Learning Japanese Part Three – New Stuff


Since writing the previous two posts about learning Japanese (click for parts one and two) I’ve changed tack a little. 


I’ve continued with Heisig’s Remembering The Kanji, but sheeeeeeeeeet, the going is slow. It’s tough. I can still see that it’s an excellent method, but it can get very frustrating. Honestly though, I haven’t really been plugging in the hours necessary. I went home for three weeks at Christmas and it all went to crap then. I haven’t quite managed to get back on the wagon yet. Now and then I go to a practice website Kanji Koohii (kanji coffee) and watch my progress melt away. 


If you’re using the RTK system, the kanji koohi site is bloody brilliant. In an earlier post I mentioned that I was using anki. Don’t bother. You have to manually insert all 2042 kanji and their meanings. Sooooooo tedious and boring. The koohi site is already set up for the RTK system with all the kanji already put in, and crucially, in Heisig’s order. Really good. 


I also said to switch on the tv if you’re in Japan or download buy stuff from amazon.jp if you’re not. I don’t have a tv. I have no intention of getting one. Instead, I use livestation. You can watch live tv online from a program on your desktop. It’s kind of crappy, but I mostly watch the shopping channels. You can see that they’re talking about clothes or flowers or cookware or whatever, but mostly you just get the sentence patterns over and over again along with a load of oohing and aahing. I keep it on in the background. 


I only have two Japanese dvds, The Incredibles and Mean Girls. I’ve watched them in Japanese about a hundred times. Actually, I don’t watch them exactly. As in, I don’t look at the screen. I just have them on in the background. 


The other source I use is JapanesePod101.com. The actual site is really freaking annoying with constant popup ads trying to get you to sign up so I avoid it at all costs. I use google reader to read blogs so I just signed up to their RSS feeds. They have a whole bunch of different lesson plans (newbie, beginner, intermediate, advanced) which are pretty badly organised on the site so the best way to do it (and the way I do it) is to stick it in the reader (click here for the link to the right page) and then run a search within the reader for “newbie” or whatever. (If this is confusing, send me an email.)


The last thing I use is software called iKnow. This goes against the AJATT method (as does JapanesePod1o1) but I live here and I need to be able to speak to/understand the kids so screw it. It’s really damn good. The 3 courses I’ve signed up to are hiragana, katakana and Core 2000 (2000 most important Japanese words). It has pictures and audio all wrapped up in a damn sleek package. This is something I’d definitely recommend. To sign up go to smart.fm. It takes a bit of clicking around to cop on to what’s going on but once you get used to the layout it’s really good. 


So far, my Japanese is improving but still shoddy. I still can’t read a menu or a website. I still often get stumped by basic questions. I’m slowly getting better though. Baby steps. 


Good luck!


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