Friday, 31 May 2013

Interview #5, Brome

Last day of the month and we're ending it with another interview with someone who is studying Japanese. Check it out!

Name: Brome
Country: France
Age: 39

Original language: French
New language: Japanese
Proficiency in new language: 3, Intermediate

How long have you been learning the language: 1 year and a half
Other languages you speak: English, German
Why are you learning the language: My first reason was that I wanted to read manga and watch anime in Japanese.
But as soon as I started learning it seriously, I met Japanese people online or IRL, and discovered how fun it could be to chat with them, even though my skills are still low.
I've seen many documentaries about Japan, but now I want to learn from that country from the mouths of its inhabitants.

What do you find the most fun part about learning the language: Chatting online with people and interacting with them is great.
Also, recognizing a word or even a whole sentence when watching movies or series makes my day.
What do you hate about learning the language: I hate how long it's taking me to learn it. I spend most of my free time trying to learn something or practice every day, but progress is slow. I know that I'm probably years away from being able to read a newspaper.
The most difficult aspect for me is the writing system: learning the commonly used characters (kanji) normally takes years.

What is your tip to other people learning this language: What you will learn in books, or in class, is not enough. The Japanese spoken during casual, informal conversations is very different from what you will learn from books. And I'm not talking about the difference between "ru" and "masu" forms. There are tons of expressions and abbreviations that are not taught in books.

Do you have a tip for everyone learning a new language: Try to learn from as many different and various ressources that you can find, as each of them can bring you something new.
Also, understanding is better than just learning: if you can find the reason behind a grammar rule, it will help you better understand how the language works.

Places you can find Brome online:
Google+: Brome Inay

Twitter:  @brome

Thanks so much for filling out the questionnaire Brome! I really like your tip on understanding the reason of grammar rules and not just learn them.

If you want to be featured on the blog, check out the questionnaire under Language Interviews, don't worry about the language you're learning, as long as you're learning a language.

Study on!


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Learning Kana, post 3 (hiragana ma-n)

Last week for hiragana, not that many this time as not all the rows actually have 5 kana, though there are some very similar kana in this set.

You can find older posts here: Learning kana, post 1 (a-zo), Learning kana, post 2(ta-po).

All gifs that I display with the kana are from:

Seventh row M
No dakuten on this row though there are two kana that look a lot like previous rows.


Yes, this looks a lot like HO from the last time, it just doesn't have the stroke on the left side. This is why I split this set up before the M row, this way you can be comfortable with one before learning about the other.


I always feel this looks a lot like the H capital in cursive. Remember that the kana is sloped and not straight and that the end of the first stroke goes downward, not horizontal.


Not the easiest to write. Though someone said it looks a bit like a mug with an ear, and I think that really does help to remember this kana.


Looks a lot like NU from before, just without the curl at the end of the second stroke. Someone said that you might remember it my thinking of menu, me is the one without the loop at the end and nu the one with the loop.


No hints on how to write or remember this. Just remember that the first stroke goes upwards at the end and towards the beginning.

Eighth row Y
Only three kana in this, the other two have become extinct. You can still find them on some sources but you don't need to know them as they are no longer used.


Remember to keep it sloped but that the first and third stroke cross each other straight (like a cross, just sloped) and that the third stroke is straight, not curved.


Unlike previous kana, this one has all curves, no straight lines. Keep everything nice and round and you should be fine.


You've seen this construction before on quite a few kana, but this time the first stroke is only on one side of the second kana, also the end of the second kana should not stick out further than the first stroke.

Ninth row R(L)
There are multiple tricks with this row. First, the pronunciation. The sound of this row is between the R and the L sound in (you can find a guide here). A lot of the kana here look like kana we've seen before. Don't let that scare you off, just practice.


Remember the Chi? Well, this is one without the top stroke but rather with a little hook.


Yes, this looks like the I, just with a longer second stroke.


This one is more hooked than the RA. Remember to make the second hook point out further than the start of the stroke and that you keep the loop round.


Looks like NE, but without a loop at the end, rather it goes straight down (parallel to the first stroke), more like the ending of a cursive n.


Like RU but without the little extra loop on the end.

Tenth row W
Just two of these, rest is no longer in use.


Like NE and RE but this one bows inwards, just doesn't loop.


This one is often not pronounced as WO but as O and is mostly used in grammar.

Eleventh row N
This is more a special character. This is the only consonant without a vowel. The sound is like an N but can in some cases turn into more of an M sound depending on the kana around it.


Remember E? N looks like that, just without the top.

And that is it! Those are the last kana of hiragana. How many of them can you recognise by now? Are you still practising? I hope you are, since knowing kana is very important when you're studying Japanese (if you want to know why, check out my post on why I don't use romaji on the blog or my post on kanji).

Next week I'll be spending on how to create special sounds in hiragana. You won't be learning any new kana, just how to combine them. The week after that I'll start with katakana.

Study on!


I've opened a G+ community for this blog, so you can see and discuss all the posts that are made even when it's not about the languages that I post in the communities to: Kia Learns Japanese Blog Community

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Flashcards, two main ways of practising


Last time I talked about how I create my flashcards and I also talked a bit about why I think it's useful. This time I'll talk about the other aspect of it, how I play the flashcard game. There are multiple ways of learning with flashcards and I will talk about a few of them here.

Just remember that even though I assume you have a foreign word on one side and the translation on the other side you can also use this for other things than learning languages. This is just to keep it all simple.

1. Sight reading.

This is my most used technique. This basically means that you repeat the flashcards as often as it needs that you read the foreign word and no longer need to think to know the translation. Sight reading is one of the reasons why I can quite quickly pick up a language by reading because you can grasp a lot of context of a sentence if you can understand the key words. It's not a lot of use knowing a word if you can't sight read it easily (barring of course words that are just plain difficult no matter if you're native or foreign, those don't count).

To make sure you don't need to keep repeating the words that you already know you can always put the words you had wrong to the end of your stack and keep repeating them until you have them right or until you have just one card left in your hand. Then repeat again with the full stack, just to check if you really know them all.
When learning Japanese I use this for the first couple of rounds, so that I can make the connection between the kana and the sound of the kana.
DSCN0369<- not the way I actually do it since you can too easily cheat by checking which cards you've already had, but I didn't want this point to be boring. Also, you can see both sides of the cards here.

2. Writing until your hands bleed
A bit dramatic but it gets the point across. This part is where you only look at the translated side of the card and write down the foreign words. And you repeat this until you're absolutely sure you know all the word. The technique is largely the same as above, only that you don't just check if you can come up with the word, you write the foreign word down before you check and then see if you spelled it right.

Here you can see how I do this. Because hiragana are only small I fold the lines back over so I can't look at my last round of practising when I can't come up with the right kana. This stops me from cheating and using a lot of paper when not needed.

A regular session of practising for me starts with sight reading the kana I already know, then I run through them the other way around and write them all. Only when that is finished I start a new set of cards. Remember to always learn new words in sets of 5 to 15. Otherwise there are too many new ones and it gets really hard to keep track of them all. If you keep the sets small it is a lot easier to make all the practised words add up.

Well, that's it. Those are my 2 ways of practising a language.

Learn on!
DSCN0380 <- my folder with practise sheets and flash cards.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Numbers 20-99 (trilingual post #5)

So, the second set of numbers is here. I'm only doing bits at the time, because even though Japanese is pretty straight forward and English is understandable, Dutch is a bit hard. Here is the link to the first post about numbers and to the trilingual page.

Same disclaimer as always, not a teacher, just a fellow student trying to help others out.


For a change (for me anyway) Dutch is the language that is being difficult in this post. Pay close attention to the pronunciations as they differ from English (unlike the first batch). Here we go.

Japanese English Dutch #
二十(に・じゅう) twenty twintig 20
二十一(に・じゅう・いち) twenty-one eenentwintig 21
二十二(に・じゅう・に) twenty-two tweeëntwintig 22
二十三(に・じゅう・さん) twenty-three drieëntwintig 23
二十四(に・じゅう・よん) twenty-four vierentwintig 24
二十五(に・じゅう・ご) twenty-five vijfentwintig 25
二十六(に・じゅう・ろく) twenty-six zesentwintig 26
二十七(に・じゅう・なな) twenty-seven zevenentwintig 27
二十八(に・じゅう・はち) twenty-eight achtentwintig 28
二十九(に・じゅう・きゅう) twenty-nine negenentwintig 29
三十(さん・じゅう) thirty dertig 30
三十一(さん・じゅう・いち) thirty-one eenendertig 31
三十二(さん・じゅう・に) thirty-two tweeëndertig 32
四十(よん・じゅう) forty veertig 40
五十(ご・じゅう) fifty vijftig 50
六十(ろく・じゅう) sixty zestig 60
七十(なな・じゅう) seventy zeventig 70
八十(はち・じゅう) eighty tachtig 80
九十(きゅう・じゅう) ninety negentig 90
九十九(きゅう・じゅう・きゅう) ninety-nine negenennegentig 99

Let's just go from the top, otherwise I'd have a lot of beautiful asterisks in the table and it would all get confusing.

First, Japanese is pretty straight forward at this level. To use multiples of ten you say "number" + "ten" and to add anything to that you add that number. Not that hard and there aren't any weird pronunciation things in this either.

Onto the western languages.
English has interesting pronunciations on twenty, thirty and fifty (not five-ty but fifty). And a few trouble writings on forty (no u) and eighty (no double t). But over all, English and Japanese have the same pronunciation order.

Dutch... Twintig, dertig, veertig and tachtig have weird spellings and pronunciations. That is the easy part.
Now, the word order in Dutch numbers from twintig upward. 21 is pronounced een-en-twintig. I know that it's written as one word, but you pronounce it as 3. Een en twintig literally means one and twenty. The smaller number goes first and the bigger number second. This goes up to negenennegentig and then changes again, but we're not talking about that this time.
Don't be scared by the ë in some of the words, they are simply there to show that the word isn't really tweeen-twintig but rather twee-en-twintig, just a pronunciation help.

So that is the second post on numbers. Japanese does what it does best, being consistent, English goes on as it sets forth in 15-20 and Dutch is the one being difficult, switching the numbers around in the pronunciation.
But you can now almost count to a hundred, almost.

Study on!


here is the hiragana and katakana cheat sheet.

I've opened a G+ community for this blog, so you can see and discuss all the posts that are made even when it's not about the languages that I post in the communities to: Kia Learns Japanese Blog Community

Friday, 24 May 2013

Interview #4, Sumesh Kunwar

Another Friday, another interview, this time with Sumesh, who is studying Dutch.

Name: Sumesh Kunwar
Country: Nepal
Age: 27

Original language: Nepali
New language: Dutch
Proficiency in new language: 1/5, Just started

How long have you been learning the language: 1 year
Other languages you speak: English, Hindi
Why are you learning the language: I have been living in Netherlands for almost 2 years now. Dutch people are easy going and I think they love to talk. As Dutch is one of the difficult language to learn, I felt like trying. I am learning Dutch also for better job opportunity.

What do you find the most fun part about learning the language: The fun part is obviously the utmost degree of self satisfaction in exploring a totally different culture.
What do you hate about learning the language:  Only very few learners and learners' groups.

What is your tip to other people learning this language: I would suggest to try various methods. It can be Quizlet to start with basic vocabs Then reading children's story books can also help to beginners.

Do you have a tip for everyone learning a new language: Focus some time everyday for learning and continue with it.

This is pretty cool, I'm Dutch so it's cool to see people who are trying to learn the language. I know Dutch is a difficult language, often even for native speakers.

If you want to be part of these interviews fill out a form in the Language Interviews tab.

Have a great weekend!

Study on!


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Learning kana, post 2 (hiragana ta-po)

Second post for kana study, again, 3 rows of kana with dakuten sounds. though slightly different this time around. Let's get to it!

You can find the first post here: Learning kana, post 1 (hiragana a-zo)
There is a video of the proper pronunciation in that post too.

All gifs that I display with the kana are from:

Fourth row T/D
There are a few weird things in this, pay attention to the sounds, though they are pretty easy to write.


Not much notes to make on this one, the third and fourth stroke are like KO but smaller.



Slightly different pronunciation, the TI sound is in pronunciation closer to CHI and the dakuten sound is JI. Yep, just like SHI/JI from the S row, only is CHI more of a T sound and SHI an S sound.

Remember to curl the bottom upward, like a very round 5.



Again, slightly different pronunciation, same goes for the dakuten, ZU. Both these dakutens (JI and ZU) are the lesser used versions, the S row versions are more common.



Not much to say about this one.



I don't know why, but I've always found this one easy to remember.


Fifth row N
This row has a couple of tricky kana to write so pay attention to them. No tricky pronunciation and things so that should be quite straightforward.



Once again a kana that has a bit of the KO kana.


Remember the practice on the A kana? This is one of the reasons why it was important, this is one of the other kana that is based on that same loop that the A kana uses.


The first stroke is straight down, not sloped. The second corner of the second stroke points out across the start of the stroke.


Simple to draw, remember that the whole shape is oval and that the closed loop is smaller than the other side of the kana.

Sixth row H/B/P
Few tricks in here, two kana that look alike and one that has a special pronunciation. Also, unlike other kana, this has a dakuten and a handakuten (the little circle), so you learn 3 rows in one go.


Nothing hard, but you'll see this right part a few times coming up. The HA sound is the one with only one line on this part.




Remember to keep it sloped, not upright.




Yep, this is the one with the weird pronunciation. The pronunciation is not as much a F or an H but a really airy F. Also, the three little lines along this kana should form a triangle in their placement. (both the dakuten and the handakuten will be their regular counterparts.)







As you can see, this one has the same right part as the HA kana, this one only has two lines, of which one forms the top of the right part. This is important to remember because there is another kana that looks like this.



And that is the second week. Three more rows, 30 more kana. And we're over halfway through all the kana that hiragana has.

Remember to practice often and have fun with it. You can find helpful posts about flashcards and how to practice with them on the Learning a language Page.

Study on!