我輩はブリートである。

The chronicles of Burrito's bizarre adventure into Japanese.

SO ABOUT THAT JLPT THING… OR: The End of Another Chapter

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Right, so long story short, things didn’t work out between JLPT and I. As it turns out, I’m going to be quite (unavoidably) busy on the day of the test, so it’s just well. [Ed. FROM THE FUTURE: turns out, I would have also had one of the worst colds I’ve caught in years, and in no physical or mental form for a very long test!] No biggie – at this point, I don’t feel confident that I’d pass anyway, and I think the motivational kick in the brain stem from planting the seed of IMPENDING TEST did its work quite nicely. Perhaps I’ll be ready for the summer test, but at this point, it’s difficult to say.

Secondly, I’ve decided that it’s time to take this little ol’ blog out back and… um, gently… tuck it into bed? As I’m sure you’ve noticed (yes, both of my loyal readers!), there just isn’t much for me to talk about anymore on the subject of language learning. My process involves: lots of reading, lots of watching, a little Anki (mainly grammar sentences – I gave up on MCDs, and why fix what isn’t broke?) and a little Read the Kanji. That’s honestly it! The thought of experimenting or otherwise changing up the process much at all just isn’t appealing to me. As long as I’m experiencing the language as it was intended for native speakers with just enough studying to get me through, that’s enough.

But apart from the subject of language learning, it’s not like I have nothing to talk about. As my Japanese improves, and as I get into translation more, I’m increasingly finding new and interesting things to discuss – the differences between a game’s English and Japanese localizations, as a recent example. Not to mention all the various cool things I’m reading/watching/playing/listening to and feel the need to gush about (something I did on my first blog, but oddly never felt compelled to do here).

So rather than awkwardly convert this blog, I’m gonna do the most sensible thing (in my mind – this coming from someone who reformats twice a year) and blow it sky high with ダイナマイト. I’m good at what I do.

But before that, let’s clear up a few loose ends!

If you were able to go back in time and give your horrible, ignorant, nooblord language learning self advice, what would you say?

Answer: 1) Don’t worry too much about RTK/Heisig – kanji is going to be a pain in the ass no matter what approach, and RTK, like all methods, has its pros and cons. Ultimately, it’s gonna be down to exposure (and, in the case of writing by hand, largely muscle memory), and there is simply no magic bullet. Shortcuts, sure, but years later, I still question just how much of a shortcut RTK was for me.

2) For the love of the omniscient Funkopotamus, don’t worry about the method. Like, at all. Cut it out, stop that. Experimentation is fine and good – discovering just how one learns is an important step. But the goal, in my eyes, should be to build a stable foundation of vocabulary (and grammar, to a slightly lesser extent) and, as soon as possible, dive into native content of interest, and communication. Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be.

3) Don’t buy into anti-output propaganda. I’ve ranted and raved on this subject before, but it’s still a topic of frustration to me. Speaking, writing, whatever – these things will (in my experience) absolutely help cement the language, highlight areas of weakness and make a little more sense of passive, not-quite-yet-internalized bits and pieces. Mistakes are to be expected and are perfectly okay! Your Japanese (or whatever) won’t be permanently impaired because of a few dumb mistakes. Don’t worry, you won’t go blind.

4) Find the good stuff. Originally, this tip was going to be “avoid the garbage” but quite honestly, I think this is better advice. In my case, I have giant stacks of manga, literature, games, dozens of unwatched anime series… you name it. Stuff I know for a fact that I’ll enjoy, and a hoard I won’t exhaust any time soon, shielding me from the harmful rays of utter crappola. Straying outside of one’s comfort zone is certainly a healthy thing from time to time, don’t get me wrong – I’ve discovered all kinds of incredible things that I wouldn’t have originally thought I’d enjoy. Regardless, it’s because of The Good Stuff that most of us stick with a language in the first place, right? So figure out what The Good Stuff is to you, amass huge amounts of said Stuff, and then go nuts.

5) Stick with it. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always easy, or possible, to make the language a part of your daily life. Things happen; stuff comes up. A particularly life-shaking incident may occur and throw said language on the back burner for months, during which time, hard work and progress will likely spill out like a sieve. You’ll pick up something one day and realize that what was relatively easy to read before is now practically incomprehensible, and it’s the most frustrating thing. But unless you’re a super lucky person with absolutely no boundaries and distractions, these “forced breaks” are inevitable. Just know that the de-rust process is only temporary, and probably a lot shorter than you think.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO BECOME FLUENT IN 18 MONTHS??? HOW DO I DO THIS

Answer: Look, just… don’t do this to yourself. Okay? This isn’t healthy or constructive for anybody. Just… just stop it. Please.

Anyway.

Thus ends the Language Learner chapter of the ブリート Saga. Got some pretty exciting stuff coming up in the near future, but I’ll leave that for the new blog. For now, this is Rito signing off!

さらばだ

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Written by ritobito

December 2, 2012 at 3:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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