I’m in my second month of learning Italian. I still have a long way to go but I must admit as well as using textbooks and doing drills, I’m also working my way through a number of fiction books which are above my level. Whilst I’m largely using LingQ for this as I can review vocabulary quickly, I’m also using actual books as well. I think this is keeping me enjoyment of learning the language at a high level ๐Ÿ™‚ In the picture you can see target-reading books – books aimed at a beginner/beginner+ – and also general fiction books. Whilst I’m enjoying reading ‘Cuore’ at the minute, I am reading and re-reading each chapter many times to make sure I understand what’s going on but also so that I can strengthen my vocabulary without doing flashcards all the time.

ย italan
I’ve also included in the picture some books translated into Italian. I’m not saying I’m a great fan of James Patterson, but I have read a couple of his books in the past. ย I had the idea I would get the audiobooks for these and then I can just enjoy reading along and becoming familiar with the sounds/intonation of the language. Sadly, when I visited such audios don’t exist. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ So I’m going to spend some time today perhaps finding audiobooks of books I’m familiar with. I’m reading Roald Dahl with one of my classes at the minute, so it might be fun for me to read the Italian version at the same time. ๐Ÿ™‚
So, my reading plan then is to focus on target-reading books, original Italian books, books and audiobooks of texts I’m familiar with in English and also short articles from Rai Arte or Rai Letturatura. I don’t think I did so much reading when learning Japanese but this is partly due to not finding the texts I wanted or having to learn five hundred Kanji before I could even attempt them! I’m fascinated to see where I will be in in two months time or at the end of the LingQ challenge ๐Ÿ™‚

Update on the Reading Challenge – more than just reading

Whilst I haven’t posted on my weekly progress during the reading, looking back over the last month I’ve certainly seen an improvement. This is not so much about how much reading I’m doing – I was already making that a regular part of my day – but the kind of reading I am doing. In short I’ve strived to read things I have to or are at my level and balanced this with reading things I enjoy andย are at the next level. I think this has really helped to maintain my enthusiasm for each of the languages I am studying but also useful in proving a support structure to build on my knowledge.

ย hokusai_Winter_Evening_in_Japan_
During this last month I’ve tried to keep a balance with reading manga and also newspaper reports. I’m a big fan of LingQ and this month it has been invaluable in my understanding the articles I’ve been following. It’s been great to keep up to date with events in Japan and also to develop my vocabulary list too. Manga has been fun and I’m currently reading them with a Japanese friend who is helping me grasp the informality and Kanji.
I’ve set myself a goal here to work through Assimil using Luca’s method of reading, listening and translating back and forth. I’m still focused here on lots of listening – I really need to secure my pronunciation – and reading. It’s going well and certainly I’m trying to consolidate the experience with my own practice sentences.

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 throughยย 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
ย 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 ย (20 sentences a page)
  • Month = 21 pages
If you’re going to do the challenge please leave a comment below ๐Ÿ™‚

ๆ—ฅๆœฌ่ชž – 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. 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.

ๆฑ‰่ฏญ- 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 1ย 
– 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.

Japanese: Beyond beginner … Taking control

Over the past few weeks I’ve read some interesting blog posts (see links below) which one again have prompted me to consider my own language learning. I’ve written before how for a beginner the resources and guidance available can be overwhelming. The tricky part is to select the resources which are useful and enjoyable for you whilst at the same providing support to make sure you make progress. In my next post I’m going to review how I’ve been learning Chinese for the last five months – the successes and the pitfalls. But today I’ve been pondering again about my Japanese progress. In my language learning I do like to have a structure to my week. I fill in my diary both with Chinese and Japanese tasks. I find this is important asย  I have little time and it also stops me wandering off or trying to accomplish everything only to become distracted or burn out.

On good weekdays I can have about four study hours but I always plan for the minimal – at least one hour Chinese, one hour of Japanese. I try to have two heavy days of Japanese and two heavy days of Chinese. To balance this, I have a couple of part-time days. The minimal here is vocabulary for Chinese and reading for Japanese – I often do more but I find I really need to rest the little grey cells. ๐Ÿ™‚ In amongst this I try to see my ITalki friends at least once a week to boost my skills. Now whilst I’m pretty comfortable with my Chinese activities, I’m floundering with my Japanese. So, today I’m setting up a ‘plan’ that I’ll be trying for the next four weeks.
I think it’s time I made the most of my resources. For the next month as well securing my JLPT N4 knowledge through my language partners on italki, I’m also going to be revisiting the grammar points in written tasks as well as re-doing all those practice test books. This isn’t something I’ll find dull to do as I quite like doing the mini-quizzes and it’s also helping me to highlight vocabulary problems as well. In amongst this consolidation process I’m setting time aside to secure my Kanji skills. I’ll soon be reaching my target set for 500 characters and here too there have been successes and pitfalls. Nonetheless, I need to make this a constant part of my studies as I’ve certainly forgot some of the readings ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Finally, though, I’m turning to more active reading. I try to read something everyday. Sometimes this can be a fleeting few pages of a manga and others a newspaperย article. I think I need to keep a balance between fun, enjoyable reading and reading where I really pay a great deal of attention to vocabulary and grammar. The tough part is keeping a record of the unknown vocabulary which doesn’t make it a dull, arduous task. We’ll see. I’m going to use my Kindle App for some of these books as it has an online dictionary. Though it won’t give me the words in English it does allow me to understand the Kanji. Like I say, the biggest problem here is making sure that I’m enjoying the reading process. I do like noticing new, difficult words or thinking about particular structures but I really don’t want this to hinder my enjoyment and for the reading book to become an alternative textbook. I have a few books I’ll be trying and around the end of December I’ll reflect on my progress.ย  To secure, advance and enjoy! Here goes –

Goldlist – revisited

Well, I’ve been using the Goldlist method now for about a couple of months or so for both Japanese and Chinese. I’ve tried a different approach with each language some ideas have come from other people’s practices and some are from my own thoughts. Some of it has worked and some less so. Yet, the lack of success can easily be explained. It’s not a problem with the method but more my approach to it. Hey ho ๐Ÿ™‚

photo 1

As I’m only about four months into the language, so very much a beginner, I decided to take a two column but two line approach. As you can see in the picture, the first line pinyin-English the second line Hanzi-English. I would move from the English and recall the Chinese in both instances. I thinkย  some people go from the target language to their own language. I chose this approach because when I photo 2often read Chinese I find it easier to give the English. So, I wanted the challenge and also the test of getting the tones correct as well (grr). I like the two line approach and two column method. It was easy to focus (to recall) just one element rather than trying two at the same time. I really think this helped in the recall process.
Ah, there’s the rub. I’m much stronger in Japanese than Chinese yet this list proved the most difficult. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, I was using vocabulary I’ve hardly experienced before. With the Chinese list I feel I’m often coming across the vocabulary in texts as it is high-frequency vocabulary. The Japanese list is from my new N3 book (pictured below) and therefore has words I haven’t seen or used before. No doubt the more I throw myself into N3 material the greater this familiarity will increase. Nevertheless, this isn’t an excuse as the Goldlist method predicts a certain level of recall irrespective of vocabulary knowledge. Honestly I do think the greatest cause for my limited retention was the approach. I decided on a three column approach as I’d seen this approach used by other people. For me it was Kanji, Kana and English.ย photo 3
Result? I hardly retained anything. I think there is just too much information on a line to recall. In addition, it isn’t as rewarding as the two column approach because even if you remember the kana, if you haven’t retained the Kanji you still have to write it again. I think this is all psychologically demotivating. So, I’m going to re-do the lists. Two columns, two lines. I don’t want to leave out the Kanji in the same way I don’t leave out the Hanzi because I want to become familiar to the characters as a natural approach to my learning.
If you’ve had any experience with the method or have any tips about how I can improve my approach, please let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

Updates and progress

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, so I’m just going to use today as a summary of my studies and also thinharrygs I’ll be writing about soon.

Over the last week or so I’ve managed to read a few interesting blog posts whose language tips that I’ve decided to try. One of these I found atย

Lizzie Fane describes listening to an audio book in her own language whilst reading the book in the target language. She argues that you can experience a wide range of interesting vocabulary and also make progress in your learning. For me this sounds great. Notย  necessarily due to the promises of vocabulary enrichment but rather that finding Japanese modern audiobooks is extremely difficult or crazily expensive. So this approach maybe one way in which I can use my Japanese books in a different way. I do like to listen to what I’m reading as I think it helps comprehension. But to read and listen in two different languages? That’s worth a try. Like Lizzie I’ll be using Harry Potter but for me this will be the Japanese text, English audio.


In two weeks time I’ll be posting about my experiences with the Goldlist method and Luca’s approach to language learning. I’m given it two more weeks because I will have ‘distilled’ my vocabulary lists for a third time and it will be great to see how it works out. I’ve posted about both methods already but visitย for a detailed breakdown. Incidentally, for a good example with Chinese see Robert Genito’s approach which I’m trying to follow with Japanese and Chinese with a slight adaptation.

Anyhow, as far as my studies(?) are concerned, my Chinese has a simple but so far effective set-up. I’m dedicating as often as I can (work, grrr) to an hour a day. If I can’t manage this I always do ten words using iKnow. Though some have Thinking.44121810complained about the need to pay for this site I find it excellent as vocabulary is in context and Hanzi is presented as well as pinyin. The same is true for Japanese which I’ve been using for some time. I will post again on my Chinese schedule and how I’m using Skype to aid my understanding.


ไปŠๆœ ใ€ๆœใ”้ฃฏใ‚’้ฃŸในใชใŒใ‚‰ใ€ใƒใƒƒใƒ‰ใ‚ญใƒฃใ‚นใƒˆ ใ‚’่žใใพใ—ใŸใ€‚ไธ€้€ฑ้–“ใซ3ๆ—ฅใ‹4ๆ—ฅใ€japanesepod101.comใง ใƒใƒƒใƒ‰ใ‚ญใƒฃใ‚นใƒˆ ใ‚’่žใใ‚ˆใ†ใซใ—ใฆใ„ใพใ™ใ€‚ๆ—ฅๆœฌ่ชžใง ใƒใƒƒใƒ‰ใ‚ญใƒฃใ‚นใƒˆ ใ‚’่žใ„ใŸใ‚Šใƒžใƒณใ‚ฌใ‚’่ชญใ‚“ใ ใ‚Šใ™ใ‚‹ใ“ใจใŒๅฅฝใใงใ™ใ€‚ใ‚ใ‹ใชใ‚ใซใคใ„ใฆใฎใƒใƒƒใƒ‰ใ‚ญใƒฃใ‚นใƒˆใชใฎใงใ€ไปŠๆ—ฅ่žใ„ใŸ ใƒใƒƒใƒ‰ใ‚ญใƒฃใ‚นใƒˆ ใŒ220px-SekienAkaname้ข็™ฝใ‹ใฃใŸใงใ™ใ€‚ใ“ใฎๅŒ–ใ‘็‰ฉใ‚’็Ÿฅใฃใฆใ„ใพใ™ใ‹ใ€‚่จ˜ไบ‹ใซใ‚ˆใ‚‹ใจใ€ใ‚ใ‹ใชใ‚ใฏๆใ‚ใ—ใ„ใŠ้ขจๅ‘‚ใ ใฃใŸใจใ€ใ‚ใ‹ใชใ‚ใฏๆฑšใ„ใ‚‚ใฎใ‚’้ฃŸในใพใ—ใŸใ€‚ใ“ใ‚Œใ„ใ„ใใ†ใงใ™ใญใ€‚ๆŽƒ้™คใ—ใชใใฆใ„ใ„ใ‹ใ‚‰ใ€‚ใจใ“ใ‚ใŒใ€ใ‚ใ‹ใชใ‚ใฏๆใ‚ใ—ใ„ๅŒ–ใ‘็‰ฉใงใ™ใ‚ˆใ€‚ใ‚ใ‹ใชใ‚ใฎ็ฟผใฏใ‚ใ„ใคใชใฎใงใ€ใ ใ‚Œใ‹ใŒใ‚ใ‹ใชใ‚ใŒๆŽƒ้™คใ—ใŸ้ขจๅ‘‚ใซๅ…ฅใฃใŸใ‚‰ใ€ใ ใ‚“ใ ใ‚“ใจ้‡ใ„็—…ๆฐ—ใซใ‹ใ‹ใ‚Šใพใ™ใ€‚ใใ‚Œใ‹ใ‚‰ใ€ใ“ใฎใƒˆใƒ”ใƒƒใ‚ฏใ‚’็ ”็ฉถใ—ใพใ—ใŸใ€‚ใ™ใ‚‹ใจใ€ใ›ใใˆใ‚“ใจใ‚Šใ‚„ใพใฎใˆใ‚’ ่ฆ‹ใคใ‘ใพใ—ใŸใ€‚ใ“ใฎใƒชใƒณใ‚ฏใ‚’ไฝฟใฃใฆใใ ใ•ใ„ใ€‚
ใใ‚Œใซใ€ใ•ใฃใใ€Œใฎใ‚“ใฎใ‚“ใฐใ‚ใ€ใจใ„ใ†ใ€ใฟใšใใ•ใ‚“ใŒๆ›ธใ„ใŸใƒžใƒณใ‚ฌใ‚’่ชญใ‚“ใ ใจใ“ใ‚ใงใ—ใŸใ€‚ใ“ใฃใกใ‚‰ใ€ใ‚ใ‹ใชใ‚ใงใ™ใ€‚ๅค‰ใชใงใ™ใ‚ˆใ€‚ใ‚ใ‚“ใ”ใ†ใงใ™ใ‚ˆใ“ใฃใกใซใ‚‚ใ€ใ‚ใ‹ใชใ‚ใŒๅ‡บใฆใใพใ—ใŸใ€‚ๅค‰ใชๅถ็„ถใงใ™ใญใ€‚ใ€‚

This morning while eating breakfast I listened to a short podcast.I try to visit at least three or four times a week. I often like to do things such as listen to podcasts and read manga to learn Japanese. The podcast I listened to todayย was interesting because it was about grime monster. Have you heard of this? According to the podcast, if the bathtub isn’t cleaned the grime monster appear and eats the dirty grime. That’s good, isn’t it. It’s good not to have to clean. However, it is a dangerous monster. Since the Akaname’s spit is poisonous, anyone who takes a bath after it has cleaned it gradually becomes ย seriously ill. After reading this, I decided to research more into this topic. ย Whereupon I discovered the paintings of Toriyama Sekien. Please use the link. Furthermore, I’ve just been reading a manga called Nonnonba by Mizuki. Here too akaname is mentioned.How strange is that? What a coincidence! amp;tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=k83ZUaSEOcXt0gXl_4GIBw&sqi=2&ved=0CDgQsAQ&biw=1366&bih=550



testไปŠๆœใ€่ฒทใ„็‰ฉใ—ใฆใ€ๆŽƒ้™คใ‚’ใ—ใฆใ€ๆ•™่‚ฒใซใคใ„ใฆ้•ทใ„่จ˜ไบ‹ใ‚’่ชญใฟใพใ—ใŸใ€‚็‰นใซใ€ใŠ็ฅ–ๆฏใ•ใ‚“ใฎ็ตŒ้จ“ใซใคใ„ใฆใฎ่จ˜ไบ‹ใงใ—ใŸใ€‚ใŠ็ฅ–ๆฏใ•ใ‚“ใฏใ€ๆ˜Žๆฒปๆ™‚ไปฃใซ็”Ÿใพใ‚Œใพใ—ใŸใ€‚ๅนผใ„้ ƒใ‹ใ‚‰๏ผๅญไพ›ใฎ้ ƒใ‹ใ‚‰ใ€ใ„ใ‚ใ„ใ‚ใชๅฎถใงๅƒใ‹ใ•ใ‚Œใฆใ„ใŸใฎใงใ€ๅญฆๆ กใฎๆŽˆๆฅญใซใ‚ใพใ‚Šๅ‡บๅธญใ—ใพใ›ใ‚“ใงใ—ใŸใ€‚ใ ใ‹ใ‚‰้•ทใ„้–“ใ€ๅญ—ใ‚’่ชญใ‚“ใ ใ‚Šๆ›ธใ„ใŸใ‚Šใงใใพใ›ใ‚“ใงใ—ใŸใ€‚ใงใ‚‚ใ€ใŠ็ฅ–ๆฏใ•ใ‚“ใŒๅญ—ใ‚’็ฟ’ใŠใ†ใจๆ€ใฃใŸๆ™‚๏ผใŠ็ฅ–ๆฏใ•ใ‚“ใŒๅ‹‰ๅผทใ‚’ใ—ใ‚ˆใ†ใจๆ€ใฃใŸๆ™‚ใ€ใ‚‚ใ†60ๆ‰ใงใ—ใŸใ€‚ใ‚‚ใ†ใ‚†ใฃใใ‚Šใจไผ‘ใ‚€ใ“ใจใŒใงใใ‚‹ใฎใซใ€ใŠ็ฅ–ๆฏใ•ใ‚“ใฏ็‹ฌๅญฆใ™ใ‚‹ใ“ใจใซใ—ใพใ—ใŸใ€‚ๆฏŽๆ—ฅๅญ—ใ‚’ใ€1ใค1ใค่ฆšใˆใฆใ„ใใพใ—ใŸใ€‚ๆœ€ๅˆใ€ใฒใ‚‰ใŒใชใ‚’ๅ…จ้ƒจ่ฆšใˆใพใ—ใŸใ€‚ใใ‚Œใ‹ใ‚‰ใ€ใ‹ใŸใ‹ใชใ€ๆผขๅญ—ใจ็ถšใ‘ใฆใ„ใใพใ—ใŸใ€‚ใŠ็ฅ–ๆฏใ•ใ‚“ใฎ่จ˜ไบ‹ใซใคใ„ใฆ่ชญใ‚“ใ ใ“ใจใฏใ€ๅŠฑใฟใซใชใ‚Šใพใ—ใŸใ€‚

This morning I did the shopping, cleaned and read a long article about education. In particular, the article was about a grandmother’s experiences. The grandmother was born during the Meji era. ย As ย from a young child she had to move to many different houses, she often didn’t attend classes in school. Therefore, for a long time she couldn’t read and write. But, when the old woman thought she would like to learn, she was already sixty years old. Nonetheless, as she still had a lot of free time, the grandmother decided to teach herself. Every day she would memorise the characters one by one. Firstly she learned the entirety of Hiragana characters followed by Katakana and then continued with Kanji. I have become inspired by reading about the grandmother’s dedication.