, but I warn you that Wikipedia is not only subject to change, but also can be very academic and not suited to the purposes of the language learner. I, myself, am an aspiring academic, so it’s a little easier for me, but I highly recommend finding sites written by and for language learners, like this blog! I try to write explanations in the most down-to-earth way possible, even though I still believe in using the technical grammatical terms, like “conjugation” and “case declension”, because they’re convenient and acceptable ways to describe the way a language works.

Another key part of learning more than one language at once is what I call the “degrees of separation”. What this means are the ways you separate each language. A really basic one might be already be present: the languages are different structurally and historically. With exclusion to French and Spanish, as they are both Romantic languages, German and Japanese are all from different language families. Sure, Japanese has a whole alphabet for borrowed words, but has very little in common with French or Spanish. In contrast, English borrows some of its words from other languages. Similarly, Korean has borrowed quite a few words from Classical Chinese, but shares very little in common with Mandarin otherwise. There’s also temporal separation, where you study different languages at different times or on different days.

You can also use methodical separation, using different methods or programs to study (ex. using Memrise for French and German; Japanese and Spanish on Anki). The only other one I could think of is spatial separation, where you physically study in different places for each language. Which I plan to do once I get a routine down.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

My first Masterpost…cool :3

spotzi  asked:

Hi i'd like to start studying mandarin, how hard is it / could you tell me sth about it?


Mandarin is considered to be one of the hardest languages to learn if you come from an English-speaking background - but I promise you, it’s worth it. And it can be so much fun!

First of all, there are three big roadblocks in learning Mandarin that you’ll need to know ahead of time.

1 - It doesn’t have an alphabet.

This one seems obvious, but the extent to which it is true still baffles me. In simplified Mandarin, there are over 50,000 characters. According to BBC, a typical dictionary lists 20,000 characters, and someone “educated” in Chinese will know 8,000. And characters are rarely ever full words - you combine characters to make words (typically words are 2-4 characters long). So you have to memorize the characters, then memorize the order in which those characters appear if you actually want to communicate something.

2 - The picture/sound relationship can be so hard to remember.

While it’s true that most Chinese characters are phonosemantic (something in the picture tells you what sound to make) it’s not cut-and-dry. With the Latin alphabet, you know that an “a” vowel will always make up the “a” sound. True, it gets confusing when you look at the more specific sounds, like long a’s and short a’s, but ultimately, you can look at a word with “a” in it and get it right. In Chinese, each “sound” is different for each character, and it has multiple letters in each “sound.” For instance, there are finals and initials, and they are what their names imply, so the possible sounds for one character is all the consonants in the Latin alphabet combined with all the vowels, multiplied by 5 for tones (we’ll get to that). Things get more complicated when you have multiple small pictures in one character, so you have to guess which sound to use. So yeah - to figure out the sound of a character that you haven’t seen before, you’ll have to piece apart which chunk of the character to sound out, have memorized that smaller character’s sound, and adjust the tone to match the word.

3. Tones, tones, tones.

Tones are what really trip up non-native speakers of Chinese. I find it pretty easy to say them, but harder to distinguish the difference when listening. There are 5 tones: level, rising, departing, checked, and neutral. A tone is a different way of elongating a vowel. The 1st tone (level) you hold like a music note. The 2nd tone (rising) is spoken like the end of a question in English. Try asking yourself a question and see how your voice goes up at the end. In Chinese, you would make this change in tone in the middle of a word to differentiate between characters. The third tone (departing) goes up and down. Make an “oh” sound and hold it. Move your chin up and down and see how the tone fluctuates. The fourth tone (checked) is short, simple, to-the-point. Try saying a one-word sentence as if you’re reporting to an officer. “Done.” “Yes.” “Good.” It comes to an abrupt pause, doesn’t it? That’s the fourth tone. The fifth tone (neutral) is just saying the sound normally. There is no tone mark for it. Tones become crucial as you progress through Chinese, because they distinguish very different words. The easiest example I can find of this is the sound “ma.”

ma1 = 妈。 The first character in 妈妈, the word for “mother.” (Side note - the left part of 妈 is the “female” radical. The right part is the word for “horse.”)

ma2 = 麻。 Means “numb.”

ma3 = 马。 Means “horse.” (Notice how this is the same smaller picture as in “Mother” - this is an example of when the picture tells you the sound. You know 妈妈 is derived from 马, which has the sound “ma” but a different tone.)

ma4 = 骂。 Means “to scold.” (Again, derived from the word for horse, so it has a similar sound.)

ma5 = 吗。 A particle used when asking a yes/no question. (Derived from 马。)

So, as you can see, tone marks are pretty important. 

Here is an interesting tongue twister highlighting how important tones are!

Here is my post about how to learn Chinese characters with their sounds, using Anki flashcards.

My recommendations!

Textbook/workbook: Huanying by Cheng & Tsui is what I use. You can register online to get all of the audio practice that comes with it, which is crucial for learning Chinese.

Dictionary: Pleco. It’s a smartphone app that is just plain excellent.

Do you need a teacher? In the beginning, you definitely need at least someone there to check that you’re getting the tones right. If you can’t afford a teacher/tutor, Youtube has many sources for learning tones, although it can be difficult on your own. Once you’ve got the tones down, if you are self-motivated enough to continue learning without a teacher, at that point I would say you probably don’t need one. Just make sure you’re learning plenty about the culture as well as about the language - they are so closely related!

Supplies: If you’re using Anki, you just need a small whiteboard (plastic binders work!) for flashcards. If not, you’ll need a ton of paper flashcards, trust me. You’re going to be learning so much - this should excite you!! You’ll also need a notebook for keeping track of grammar rules.

Immersion: Check out the cmovies tag for movies, and the cpop tag for music. I don’t have any personal recommendations for this.

I really hope this helps you! Good luck on your journey, it’s going to be a ton of fun! Anytime you want, send me another message for help! :)

Studying Japanese

Was writing up this post for something on reddit, but I figured some people might find it useful here. This is basically my “Japanese Studying” history condensed into survey form. I often get asked how I got started and how I learned and this is basically of summary of how I go about it along with some advice I would give people looking back at my own experience.

1. Out of 10, roughly how skilled are you in the following areas (1 is absolute beginner and 10 is native level fluency):   

Speaking: 7    Listening: 8    Reading: 9    Writing: 7    Grammar: 9

2. How long have you been studying Japanese? 4.5 Years. 2 in college, got good grades but only studied with an aim of doing well on the tests. The rest has been as primarily an Elementary/Kindergarten ALT in somewhat rural Japan, a fairly immersive setting where I don’t really have any coworkers who can speak anything beyond rudimentary English.

3. What’s your Japanese vocabulary?

15k+ I’d say.

4. Why are you learning Japanese? I want to achieve near fluency and be able to use Japanese alongside my business/economics degree (and hopefully a future MBA) in the business world.

5. What resources do you use to study? I use Anki for an hour+ every day while writing everything down with a pencil and paper except for the most basic kanji and the hiragana/katakana-only words.

I used the first two text books in the Yokoso! Series in college. Pretty good.

The only textbook I have used in Japan is the Minna no Nihongo Intermediate II Textbook at a local volunteer 日本語教室. It was also good. Nowadays I mostly read newspaper articles there.

I am a big fan of the Kanken (漢字検定) exams because they expose you to lots of useful kanji, sentences, idioms, and opposite pairs that you might not otherwise see in textbooks made for foreigners. I just study the practice exam books, putting everything I don’t know how to write or read into a Anki deck. In 2 years I have been able to work my way up from level 8 to level 3 and am currently studying for the pre-2 and level 2 exams.

I am fortunate (for my career and language goals) to work in a place where basically the only English I speak is with my elementary students in class every week. All my work/meetings at school are conducted in Japanese, I make my lesson plans in Japanese, and while I do my best to expose my students to English and international culture, all my time spent playing at recess, eating lunch, or volunteering afterschool is pretty much free Japanese practice time with eager conversational partners.

I am a fan of Japanese Vocaloid music and for the past few years my hobby has been translating and subbing Vocaloid songs and videos for foreign fans to enjoy. You can find some of my work by looking up “descentsubs” on YT but unless you are into anime-type stuff you might not find it interesting at all.

I am also in an English Novel Translation group. We slowly translate novels (currently Animal Farm) into Japanese.  I am the “English Advisor”, helping with English metaphors, idoms, colloquial sayings, and archaic grammar, and the Japanese members correct my translations which is really helpful because while I have improved enough to not actually make many actual mistakes anymore, my Japanese writing is not at all “natural” so I get tons of advice on how actual Japanese people would reword the translations I create.

6. How many hours per week do you actively spend studying?

Anki and Kanken studying usually adds up to about 14 hours a week. I spend a good 4-5 hours on my translating hobby, a few hours reading, and another 3-4 hours at my Japanese class or Translation circle each week. As long as you have a smartphone/dictionary near you, anytime can be study time though.

7. Do you tend to focus more on reading & writing, or speaking and listening?

I have to do all 4 of them currently for my job, but listening and reading are the most important. People can still largely understand you if you write or speak poorly (and I make plenty of minor mistakes every time I open my mouth) but there are no “easy documents” or “easy meetings/lectures/conversations” in the workplace, you either got to know it or you don’t when the moment comes. My solution to dealing with this is to focus on increasing my vocabulary over everything else with grammar given secondary priority.

8. What country do you live in?

Fukushima, Japan

10. Any final words for beginners and fellow /r/learnjapanese folk?
-Lots of people talk about how things like Kanken or JLPT aren’t real indicators of Japanese fluency and they are not, but what they are is excellent goals to help keep yourself motivated and honest as you move forward.

-Anki is an amazing program. It really works and if you stick with it every day you see real results. I only started using it 1.5 years ago and I regret that greatly. Back them I was between N2-N3 in level from accumulated experience, but once I started digesting some essential lists (JLPT N3, N2, N1 Kanji/Vocab lists, the Japan Elementary School kanji list, Core 6000) my life changed in a huge way. I was able to functionally (if slowly and painstakingly at times) read basically everything in my daily life and work environment. I finally started understanding enough Japanese to better know what I DIDN’T know. I could listen to a conversation or read something and understand it to the point that I could easily begin to realize things like “oh, I didn’t catch that one word” or “what is the nuance of that grammar he just used?”. That is when you really start getting on the path towards functional fluency.

-To go along with the last point, BUILD YOUR VOCABULARY (語彙力)! Until at least the N3 level I do think it is important to go along with a textbook like Genki or Minna no Nihongo to help understand the fundamentals of Japanese grammar and build a good base that will allow you to move forward into advanced levels. But once you are able to process the majority of basic grammar forms, pure vocab and kanji rapidly outpaces the usefulness of the grammar points you will encounter in high level textbooks and study materials, even for N2 and N1. While I may hear (or poorly try to use) something like ~ざるを得ない or 揚げ句 once a week, I am constantly bombarded with vocab from even my youngest elementary students (including bug, flower, food, and objects names) that really strains my memory because I don’t have the same life experiences as them. The only way to make up for that lack of experience is to STUDY YOUR ASS OFF! This doesn’t mean you don’t study grammar, but rather from the intermediate level on you should mostly look up grammar when you don’t understand something, don’t waste time studying chapters full of expressions that you may almost never use. Let your real experiences start to dictate what grammar you look up, learn, remember, and use. I never studied grammar by rote for either N2 or N1 and passed just fine using this approach.

-Finally, the only thing that will make these last 2 points worth your time is to find a way to apply your Japanese on a daily basis. Read books, read manga, watch anime, find conversation partners, translate songs, move to Japan, whatever. Anki and drilling are effective but what they really do is get things floating around in your head that are now ready to make a real life connection and be truly remembered. Pretty much every difficult word or phrase I have been able to learn and make my own to use in daily conversation over the past few years has started with memorizing in Anki and THEN encountering it once or twice in conversation or reading, having that A-HA! moment, and finally grasping what it really means. Whether you are in Japan or not, this “application”-phase of Japanese study can take all kinds of forms, just find something that suits your interests. I’m not a big anime fan but I disagree with some people who say “anime doesn’t teach you real Japanese”. If you approach anime or manga with a “I want to understand everything approach” and not just remember words like “senpai”, “dokidoki”, and “kawaii” you will learn and progress. It really doesn’t matter, just find SOME way to live and experience Japanese constantly.

-(For advanced learners) Once I got far along enough in Japanese to make heads and tails of my daily life over here, I couldn’t shake the ever present desire to want to understand EVERYTHING and not be perplexed by things Japanese people do without second thought. I am constantly looking up stuff I encounter. See a sign you can’t read completely? Look it up. Listening to your drunk boss ramble on at the enkai about stuff you don’t care about? Look it up while doing あいずち. Stuck at a meeting or event that doesn’t really apply to you? Silently aim for 100% comprehension trying to jot down every word that you didn’t understand. You won’t be able to do this all the time, but when life or work allows it, turn parts of everyday life into listening or reading exercises. This “looking up” habit is similar to using Anki; it primes your brain and breeds familiarity, just waiting for your next encounter with a newly learned word or phrase to cement it into your memory. Chances are that if it is worth remembering and you continue to watch the same kinds of shows or work in the same workplace it WILL come up again.

-Language is a never-ending process. Learning it is also progresses extremely unevenly when approaching the language as an outsider who didn’t grow up immersed in the culture. After these few years of hard work, I can show my elementary school students how to write any kanji or phrase in their homework, I can out-do the middle schoolers in town for the most part as well, I can dazzle adults with my knowledge of 四字熟語 but in the end, I am not native and never will be. I’m still not anywhere remotely close. All I need to do to prove it is open my mouth for a few seconds and speak Japanese. But it doesn’t matter. Learning this language has provided me with all kinds of amazing human connections, wonderful memories, and a new outlook on my future life and goals after years of fighting depression through college. Good luck and keep grinding!

anonymous asked:

This might seems like a random question, but I noticed that you mentioned that you are studying Japanese and since I am too, I was wondering which books you have been using. I'm trying to find good books to learn from. Thank you in advanced and I love your art : )

Oh shit, ok. Here’s the stuff I’m using!

- Japanese for Busy People

- Genki Vol 1 (it’s my class textbook for Spring)

- The Handbook of Japanese Verbs

- Nihongo Ichiban has a free workbook for the N5 Kanji! I know a weird assortment of Kanji so I’m trying to memorize more and write them down. 

- I also use an app for Anki, but here’s the website! It’s basically flashcards for learning Japanese?? It’s user supported mostly so sometimes some things may not be accurate but I think it’s a fun tool to freshen up on every day. 

This fucking youtube haunts me to this day:

(it’s really good for remembering how to change the ending of a verb to memory, but fuck this song too because it gets stuck in my head.)

Hope this helps a little! If you seriously get Genki 1 and Genki 2, they’re supposed to really open the doorway for learning, I’m taking classes to try to structure myself because I don’t. actually have structure in my life. I would like structure, but we’ll see how it works! 

Why Not Rosetta Stone?

A lot of people ask me “What’s so bad about Rosetta Stone? Why do you advise people to stay far away from it if they want to learn a language successfully? I hear about Rosetta Stone all the time – so it must work well for learning a language, right?”

Well… not so much.

The main thing to realize is this: yes, everyone’s heard about them. But ask yourself: why? Because they pour most of their money into advertising, rather than developing a good product – that’s why. Rosetta Stone is basically picture flash cards with audio, and there are three fundamental problems with it.

1) Flash cards with audio is NOT a very effective way to learn for most people. Language does not function as individual lumps – in most cases it changes drastically, depending on context (surrounding words and phrases, as well as cultural context). However…

2) If you are one of the very few people for whom the flashcard method actually works well, you can do it – yes, even with audio! – for absolutely FREE, by using a combination of Anki (or one of the many other free flashcard apps out there) and (google “how to add audio files to anki”). And finally…

3) Most important, in my opinion, is the sunk-costs fallacy. Once someone has spent several hundred dollars on RS, they’re naturally inclined to think that something so expensive must be the MOST effective way to learn, rather than the least, and so they devote all their time and energy to working exclusively with it, instead of working with other products that would take them much further and achieve more results in less time, with less effort and more fun.

I know a lot of successful language-learners. I know people who learned to speak a language primarily using Assimil (one guy even moved to Germany and started working as an engineer right after completing the Assimil course). I know people who learned to speak a language primarily using Teach Yourself, or Colloquial, or Linguaphone, or what-have-you. But I have never once heard of someone who learned to speak a language while focusing their energy primarily on RS. And I strongly suspect this is because… those people don’t exist.

Case in point: I know two people who recently started learning German from absolute scratch. One of them bought RS, bought an iPad to use it on (investing a total of about eight hundred dollars into kicking off his language-learning process), and studied intensely using only RS for a month before I met him at a German-language meet-up. What did he do there? Talk a lot in English about how excited he was to be studying German, and say at one point out of the blue, with terrible pronunciation and grammar: “Three… bikes… are… red!” Because it was the only sentence he knew how to say. I asked him in German at one point “How are you?” and he literally started wiping sweat off his forehead because he was so nervous about not being able to answer.

The second person got herself a Teach Yourself book and worked through the first few chapters in a couple of weeks. I met her at the same meet-up, and she spent about half the time talking in German, saying things such as “My name is X, I live in X, I come from X, I speak English, I like learning German, I want to be a teacher, how are you? what is your name? where do you come from?” etc. All in German, with good pronunciation and no stress or nervousness. I wish I could say this were an exception, but unfortunately it epitomizes the language-learners I’ve met who used RS and those who used other materials.

In conclusion: You can choose Option A (spend a lot and learn a little) or Option B (spend a little and learn a lot). Rosetta Stone is Option A. Pretty much everything else is Option B.

what I tell people who ask for beginning language help!

So y’all, sit down, you’re only gonna need 4 things to get started.

  1. A grammar resource + notebook
  2. A vocabulary resources + method
  3. A way of practicing
  4. motivation!! (most important)

Grammar resource - there’s plenty of these online! Rocket languages is good, but searching for resources specific to your language often yields better results. Then just take out a notebook and write down anything you learn! I use my textbook’s grammar sections for this. Keep your notes organized and try to colour-code them - it works wonders for learning a language!

Vocabulary resource - when you’re just starting out, you can get this from duolingo or your practice resource, but when you’re more advanced, you should definitely be reading a novel and/or vocabulary lists! Then use Anki or Memrise (or some other SRS flashcard method) to keep up with the vocab every day!

Practicing - you want something with which you can practice forming sentences and understanding sentences. as a beginner, duolingo is excellent for this (as are similar programs to duolingo, like linguti). Once you’ve gone past the basics mark, you can start practicing by using workbooks, listening to radio/television in your target language, chatting online with native speakers, or just translating your thoughts in your head if you feel comfortable enough. (I find that translating thoughts is another great way to find vocabulary gaps!)

So yeah!! Those are the “big 3″ (plus motivation) that you need to start learning a language. The goal of this post is to help beginners get their grounds, and make more advanced learners self-check that they’re studying to their fullest.

Note: This is what I tell anyone who comes by my ask box looking for help with their specific target language. I tell them they need these 3 things, and then I help them find these 3 things. I really do believe these are the only things you need to begin studying a language.

love-money-study-blog  asked:

Hi doyou have any tips for someone taking french


First of all, try to learn as much vocabulary as possible and try to learn the articles (le/la) that goes with each noun. You’ll have to learn those at the end, so you’d better start now. (Try to use interlex/anki or a software like those, it helps me a lot to learn vocabulary.)

Focus on the grammar, the tenses and the exceptions that goes with it. I know French grammar can be really difficult but try to learn the most important exceptions (not the ones who are useless at first). You can write it all down on a little notebook you can take everywhere so whenever you’re bored or when you wait for the train you can learn it. You can also write down some tricky grammar points on sticky notes that you can put near your bed, so every night you can read those before sleeping. Try to make it pretty and colourful, it generally helps to learn. 

As I don’t know in which school system you are, I’m assuming you have French classes though (?), do not skip, listen during classes, ask questions whenever something isn’t clear (even if it seems stupid) and do every assignement. Practice makes better. 

And try to listen to French shows/videos/radios to get accustomed to it. If you’re only a beginner it might be hard at the beginning but once you understand a little more French it will be easier for you. You can also watch videos with subtitles at the beginning. (if someone wants some French videos/shows recommendations, ask me!)

Get someone to talk to you in French (it’s better if this person is fluent in French) so you can practice and it’ll be funnier this way. You also have someone to whom you can ask questions. (If anyone needs help or someone to talk to in French, I’M HERE~)

Practice, practice, practice, learn and learn again. Do it all over again, this is the key to success. 

I’m not sure if they are any tips specific to French but I hope those still helped you. If you have any questions, I’m willing to help you~

nocturnalinseoul  asked:

I love your blog! I started learning mandarin last week and I'm struggling a lot. Any tips on self-studying the language?

aw thanks! dang self-studying mandarin, as they would say, 很厉害!(awesome!) I think mandarin has a particularly sharp learning curve at first (at least if you’re coming from a romance/germanic language) and can feel like beating your head against a wall, but it does mostly get better!

Hm, I think my main starter tip would be give yourself a really fucking ridiculously solid pinyin foundation (including tones), and start paying attention to character radicals as soon as possible (not names of strokes, that is near-useless at first, I mean like 水 turns into three dots as in 江)–both of these are really worth not having to come back to, and ok now I may not know a bajillion words, but I have zero trouble being understood when I speak. some pinyin stuff: sweet chart, game Like really I think we spent the first week+ on pinyin alone, get those x, c, z and sh, ch, zh clear. 

if you have a smart phone, get yrself Pleco and buy the card add on, it is way worth it, start collecting words you look up and organize them somehow. If you don’t, you can use Anki on your computer to make flashcards, and there are a lot of pre-made intro lists. Memrise is also pretty ok and sometimes even has audio. Skritter is not cheap but I am very fond of it, and like if someone makes a super useful thing they should get a little cash to keep doing that right? The internet loves to be like DO EVERYTHING FOR FREE but a lot of times that can mean mediocre resources or just w/e, you can’t escape capitalism so I think putting some $ towards language learning is not the worst thing (that said, sometimes libraries have great stuff so check there first). Relatedly, I really like ChinesePod, and it’s torrentable if you don’t know someone with a school account.  

After/aside that, try to pick a limited number of resources to split your time between, say like maybe two textbooks max for example (I can talk about texts if people want?). No textbook will be perfect but also with learning a language you’re in it for the long haul, don’t stress yourself out trying to learn everything at once, set little goals like “one chapter a week” or “5 characters every two days.”  Or when you look up song lyrics for fun or find a tumblr post don’t try to bite off more than you can chew, just picking up a few words or one grammar structure out of a list is more than you knew two seconds before! Like I always pull that shit where I pull up a page in Mandarin like “haha I got this” and then two seconds later have to hit translate, languages are /hard/, minimum fluency in mandarin is ~2,000 characters and that just takes longer than you’d think to learn if you are a person who leaves the house and has other interests y'know?

The actually rough thing about mandarin/languages in general is keeping up with it, everyone has their motivation methods so just gotta figure out yours. Read Chinese stories w/English, dramas, music, videos, comics, go eat and learn menu words, whaaaatever it takes. Also find other people learning that you can gripe with sometimes or share whatever cool new thing you just found, you’re not alone! Doing a little something everyday is a much better plan of attack than big cram sessions–this can be hard to do if you’re studying multiple languages but is also the best way to maintain multiple languages (I do not recommend starting languages at the same time though). Mandarin also is unique in that at least for me, I had to learn to be ok with knowing a word but not knowing how to write it. Obviously I eventually want to know how to write everything, but in order to not get bored sometimes you need to be able to say/recognize new words faster than you can learn to write them, and that’s fine! They’ll be easier to remember when you get back to them because it wont be new word + new writing. 

Especially as someone self-studying, you should eventually also find ways to practice with native speakers/people who can help correct you. I am next level introvert but I know that I am not gonna learn mandarin by hiding in my books. Try: Lang-8 (they also have an app for just asking questions) or I have heard good things about iTalky and HelloTalk. If you are a magical extrovert try meetups and even if you can’t speak for shit you’ll start picking things up. Don’t worry about making mistakes, but also don’t worry about remembering every correction–the more you talk you’ll fix things the more they become habit. 

I have so many thoughts but that was probably long enough…if you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask! I write a lot at my intermediate-ish level but I wold love to write more intro stuff and start that as a tag since that can be hard to find good resources on and I am super nerd about language pedagogy interacting with internet DIY. Oh, my last big tip would be don’t compare yourself to others–not rando hyperpolyglots not a friend who just picks up words faster than you not anyone. You learn languages for you, none of that academic abelism bs allowed. Welcome to the learning Mandarin party, 加油!

sammlung-deactivated20150804  asked:

hi i'm doing german a level at the moment and really need to improve! do you have any tips for daily practices/habits which can help me to improve my german? your blog is really helpful btw :)

aww, thank you! presumably German A-level hasn’t changed too much since I did it all those years (well one and a half years) ago so here’s a little advice (disclaimer: I’m a rote learner, so aside from spending time in a German-speaking region, this is the best way learn. You might find these tips completely useless, so just keep an open mind about learning techniques and learning style working differently for different people)


- learn vocab and verb conjugations in short, frequent bursts

- make vocab lists twice; write down the new/important vocab you read/hear wherever you can during the day, then at the end of the day, transfer the vocab to more topic-specific lists, maybe with a dictionary to hand. 

- don’t try to learn more than 20 words at once, after 20 words in one go vocab learning becomes inefficient and painful

- when revising vocab, draw out a horizontal table (or maybe print it off) with 4 to 6 columns. Fill in the first column with the words in your native language, the second with the German words. Fold the paper so you can see the German column but not your native language, and fill in the next column as a test. Fold the paper over again, repeat from your native language into German, repeat (do this over a longer period of time if you can)

- memrise and anki are useful tools for learning vocab lists. I personally prefer anki, but memrise is a little more convenient for everyday use


- a grammar exercise a day keeps the feeling of dread away

- learn noun endings that correspond with gender, e.g. -ung, -heit, and -keit will be feminine

German Grammar in Context by Carol Fehringer is quite useful and effective w exercises as well as readings to look at


- practise speaking whenever you can; if you know a native speaker who’s willing to help, that’s fantastic, if not, talk to your pets in German, talk to inanimate objects in German, record yourself speaking German and then listen to yourself, just don't let an absence of people who want to help stop you from practising speaking

- recording yourself speaking German is very useful because you can listen to yourself after speaking and note any grammar errors you might have made

- if you’re worried about how correct the grammar is while speaking, tell yourself ‘nah it’s ok’ and just continue talking, bc you’ll learn the grammar w time and in a speaking exam fluency w bad grammar will get you more marks than silence


- keep a diary in German! it’s very useful and is often a useful security measure against nosy family members reading your diary (unless your family members read German ofc)

reading and listening

- don’t mentally translate

- don’t get hung up if you can’t understand every word, just try to understand what you’re reading / listening to as a whole and then break down the details

- if you’re practising reading/listening, write down / underline the vocab you don’t understand, but if it’s a long piece and there’s a lot of vocab you don’t get, only translate the words that appear to be necessary to understanding the piece

- watch kid’s news in German every day, it’s simpler vocab-wise, slower, and quite short:

final tip: if you are given the opportunity to go to a German-speaking region, so long as you can afford it, take that opportunity. It will help you TONS