As regular readers of my blog will know, I gave a pitiful attempt at learning Japanese in the fall. Then I got busy with my Korean studies at Sogang, and I didn’t really feel like studying languages in my free time since I felt that it was all I did during the day. I never forgot how to read the Japanese scripts, and I also remembered a lot of random sample sentences but my fluency remained at an embassaring nonexistent level. I guess this proves that more than anything, you need motivation to learn a language.

Anyway, while there are still many aspects of Korean I have yet to master, I feel very confident with Korean now. This week I’ve tutored many of my econ students individually using only Korean. The final exams are coming up, and I want to make sure that they really understand what this course is about. Feeling comfortable speaking, and teaching in Korean, I thought that maybe it was time that I spent some time on building my Japanese skills. You know I always love a challenge!

I’m going to be completely honest, before starting over, Japanese actually scared me a little. The three different kinds of scripts, the different readings of the Chinese characters, the lack of spacing between words, ah….. Where to start??

I know enough about self-studying a language to realize that how you start and how you proceed is crucial for your success. I’m also a fierce advocate for speaking right away, which is why I’m currently annoying my husband by constantly throwing random Japanese sentences at him with varying enthusiasm and intonation. Yes, I’m hard to be married to.

Starting from this week I’ve been attacking Japanese with an almost violent force. I’ve learned Kanji (the Chinese characters) like crazy, and practiced writing and saying simple sentences in both present and past tenses. As always, I’m focusing on the core of the language. I refuse to learn the names of all animals or flowers, because even though they may be considered basic, they rarely appear in everyday conversations. I can say cat and dog, and that’s enough for now.

So, which resources do I use for learning Japanese on my own? I’ve found a very well organized self-study book, which teaches basic conversational Japanese. The bonus feature is that this textbook is in Korean, so whenever it teaches Japanese grammar, it uses Korean for comparison. I find that I can absorb Japanese so much faster than I could with Korean when I first started out almost three years ago. It seriously helps to have a firm grasp of a related language when aquiring a new one. When I first started learning Korean, I had nothing to relate it to. I basically convinced myself that if I really wanted to master this language, I had to forget everything I knew about Western grammar structures and pretend I was an infant learning a language for the first time. In comparison, I feel that I can learn Japanese as an adult, using my logical sense to relate all of my Japanese to the Korean I know.

Aside from this textbook, I use several online resources (seriously, the internet is a language learner’s best friend):

Dictionary: Jisho 

Video and audio resources: Japanesepod101 

Verb conjugator (gives you all possible conjugations of any Japanese verb)

Inspirational youtube videos: This guy is seriously ah-mazing! Abroad in Japan

App: Remembering the Kanji (expensive but seriously my best buy on Itunes to date)

Overview of Kanji radicals: Kanji alive

Vocabulary practice: Memrise

Grammar breakdowns: The Japanese Page

Great blog about Japanese: Guide to Japanese

I’ve honestly been very surprised at how fast I seem to be able to absorb new vocabulary, and it’s just fun fun fun. If all of my plans turn out as I hope, I should have a chance to test my skills in the land of the rising sun before too long.

Bonus tip: When I first started learning Korean, I relied heavily on Korean pop songs for fun study material. I just realized that most of my favorite Korean bands are also popular in Japan, and guess what? They record Japanese versions of their songs to accommodate the Japanese market. Yay! Since yesterday, I’ve been listening to my (current) favorite Korean boy band BST singing their “Blood, sweat and tears” in Japanese. It sounds awesome no matter which language it’s in. Don’t you agree?

The Japanese lyrics are here: (BTW, a fun feature is that they have kept the Korean chorus 원해 많이 많이 and used katagana to write it in Japanese ウォネ マニ マニ )

血、汗、涙
捧げる今も
溢れる ただただ…
血、汗、涙
この想いが oh
溢れる ただただ…
血、汗、涙…

この 血、汗、涙と
昨日、今日、明日も
すべて君のものだと
知ってるさそんな事など
Peaches and cream
Sweeter than sweet
Chocolate cheeks
And chocolate wings
But その羽根は悪魔みたい
逆にsweetがbitter bitter
Kiss me
苦しくてもいいからもう
いっそ締め付けてくれ
Baby
酔うと知っていても君を飲む
You’re リスキーなウイスキー

血、汗、涙
捧げる今も
溢れる ただただ…
血、汗、涙
この想いが oh
溢れる ただただ…
ウォネ マニ マニ マニ マニ
ウォネ マニ マニ マニ マニ マニ マニ
ウォネ マニ マニ マニ マニ
ウォネ マニ マニ マニ マニ マニ マニ

苦しくて いいから
二度と離さぬよう
縛り付けて欲しいただ
おかしくなるほど
Kiss me on the lips lips 二人の秘密
捕まるよう 毒される君に
君以外じゃもう従いきれない
自ら飲む毒入りの聖杯

血、汗、涙
捧げる今も
溢れる ただただ…
血、汗、涙
この想いが oh
溢れる ただただ…
ウォネ マニ マニ マニ マニ
ウォネ マニ マニ マニ マニ マニ マニ
ウォネ マニ マニ マニ マニ
ウォネ マニ マニ マニ マニ マニ マニ

そっと今伝えて
終わらせてその手で
どうせ無理なんて言えないよ
逃げる事もできないもう
君が甘すぎて、甘すぎて、甘すぎて、もう…

血、汗、涙…
血、汗、涙…

7 Comments »

  1. Amazing that you are learning Japanese now that you feel comfortable with holding your own in Korean. I hope you will share your thoughts on the more advanced aspects of Korean you are struggling with in the future. I like reading other about other people’s Korean struggles. It is comforting I’m not the only one pulling my hair out while learning.

    I would’ve loved learning Japanese as well, but I’ll probably won’t. My Korean family in law has a strong connection to Taiwan so I’m kind of expected to learn (traditional) Chinese. My partner’s mom is planning to send a textbook to me as a friendly reminder.

    Like

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