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Saturday, November 1, 2008

On Learning Japanese

This semester I started learning Japanese! Its very exciting, and is acctually an easy language to learn. I know I know what your thinking about that. But linguisticly speaking Japanese is an easy language compared to well, English. Ive also been studing SLA or second language acqusition too and it has been particually helpful in learning Japanese. So while Japanese may not seem like an easy language to learn there are some things to consider to making it easier!

1. Tell your English to shut up while you are activley learning Japanese. Your knowledge of English interefers with what you are learning in japanese. Exaample, when learning sentace structure.
English is SVO (Subject Verb Object): Lauri(S) bought(V) beer(O).
Japanese is SOV (Subject Object Verb): Lauri(S) beer(O) bought(V).
It seems ass backwards but there will be alot of things that go against what you know about langauge. Just deal! (Japanese uses this SOV structure to force politeness of the listener. By placing the verb at the end the listerner MUST listen to the whole sentance to get the meaning. If you dont hear that verb you would be wondering what I did with that beer. Did I buy it, drink it, steal it? Cleaver huh?)
2. Don't try to translate word for word into English. It doesnt work that way. There are many markers and particles that have no translation. There are also many interejection words that dont translate well either. Some like じゃ (jya) can be used a bunch of different ways and in a bunch of different contexts. These are things you need to learn to feel out the usage on. Also Japanese has about 40 odd sounds, so this creates many homonyms. Pretty much everything seems to have several meanings.
3. Embrace ambiguity. This is soooo important. It pretty much sums up the previous two things. Just be realxed and chill when learning another language (Especially English to Japanese) Just go with the flow and accept the unknown to you. You will figure it out and it will all come into context. Plus when you are relaxed and less anxious you have an easier time learning. You will get more out of your class sessions and the imput around you. Linguistically this is called and affective filter.
4. Practice/Absorb!! not just by yourself, if you can find a language buddy who speaks your language all the better, you will get more imput and learn more that way. Also watching movies in Japanese helps big time with figuring out the ambiguities of the language. has a lot of good Japanese dramas to watch with English subtitles. You will hear words in different native voices and pronunciations which is good for you.

All of this will work when learning any language really.


Sea said...

Turn on Japanese encoding for the following, if you can.

(Sea from the Book of Yum)

Lauri said...

Ahhh Too many kanji! I Dont know too many yet!
but i think you are asking how long I have been studying Japanese. I just started this semester!

Constantine said...

I went on a Japanese hunt on Google today and i found this post.

I also was one of those people that thought Japanese wasn't that hard. I still do! Its just the accent that makes it difficult. Like pronouncing the R's. Its supposed to be like a D but a small D and its like.. whats a small D? And then this girl was like its like L! And.. yeah. I go by the L's. :]

Turning off the Japanese is hard for me. But thats probably because my first real japanese Teacher spoke Japanese with a Korean accent and.. well.. something just wasn't right. Lol.

But, I love Kanji. I forgot most that i learned from my Japanese course but its so cool.

Oi. Ja ne.

christybaby said...

I'm taking Japanese class on next semester, and we can Japanese language practice together!