Japanese – Kanji Goal

Well, today is the start of a hectic Kanji week. Why? I have a simple goal of being able to read Haruki Murakami in Japanesemurakami. Recently I’ve read a short essay and a story which were part of two separate volumes of Japanese reading material. These books are aimed at students of Japanese – one offers a parallel text the other supportive commentary. I’ve really enjoyed reading these but to read more of such works is near impossible as they aren’t readily available in Japanese here. So, I’ve looked to Japan for the books I really want. I’m not sure I could tackle one of his novels – I’ll be lost in the ethereal narrative – so instead I want to read his shorter works specially his articles. Over the weekend I found a couple of books which seem to offer just what I want. But will it be near impossible to ‘read’ them? The chances, yes. Why? Kanji. At the moment I know around 400 or so characters but I really need to sharpen this knowledge. So this is my approach:

4 days a week, 20mins.
1. This week I’m going to be inputting the words from the ストーリ Kanji book. I’ll be doing this in LingQ as a way to record the time I spend and also my progress. My goal here is to see if I recognise the different readings. I’m creating a vocabulary list that is geared towards learning Kanji rather than simply learning the meaning of the words.

2. As well as working on my LingQ list, I will also be revising the meaning of each Kanji. I will use my textbook lists and also Sticky Study for this. Maybe even throw in the flashcards as well.

3. I hope to find time to use the ‘Look and Learn’ workbook as this goes through 500 characters in a contextual way.

4. MLC is a great site for JLPT tests. I’ll be using their N4 quizzes to aid retention.

5. Continually refresh my memory of the radicals –

6. Buy a poster??

So, my deadline for all of this is 1st of November

日本語 - 漫画



Chinese – New Books

Well, my experience of learning Chinese has largely relied on iKnow, podcasts, supportive PDFs and LingQ. Ever so often with a cup of tea I’ll pick up a relatively straightforward grammar book (no blinding me with unnecessary linguistic jargon) and noticed the points being made there.

Today I’ve gone all traditional. I’m going to start the textbook approach. I’m going to be tackling the new textbooks to see how much progress I can make. Naturally I will have covered some of the early types of materials in my podcasts but I’m really looking to see how the methods work. I must admit when learning Japanese I found that textbooks really helped structure my learning. Yet, at the same time I remember completing the books and not necessarily remembering a great deal. That in itself isn’t unexpected; reviewing and using the language is important to secure knowledge.  The big question, then, is what does textbook-learning do to my studying the language? Will my enthusiasm remain though I’m not in control of what I study at what point?

Where will these take me?  Let's hope not barefoot on cobbled paths.

Where will these take me?
Let’s hope not barefoot on cobbled paths.


Japanese – Kanji pitstop



It’s always hard when starting Japanese when to actually begin looking at Kanji. Certainly getting through Kana can take time Yet the Kanji mountain can be tough to conquer. Where to begin?

 A lot of people do recommend Heisig’s ‘Remembering the Kanji’. Certainly there are some good supportive devices out thkanjiere now what with Anki and Memrise to help you revise these characters. I started with this book but somehow gave up around lesson 8. Was this the best thing to have done?
Heisig’s first book is great for remembering the meaning of the characters but not how to read them. At first it’s a struggle to commit yourself to this book as you actually want to be able to read them as well. My stopping at lesson 8 was for his reason. I moved onto ‘Kanji through Stories’ and worked through ‘Basic Kanji Book’. The first of these two is good for stories or mnemics to remember the characters and has a useful quiz at the end of each chapter where you actually have to ‘read’ them as well. Both books in the series are useful as they seem to get you up to about N3 level. As for ‘Basic Kanji’ (of which there are a few) this has no helpful stories to remember the characters but it really is good for its reading sections and sentence tasks. This was tough to get through as I struggle remembering the characters without aids but at the same time I felt I was quickly using the Kanji. Still 400 characters is not that many at this stage. Still needing Furigana when reading texts needs to be reduced. So where to now?
Looking back on my studies I’m tending to move towards a greater contextual immersion in Kanji. There has to be that balance of knowing the characters and understanding how they are used. There has to be an increase in familiarity through real material.
1. Use the app Sticky Study to secure my N3 Kanji – a great app for vocabulary as well, though no sound is present.
2. Use real material to create my own lessons at Linq paying particular attention to notice the Kanji in words I don’t know. I may even actively search to find the meaning of those Kanji, though this will be purely by my own interest.
3. Begin ‘Basic Kanji’ book 2. This really should be covering all the Kanji I’ve done so far so it’s going to have lots of practical revisions.
I’m not pushing myself to learn another list of Kanji but rather I want to be confident in what I have studied and also enjoy discovering new characters through simply reading articles or stories. I’m going to update on this in November. Instead, I now begin my journey in understanding Hanzi. So, how will my Kanji experiences help me to tackle this character system? Can I excel at a greater pace? We’ll see.

Chinese – Goal

I sort of started Chinese on the 20th June but really only dipped into it through podcasts at I didn’t do everyday.  It began with pure input. Listening, reading, listening, reading. Not really taking too much notice of grammar or trying to figure it out. Still I think this has been a useful process. Now, though, I’m going to follow a few principles outlined by a number of polyglots.
A. ‘Noticing’ – reading and listening
This has to be to follow Steve Kaufman’s idea of ‘noticing’. Since watching his videos and subscribing to Linq I do think my language studies have taken on a whole new progressive slant. Yet, whilst this may be true for my Japanese it’s tough for Chinese as I have so little knowledge of vocabulary – the process is arduous and time consuming. Nonetheless, I’m putting time aside now to do lots of review be that of the PDFs of podcasts or the Linq lessons – really grapple more with the structure.
B. Pronunciation and speaking
Embed the learning I have with my pronunciation books (review later) with actually recording myself speaking Chinese through audacity. I intend on putting this on LingQ for checking. This is big for me as I need pushing to do this kind of work. Mini-goal of doing this once a week.
C. Hanzi.
Continuing writing characters and following Heisig (via book and How many by December …
D. Grammar
Going to be doing some casual work on this. I will mainly exploring this through ‘noticing’ but I have a couple of books I’ll be exploring as well.
Throughout these focuses I will be evaluating and reviewing the resources I use. There is a lot to do with the Mandarin but I hope through my staggered schedule I will keep on track. Again, though, I want to be doing speaking practice every day.

Japanese – Goal

I’ve been studying this language now for over five years but I’m still rusty and I’ve never really had the opportunity (or courage) to set up a conversation with someone. In a recent article by Max ( he noted that N4 level is certainly conversational fluency. Well, it’s time I proved this, I think.  As I’ve finished going through my N3 grammar book for the first time, my main focus for the next few months is to secure this knowledge and, more importantly, use my N4 knowledge in a spoken exchange.
Create an audio blog at least once a week.
Maintain my reading and listening everyday. (I’ll post resources on this)
Write and, more importantly, review my posts on sites such as Linq and Lang8.
Three times a week おんどく (great method which Max discusses in his Kit)