Several people in the language learning universe have inspired me to do a challenge, among them are my good friends Jeremy and Jonson from the Spongemind podcast.
I’m obviously still studying and speaking Korean every day, so no changes there, but just to push myself a bit further, I’ve taken on a new 90-day challenge of language learning. This time with the goal being acquiring basic Japanese skills.
Whoa! So, how am I doing? I’ve bought a basic textbook at my local bookstore (I’m mainly learning Japanese through Korean), I’ve subscribed to Japanesepod101.com, I’ve mastered Hiragana and Katakana, and I’m now able to read the signs of all the Japanese restaurants in Seoul. I’m also able to construct simple sentences and questions in the present tense. Not bad for a first week. I’m struggling with Kanji, but I see it as a chance to better master Korean Hanja (they’re both essentially Chinese characters with different pronunciation).
So far, I haven’t had any chance to try speaking the little Japanese that I have acquired, but I’m contemplating starting to use Italki for this purpose, when I’ve learned some more vocabulary.
Otherwise, I’ll have to wait until I travel to Japan. In fact, just yesterday I was just invited by a Japanese colleague to spend a week in Tokyo in February with all expenses paid. I just have to give a guest lecture at the university. I obviously accepted the invitation without any hesitation.
I admit that after over two years of intense Korean studies, I feel a bit weird learning Japanese, sort of as if I’m cheating on Korean, haha! I try to justify it by learning Japanese through Korean, and thinking about it in Korean. And I must admit that it feels great to see measurable language learning progress again. I still improve my Korean every day, but learning 5-10 new Korean words adds almost nothing to my total vocabulary in terms of marginal utility, whereas 5-10 new words in Japanese may expand my vocabulary by a significant percentage.