The Language-Learning Thread

Fed up talking videogames? Why?
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Osito
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Osito » Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:02 pm

Well, I'm off to China in August.


Better start learning some Mandarin :dread:
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Parksey
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Parksey » Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:26 pm

Who are you off to China with?

It's only about six weeks until I go to Japan, and the World Cup is seriously affecting my language learning. I usually do it late at night, but now there's a match on at that time.

Do you know any Mandarin? It's tonal, so you may find that nothing in a textbook really prepares you for the speaking/listening part of it.

Grammatically, it seems fairly simple (a lot simpler than Japanese) and it's characters are easier to learn too - they simplified them in the 50s to improve literacy rates, so they contain less strokes than Japanese kanji, plus you only ever have one reading for a character.
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Osito
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Osito » Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:41 pm

I don't know if I'm allowed to say yet, but I've signed the contract directly with the university.

I don't really know any Mandarin. I learned some a few years ago, but stopped when I decided to pursue the Erasmus program, so have forgotten most of it. When coming to write this post I spotted some of my old posts where I was thinking about taking it up again, but I never got around to it. I've still got about 8 weeks to go, so a few hours a day should give me a basic standard when I get there. Nothing like a bit of impending doom to motivate you.

I made the mistake of focusing on vocabulary, grammar, etc. when I went to Spain, so will focus on listening comprehension before I go. Luckily I have plenty of Chinesepod shows and other resources to listen to, and I've perfected the confused 'I have no idea what you're saying, please act it out and speak slower' face.
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Dig Dug
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Dig Dug » Sat Nov 08, 2014 9:39 pm

Keep forgetting to bump this.
I've been thinking of applying to study abroad for a year as part of my university studies. I want to go to Japan so I've decided that trying to learn Japanese would be a useful asset in making that goal realistic.
So where should I start? What books should I be buying, what websites are useful etc?
I did originally plan on applying for the university run classes but I missed the deadline on them because I was sick for 3 weeks in october.
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Rightey
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Rightey » Sun Nov 09, 2014 5:59 am

[iup=3610158]Dig Dug[/iup] wrote:Keep forgetting to bump this.
I've been thinking of applying to study abroad for a year as part of my university studies. I want to go to Japan so I've decided that trying to learn Japanese would be a useful asset in making that goal realistic.
So where should I start? What books should I be buying, what websites are useful etc?
I did originally plan on applying for the university run classes but I missed the deadline on them because I was sick for 3 weeks in october.


I found the Pimslur audio series to be pretty useful, but I believe the "proper" way to learn the language is to start out with learning the Alphabets, Hiragana, Katakana, and then Kanji.

I found this to be really useful for memorizing them...

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Memorizing_the_Hiragana

That combined with lots of good old fashioned drilling.
Pelloki on ghosts wrote:Just start masturbating furiously. That'll make them go away.
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Parksey
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Parksey » Sun Nov 09, 2014 7:34 am

Seeing as this has been bumped, does anyone have any resources purely for listening Japanese?

I feel like my reading is fine and quite advanced for my level but, conversely, I feel like my listening and speaking are really holding me back.

I try speaking it here, but can never understand what is said back to me so I have to revert to English, making the whole exercise fairly futile.
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Rightey
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Rightey » Wed Nov 12, 2014 1:15 am

Maybe Pimsleur? It's all audio. Here is the first lesson...

http://www.goear.com/listen/0e0eed1/les ... r-japanese
Pelloki on ghosts wrote:Just start masturbating furiously. That'll make them go away.
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John Galt
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by John Galt » Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:33 am

[iup=3610256]Parksey[/iup] wrote:Seeing as this has been bumped, does anyone have any resources purely for listening Japanese?

I feel like my reading is fine and quite advanced for my level but, conversely, I feel like my listening and speaking are really holding me back.

I try speaking it here, but can never understand what is said back to me so I have to revert to English, making the whole exercise fairly futile.


Strange, with Chinese I always felt that if I was asking the questions I would usually understand at least the important parts of what was being spoken back to me, even from an early level.

My advice would be to get some audio and accompanying texts and try listening to those. Listen to the audio, write down what you think you hear and then check this against the text to see where you've gone wrong. This is an exercise that my Chinese teachers have got us doing recently and it works really well.

I imagine there are plenty of rescources like that, but if not, try getting some TV shows or films subtitled in Japanese and watch/listen to those. If your reading is good enough you should be able to fill in any gaps in your listening comprehension just by reading the subtitles.

You can also use these techniques to practice your speaking. Just repeat aloud what you're hearing from the audio or even record yourself if you really want to take note of where you're going right or wrong.
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Osito
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Osito » Tue Nov 25, 2014 12:34 am

Bump, partly to see how all the current JETsetters are doing.


Also to say that I'm not having a great time with my Chinese resources at the moment.

The Ken Carol chap on Chinesepod is really boring and I find him a chore to listen to. I need to find a better, more engaging podcast , and I might just spend a few days going through the transcripts of CPod. Harold Goodman, who does the Mandarin Michel Thomas course, isn't a patch on the man himself either, and I just find his mnemonics dull and a massive waste of time.

Not going to help my listening comprehension, which I'm bound to struggle with the most, but I'll push on with the latter and look for CPod eps with different hosts (and look for other podcasts).

Pimsleur has been much better for me so far, especially with the accompanying transcript, but now I'm at the end of the first level, those transcripts disappear so it might not be that helpful anymore. I'm also aware in French and Spanish some translations were meant to be very clumsy and awkward, so I'd assume that applies to this as well.


Once I'm there I'm going to give iTalki a go as well, do you still use it Pac-Man (so I could use the referral link)?
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Pacman
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Pacman » Sat Dec 06, 2014 4:31 am

Bit late but yes I still use it, I'm thinking about starting to teach on there too but just to earn enough credits to fund my own lessons. I imagine you've signed up already but if anyone wants a link I'd be happy to oblige.

Lately though I'm all about spaced repetition a la Memrise
http://www.memrise.com/course/373686/jlpt-n4-kanji-5/ (Just finished this one last week)
http://www.memrise.com/course/177763/jlpt-n3-readings/ (Have made a start on this)

And this show 日本人の知らない日本語 is pretty funny listening practice.


Can't really help you with Chinese but have you tried: http://www.reddit.com/r/Chinese/search? ... rict_sr=on

Reddit is where I got a lot of my Japanese resources.
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Rocsteady » Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:31 am

So I've read a few pages of this thread and it all seems to be people learning weird languages. Been feeling a bit of an ignoramus travelling with foreigners and being the only one who speaks a solitary language, though, and I still have an incredibly basic knowledge of French thanks to shite teaching of it for 5 years in school.

Anywhere good online that I should check out to begin learning it properly again?
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Parksey
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PostThe Language-Learning Thread
by Parksey » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:09 am

For French, I found Duolingo really effective. It isn't the complete package - you will need other resources to flesh out your skills and you will need to find a way to speak it - but it is good for drilling words and sentence patterns into you.

It is also fairly addictive and you can download the app on various platforms so you'll likely always have it on you.

If you are anything like me, you'll be surprised at how much you'll remember when you start reading it. Your reading skills won't take long to get back up to speed.
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Rocsteady
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Rocsteady » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:37 am

Thanks man that does look good, absolutely shattered just now but will check it out properly tomorrow.

I'm hoping that's the case but I'm not sure I ever had the skills to begin with! Got a 2 in standard grade French so must have been doing something right, surely...
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Rocsteady » Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:44 am

Been playing about with it a little today, does seem a good tool for making language learning more interactive. Hoping I can stick with it for the long term now.

Don't remember any French either, did the wee test thing and it set me up as a complete beginner :lol:
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Parksey
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Parksey » Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:05 am

It's probably best to start from scratch anyway.

When I started it, I did the shortcut thing and got through, but then later lessons build on the previous ones so if you didn't know one section it messes things up a little.

You can never drill or practice vocabulary enough really. Everytime you repeat a word it becomes more ingrained and more natural next time you use it.

I haven't done that much of the French section on Duolingo, as I mainly did French and school and used Duolingo to start German. I have gone back to the French side of things just this week actually, as there is a French-studying Japanese girl I want to lay the old Parksey charm on.

Unfortunately it just means I am mediocre in both her languages. Merde!
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by lex-man » Tue May 12, 2015 2:37 am

I've been trying to learn Japanese for a while now. Coming up so a year, maybe nine months. But I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere.

I'm living in Japan, have made myself a ton of flash cards and spend most of my days studying but I feel like my progress is minimal. So frustrated.
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Parksey
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Parksey » Tue May 12, 2015 7:29 am

lex-man wrote:I've been trying to learn Japanese for a while now. Coming up so a year, maybe nine months. But I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere.

I'm living in Japan, have made myself a ton of flash cards and spend most of my days studying but I feel like my progress is minimal. So frustrated.


What sort of level do you think you are, roughly? Beginner, intermediate or advanced? How long have you studied it? Are you just self-studying or attending classes or have experienced it at Uni?

Just before I type up a long-ish post with my "expert advice" and then realised you are actually better than I am and my help is redundant.

What areas do you feel you are weakest at? Reading, writing, speaking or listening? Do you know some kanji or are you still on hiragana? If you do, how many do you know?
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by lex-man » Tue May 12, 2015 9:45 am

Parksey wrote:
lex-man wrote:I've been trying to learn Japanese for a while now. Coming up so a year, maybe nine months. But I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere.

I'm living in Japan, have made myself a ton of flash cards and spend most of my days studying but I feel like my progress is minimal. So frustrated.


What sort of level do you think you are, roughly? Beginner, intermediate or advanced? How long have you studied it? Are you just self-studying or attending classes or have experienced it at Uni?

Just before I type up a long-ish post with my "expert advice" and then realised you are actually better than I am and my help is redundant.

What areas do you feel you are weakest at? Reading, writing, speaking or listening? Do you know some kanji or are you still on hiragana? If you do, how many do you know?


Iwould say I'm a beginner. I have a tutor for two hours a week. My main weakness is listening. I thing it stems from not being good enough with conjugation.

I started work through pimuluers spoken stuff. I spend a ton of time doing anki flash cards. Working to the end of the first kanji book five Chapters left. Use a textbook but I doubt you'd know it as its not sold in England.

Signed up for N5 in July.
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Parksey
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Parksey » Tue May 12, 2015 11:28 am

Okay, well, first, I am taking the N4 in July, so I am not massively far ahead of you (there seems to be a big jump between N4 and N3). I was actually going to go for the N3 but looked at a few books and realised I was a little out of my depth.

It is natural I think to feel like you aren't making progress or that your skills are lopsided. Personally, my strengths and reading and maybe writing (I know about 1200 kanji perhaps, and know maybe 600-700 well). This is because I made an effort to focus on them from day one, so every word I have ever known I learned as kanji first, as opposed to romaji or hiragana.

The downside of this, is that I have perhaps neglected my listening. My speaking is okay, apart from the fact I panic and forget things, and grammar goes out of the window. But I can usually be understood. The problem is I can never understand the response if it isn't what I expected to hear.

I wouldn't be too hard on yourself when it comes to listening. I find Japanese people speak so fast, and because the language is context based and often drops the subject of a sentence, you can be screwed if you miss information at the start. Also, as Japanese has a smaller selection of unique sounds compared to English, I find listening much trickier than in, say, French, German or Spanish. That is before you consider the fact that the grammar and sentence structure of often different too.

It is going to take a while before your brain gets used to that way of thinking. Even now, I still have a habit of thinking in a English and translating, and vice versa, rather than listening and trying to understand the English outright. I still try to listen passively - like I do in my nativ language - rather than really concentrating. It doesn't help that in conversations I tend to panic and worry about what I am going to say at the same time as they are talking.

If your listening is getting you down, I would stop the flash cards and written stuff in textbooks for awhile. My problem is I know all these kanji and a fair amount of words when they are written down on a page, but I don't know them all when they are said at me. If I did, I would probably miraculously jump up in ability quite quickly.

Firstly, what I am finding helpful is not just listening to regimented textbook listening. I very rarely have problems with that.

Try listening to longer sentences or passages of text. First listen through the entire thing and see what words you pick up (at the moment, you won't be anywhere near fluent when it comes to sentences, but you may be fluent for certain words - words which you always pick up and which just stand out amongst the general fuzz of the rest of the conversation). Then, listen again and concentrate on picking up meaning, however vague. Then, listen to it with the script in front of you. You should then understand the jist of the piece. Then, either read the english translation or have a go at translating it yourself. Understand the meaning and then practice reading it back aloud a sentence at a time.

Helpfully, I can't post links on my phone right now, but try the NHK Easy site, as it has articles with speech and furigana if your kanji skills aren't great. You will also learn new words this way.

The downside is that it can take you a few days to a week just doing one article, but as long as you keep listening and reading it aloud you should get used to the words, the sounds and the flow of spoken Japanese.

Also, Netflixs has Attack on Titan, which I have just started watching. I am not an anime fan but it seems okay. I watch it with english subtitles and try and match the meaning to what I hear. I often pick up a few phrases or new words too. Again, this can take awhile (a ten minute segment can take an hour, rewinding and jotting stuff down and what not).

Finally, there needs to be the spontaneous, unplanned element of conversation. If I learn a new phrase, I try and use it as often as possible. Recently, I learned がっかりだよ (what a disappoinent) and おかしいなあ (how strange...) and I will just say them whenever I see fit when with Japanese people. It's only two phrases, but my messing about with them and saying them myself, I am now "fluent" in those phrases, and imagine I will pick them up when I hear them.

As I said, my listening is by far the weakest aspect as well, so maybe it is just one of those things. My learning methods were very solitary and reading/writing-focused so I have only just started correcting this.

Finally, you have to remember that you have only had about a year. The people you speak to here are, obviously, Japanese, and they have had dozens of years speaking and listening to it as a native. It isn't a fair fight you going up against them with your broken, stuttering Japanese. I get frustrated at this too, as it's such a mismatch, but of course it is going to be one-sided. You shouldn't compare your skills to native-level or be harsh on yourself when you fail to understand what they say. Even with other ALTs, you may lag behind, as quite a few people have been studying it for years and at University.

When I was studying it in the UK, I felt pretty confident I could "get by" but this was soon shattered as soon as I got here. And of course it was shattered - back in UK, I was only seeing Japanese when studying, I was only see on textbook Japanese and I was only seeing words that I had learned or was learning. There were no "unknown" elements and I knew this limited vocab well. But here, there's unlimited scope and countless ways to slip up. You are never going to be taught everything you need by a textbook. You will always feel a little helpless as a beginner here.

Also, are you worried about the N5 or are you confident you can pass? I am working on revising for the rest now, so could give you more specific advice for that.
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Parksey
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PostRe: The Language-Learning Thread
by Parksey » Tue May 12, 2015 11:54 am

I forgot to say, try watching some movies you know well, but stick them in dubbed Japanese or use subtitles for your reading. I bought a PS3/4 and have bought quite a few of my favourites whilst here. All have English/Japanese options. I find it works better to have the sound in Japanese and subtitles in English, but as I said, the other way round can help your kanji/word recognition and get you used to some sentence constructions.

I have also been listening to Japanese nursery rhymes. Pick the ones that are the same as ours, listen to them and then repeat the process I told you about the NHK Easy news. I am currently listening/working my way through the Tortoise and the Hare. I understand two-thirds of it, and just need to learn the last one (it's the grammar that is tripping me up). Because you know the story, you will know what words you need to listen out for, which limits the confusion and shock of just a random bit of text. The language is usually fairly simple too. It won't help you with what to say to your Japanese friends, but it will help you pick up words and sounds when you hear them said again.

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