Learning Tips, Miscellaneous, Resources



Hi guys! I realised that I was due in for my monthly update on this blog, so here I am 😀 Thankfully, it’s my 1 week mid-semester break at the moment so I have a minute to bash out this post.

My 9-week Italian course finished recently. We had a little class party with lots of food and we did a fun speaking activity to cap things off – we were split into groups and we had to invent our own pub, before introducing it to the rest of the class in Italian. Somebody brought wine and needless to say, I have never cried so hard with laughter in class before – I have subsequently learned that alcohol and language learning mixes molto bene! My voucher actually covers two terms so I think I will enrol for the next 9-week session. In the meantime, the teacher has given us some ‘holiday homework’ to do so I am hoping to tackle that before lessons kick off again in mid-October.

did end up signing up for JLPT N2…but to be honest, I really wasn’t sure about it. But then Dad was just like, “yolo, it can’t hurt” so here I am, $90 poorer (after paying that damn registration fee). I haven’t started studying for it though. This is terrible! I have listening materials and kanji and vocabulary flashcards lined up…but does anybody know if there are any free reading practice materials for N2 floating around on the Net? If you do, please leave a comment and I will give you a beautiful ramen photo in my next post 😛

But in more proactive language learning land, I have recently signed up to Conversation Exchange! I decided that it was finally time to grab the bull by the horns and just open my mouth lol. I have had a Skype session with a French guy living in Paris. I am using Wechat to talk to and send Mandarin messages to somebody living in Tianjin, China. And I met up with a Japanese girl here in Sydney to have a chat in person! She likes ramen too!!1! We have started a two-person ramen club (pls join guys!). I was really hesitant about getting that first message and having these first meetings but the site is really busy (I get several messages everyday) and although you will get some weird messages, you aren’t obliged to respond to them and it’s all very safe and positive – because nearly everybody else just wants a language exchange partner too! I’d recommend the site ^^ If you’re on the site as well, just leave me a comment and I’ll happily link you my profile details 🙂

Conversation Exchange

So that’s about it from me. Just super burned out from university and super hyped up from language exchange. What a wonderful state of mind to be in. But I hope that you guys are well at least – let me know what you’ve been up to do, and happy language learning ^^

Japanese, JLPT N3

cram cram cram


Squeezed in another past-ish N3 paper today! It’s from the JLPT’s official Practice Workbook, so I’m hoping that the level will be similar to the real thing. Results were as follows:

50/60 + 53/60 + 52/60 = 155/180

which is an improvement from my previous results of 147 and 148 that I wrote about in this post ^^ Reading is still my strongest, but I feel that everything else is getting better (probably largely due to higher retention of my Anki decks with time). However, I still seem to bleed marks in the ‘appropriate response’ section of listening =.= This is obviously a sign that I don’t know how to communicate properly in spoken Japanese…(!!!). I also sometimes make careless mistakes (as you do), so I must consider the use of my time carefully. I don’t have an issue with the time constraints of the exam so I hope that I can put the leftover time to good use to check my answers. However, checking multiple choice answers always spooks me because usually your first (instinctive) choice is correct so…hmmm.

I will keep seeing if I can track down some more papers to do before Sunday. If not, I will keep memorising my decks, especially Japanese ONOMATOPOEIA expressions because they often pop up in the vocabulary section. These are so damn tricky AND THERE’S LITERALLY A BILLION SOUNDS FOR REALLY SIMILAR ACTIONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES e.g. くるくる、ぐるぐる etc and the nuance is all different in only the slightest manner and I just…>_<” But I suppose that’s what makes Japanese such an interesting language- they literally have set onomatopoeic expressions for everything, things that nobody else would ever bother dealing with, it’s so funny!

Anyway, here’s a link to the workbook and the Anki shared onomatopoeia deck (which is helpfully illustrated!).

Good luck to all my fellow JLPT test-takers and happy language learning all round ^^

EDIT:Have just found out from my Integrated Approach textbook that Japanese onomatopoeia is called 擬音語(ぎおんご)and 擬態語(ぎたいご). 擬音語 mimics actual sounds, whereas 擬態語 expresses states, feelings or manners of actions. Bless this book ^^

Learning Tips

Studying Different Languages Simultaneously: Benefits & Tips

Edit84If there’s ever a particular response that I’m guaranteed to receive when I tell people that I’m into language learning, and what I’m currently studying, it’s invariably something along the lines of: “How can you study so many languages at once?”, followed by “Don’t you get mixed up?  Isn’t it confusing?”.  I’ve also noticed some other language learners expressing concerns at getting muddled when considering whether or not to take up another language. Don’t get me wrong, there is most definitely merit to focusing time and energy on just the one language (and it may be more suited to certain personality types and work styles).  And I agree that’s probably not a good idea to have a billion different languages on the go from scratch.  But it’s not all bad over here on the multi-language-learning track either: there are useful aspects to learning more than one language.  If you refuse to allow yourself to be intimidated by the prospect of mental linguistic oversaturation, you can turn language ‘confusion’ into a positive aid for your language learning.

Firstly, instead of getting stuck in the more negative “I’M GETTING SO CONFUSED HELP ME AKFJZASKFJZAFJKD” mindset, take a look on the positive side: how can the language I’ve already learnt help me with my new one?  Well…

  • Drawing on already learned language study behaviours:  your brain is essentially akin to a muscle, getting stronger with increased use.  Language learning, just like anything else, gets easier the more you do it.  If you’re used to writing out 10 Chinese characters a day, what’s going to stop you from doing the same with Japanese kanji?
  • Learning from previous mistakes: if you did something inefficiently the first time round, you can make it work for you with your next language.  If you focused way too much on grammar and not enough on conversation, you can formulate a better approach for your new language.
  • Making connections: I reckon this is the best part of multiple language learning.  Instead of thinking about how confused you’ll be, think of how your brain is branching out.  Now isn’t that a wonderful image?  You can connect concepts from any language.  Even if there’s no grounds for these connections from a linguistic point of view, the only thing that is important is that they make sense for you and help enhance your understanding.  For example, in my Mandarin notes, I’ve written that 不行 = (quelque chosene va pas in French.  Of course, the more similar your languages are, the more connections you can make, and the more epiphanies you can have 😀
  • It sounds impressive: what’s not to like?

And now for the trickier part: how can I juggle all this?   I was lucky enough to be able to learn three languages during high school, but I am now mostly on my own, meaning that it’s up to me to balance my study.  Below are just some principles which I like to apply to my own learning.  They may or may not work for you, and I can’t guarantee complete prevention of the onset of “language fade”, but they help me a lot, and are mostly quite easy to put into practice:

  • Make the most of opportunities: if you have the chance to learn a language in high school / university, take it.  The structured environment and time already put aside for the language makes everything so much easier =_=
  • Choose similar languages: choose languages from the same language families!  You’ll understand everything so much faster if there are similarities or overlaps – a Korean topic marking particle is much less mind-boggling when you’ve already encountered a Japanese particle.
  • Use an “old” language to learn a “new” one: definitely the best way to killl two birds with one stone.  Most language texts are published in many different languages.  If you want to learn Japanese and already know Korean, buy the Korean edition instead of the English one.  Something else I like to do, is to look for shows subbed in my target language e.g. watching Korean variety with Spanish subs.  Alternatively, if you’re searching the internet for help on a topic, type in the terms in another language.  By doing this, I’ve found an amazing French website that helps me with all my JLPT grammar.  These are just some suggestions – the possibilities are endless!
  • Convert “bits” of time into productivity:  this applies to all language learning.  Any pocket of time can be converted into immersion!  If you like to listen to music while commuting, subscribe to a podcast.  If you watch a lot of TV, find a show in your target language.  If you like to read, pick up a foreign novel and have a dictionary on hand.  Everything counts!!  Plus, you’ll feel less guilty if you haven’t been able to put aside time for more serious study (grammar points, writing notes etc).
  • Time management: I like to print a weekly planner that has the days divided into 1 hour slots (the Internet is full of these).  Block out times when you aren’t available and then fill in the rest.  This also allows you to monitor the spread and balance of your languages over a broader (but not too broad) timeframe.
  • Break down each language: Sure, you can just write that you’re going to study French at 2pm.  But wouldn’t it be better if you knew that this would constitute 30 minutes of watching the French news, followed by 30 mins of French grammar?  If you write out all the different types of study you want to do for each language, number them, then slot them into your planner, you’ll be a lot more productive because you’ll know ahead of time what you’ll be doing, instead of scrambling around being like WHAT DO I DO WITH MY TIME.  For example, my task list for Italian looks like this: 1) Italian Grammar in Use  2) Pronti Via textbook  3) Duolingo  4) Reading immersion.  You can see in my picture how this numbered task system works.

Hopefully this post is helpful / insightful to you guys. If anybody is engaging in some multiple language learning as well, please let me know how you do it – I’d love to know about your learning style!

Until next time ^^