Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2010 test results

This year I took 4 tests, all of them in the Japanese language, and I would like to share the results with you. Not all of the outcomes were necessarily good. In fact, one of them is embarrassing, but I won't omit it because I am not sharing the results to say that I am good at Japanese or any such thing. Those who have been following me know that I am not like that and I am very critical of my abilities. I am my 2nd biggest critic!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

reasons to go for a native accent

Below, you'll find two articles that show how an accent will affect a listener. If you want to be more easily understood as well as appear more trustworthy, you'd better speak like the native speakers that you're talking to.

Friday, September 24, 2010

why learn languages?

A while back, I received the following email from J.

Hi Keith,

I have a multilingual/polyglot question for you, one that's been on my mind lately. Perhaps you can lend me some insight.

We both share the same uncontrollable urge to learn languages, but the question is: Why? For what larger purpose? That's the existential question I'm struggling with. I'm curious to know, what are you going to do with the languages you learn?

Thanks for any insight you're able to offer.


I have some time now to answer J's question.

less pain for language learning gain

Have any of you seen this article?
Less pain for learning gain: Research offers a strategy to increase learning with less effort

This is a pretty good research study because they had 4 different groups, which means they covered several variables to see how the results differ. The study measured the ability of the participants to distinguish between the pitches of different tones.

The Activities

There were 2 different types of activity used. The first type was to listen to a 1,000 Hertz tone and a slightly lower tone. Let's call that 'Activity A'. The second activity type was to listen to the 1,000 Hertz tone repeatedly. We'll call that 'Activity B'.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sri Lanka Festival 2010

The Sri Lanka Festival 2010 was held this weekend, Sept 11th and 12th. I went on the 11th and here are a few pictures from the event which is held at Yoyogi.

The Sri Lanka Festival 2010 banner above the stage.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

native-level or conversational?

I try not too bee to pluperfect. I sways yous a spell checkered. I can nut hep it if aim sways rite. Your junta gonna hafts a git moused too it. Whey strive four an imposable goal? Ax long as I right lick this in my naive luggage, I have nut to fair too go wen taming to peek my target luggers ask will ask my naive luggage.

How about you? Do you strive for quality in your language learning? Or are you happy with attaining a passable level of communication?

You may have an IQ of 130, but if your speaking and spelling in your 2nd language is not up to par with the locals, then you're not going to be able to show just how bright you really are. You can feel it too when dealing with others. But the worst part is that it is very frustrating when the point you are trying to make is not getting through and nobody cares about you and your situation.

This is a topic which you cannot really empathize with if you have never had to work and live in a foreign language. If you've never interviewed for work in which you will be using a foreign language on the job with coworkers who are native speakers, then perhaps you don't understand just how much better it would be if you could say, "I'm at a native-level and can handle any situation without difficulty."

If you have reached native-level in another language, which language and how long did it take? I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

disappearing Japanese language proficiency tests

Has it become an epidemic? A problem that's out of hand? Or is this some kind of cold, hard reality? I was so shocked that I figured I must write a blog report about this! What is this world coming to?!!

There was once a test called the Japanese Test of Communication, or JTOC. I believe it had a scoring system rather than a level system. Anyway, it disappeared awhile back.

Then there was a new test called the JAST which would be taken on a computer and thus allow testing from an authorized location anywhere in the world. But it too disappeared.

There's also a test for Japanese people to certify their Japanese composition ability or something. It's called the BunKen for short.  There's a note on the website saying the test has been suspended from 2009.

And alas, we come to the most shocking news of all...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

does the intonation of a word change the meaning?

It's Friday night, past midnight (so technically it's Saturday) and I can't fall asleep even though I got up at 5:10 this morning. Usually after an hour, I give up and get back up.  I don't time it either.  It's just that when I check the time it's always one hour. Maybe I give up too soon. Anyway, so I decided to write this little post, since I was thinking about this anyway.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

goldmine of Chinese TV dramas online!

I have finally stumbled onto a goldmine for Chinese language learners.  Of course, authentic content made for natives, not learners. If you want to learn real Chinese without buying DVDs, without membership fees, and without having to watch the same thing over and over, now you can! All you need is your modern computer and an internet connection.

Friday, July 16, 2010

short Japanese drama only online

There is a 5 episode drama in Japanese available only online called Oh!myPROPOSE.  Is there someone willing to watch this and leave a comment about it here?

I'm still watching my Chinese dramas and have been working 40 hours a week since April. I now have over 1556 hours of the TV method for Chinese logged. Looks like I'll make it to 2000 before the end of the year for sure! Although, my current job will only continue until the middle of September. Since I am working, I'm putting all of my free time into watching the Chinese dramas. In fact, it seems I am able to watch more than when I wasn't working. Last month I logged 150 hours which is the most hours in a month since I started. Maybe this month will be more since there is an extra day this month plus this coming Monday is a holiday. June didn't have any holidays.

How do I do it? I watch one episode in the morning before I go to work. Since I walk to work (about 1.8 km) I can't use my Portable Language Acquisition Device during my commute.  After work, I watch 5 episodes. This gives me 4 hours a day during weekdays.  Although, I go to the Sign Language Circle meeting on Friday nights when I can. So to make up for lost time, I try to watch 8 hours on Saturday and 8 on Sunday. Or I might watch 10 hours on Saturday and 6 on Sunday. So now I'm averaging 5 hours a day because of the extra hours put in on the weekends. Also, not writing blog posts and not making YouTube videos gives me extra time to spend on the TV method. And of course, web browsing is down to a bare minimum. Zero hours most days.  I wouldn't even be writing this post if it wasn't for that Japanese drama. I thought I'd better share it with the Japanese language learners.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

the hodgepodge method of language learning

Have you tried the hodgepodge method? I would describe the hodgepodge way of language learning as one in which all kinds and types of effort are applied to learning a language. It's a kind of do-it-all approach and can be constructed in various ways. Absolutely no plan whatsoever is needed! Try some technique out and if you don't like it you can just discard it. Then try something else. When you get bored with that, pick a new activity to go to work on. There's one caveat though.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Language Blogging News 2

The last edition of my newscast on language learning blogs is ready and available. This is the last one I will do unless some funding should somehow come through. Since I'm not seeking any funding, it would be a miracle if it happened.

So, dim the lights, start the popcorn, and enjoy the news.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

language acquisition news from language learning blogs

Here is a news report on the new blog posts and articles about language learning and language acquisition from this week. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

should I ask advanced learners?

If you visit language forums, you will often see topics posted as questions about the foreign language. There are posts and discussions asking things like, "What does this word mean?" and "What's the difference between (this word) and (that word)?"

Sadly, these questions could all be resolved by the learner himself, if he would just be patient and get more exposure to the language. What's scary, though, is that the answers given can be wrong or give you the wrong idea. There's a word in English for this. It's called misinformation. These answers are often given by very confident-sounding advanced learners.

Monday, February 22, 2010

boy learns 2 languages watching TV

A HTLAL forum member from Azerbaijan claims to have learned 2 languages from watching TV. Original post here: Learning Turkish and Russian from TV. It is the 4th post on the 4th page (maybe some significance?), marked as message 28. His username on the forum is vusalgustav. He seems to be quite a polyglot.

I will reprint the post below:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

25 ways English native speakers define fluency in a foreign language

Here is a list of ways to tell if you are fluent in your foreign language. Actually, I just made this up for fun.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

spaced repetition (SRS) and language learning, do they go together?

What is an SRS?

SRS stands for Spaced Repetition Software. This should not be confused with flashcards. With flashcards, the learner is in control. With an SRS, the software is in control. The learner will review or test the information when the software decides. To understand why, we must look at the next question.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

should I learn to write Chinese characters from the beginning of my studies?

In Chris' blog, he noted that in order for Heisig to be successful in selling his books, he must market to the beginners in the language. As you can well imagine, if Heisig's advice was like mine, which is to learn reading and writing after you've become fluent in listening and speaking, he would lose 95% of his customers! Now, I'm not implying that this is the reason for Heisig's advice, but this is also the reality of language learning. Many people start, but few make it to fluency.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

visit the AUA Thai blog

In my previous post, I introduced you to a former student of AUA Thai. Actually, I just quoted some text from the blog of someone who seemed pretty successful with the ALG method, as well as encouraged you to read it. It was good to get comments from those of you who did. Thanks.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

students of AUA Thai use ALG method

While I have searched for blogs or experiences of students at AUA, I could not find any good ones through my own Google searches. But they do exist! And finally a good one has turned up. It was there all along but still it does not come up in my searches. Shame on Google! Searches always turn up with so many results that have very little to do with what you searched on. Google is not magic. Google doesn't have all the answers, and it certainly doesn't always give you the best results.

Thankfully we do have a nicely documented case of an AUA Thai student who progressed through 1500 hours in the ALG course. His name is Dan. Every month he wrote one post to document his progress and describe his level. If you are interested, you should read it. I'm going to quote some of the most interesting things he wrote. Outside of class he would speak Thai only when he knew how to speak without making up sentences. He started out attending about 5 hours a day (25 hours per week).

He attended from the end of August 2006 until March 2008.

-- Begin Quoted Text --

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

China is bigger than you think

The global recovery has only just begun and China is already nearing the top of some categories. With a population 10 times bigger than Japan's, China must have not reached even a quarter of its potential.

China Dethrones Germany as Top Goods Exporter JANUARY 6, 2010
China took over the mantle of the world's top merchandise exporter from Germany in 2009, according to the latest figures, aided by a global economic crisis that has taken a greater toll on other trading powers. 
China in 2007 overtook Germany as the world's third-largest national economy, and is on track to soon surpass Japan to become the second-largest economy after the U.S.

And today from this article, Japan's exports grow for first time in 15 months, 27 January 2010
The Japanese finance ministry said China had now overtaken the US as Japan's largest overseas market.
China is also on the verge of overtaking Japan as the world's second largest economy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

how many hours does it take to learn a language?

Did you ask yourself that question? Did you even stop to think about it before you jumped into learning Chinese, Japanese, Thai, or whatever language you are learning? How many hours is it going to take to learn a new language?

There are more people who know WHEN they want to be able to speak a second language than those who know how long it takes to reach that point. They want to speak NOW.  Or they say want to reach basic fluency by New Years. But they haven't even researched how much time it takes.

If you don't know how much time is required to reach your goal, how do you know if you are putting in enough time each week to reach it by your desired date?

Do not most language learners underestimate the amount of time necessary to learn a language? After all, it is not an endless process. Not being able to see the end in sight is a sure way to lose your passion. It leads to lost motivation and time spent away from doing what it is you need to do to learn that language.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

perfect pronunciation in Japanese

I just found this video on YouTube of a Chinese-speaker introducing herself in Japanese. She says she started learning Japanese in Jr. High and she has lived in Japan for over 12 years.

Friday, January 15, 2010

the ultimate Japanese language test

There is a Japanese test for Japanese people that has 7 different levels. 3 are elementary levels, and 2 each of intermediate and advanced levels. The elementary levels are at elementary school level. The intermediate levels are junior high and high school level. The two advanced levels are college and adult level. See the embedded spreadsheet below for a summary. I created it from one of their documents.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

800 hours TV method Chinese

I am writing this post to mark the point of 800 hours viewing Chinese TV dramas. All this means is that I have watched eight hundred hours of made-for-TV dramas in the Chinese Mandarin language.

And is it working? Yes, I am increasingly getting better at following the language and understanding more and more of what is actually being said. I am picking up more vocabulary as well.

Where was I a year ago? Well, let's see...

Friday, January 01, 2010

happy new year

Well, it's a new year, so happy new year! And it's a new decade, so happy new decade! Let's take a look at what the future holds for this language extremist.

I'm starting the year off with over 750 TV method hours under my belt. Those are hours watching Chinese TV dramas. I shall continue this method for the entire year at a rate of about 3 hours per day. When possible, I try to squeeze in an extra hour. My target is to reach 2,000 hours. I probably won't make that by the end of the year, but then again, it is possible. I will begin speaking Chinese when I feel I am ready. Whether that actually happens before the 2,000 hour mark or after, I don't know...