My German Adventure

Looking out holding briefcase with German flag tag

Hello everyone and longtime no see! Life has been crazy around here for me, so I haven’t really had time *coughmadetimecough* to write any blog posts. I’m hoping to change this now that I know what my school schedule is like and what the homework load is. In the meantime however…

I have started my German Adventure!

I have to say that I am utterly excited for this one. I started studying it on Friday (September 14, 2012) through the Duolingo website and a Teach Yourself German book (old one from 1964). I have also downloaded a bunch of learning podcasts from GermanPod101 and started listening to them. I have to say that I really, really like the language so far. There are a lot of similarities to English; or rather English is similar to German.

It also turns out that my Esperanto is really helping me, because there are so many words that are similar or the same in German. For example “to drink” is “trinki” in Esperanto and it’s “trinken” in German. Plus I understand the accusative form because of Esperanto, so it’s not so foreign. So I really encourage you to study Esperanto, even for just 2-4 weeks, because it really does help. And it’s a pretty cool language. 🙂

I think I will be aiming for B1 (according to this standard) this time around. Read More about my adventure!

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Refocusing

sunsetThis is my little sister! 😀

Hey guys, sorry for going so long without updating! After that last post my summer got ridiculously busy. My final week of school came, then we went camping, then our fair was in town, and then we Downpour Festival (2 day Christian concert festival thing). I did continue to study Japanese up until about 2 weeks ago, but then I ran out of steam. So I haven’t really done any studying for 2 weeks. I’m slowly getting back into it though.

Read more about my adventure!

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Progress Update: Japanese (Plus My Learning Materials)

Japanese learning books

(These are all my Japanese learning materials. I’ll go through them at the end of this post.)

Hey all, just wanted to give you a quick update on my progress so far. Tomorrow it will be exactly one month since I started (re)learning Japanese. With this and university it feels like the month just flew by! I’m not quite as far along in Japanese as I would like, but I knew this was going to happen since learning languages can’t be my sole focus right now. I have to mainly focus on school and languages are secondary. That being said, I’m still trying to put a good amount of my focus on languages.

So, progress report! I managed to (finally) make it through the six lessons in my text book, Elementary Japanese, which I had gone through last year and I’ve gone through two more. I had originally intended to go through the whole book in a month (ha!), but I got distracted and as I got to lesson 5 I realized that it wasn’t going to be possible with my school. Sometimes I feel like the textbook is going too slow, but then I hit a lesson with a lot in it and I think it’s going too fast! I can’t win. Ha ha. So I will continue on with it, as I really like it.

Read more about my adventure!

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Learning a Language with Anki through Music and Movies

headphones mixing board(Picture courtesy of Free Digital Photos)

Or, Welcome to the wonderful world of audio splitting and subs2srs.

(I really need to pick shorter titles.)

So continuing with last week’s theme on media I’m going to be talking about a couple of nifty ways you can use Ankiwith media to learn a language.

In case you don’t what Anki is, let me explain. Anki is an SRS, which stands for “spaced repetition system,” and is a really neat flash card system. I know what you’re thinking, flash cards are lame. I thought that too (but used them anyway because, you know, they’re good for you), but then I discovered Anki. You see, paper flash cards are, as Khatzumoto from AJATT says, brute, medieval, and ineffective. If you’re studying something like Remembering the Kanji that’s roughly 2,042 cards. You really want thousands of paper flash cards floating around your house? I didn’t think so. And then how do you know which cards to review each day? How do you know one card needs to be reviewed over another? Read more about my adventure!

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The Importance of Input

Entertainment Icons(Picture courtesy of Free Digital Photos.)

Before we get into today’s post about the importance of input, I want to state very clearly that I do not think that input is the be-all, end-all. I believe that the quickest way to learn a language is to simply use it by speaking and writing in it.

That said, input is important. There is no “THE way to learn a language.” Everybody claims they have THE way, but they’re feeding you lies. I love all different blogs and sites about language learning and if you saw my list you would think that it was quite contradictory. This is because each of the sites specializes in a certain aspect of language learning. Some of them are arrogant enough to claim their way is the right way (or even the only way) to learn a language. Frankly, I just ignore those parts. When it comes to learning a language you have to cherry pick your style. Pick and choose from different methods what works. I like what Khatz from All Japanese All The Time (AJATT) has to say about taking advice: 1. Listen to it and 2. Do whatever you want with it. So I encourage you to read about as many different methods as you can, but take all of them with a grain of salt. And for heaven’s sake, if something isn’t working for you then don’t do it. Making yourself do it will only make you miserable.

So, to the main point of this post: why input is important.

Read more about my adventure!

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Choosing a Language: Because “why not” Doesn’t Cut It.

Fairy Lake signI thought that a picture with a directional sign was appropriate for this post. 😛

So, you want to learn a foreign language, but which one do you choose? Here in the states Spanish seems appropriate, as it is becoming more and more widespread. Even French seems logical considering our friends up north (Canada, in case you were wondering :D). Or maybe Japanese or Chinese for the business world. And of course Italian is beautiful. Then there’s Russian and German and Afrikaans and… With so many languages in the world (some estimates say 6,900! But I don’t know if that includes dialects) how do choose one to learn?

I think the best way to choose is to look at why you would want to learn a particular language. Is it because you love the culture and want to understand them more? Or is your heritage German and you want to go back to your roots? Decide the reason for wanting to learn a language first. I can’t tell you what the best reason to learn language is. There are so many reasons and reasons within reasons that I can’t really say if there is a “right” reason. I do, however, think there is one reason that, for most people, could be considered a “wrong” reason. Read more about my adventure!

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The End of a Six Week Adventure

Cranzy mountainsThere are new adventures just down the trail! The end of one is the beginning of the next!

For the last six weeks I have been participating in a 6 Week Challenge for languages. The purpose of this is that for six weeks you intensively learn a language in order to see rapid progress. It works best if you are a beginner or intermediate learner, but it could work if you were advanced, your progress just might be a little less noticeable. You are basically keeping a log of how many hours you’ve spent learning your language of choice and then are ranked on it. You send your study times to the 6 Week Challenge Bot on Twitter (@6WCBot) and it keeps track of your score. I like competition so this was great for me. I can see how it could go sour for some people, but I was never jealous of those with better scores than me. I viewed it more as leveling up, like in a video game.

For this 6 Week Challenge (from here on referred to as 6WC) I chose Esperanto. Up until just a few months ago I didn’t even know Esperanto existed. I learned about it from Benny Lewis over and Fluent in 3 Months. He suggested learning Esperanto as your first language would help you learn a second. This is because your first language is always the hardest. Esperanto is also one of the easiest languages to learn. It’s completely phonetic (everything is pronounced exactly as it is spelled) and the grammar is regular, no exceptions. Compared to the two languages I have studied, English and Japanese, Esperanto grammar was a breeze. Read more about my adventure!

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