土曜日, 12月 30, 2006

The glaze under scrutiny

It would seem the glaze is less to do with my fundamental resistence to Japanese and more to do wiht the fact I can't even read hiragana very quickly. How do I know? Because I tested myself on here:
Hiragana game

and for those of you readers in Japan wisely boning up on your katakana, there's one for you to:

Katakana game

Apparently the record times are under a minute. I got 257s on my first go, so perhaps I need to work at this...


It's been ages since I wrote on any subject at all. That's because Tomo is on holiday so I have a lot less free time. I'll be back on it again, soon.

金曜日, 12月 08, 2006

The glaze...

Am I the only one to suffer the glaze?

The glaze strikes me every time I sit down to study Japanese - my eyes pass over Japanese text as if it were nothing more than a nice pattern on the paper. Kanji entries in my text books are passed over in favour of Romaji - against the protests of my brain that wants the challenge. "NO!" my reading muscle yells, casting me down in to a world of lost meaning and competing spelling (it's shi, surely - it doesn't even sound like si!)

It takes an act of concentration of great magnitude to shift the glaze. I stare intently at the page as if trying to make sense of one of those stereograms that were on every pot smoker's bedroom wall in 1995.

But it's not limited to vision. My ears tune out Japanese TV as if it were nothing more than white noise. To me Jpod101 sounds like trying to pick up Radio Caroline on AM band radio in a winter storm - calming hum with the odd word floating out of the murk. To listen in I have to stop walking and stare in to space to rob my brain of input and free up the bandwidth.

It's hopeless...

火曜日, 12月 05, 2006

Yeah Reysol!

日本で住んでいるとき千葉県の柏市で住んでいました。 あの時に柏のサッカーチームはJ1でいました。柏レソルはグレートチームでわありませんから去年J2に入りました。
始めから6週までレソルはJ2の一番でしたから私はとてもしあわせでした。10月にはレソルのシーゾンが枯れていました。Yokohama FCもVissel古部は追い越しました。ひどかったよ。

金曜日, 12月 01, 2006

Gimme gimme IME

In an earlier post I mentioned a couple of shortcuts for Global IME, the tool for inputting Japanese on a western version of Windows. This has so far garnered my only peice of feedback (from a friend, via SMS hence not showing here) so I felt duty bound to give my audience what it likes.

Here is a more comprehensive list of tips from the people at the brilliant Declan software house.

If you've not seen their software you are missing out. The flashcard tool is amazing - quite the most fully featured I have seen. I first used it a couple of years ago and recently downloaded the latest version on my laptop. The improvements, incremental though they are, make it indispensable now.

水曜日, 11月 29, 2006

More quality materials

For Nihongojira it's my desire to plug only the finer sites that can help in the quest to learn.

Another one I have found, thanks to those wonderfully contributors on the JPod forum is this little place: the JLPT Study Page.

It is specifically geared to the most widely (only?) recognised exam for students of Japanese. Lots of useful references and a system that links to the best grammar resource on the web, Tae Kim's, mean it is a great place to check your level. I'm pleased to see it also references Jim Breen's JDic and Meguro Language Centre.

That's pretty much all the places I recommend too.

金曜日, 11月 10, 2006

OK, I'm getting serious

My recent regular attendance at Bristol Japan Club is spurring me on, and conversations with other learners have encouraged me. So I've joined JapanesePod 101.

Check it out if you haven't already.

月曜日, 10月 30, 2006

Candidate for guruship

Down the list at the side you'll spot the name Tae Kim. For me, this guy's work is an invaluable tool for learning Japanese. His guide to Japanese is simply one of the most interesting and thoughtfully constructed intros to the language you will find anywhere (I'd be lying if there wasn't a small part of that in the genesis of this site).

The guide is, however, only part of the story. He also contributes to a site called 3Yen which is a blend of the obvious, the dull and enlightening. That last category is pretty much served exclusively by Kim. He answers queries, posts his own musings and apologises for not having blogged as frequently as he would like (yeah, I'm like him in one respect then!)

The malaise that has hampered my learning of late is in no small part down to some of the problems discussed in this entry on his blog at 3Yen, Tips for Learning.

One of the comments seems strangely familiar (don't learn off the wife - I covered it a few posts back myself), but really the whole thing resonates as I am aware that for all the progress I made initially, and the claw back at the beginning of the year, once again my Japanese is stagnating and in decline. It's perhaps because as it stands right now, the chance of returning to Japan seems to be fading and I'm getting a little bummed by that.

月曜日, 10月 16, 2006

Why this doesn't work

I set this whole blog up as a tool to encourage me to study more and use a blog more often (I have a certain professional interest in their use applied to learning you see).
So much for that plan.
The actual effect was to stop me both writing any blog or studying. This comprehensively did for my attempt at the 3級.
Nevermind, since we're so broke we aren't likely to be going to Japan any time soon, there's always next year.

So let's kick off Ninhongojira once again, this time with the kind of insight that makes sense wihout studying the damn language.

If you use the ever-so-useful IME to type your Japanese, you may not know that you can easily switch between English and 日本語 input simply by pressing left Alt+shift.

Makes life a lot easier.

水曜日, 6月 21, 2006

Pay dirt!

I used to visit the Meguro Language Centre site quite a lot to get hold of material to prep for JLPT4, but the last time I went there some of the material I had used previously had disappeared, so I stopped going.

Imagine my excitement then when I found that in fact the amount of stuff available has blossomed! I was particularly after the JLPT3 adjectives summary - a weakness of mine - but you could spend hours looking through it all.

If you are interested in JLPT the absolute best start you can make, and I mean anywhere, is to check out the guides to each level that you'll find at the bottom of the page linked above.

火曜日, 6月 20, 2006

Exam Time!

Argh. (Spell that in Japanese! アルグ?!)It's exam time on my evening class course. Tomorrow I'll treat you to my attempts to write something.

日曜日, 6月 18, 2006

Starting out


The example above shows how to get around the tricky aspect of saying the you started doing something. In English, you use the verb 'to start' and the action verb in the gerund or the infinitive.

Easiest way to avoid this in Japanese is find a way of not using a verb it would seem.


Don't think about the verb (食べる) and just start the meal.


Reaching out.


So goes my first attempt at getting a language exchange partner over the internet.

As I said, I began learning Japanese in earnest about four years ago, after returning to the UK from time spent teaching English in a city near Tokyo (千葉県、柏市 for those that are interested).

I joined local classes and bought a bloody great big pile of books and plodded through them, not really making a great deal of headway. No surprises really. What is shocking is I have the perfect learning resource at home - a Japanese family (English is the minority language in the home!) But for the same reason that you should never learn to drive with members of your own family (in my case arguements with Mum, Dad just going to sleep) so it goes that learning to speak another language is best left to professionals. You correct a little grammar mistake ("No, back is not a verb, you 'go back'") and before you know it, the pots and pans are flying and international treaties are being torn up.

So I studied for the JLTP4 with a buddy from classes. We did okay - passed at least and probably learnt more in those intensive sessions than we did in our pleasant but aimless classes.

Then along came a new job opportunity, a professional qualification to study for and /boom/ there went the Japanese learning. That was back in 2003 that I got L4 and I meant to get L3 both the last years, but it never happened. This year it seemed to get the final nail in the coffin when that study buddy damn well went and landed a job editing a new English language science journal in Tokyo. He won't be needing our sessions anymore...

However, I'm in the learning game - I write those on-line courses you do when you join a new company, if they're switched on. Next year I need to do another qualification, maybe a Masters or something, so I gotta get the JLTP3 outta the way, and fast. I have a little under six months to try and get myself through L3. Should be possible.

I have at my disposal a plethora of resources: those aforementioned books; the amazing by-products of the work of Jim Breen, in particular the dictionary; the really (for me) exciting development of podcasting, in particular J-Pod 101; the amazingly detailed grammar guides of Tae Kim and J-gram and innumerable kanji sites and additional resources that various people have thrown in to the mix.

So what's this site about? Well, it's about me using one of these things (a blog) as a notebook. The old MS IME is another useful tool, so I may as well exploit all of it if I can.

Fingers crossed.

がんばれます! ファイト、ファイト、ファイト!


Let's get started!