Saturday, December 29, 2012

new year revolutions

This year (2012), I didn't accomplish much in the way of achievements.  I have no achievements to brag about.  I didn't watch much Chinese TV.  I didn't take any language tests.  I did, however, start a new job where I am working in an English bubble.  I used to work in a Japanese office.  Yes, I am still in Japan, but now I work where there are very few Japanese people and English is pretty much the only language spoken.

But for 2013, I have a number of things I want to accomplish and so it's going to be a year of revolutions.

First of all, I am studying for some more Oracle database certification exams.  I'm going to take two exams and I'm going to take them in Japanese.  I did this before when I got certified on Oracle PL/SQL.  I don't have to take them in Japanese.  I could go to the testing center and take the English version of the tests.  I choose to take them in Japanese.  I have already bought a study book for the first exam and have read more than half of it.  After I pass those two exams, then I'm going to study for and take the Java programmer certification exam.  I'll do that in Japanese as well.

After I finish those exams in Japanese, I will continue to study in Japanese.  I want to pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test N1 exam in December 2013.  For that, I need to do a lot of reading of articles of the type that will appear on the exam.  Reading comprehension is very important for the exam.

At the same time, I would like to take my Chinese to the next level.  By the end of the year, I would like to be able to hold a conversation in Chinese without too much trouble.  For that, I am going back to Assimil Chinese with Ease to make sure I know every word and phrase in the course.  I am also going to write out every lesson so that I will be sure to reinforce some of the words that are not used very often in the course as well as be able to read and hopefully write Chinese characters.

I am not too worried about any of the usual hiccups that come with using textbook lessons since I have already spent a lot of time with Chinese.  I seem to already have acquired pretty good pronunciation and I know I'm at a point where I can really take off.  Either before or after I finish Assimil, I will practice speaking by engaging in some conversations.  That will allow me to gauge where I am at with the language. To date, I have only spent 6.8 hours speaking Chinese, and only once this year.  This year, I watched Chinese TV dramas for about 140 hours.  I will try to watch some next year too, but I have not set any target hours.

I will be really excited when I can carry on a conversation in Chinese well.

Good luck to everybody in 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

language learning methods do not matter

The theme of the year in the polyglot community seems to be that the method doesn't matter when it comes to learning a language. And from what I gather, the reasoning behind that statement goes something like this: Polyglot A likes to translate, while Polyglot B likes to talk to people, and Polyglot C does lots of reading but no translation exercises. Since Polyglots A, B and C have all learned multiple languages using different approaches, we can therefore conclude that there is no key method to learning a language.

Although I do think you can go about learning a language in different ways, and if you keep up with lots of hard work, yes, you will make progress. And then at some point you may decide to declare that you can speak the language. However, will you be happy with the point you have reached?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

you are thinking too much

This is a blog where I post my views about learning languages.  My views are not main-stream, and there are plenty who would disagree with me. Plenty of those people are also better language learners than I am, however, I do not automatically assume that those people know more than I do. In fact, I think that very very few people know how languages are actually learned. Even if they are able to call themselves fluent in foreign languages, it does not mean they recognize how they learned those languages.

One point is grammar.