Japanese Approach

Andrei Marks · May 28, 2008

So…日本語!

At the moment, I am severely handicapped by not being in a Japanese environment, so I am limited to the following methods:

- Listening to podcasts. I’ve been listening to Japanesepod101.com during my morning and afternoon commutes (about two hours all in all), and as I go to sleep. These lessons are excellent, fun, and the point is to help with my listening, pronunciation, and intonation. However, I am still extremely slow during conversation, stumbling often, because podcasts are no substitute for actual conversational usage. Unfortunately, I’m neither surrounded by Japanese people nor others studying Japanese, which brings me to my next point.

- I’ve only found two other people studying Japanese, a Chinese friend of a friend, and a colleague here at my internship. When I can I talk to them in Japanese I take the chance. As for native speakers, I run into them even less. I have one good Japanese friend but our primary focus is Chinese, as we’re both in China to study Chinese. But she helps with any language questions I have, we just don’t really have Japanese conversations. So to find more native speakers…

- I’ve joined two language exchange websites: Mixxer, and iTalki. Both interesting, basically social networks geared around finding people who want to trade languages. They both have flaws, but even so I’ve managed to get in contact with a bunch of Japanese people, some of whom I talk to regularly, and some of whom are really excellent language resources. However, I have yet to talk to them using voicechat, I haven’t asked yet, so we’ll see how that goes. Just iming is fine though, because it gives me a chance to look things up and prepare what I want to say. So hopefully I’ll work out a system. It’s a catch-22, I want to talk with them and practice my pronunciation at the very beginning, but I can’t talk fluidly enough and need spending more time studying on my own (because there’s no other option), which doesn’t help pronunciation at all.

- Then, my trusty flashcards. I try and keep them on by my laptop as I work and look at them at random intervals, and I also use them while I study Japanese.

- I also am currently going through a Chinese lesson book for Beginning Japanese students. I’m nearly through with it, and when I finish I’ll move on to an English one that a friend brought from Japan. It’s a little strange, the Chinese one actually takes place in Korea.

- And I haven’t quite started yet, but I downloaded the Mother 2 ROM (Earthbound!) in Japanese, and I’m thinking of playing that and learning vocab! Haha, I’ll keep you posted on how that works out.

That’s all for now, またね!

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