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!

Grammar’s Dead. Yay?

Yo. Brent here.

I’d like to think I don’t usually jump on the bandwagon with my posts, but I really want to chime in here.

Grammar’s Dead.

Yup. No bringing it back either. (Look how Latin’s doing, lol) Now, I understand. I hear you, grammar supporters. “But it’s easier when we have guidelines.”

It’s not. (Man, I love bold. Makes things pop.) It really isn’t. Like Khatz and Ramsies have said, it’s a really bad guideline. Yeah, I know. I used to be on the “Grammar’s not all that bad” group, and to an extent, I still am. I just don’t think you can learn a language by grammar. You have to have a lot of immersion. Tons. Years and Years. (Luckily, we’re adults. We learn faster.)

Besides, the “Critical Period” hypothesis was made in the 1960s. You know what else was in the 60’s? Hippies. Yeah, suck it 1960’s. We don’t have no stinking hippies, this is the 2010’s now. lol

Grammar is never (Aside from conlangs) the first created part of a language. Evar. So why should you learn it first? You learned English, right? (And if you haven’t…Keep reading. Maybe I’ll help you learn English. ^^) How did you do that? Did your parents read a grammar book to you while you went to sleep? Probably not. (My mummy read me Harry Potter. I was a good boy.)

You just learned it. By….showing up, perhaps? Hmmm? Is that the case? I know I read. A lot. I didn’t really have much else to do. Probably read my library out of books. I also listened to people and watched T.V.

In fact, I think the only reason children are “better” at learning languages is because they don’t really care. Yeah. Take that in.

They don’t care about the unnecessary things. They only want to talk and play and have fun. They want to exist in that language that everyone else is talking in. We as adults are firmly stuck in our L1, this I will agree on. Our brains are almost our enemies in this one. They have us thinking one way, and because we’ve been told all our life that it’s damn hard to learn a language, we assume it’s true, and we then become convinced of it, even if only subconsciously.  Then, we try to learn a language by grammar, and we go somewhere to talk, and we realize we can’t say shit. We failed, and languages are impossible to learn.

I can’t believe how many friends I’ve got (and had) who just for the life of them swore they couldn’t learn a language. They’ve got themselves held back, and with that mindset, of course they can’t learn a language. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. There was always something that amused me though.

They were complaining and complimenting me in English. Last time I checked, English was a language.

They’ve fallen for that cruel joke that the linguists played on all of us. That joke that the only way to learn language is through grammar. Well, I’m tired of it. I don’t care anymore. I just want to read my manga, listen to AK-69, and enjoy my damn anime. I want to talk to  Japanese people to see what it’s like on the other side of the world.

I’m tired of everyone treating language like it’s a damn chore. Enjoy yourself! You don’t have to know the language to enjoy yourself. Ask some kids. I know this for a fact. I’ve seen it. And trust me, different backgrounds, different cultures, you’ll still learn the language if you’re surrounded by it. You really have no choice. The thing here is making sure you’re constantly surrounded by it.

Anyway, I have a habit of ranting about things I have absolutely no qualification talking about, but I just think we should enjoy ourselves more. Don’t kill your L2 with grammar. Please? What did it do to you?

Think of the kittens.

A New Way to Make Kanji Fun?! ウソツキだぜ!

Hey, It’s me again.

And I have found an awesome way to do kanji that probably won’t make you rip your hair/eyes out from boredom. Now, for this disclaimer:

I didn’t make this. I found this on a link from AJATT, home of everyone’s favorite Japanese speaking person. It goes to this magnificent site here. Read up.

‘Kay, with that outta the way, we can move on to this. It’s called Lazy Kanji, and it’s effing awesome. Yesh, it is absolutely wonderful.

Remember how I said AJATT is just an excuse to be really lazy about studying, and that’s what makes it awesome? Well, there’s a reason that this is called Lazy Kanji.

It’s so much easier than having to make all those damn stories for the Kanji, and worrying about if you’re using the absolute right keyword. (Because, as most of us know, the keywords aren’t always right, lol)

Here’s how it works: On the front of the card, there’s the Kanji. You write it. (Try to do it without looking, but I’m not gonna lie, I don’t really see how that’s possible with the kanji on the front of the damn card…Anyway, ) Then, there’s a sentence. And there’s a blank in the sentence. I’ll give you a hint: It’s the keyword. And the capitalized words in the sentence are the radicals/whatever you call them.

And you just fill in the blank. That’s it. Super easy, right?

And, you don’t even have to make the cards yourself. They’re all uploaded on Anki’s Shared Deck area. It’s great.

So, I think this is most definitely a great way to start to regain your enthusiasm for Kanji, and hopefully we’ll all be much more literate thanks to it.

Or not. Who knows, really?

Manga Review: Bakuman

Alright! Here’s the first in my manga review series, and one of my new favorite manga series: Bakuman.

I really have fallen in love with this manga, and it’s really fun to read (despite the basis…)

The manga is about 2 aspiring mangaka, Mashiro and Takagi, and their journey of being published in Jump Weekly. They first meet at school, when Takagi, a straight-A student finds Mashiro’s sketch notebook, and tells him to get it at the end of school that day. They then (After a little effort) decide to team up and try to get into Weekly Jump.

There’s an anime scheduled for release this Fall, and I will be watching it with Keyhole TV. (Unless it’s already out…But I’m pretty sure it isn’t >_>)

Anywho, I know this is short, but I’m not really sure how to review something like this without spoiling it, so if you could leave me comments about how you would like these sections to work, I’ll be glad to update!

See ya later!

How I’m Studying (At the moment!)

Yeah, this tends to change from time to time, but this is how I’m doing it at the moment. Feel free to take any ideas you like, and get rid of the ones you don’t.

First, I really like learning words. So, anytime I find a word that I like, I tend to put it into an SRS, and although I’m not really big on putting sentences in – I do it, it just tends to bore me more – I do enjoy putting song lyrics in my Anki deck.
In a later post, I’ll upload some of my decks for you to use, if you’d like. (However, it is definitely better if you do it yourself. You remember the words better, honestly.)

And Kanji. Oh, how I hate love them. On a more serious note, I really do enjoy them, they’re just a pain to learn. I hear a lot of people recommending Heisig. And I do endorse him, he’s just really…boring. Like mayonnaise sandwich boring.
If you want the awesomeness of his method, but it being much more interesting, there are two options for you.
You can go to kanji.koohii.com, which is a site based around Heisig’s method (And there’s a really great community in the forums!)
Or…you could go with yo mama jokes, and check out kanjidamage.com. Shultzzz is pretty much the coolest mofo on the intranets, and I think that his method is just really cool. It’s basically Heisig with some of the really useless Kanji removed, and it’s in a different order, but the mnemonics are just hilarious. Or easy to remember. Or both.

Now, Once Kanji is taken care of (And I’m still trying to do that…For some reason I can’t stay focused. Probably because I keep listening to my friends English music recommendations – I’ve got Airplanes 2 by BOB and Eminem repeating a LOT orz) I’m planning on moving straight into native material. However, I also really wanna read some grammar books. Japanese grammar is crazy linear, and there aren’t a lot of exceptions, which is awesome. So, I’m trying to find some really useful verb endings (ーたい、ーはじめる、etc.) and SRSing them as well.

And all the while use the wonderful Keyhole TV and Kawaii Radio to get a TON of input. (Also, making videos of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger and Yuugiou is pretty fun ^^)
So…yeah. That’s the plan for me. If you have any advice or comments, feel free to leave a few.

See ya!

Japanese TV is…strange.

You get a pretty good mix of good and bad. I suppose it is mostly when you watch, but sometimes I get really good shows (Battle Spirits is fun to watch, BTW) and sometimes I get really boring shows.

So…Keep that in mind. Also, Keyhole TV, if you haven’t heard of it, is really cool. It lets you watch live Japanese TV (And I hear they have a iPhone App now, so boosh.)

One thing I can say though, is that the commercials are ALWAYS awesome. Either really cute, or just plain awesome, never boring. Also, usually never longer than 30 seconds, so they’re awesome bite-sized pieces.
I wonder how many times I said awesome in that last paragraph…Way too many probably.

Anywho, before I start to ramble, I’ll be letting you go. Also, make sure you check out my Youtube channel after I start Uploading! ^^ They’ll be scripted, so there’s less rambling.

Also, more useful posts in the future!

’till then,

Jaa, mata na!