My top 5 favorite sites for Japanese information

I’ve never done a list before, so it’s probably not gonna be all that good, but let’s jump into it. I’ve been to a lot of sites about Japan and Japanese, and these are 5 of my favorites, in no particular order.

5. Lang-8

Lang-8 is an amazing site. You post a blog there, and natives of whatever language you’re learning correct your work. The people there are really nice, and you’ll get more out of it if you correct entries too. (There are a lot of people that need English help.) I haven’t been on there a lot recently, mostly because I’ve been trying the improve this blog. However, once I get this blog up and running, I’ll probably be there almost (If not every) day.

4. All Japanese All The Time

Ah, yes. The infamous AJATT. This is another great site for learning. However, he gives an entirely new way to learn. (Sort of. It’s actually really common, but for those of us used to the “Burn it into your skull with worksheets and tests” methods we used in school, it’s a breath of fresh air for most. Playing video games and watching anime is considered studying? Woot!) Also, he’s known for being quite inspirational. So, I tend to check his blog to see if he updated, just to get some motivation sometimes. (Because RTK can be quite maddening…)

3. Reviewing the Kanji

Speaking of RTK, it’s online, fan-created SRS is on my list as well. While I may not visit as much for kanji, the forums are a very good place to get information on different styles of learning and tips about learning Japanese when you’re just tired of hearing about AJATT and you wanna try something else. Although, there are posts about it too.

And…Some of the people see AJATT as a cult. And I can’t really disagree with them somtimes. The fans of that method can be over the top sometimes. But I digress. Onto number 7!

2. J-Pop Asia

Yeah. I don’t visit here on a regular basis anymore, but it’s the best place I’ve ever seen to get music. They have top 20 charts from Japan, people’s favorite artists, and their database is top-notch. Every artist has at least one video, and it’s fun to mess around on it. You can buy houses on your favorite songs and I always seems to pick artists no one else buys houses on… >_> (Teriyaki Boyz are awesome!)

1. Epochrypha

Holy…crap? He revamped his site like crazy! He said he started this year, so at least I know I’m not crazy.

Anyway, with the new revamped site, you can see a lot of good information to help you on your journey to learn Japanese. He has a summary of all of the verb conjugations (and I really like that) and other things like keigo (Polite and honorifics) and Masculine and Feminine speech differences. (Not a whole lot on that.) Anyway, check that site out ASAP!

Another Day, Another Journey.

おっす、何かあった?ブレントでございます。

So, I’ve been working on some cool stuff. Still working on getting there, but it’s coming together.

However, that got me thinking, especially the kanji stuff. I REALLY hate 漢字. Well, I guess it’s more of a love/hate relationship. They’re so useful. Like, unnaturally so. But there’s so many of them. Just…Just so many of them.

So, I started looking into other means of learning them. RTK is way to dry, and even with Kanji Koohii, I’m just not a fan. Kanjidamage is fantastic, but I don’t want to learn Kanji with it (Jukugo on the other hand…). So, I’m back to square one again. Lazy Kanji isn’t working for me, and in general I’m kind of down. However, I think I found my new plan for kanji.

Radicals.

Yuuup. I was reading TextFugu (I get around boi.), and I saw him mention learning via Radicals. And while RTK uses the concept, I don’t like the layout. I knocked Kana out in a day by writing and using it. While infiniately less useful with radicals, I do think it’s an area I want to approach. Therefore, along with the stuff I’m making with the Kanji (Still top secret. However, it’ll start as a poster. :P) I’ll be making some posts breaking down radicals. I will also be “borrowing” (Five-finger discount son!) the grapheme-radicals that Schultzz uses. And, as an added bonus, I will probably be adding some sick rhymez (That’s hip-hop right?).

So, be tuned in for some cool stuff coming up, and also, stay on the path.

-じゃあ、またな!

“Nihonshoki tanaka version” by Unknown – http://www.emuseum.jp/cgi/pkihon.cgi?SyoID=4&ID=w012&SubID=s000. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nihonshoki_tanaka_version.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Nihonshoki_tanaka_version.jpg

Japanese Quest, or JLVLUP was already made

おっす、何かあった?ブレントでございます。

Welcome back, my brethren in Japanese learning.

So, as I mentioned previously, I was working on an RPG system for learning Japanese. Obviously it would be up to the person playing to keep their stats straight, but of course, like all good things, someone had already made it.

That system is called Japanese Quest.

There is a ton of awesome information on this site, way more than I can cover in a blog post. It is made by a group of people, so you get many different styles of posts, but all in all, it’s some good information. I will be breaking down some of the posts in later updates, simply because I do disagree with a few of the ideas, but every one will have disagreements and in general, it’s a really interesting site.

My biggest thing on this site, as well as most sites that I frequent about language learning seem to have a consensus. You cannot learn a language through grammar. Period. If you’ve forgotten, I actually had a blog post about that here, and it’s still one of my favorites that I wrote.

You can’t try and wade through terribleness to do something fun. Just do fun things in the language, and everything else will fall into place. If you try and cram every Japanese conjugation and think you’ll speak the language fluently, then either you’re crazy, or super intelligent, and I am impressed.

I made a 100% throughout my High School Spanish classes. Guess how much Spanish I can speak now?

Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Same with Japanese. It’s not that I didn’t want to learn. I’ve loved languages since I was little. I just wasn’t able to because I was going about it all wrong. I was killing myself with the process, instead of realizing that I’m totally gonna suck right now. I’m probably gonna suck tomorrow. Hell, I’m probably gonna suck 3 or 4 months from now. But you know what? All the times where I totally could have played that game, or enjoyed that song, I wouldn’t have. Because I would be trying to cram all of this information in, and I would feel like I deserved to get out of my immersion enviornment. Every little win that I could have gotten in my immersion enviornment I would have missed out on, and I would be like every other person you hear in your Spanish/French/Japanese class.

“This is too difficult. I’ll never learn this language!”

And, without knowing those people, I will almost be able to guarentee that they don’t have any friends that speak that language. They aren’t watching any movies or listening to any music in that language. They’ve just given in to whatever everyone else says. Languages that aren’t English are impossible to learn to fluency, and the only way to learn a language is by cramming conjugation tables.

Well, I’m here to say: No. I’m going to learn a language by simply enjoying my time in that language. I’m going to make Japanese my home. I will live it, breathe it, and become it as often as I can. And I’m not alone. Khatz, Benny, and so many other bloggers are doing this as well. I can’t say I’m going to be perfect. I’m sure I’ll fall off at some point. All I know is that I’m going to learn this language.

And nothing is going to stop me.

So, if you want, you can go back to your conjugation tables. You can try and memorize all of the rules. But just remember, you can learn a language by having fun. And there are a lot of people that are doing it. Stop wanting to learn the language, and just learn the damn langauge. You’ll feel so much better about yourself when you do.

Well, this is Brent signing out, and as always:

じゃあ、またな。

おっす、何かあった。ブレントでございます。

So, you’ve messed up. You went and listened to Rap God, and then went on an L1 binge, right? Can’t blame you, that’s a great song.

Now you just don’t wanna go back to your L2, right? You just love the comfort of your L1. It’s so nice. It’s so predictable. Nothing can hurt you in your L1.

Do me a favor, right now. Before reading this next sentence.

Do an SRS rep. Listen to a song in your L2 you love. Read one sentence.

#Boom. Now you’re back in.

It’s such a small step. But do you know how you learned your L1? Small steps. Baby steps if you will. The big difference between why it seemed so easy as a child and why it seems so hard now are two-fold.

1. You don’t remember much from when you were a baby. Simple.
2. You had to learn your L1. Or you would be totally useless. And with no friends. Or significant others. Or really anything. Because you can’t communicate.

So, if you fall off the horse so to speak, then just bring your L2 in slowly. Totally what I’m having to do now, because of some issues. This is totally from first-hand experience. Just do something in  your L2. You’ll thank yourself later.

 

 

So, now we’re in Colorado.

今、コロラド州にいる。

So, it looks like that I can finally get some settling down done, and actually get back to writing and learning more Japanese.  I’ve been job hunting, and I actually have two very promising leads (One is Netflix!) and it’s actually really awesome here. The view is just breathtaking, and I cannot WAIT to hit North Denver so that I can check out all of the awesome Japanese goodness.

This is really more of an update than a full blown post, so I’m gonna just add an awesome video and call a it a day.

 

Starting from Scratch, or Why Failure’s not Always Bad

Suuuuuup.

It’s me again, and it’s been a crazy past year. My son, Alrick, has been in the hospital 3 times since he’s been born (a year ago) for brain surgery, and our family is planning a move to Denver, Colorado on the 19th. So yeah.

I’ve fallen of the wagon several times. It’s not always great, but sometimes life just gets the best of you. The SRS cards start piling up, and after a few days, you just want to totally stop trying to learn and grow. It’s not good times.

However, there are actually some things I’ve been able to take away from this hiatus.

1. Do NOT count the amount of time you’ve been studying Japanese or anything by the years.

It’s just a bad idea. Those years are absolutely lying to you, and honestly, saying it is kind of a lie in and of it’s own.

Like me. I’ve been “studying” Japanese for around 8 years now. However, I actually haven’t. If I could actually tally up the amount of time I have been studying and immersed, it would probably be closer to a year and a half at most. So, yeah. I feel a lot less terrible and honest when I say that I’ve been studying for a year and a half than saying I’ve been studying for 8 years.

2. Just because you fell off doesn’t mean that you can’t get back up.

Do you want to learn Japanese? (Or whatever it is that you want to learn) Then be like an addict. It’s a terrible thing, but they are pretty awesome as a role model in this situation.

I’ve been trying to quit smoking for several years now. I’ve just come to the conclusion that I really enjoy smoking, and that I’m addicted to cigarettes. I don’t think about how many cigarettes I’m smoking in a day, I just smoke when I feel like it. Even if you fall off, if you get back up as soon as you can and treat your SRS reps like a cigarette (Or chocolate, or whatever.) then you’ll be better than wallowing in the fact that you can’t seem to get motivated to actually do anything in Japanese.

Come on, it’s just one more…

I suppose what I was wanting to say with this blog post is that I am back on, and I hope that I can help some people with staying on track. I also have some cool freebies planned for the near future, assuming I can finally get some damn time to do them. But here’s a preview:

1. A 1000 J-E Sentence Pack, culled from my personal collection of random things.
2. A program to help keep you on track, and to record your improvements
3. Something else equally awesome, but much less planned out.

So I hope to talk to you guys again soon, and as always:

じゃあ、またな!

Make Learning Japanese Fun

Ossu, nanika atta. Burento de gozaimasu.

Boom. Just like the videos. And yes, I am completely aware that I’m mixing politeness levels. I just like how it sounds.

So, I was at work, and I was wondering how I can learn at work. It’s not like Denny’s where I can have my headphones in the whole time. And then I thought of something.

What if I started learning the names of the products we sell?

So, if I saw some dog food, I would think “ドッグフード”. Got it?

Everyday, we have a chance to learn something in our L2. Just a simple little game (ゲーム).

“But Brent,” you may ask. “AJATT says not to learn words, only learn sentences.”

Well, fictional reader that obviously hasn’t read my blog before, let me let you in on a BIG secret. The secret that will change how you look at learning Japanese. A wondrous secret that will open your eyes to so very much.

AJATT is NOT a Method.

Do we have to go over that everytime? Don’t try to follow AJATT exactly. You won’t do it. You’re a perfectionist. I know I am. So you know how hard it is to do something like that if you’re a perfectionist. You’ll never, EVER finish learning Japanese if you have a perfectionist attitude about it.

Trust me, I know.

It’s been 5 years since I started “learning Japanese”.

5. Years.

And I still barely know Japanese. All the Kanji I learned? Gone. The kana? Well, not gone, but I don’t remember the ones I don’t see very often. And do you know why?

I stopped interacting with Japanese. I started rapping to improve my Japanese, and then I completely forgot that goal.

So, learn Japanese the wrong way. Make mistakes. Break the rules. (That’s what they were meant for, were they not?)

Have fun. That’s the number one rule. Hell, that’s the only rule. Because if you’re having fun, you’ll make yourself play more. Kinda like crack, you always want another hit.

I feel like I strayed a bit, but honestly, I feel that this all goes together. Because by making little games for yourself, like my word game, then you’ll constantly be winning. And that’s good for a healthy psyche.

 

Well, let me end my rant now. I will have a new video up on Friday, so expect some learning to GO DOWN.