January Challenge – Reading

hokusai_Winter_Evening_in_Japan_I follow a number of blogs and Olle Linge’s site has really helped in introducing such things as various methods of strengthening vocabulary but lately I’ve been intrigued by his news of a reading challenge. The challenge can be undertaken through http://readmod.com/ but also by leaving a comment on Olle’s site (I’ve linked the full article below – worth a read). To take one summary from the article:

  1. Set a goal for January
  2. If you read longer texts, report the number of pages directly
  3. If you read shorter texts, count sentences (about 20 sentences per page)
  4. If character counting is convenient, treat 400 characters as one page
 I’ll be leaving a comment on Olle’s site but I’ll be posting my progress on a weekly basis. At the moment I’m studying three languages all of which are at different stages so my goals will reflect this. Also in my reading I want to try to include as much listening as I can. Equally I would like to spend time noticing features about the texts and perhaps consolidate this in a discussion with my Italki friends or in writing. So I agree that there will be times where I am simply reading for enjoyment but there will also be times where I’m getting the most I can from the experience. In addition, I have other commitments to Kanji, Hanzi, grammar and vocabulary practice that I need to work on. So my goals will accommodate this interest. The challenge is still there but I don’t want to forget or fall behind. So my challenge is to make an active effort to read throughout the week. That’s it. It isn’t my aim to set myself an unachievable amount of reading, leaving me feeling like a failure when I don’t meet my target. It is rather to secure an active (and hopefully enjoyable) reading habit. That is my goal.
  • Japanese (low intermediate)
  • Weekly approx :
  • News report – 14 pages (1 article is about 400 characters/1 page)
  • Manga – 50 pages
  • Novel – 5 pages
  • Month= 276
  • Chinese (6 months of studying)
  • Assimil – 5 pages
  • Textbook – 2 pages
  • Month = 28 pages
  • Italian (about three weeks of studying)
  • Textbook – 7 pages a week  (20 sentences a page)
  • Month = 21 pages
If you’re going to do the challenge please leave a comment below 🙂

日本語 – Kanji drills vs. reading

So, I set myself the task of securing 500 Kanji by December. Not sure I did that. I feel I’m happy with about 400 but even in the real world not sure that this is solid enough. I can do quizzes but can I read them in native material? I think when you have gaps to fill or kana to transform you already know the answers – you know it’s just from a select number of possibilities. But when reading native material you’re bombarded by so many Kanji that it becomes more of a challenge.

I feel the reason I didn’t get to the 500 was I became tired of doing drills. Instead I switched my focus to improving my speaking as I’m starting to take more sessions at Italki. Now that I have that as part of my weekly routine I returned today to my Kanji study with a different outlook. Whilst I still want to reach the 500 mark, my focus now is actually on immersion and noticing. My reading material is now going to be of two main kinds – things I read simply for enjoyment and things I’ll use to improve my Kanji skills. LingQ.com is really helping me do the noticing and the ease in ‘reading’ the Kanji has improved. So whilst I’m inputting news articles into their system I’m also asking native speakers to record them for. Thanks kindly to the generosity of other users at LingQ taking the time to do this, I can repeatedly listen to the articles and therefore strengthen my reading. I’m going to see how this goes for the next six weeks, aiming to do about 20mins of this each day. Along with this I’m going to continue the traditional route of writing and doing exercises probably 3-4 times a week as well as filing in my Goldlist for the words I encounter but my priority is to make more of the immersion and to notice more.

汉语- input, input, input, ouput

It’s been about six months now since I’ve been studying Chinese and I must admit my aim of immersing myself in the language has really been enjoyable. It began with a priority of listening and reading. As I worked to unravel the grammar my own out-put became work on the tones. I think for any beginner of the language this must be the most difficult part. I can’t recommend enough the feedback and support I have had from the community of LingQ and Italki. I’ve managed to record my own versions of textbook dialogues and the LingQ community have given me feedback as to my errors and also recorded my transcripts when I’ve made a request. As for Italki I’ve made some really good friends who take so much time in helping my Chinese I feel I’ve become more confident in tackling the language. Yet, now I want to turn my attention to creating my own texts and gain recordings for these.

Any self-studier of any language will often complain of textbooks as they are often so geared towards the classroom environment – share with a partner this, role-play that. So, I’m going to try to use these opportunities not as a set-back but as a positive way for me to challenge my knowledge of the language.

Stage 1 
– Podcasts
– Pronunciation
– Vocabulary (iKnow app, Goldlist method)
Stage 2
– Assimil and Luca’s method
– My own recordings
– LingQ and Italki activities
Stage 3 (now)
– Own writing/scripts
– Yoyo Chinese to embed early skills and hopefully develop new ones.
– FluentU – great beginner material but I also enjoy the film trailers and advertisements (intermediate and advanced) as insights into the language and also for enjoyment
– Read and listen everyday for 15mins (LingQ)
– Maintain vocabulary and speaking practice.
I think if anything, I would like to spend more time just listening to the language be that through LingQ, watching films, news reports or TV shows. Though I’m naturally geared to improving my Hanzi practice, I really want to be able to speak the language. My goal now is to keep a strong input level but to drop it by 10%. This now means I’ll spend 70% of my time on input and 30% on output.