Friday, June 27, 2008


This week we had the 2nd class in the introductory JSL course. We reviewed the previous signs we had learned and then got a lesson in pantomiming. Basically, it's OK to act out what you are trying to convey because the deaf person will be able to understand which is better than giving up and leaving them in silence. So we had some deaf people and JSL Circle members doing some charades and then the students also got a chance. At first some volunteered, but then later volunteers were drafted. I ended up having to do "rabbit." After that, we all learned the Japanese syllabary in finger-spelling followed by numbers. It hurts holding your hands in those shapes. Here is a picture from the actual class in a blog post.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Today was the first of three classes in Japanese Sign Language. First we heard from the deaf people. They cannot talk but the volunteers translated. We heard about the difficulties they face. Then we learned to sign Good Morning, Good Day, Good Evening, Nice to meet you, Thank you, and Please. Then in smaller groups we learned to introduce ourselves. My name is... Nice to meet you. Next week they will teach the hand signs and What is your name?


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Japanese handwriting sample

I got this advertisement package from a house builder today. In it, there was this page with handwritten Japanese. So I decided to scan it in and post it here so you can see what Japanese handwriting looks like.

(file size: 476 K)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Today I attended, for the first time, a meeting of the 手話 (shuwa) Circle. 手話 is Japanese sign language. Everybody practiced by doing 紙芝居 (kami shibai). That is where a story is told by a person holding big picture cards and the story is read on the back. There were 2 deaf people (聴覚障害者) there who gave feedback at the end of the performance. 紙 means paper and 芝居 means performance.

Next week, an introductory (入門) 3-lesson course will begin and I have signed up for it. After the meeting, I went to the 図書館 (library) and checked out a book on 手話. From the handbook, I have learned 挨拶 (greeting). Morning + 挨拶 (aisatsu) = Good Morning. Day Time + 挨拶 = Good Day. Night + 挨拶 = Good Evening. Sleep + 挨拶 = Good Night.

今日、初めて手話サークルの会に見学しました。日本手話は英語で「Japanese sign language」と言います。皆さんが紙芝居で練習しました。紙芝居は大きい紙を持ちながら、裏面から物語を読んで います。聴覚障害者二人が居て、芝居が終わった後にフィードバックを上げました。


Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Iversen Method

The Iversen Method is a wordlist method for tackling vocabulary acquisition in language-learning.

I am working on the modified Iversen method for Japanese. As a trial run, here is what I have done.

First of all, the paper. I used printed paper with squares neatly arranged like graphing paper. The squares are 5 millimeters. It's really small and I did not think I would be able to write in the complex characters in them, but somehow I managed. The paper has 44 rows and 30 columns.

Without getting too detailed, I put one entry per line which ended up in the following order: Kanji, Kana, English, Kanji.

The first day, I did 6 at a time. I felt I had to do some memorizing before writing them on the paper because when I do write them down the first time, that is when I need to make my mental notes about the characters so that later, I can recall those notes and reproduce the Kanji in the final column. Without doing some work to memorize the reading and meaning before writing the words in the initial column, I would have nothing to attach it to in my brain.

So I went through the list before writing them down until I knew the readings and the meanings. Then I wrote the Kanji words by first carefully looking at them and then trying to write them from memory. If I could not do it, then I knew which part to give more attention to and I made mental notes. I also repeated the reading and meaning once when finished with each word.

By the time I finished writing the 6 words, I could still remember all the readings. I did a quick run through in my mind to make sure and then I proceeded to write down the readings in hiragana for each word.

After that, I would check my recall of the English translations. Usually, no problem. So then I wrote down all of the English translations. After that, I double checked to make sure I hadn't left anything out.

Finally, the fourth and last column. This was the challenging part because I had written down the readings and the English since having written the actual Kanji words. Just glancing at Kanji is not enough of a review to be able to write them. So it felt like some time had passed since I had written them. I covered up the first two columns and went through the English column. I traced the Kanji with my pen but no ink as I reconstructed them from my memory. Many times I closed my eyes to get a better look at them. This helps to remove any visual distractions from sight so that I can concentrate on the characters from memory. I recalled my mental notes that I had made about which characters were used and what those characters consisted of. If I got stuck, I tried my hardest to remember it. Only when I had felt that that wasn't working would I finally resort to looking at the answer. If I failed any one word, I would repeat the run through again. Once I could go through the list with no problem, then I would actually write them down in that fourth column.

Like I said, the first day I had done 6 at a time (42 total). I felt that this was too easy and that the exercise was over too quickly.

So the second day I did 11 at a time. Naturally, this was more challenging but still easily attainable. The less familiar I was with a particular Kanji the more difficult it was. On the final two sets, I noted the time it took. Each set of 11 took about 32 minutes. Both times, the first 6 minutes were spent learning the words before I wrote that initial column.

So to fill up a page with 44 words took me 2 hours plus rest time in between sets.

I'm thinking if I use a dictionary or vocabulary book, I can leave out the 2nd column which has the readings. I could look them up easily later if I reviewed them a month down the road and forgot some. This would allow me to get twice as many words on a page. Plus, it would be easier to review since the readings wouldn't be on the page. I would know for sure that I had learned the readings if I can still read them with out having to worry about covering up the readings before I accidently see them.

Each night was a lot of work. I'm not sure I could keep this up. I was exhausted when I finished. I would have liked to have done more. But it was tiring so I could not. I suppose I will try with the 3-column version instead of four columns.

Follow these links if you want to see images of the pages I wrote.

(1.5 MB each)
page 1
page 2