So, a few weeks ago I set myself a mini-goal of speaking Japanese. This was a big thing for me as I always feel self-conscious and reasonably stupid when I speak – struggle with finding the right words and structures for a length of time. I needed then a way to help me both with confidence and skills. Whilst the mini goal was really only for two weeks, I’ve actually being doing it now for a month. I’ve taken different steps to build my confidence and I’m really pleased with how it is going. In the points outlined below, I started at point one moved to point two and I’m now at point 3.
1) Shadowing and noticing
I have a Japanese shadowing book which is basically a script of short exchanges with accompanying audio. I approached this in a couple of ways.
a) Read, listened and repeated
b) Listened and repeated
Both approaches had different advantages but both certainly got me to focus on intonation and pronunciation. Another useful resource for this are the Innovative Language podcasts. I’ve often used their Japanesepod101.com as for a Premium subscription they have conversations set out sentence by sentence so it’s easy to repeat the words.
2) ‘Japanese for Busy People Book 2’
This textbook has a number of conversations for each chapter which I used for shadowing but also I used the book to complete exercise by actually speaking the answers. This way I’m reviewing grammar points and making them more natural for me to use them in speech.
3) Free speaking (alone)
This is obviously the more difficult but it is important to do – what vocabulary or grammar constructs do I find myself needing? To explore this question I used Audacity to record myself speaking, that way I can keep moving forward knowing I have a record of words/points I later need to find. So, essentially, all I’m doing here is describing my day, things I’ve seen in the news, thoughts about the Olympics, books I’m reading etc. I’m trying to keep going and will say out loud things like ‘I need more connectives’, ‘which particle is correct?’ so I can work on my gaps rather than continue to have them. As I collect words and grammar points anything I’m still unsure about I write a few sentences and post them to LingQ.
This is where I am at the moment. Speaking for 20min for five days a week. It’s the most tiring thing I’m doing and I’m still struggling through it. Hopefully by keeping to it I’ll be building my own corpus of vocabulary, strengthening my grammar and ultimately feel more relaxed when I finally meet to have a conversation.