Salutations readers! It may have seemed like I had once again burned out, but alas! That is not the case. It just so happens that I’m currently in the final weeks of my college semester and that means that finals are coming. I have to dedicate more time to my studies these days than I can my Japanese, however, I have not ignored it completely. I’ve been going on Wanikani for a couple of weeks now, giving it a shot to learn kanji and some vocab. So far it’s been working out ok, I don’t overdue it when it comes to learning new “cards”, and if I can at least squeeze 5 new kanji a day I consider it to be progress. Once my semester is over I’ll do a bit more, but for now I just wanted to update so that it doesn’t seem like I gave up again. Until next time, ChileanGaijin out!

Why is it that some people tend to stumble on the same rock over and over again as they walk a certain path in their lives? It’s been 2.5 years since my last post on this blog and yet here I am again. I know the chances of anybody reading this are slim at best. I don’t imagine there would be any true follower from my previous posts who was still waiting hopeful for something new to read from my behalf. It’s true we are far from perfect and that making a habit out of something new is not always easy. I didn’t have any prior experience writing blog posts, or writing anything that wasn’t school related before so I just went ahead with what I felt in the moment, trusted my gut. 

2.5 years have passed and how much progress have I made in my journey to conquer Japanese? …Well, not much. 

I can’t help but facepalm when looking at the title of my last post before this one I’m Not Dead, And This Blog Isn’t Either“. Oh the irony that after a post such as that one I go on hiatus for 2.5 years. If that is not the sign of a dead blog, then I don’t know what is…

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I did play Dark Souls in the Hiatus though, great game!

So what has happened in all this time? Well, I obviously failed on doing what I said I was going to do in my previous post. However, I did have another “productive” period of Japanese learning thanks to a class I took in college. We used the textbook “みんなの日本語” and studied from lesson 1 to lesson 8 or so. This was an awesome time in my Japanese journey since it kept me highly motivated and with a desire to learn that I had not felt in a long time. Nevertheless, all good things must come to an end, and once that semester was over, so too was my motivation. Unfortunately the class I took was a one time deal between a student organization at my college and a Japanese institute, therefore, in order to continue my studies I had to enroll in said institute, which of course, involved quite a lot of money. 

Alas, I had hit another roadblock on the journey…

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If only I had cut…

So it seemed like there would be another gap in studies until I stumbled across a peculiar website: Japanese Level Up“. The concept of the page is great: “Treat the learning of Japanese like a video game”. “What a great idea! I could totally see myself doing that” I told myself. However, there was a problem at the time, a problem I still have today: I HATE RTK.

RTK is a pretty hot topic among those that want to learn Japanese, since many praise the method and say it is the fastest and most recommended way of learning Japanese if you’re a beginner; meanwhile, others despise it saying it serves no purpose since you’ll pick up the Kanji as you SRS sentences. There’s no doubt many people have made RTK work for them, and I respect that; personally though, I find it to be tedious and boring, leaving you with a sense of little to no progress. It’s not like I haven’t tried it either, I’ve managed to go over the 500 cards at two separate times in my life and have reached the same outcome: Burn Out. Maybe once I reach a higher level of Japanese understanding I’ll actually be able to do RTK, but as a starting point for beginners… no thanks.

So this time I’m going to do things differently, this time I’ll go straight to J-E (Japanese-English) sentence mining. I’ll use Genki I, just as JALUP recommends and we’ll see how things turn out. I want to move along in this journey, I want to be able to read, write, and speak Japanese but I wasn’t having fun while trying to do so and ended up falling back.

If you’re not having fun while going through this journey, stop! Rethink how you want to do things and start again. Because if you’re not having fun then why do it in the first place? Fun is the key to success! 

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Let’s try this again…

 

To say it’s been a while is an understatement, I haven’t updated for the past 7 months or so and for that I apologize. The reason of my absence can be summarized quite easily: college.
When I started this blog last year I wasn’t doing anything else that required any of my free time, however in March I started college, and all that beautiful free time I had suddenly disappeared. Not only did I stop updating the blog, I also stopped learning Japanese, which was a very bad choice to make since I’ve forgotten a lot of what I had learned before.

Unfortunately I cannot go back in time, and what is done is done, I can however make choices of what I’ll do in the future. I am motivated once again to get back into my Japanese journey and in order to do so I’ve planned out some very simple goals:

  • Start up with SRS once again. This is definitely the best way to learn vocab and make sure it stays in my long-term memory, so I’m going back to Anki for this one.
  • Go through and finish Japanese in Mangaland. This is the one textbook I have an actual copy of, so it’ll be easier to stay motivated with something I can actually write on.
  • I won’t push myself too much. The more I push myself, the easier it is to be tempted into procrastinating.

In order to stay focused I’ll set some easy and attainable goals for myself. The Japanese in Mangaland textbook has a total of 30 lessons, so the easiest way to stay on track is to do at least one lesson a week. It’s enough time for me to stay focused on the task at hand and it also leaves me with time to do other stuff like college work. A blog update will follow after I’ve finished a lesson, so as a result I’ll be updating the blog once a week in order to share my progress.

I really want to keep the Japanese learning going, since I always start up nice and motivated but then I just lose steam. I think it’s because I ask too much of myself, so in the end instead of thinking of Japanese as something fun, I see it as a chore. I think this new method will make things light and easy to accomplish.

And with that being said, I’m off. For those of you that actually take the time to read my thoughts, I thank you and please feel free to leave a comment. Let me know you’re there, it’ll help me keep motivated even more. Until next time, ChileanGaijin out! Also, this weekend is Chile’s independence day, specifically on the 18th, so yay for us! A lot of eating will take place I’m sure haha.

Hello there readers! Good god it’s been a while, I suck when it comes to keeping this blog updated and for that I apologize. So because of my absence I think it’s about time to do one of these “update” blogs to let you know how my journey is going thus far.

So for starters I’ve been watching a lot of anime, and I mean A LOT. As I mentioned in my previous post I’ve been watching the “とある” series and it’s been a lot of fun, but I also watched うみねこのなく頃に and “High School Of The Dead”, both shows are very interesting in their own ways and I thoroughly enjoyed them and can’t wait till the second seasons for both shows are released at some point in the future.

I’ve heard people say that watching anime isn’t the best way to learn a language but thanks to those shows I’m able to practice my listening abilities a lot. Eventually I’ll re-watch some of these series in their original forms once I know Japanese well enough in order to experience them the way they were meant to be experienced, with no subtitles. I also have 3 Japanese manga that I bought from a Japanese bookstore when I was still in NY and although I understand some of it, it’s still not enough for me to read the whole thing and understand 100% of what I’m reading.

But enough about that, the main reason I decided to update the blog was because of the changes that are being made right now to “Genki”. As you may or may not know, “Genki” is the college textbook I’ve been using recently to study Japanese, so I was surprised when a friend told me that a new edition is soon to come out. The main changes according to the Japan Times involve the changing of some terms that no longer apply in our society. Such terms include cassette tapes, video tapes, and letters. Instead they will be replaced with cd’s, dvd’s and e-mail. Another change is that now the audio cds that used to be sold separately, will be bundled with the books, which is great. The first volume will be out in March while the second volume will be out in September along with the answer key. For all the details check out the Japan Times article on the matter.

Because of this change I’ve decided to put “Genki” on hold and continue with one of my other Japanese books, namely “Japanese in Mangaland”. I never finished that book so I think now’s a good time. Oh and as far as Pimsleur goes, I’ve decided to ignore it since I don’t really like its methodology.

I’ve also been listening to more Japanese music lately thanks to the anime I’ve been watching. I’ll leave a clip at the end of one of my favorite songs right now, even though there’s no lyrics it serves as great background music while you study. So that’s about it for now, as always please feel free to leave comments or just say “Hi”, it’ll motivate me even more in continuing with these blog posts, till then, ChileanGaijin out!

Wow so ummm hello readers! Goodness, it’s been a while hasn’t it. I’d liked to say I’ve been super busy and that’s why I haven’t been able to post anything, but of course that’s not true, at least not 100%. Although I have been slightly busy these past couple of days dealing with some college related errands and work, I’ve still had more then enough time to make a post or two but haven’t due to pure laziness and my unbelievable procrastination habits.

So what have I’ve been doing lately? Have I possibly been studying more Japanese during this time?

Well, in a way yes, but not as much as I’d like. Although I wanted to progress with my Japanese at 1000 mph, I’ve realized that’s definitely not the ideal step to take since it gives you the feeling of wanting to burn out a lot faster. I’ve been using the “Genki” series to learn Japanese, and it’s very good, difficult, but really good. I’ve only managed to completely finish lessons 1-3 and I’ve skimmed through lesson 4 but aside from that, I haven’t done much.

I don’t think I’ll do a full post on “Genki”, at least not yet, but I will say that it’s a great college book if you’re really serious about learning the language. There’s only  ローマ字 in the beginning and then it’s all かな and 漢字 which is great since ローマ字 is a no-no when learning the language. I also like the fact that they make you practice your writing A LOT! Not so much in the actual Genki book, but when it comes to the workbook, it’s fantastic. They also include listening comprehension exercises, something I never dealt with before, so it’s been really helpful.

I also got my hands on the Pimsleur series and I’ll just briefly say that I’m not a fan. I’m sure there’s people that have tried it out and it works wonders for them, but  it relies mainly on memorization and that’s about it. There are some lesson notes to help you out a bit with vocab and the way they’re written, but aside from that you have nothing else. If in the future I feel like trying it out a bit more then I guess I’ll talk more about it, but for now I’m just staying with Genki.

And that’s about it, I’ve been inputting some of the vocab of Genki into Smart.fm in order to memorize new words, you can check it out if you look for “ChileanGaijin” on that website. Aside from that I’ve been watching a lot of anime, mainly the “To aru” series, which involves とあるまじゅつのインデックス and とあるかがくのレールガン they’re both really great shows, I’m currently on the second season of インデックス and it looks like it will continue to be awesome.

Really cool series if you feel like checking it out

So yeah that’s about it, I also created a Mixi account yesterday, not sure why since my JP level is still pretty low, but I guess its worth having for future use. I’ll try to do my best and update the blog more often, so let’s hope that I don’t start procrastinating again hehe. As always thanks for reading and feel free to comment, criticize, say hi, I don’t know…anything really (except spam), ChileanGaijin out!

Hello there readers and welcome to 2011! Now that the holiday madness is over I can finally return to the Japanese learning and blogging. I didn’t start the year off in the best of conditions since I managed to catch a cold, but that’s a story for a different blog.

I’ve been thinking as to how I can maintain this blog without it having to become some sort of chore. So from now on, I’ll actually do what I had planned in the first place, blog about what it is I am currently doing to learn Japanese.

However, I know I had promised a blog about software that would help you with your Japanese studies, so I’ll keep that promise and talk about that today, but future posts will vary depending on what it is I’m doing at the time. So without further ado, I’ll mention the three basic things you should be using in order to make your Japanese learning fun and easy.

1) An SRS: SRS stands for “Spaced Repetition System“, and this is the number one thing you should get as soon as you start your Japanese learning. This software will help you memorize anything you include in it, via flashcards. I could go deeper into how this works, but if you want to learn more about them you should check out sites like “Smart.fm“, “Anki“, “Mnemosyne Project” or “Ajatt” where Khatzumoto goes into detail about what an SRS is and how you should be using it.

2)Online Dictionary: There’s a variety of online Japanese dictionaries, but the best ones I know of are “Jisho.org” and “Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC“. These websites will give you a great variety of meaning’s as well as being able to search by radicals (on jisho). Check them out and decide which one is best for you.

3)NihongoUp: NihongoUp is a software that’s great for practicing your かな as well as grammar and 漢字 (かんじ) that shows up on the JLPT’s. I do believe this software is to be used once you have a greater understanding of the Japanese language and it isn’t for complete beginners, but that’s just me. They do have a trial version, but to get the full version you have to pay a small amount, so check it out and if you like it get the full version, you won’t regret it.

Links to the stuff I use can be found on the section “Cool Links”, if you’re curious about anything that was mentioned but not linked to, a quick google search will suffice. Also, if you go to AJATT you’ll find a bunch of great links to books, media, and software that will aid you in your Japanese journey.

With that being said, I hope you enjoyed this blog entry! As always please feel free to drop by and leave a comment! Any feedback will be appreciated, ChileanGaijin out!

Hello there readers! I apologize for my sudden absence on the blog-sphere because of that, today’s post isn’t really Japanese orientated, but rather an update of what’s going on.

I have a post on hold about software that will help you with your Japanese studies, but do to the end of the year madness, I haven’t been able to tweak it and make sure it’s all right. So, in order to make things right, I’ll postpone any future posts until after the holidays are over. By doing this I’ll make sure that nothing is rushed and that way I’ll be happy and you’ll be happy, it’s a win-win situation.

In the meantime, I’ll be continuing my Japanese studies keeping things really light, basically going over かな and making sure that I have some sort of Japanese media available to listen to at times. Given the time of the year I’m sure I’m not the only one that has stuff going on, so even if you only manage to do 10 minutes of Japanese, it’s still better then doing nothing at all.

With that being said, stay tuned for what will be coming next year! I have a very positive feeling to what’s in store for 2011, and I hope you feel the same. So, I’ll end this blog by teaching you how to say “Happy New Year” in Japanese (if you already know how to say it, then at least its a good refresher). “Happy New Year” in Japanese is: あけましておめでとうございます!

If you still can’t read what that says and need the romaji version, then get to studying! As always any feedback is welcome, don’t feel shy and post a comment at least to say “Hi”. Hope you all have a great end of the year and an amazing new year! ChileanGaijin out!!

Happy New Year!

Hello readers and welcome to my first ever Sunday Lazy Blog! I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas together with your family and loved ones. Today’s post will be extra lazy since many are still enjoying family time, including myself, so without further ado, let’s begin!

Today’s Lazy Sunday post will be about some funny Japanese videos you can check out when you’re bored or feeling down.

First off:  ハードゲイ (Hard Gay)

This guy is pretty hysterical and something that you’ll see only in Japan. He’s an ex-wrestler who goes around the streets of Tokyo trying to help people and do good deeds. I’ve included a link to one of the skits he did, there’s many more on youtube, so definitely check it out.

Jinnai Tomonori: From crazy working Tetris, to talking dogs, Jinnai has some very clean and super funny sense of humor that is sure to make you smile.

And another one for your viewing pleasure:

And that’s going to conclude the Lazy Sunday post, didn’t I say it was going to be extra lazy. Tomorrow I’ll be back with another post that will include some handy software that will help you in your Japanese studies. As always please feel free to comment about anything (except spam). I’d love to here some feedback from you guys, until then, ChileanGaijin out!!!

Given that today is Christmas Eve, I’m feeling the need to give, so as I pointed out on yesterday’s post, today it’s all about Japanese media!

Music

I listen to a lot of rock so there may be more J-rock bands on here, but I still mix it up some times, so here goes:

  • Rip Slyme: Although they basically do hip-hop/rap, these guys are really good! They have some really catchy songs with great beats.
  • Thee Michelle Gun Elephant: These guys are an awesome J-rock band. They’ve been around for a while so they have some good old school sound to them.
  • T.M. Revolution: If you’re into more J-pop music, you should give this guy a try, he has some really cool songs which are pretty upbeat.
  • Nightmare: Another great J-rock band, with a tendency towards visual-k.
  • Itou Kanako: Not really sure what category she fits into, pop maybe? I hear her a lot in anime music so that’s why she’s here.
  • Girugamesh: Haven’t heard that much from these guys yet, but they have a weird rock/electric vibe to them, if you’re curious, check out some songs on youtube.
  • An Cafe/Antic Cafe: I’ve heard that band with both names, usually they go by the first though. They vary with their style, like nightmare, they’re also visual-k.
  • Bump of Chicken: Another good J-rock band, kinda like Thee Michelle Gun Elephant.
  • Back-On: They have some slow songs, but they have some really nice upbeat ones too.
  • Abingdon Boys School: A more contemporary J-rock band. They actually have some songs that are all in English, since the main objective here is listening to Japanese, I’d avoid those songs.

Some of the bands above use English in their songs, that’s ok I guess, there’s really no avoiding a couple of sentences in English, but if the song is ALL English, then just avoid it.

Anime

This one is going to be a long one so prepare yourself:

  • Samurai Champloo: Like samurai’s? Then this is the anime for you. Don’t like samurai’s? It’s still the anime for you, it’s just that good, and it only has 26 episodes so it won’t take you forever to finish it.
  • Death Note: Of course I had to include this anime in here, it’s legendary, and it makes you think about moral choices and decide who’s really the good guy and who’s the bad guy, 37 episodes.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka, GTO: This one has it all, it’s super funny and very likeable, 43 episodes.
  • Soul Eater: Really awesome anime about fighting the forces of evil with human-like creatures that transform into weapons. What? Don’t worry, it’s really good, 51 episodes.
  • Air Gear: Not only is this a cool looking series, but it’s also a great sounding one. The soundtrack is fantastic and it’s perfect for grooving along with it, 25 episodes.
  • D.N.Angel: Yeah this one is a little less action orientated and more focused on a romantic plot, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad or anything. I would still give it a shot in order to vary a bit from the other stuff on the list, 26 episodes.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Ok this is a good one, not only is the plot really crazy, the characters themselves are crazy! It may look like a common anime the first episode, but give it time and it will blow you away! Keep in mind, this one is a little disturbing at some parts, 3 seasons for a total of 55 episodes.
  • Elfen Lied: I’m not sure of the ages of the people reading, but this once is for an older crowd, there’s nudity and gore. It has a really cool plot and it some how ends up turning into a love story, who knew? 13 episodes and an OVA special that works as episode 10.5.
  • Gantz: This one is the mother of all things sexual and gory, if you like to watch anime and keep it clean, then do not watch this anime. Still, if you’re feeling brave enough give it a shot, it’s still really good, 26 episodes.
  • Never ending, yet classic shows: These include all the good ones most of you know and love. Detective Conan, the Dragonball series, Pokemon, Digimon, etc. Most of you saw these at a young age, and it was dubbed into the language of whichever country you live in, but have you ever tried seeing them in their original Japanese version? It’s incredibly weird and it gives a new feeling of freshness to the whole thing.

I’m missing some more because I forgot their names, but with whats listed above you should have for a good couple of days, week, months. So get to watching, and most importantly, get to listening!

In case you want to watch Japanese TV shows, news, or even commercials, then I recommend you check out KeyHole TV. It’s a downloadable program that lets you watch LIVE Japanese TV!! How awesome is that! The picture quality isn’t that great and it may lag at times, but as far as the audio goes, everything sounds really clear. Check it out under “Cool Links”!

Manga

Well, as far as this category goes, I can’t really say much. The cool thing would be to read the manga in Japanese, but I’m still a beginner at the language so that’s a no go for me, but if you’re reading this and your Japanese level is advanced you should check out some of the following:

  • Air Gear
  • Soul Eater
  • Gantz

These were listed in the anime section, but the reason I’ve listed them again in the manga area is because they follow a different direction then that of the anime. I believe all 3 of them are still going on the manga end, so if you really enjoyed the anime and want more of those 3, start reading the manga version.

  • Cage of Eden
  • Alive – The Final Evolution

Those 2 are also really good, so check them out if you have the time.

And with that being said, I’ll end this blog entry wishing everybody a Merry Christmas or メリークリスマス if you prefer. I’ll be back on Sunday with my first “Lazy Sunday” blog, so look forward to that! As always any feedback will be truly appreciated so don’t be shy and comment! ChileanGaijin out!

Hello once again readers! Today’s post is going to be a bit more relaxed then yesterday’s since I’m sure many of you are either learning your かな for the first time, or are simply refreshing your minds and practicing them. So, today’s post is going to be all about Immersion.

If you really want to know everything about immersion you should check out “All Japanese All The Time . Com“, AJATT for short. The guy who runs that page, “Khatzumoto”, has some great tips for immersing yourself in the language and learning Japanese, and while I don’t agree with everything he suggests, he sure knows how to motivate people and stop them from burning out. The link for AJATT is on the sidebar under “Cool Links”, definitely give it a look later.

For those of you that are to lazy to go over there and read all about immersion (shame on you), I’ll try to sum it up as best as I can. The main idea of immersing yourself in a language is to create an environment where the language is everywhere, and by everywhere, I do mean everywhere. This includes anything that you read, anything that you see on tv or on your computer, speaking the language you’re aiming for, etc. Basically changing your life accordingly in order to learn the language. This method is not for everyone of course, and there are many people that don’t really find it effective 100%. However, at some point you do need to start letting Japanese into your life if you truly want to learn it.

Now, all this can be a little confusing, so in order to clear things up a bit, I’ll tell you of my own experience (which is the whole point of this blog if you still hadn’t noticed). So without further ado, let me make a list of some of the things I did in order to immerse myself more into Japanese (if you agree with some of the things I did, then go ahead and do them yourself, it’ll make learning Japanese a lot easier, and also a lot of fun).

1) Music

Music is a great way to slowly get into the language you want to learn, and this was one of the first things I did when trying to get more familiar with Japanese. Whether you like, rock, reggae, pop, hip-hop, etc., any and all musical styles will be found in Japanese if you take some time to look for them.

But I’m just starting to learn the language, I don’t understand anything besides a word or two.

No problem!! The whole point of finding music to listen to in Japanese is so that you get familiar with the phonetics of the language. The more Japanese music you here, the more you’ll get familiar with it, and in time you’ll be able to recognize more words!

**A word of advice: Always listen to what you like! Don’t just download songs for the sake of downloading songs, this will create boredom, and the whole point of learning Japanese or any language for that matter, is to make it FUN. If you get bored of a song, Erase It!!! Don’t be afraid of changing up your repertoire every once in a while, that way you’ll keep things fresh!**

2) Anime / TV shows

A rule similar to that of number 1 applies here, watch only what you enjoy! If you like watching anime, then watch as much as you like! J-dramas? Watch them!

**On the matter of subtitles: This is a tricky one. Most people will say to just watch them raw and try to pick up words every once in a while, but from personal experience, I can tell you that it gets boring. My opinion is that if you’re just starting off with the language, then go ahead and watch them with subtitles, as you progress in the language and learn more vocabulary you can slowly start watching shows with no subs at all, it’s all up to you, set your own pace but always remember to make it enjoyable and not a tedious task!**

3) Miscellaneous

This covers reading material as well as internet stuff. If you’re learning your かな and you think you can recognize them pretty easily, then go online and visit Japanese websites, try to see how many かな characters you can recognize. If you’re feeling brave, go ahead and change your main language on Facebook, Youtube, or Twitter to Japanese, and see how it looks. Read a lot of manga? Find the raw version and compare it with the subbed one, it will give you an idea of how the original scans look like and what you’ll be aiming for in the future when you’re Japanese is in a more advanced state.

If you’re an absolute beginner and have no idea about Japanese bands, anime, manga, or tv shows, then check back tomorrow where I’ll be giving you a list of a bunch of my favorite Japanese media.

Have any suggestions? Do you think I’m totally crazy and you have a better way of learning the language? Just want to say hi? Go ahead and post in the comments!! I’d love to read some feedback from you guys and know what you think, and what you have done in order to make Japanese learning fun and exciting. Until next time, ChileanGaijin out!!!

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