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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lesson 1.5: Reinforcing What you Learn

As I said before lessons are the foundation of Japanese learning and what you take in as your foundation will help you better understand what you need in learning the language. But what about when you want to apply your knowledge beyond an academic setting? Here are a few things you can use to help immerse yourself in the language and build on what you know. 

1. Children's books & Manga

Since many people who study the language are hoping to be able to read these, these will make an excellent way to introduce you to a couple key things. Firstly, that romaji pretty much goes out the window when you get into their media, and secondly that you become introduced to newer and newer terms and ways of speaking to incorporate into your Japanese arsenal. One title I would recommend for this purpose is Yotsuba&!, and from there any titles that contain furigana(smaller printed Hiragana written along the kanji words for the younger readers/people learning about the language to pick up on that kanji's reading and build upon). Once you feel content in your knowledge of Kanji and kanji compounds(more on those later on), go for the titles that contain no furigana to translate and read(which is often the case with newspapers, magazines and many doujinshi, or self published litreature, popularly referring to comics, but also allpies to books and other such products).

PRO TIP: Don't take on Newspaper reading until your language skill is considerably advanced, enough so to pass the higher levels of proficiency tests. You'll thank me when you're not pulling your hair out

Recommended kids stories: Take a look here to see a sampling

2. Consume other Japanese media

This includes reading books(again, seriously advanced language skills needed) listening to music, watching Dramas and movies and so on. Not only will this help you better understand the pace and pronunciation, but how intonation and other factors can affect how your words are perceived. I don't really recommend using anime for this purpose, however, as what is said there can be as subtle as getting slapped by a ham, and about as fruitful when used. For both previously mentioned methods, a good Japanese-English/English-Japanese dictionary is indispensable to have in your collection, so be sure to snag one ASAP.

Recommendations: Crunchyroll(for subtitled works) and KeyHoleTV(to watch it live from Japan as it happens, and even backed by the Japanese gov't). For dictionaries, I highly recommend the (totally won't fit in your)Pocket Kenkyusha Japanese Dictionary, as it gives you a written pitch guide for each word, examples, syntonyms(similar words), antonyms(words with an opposing meaning), and even teaches about about the culture. If you're an absolute beginner, the Oxfords Beginners Japanese Dictionary will serve you well.

3. Make friends with other learners/Japanese penpals

This will help you in not only learning, but using what you know in a social context. And in this day and age, there are many means to actually write to them and talk to them. So by all means, go on and use them and improve your language skills. No use in knowing so many words and terms if you don't know how to use them.

Recommendations: PenPal WorldPenPal NetInterpalsJapan Guide Classifieds, and My Language Exchange, among a plethora of others out there.

And for the most important step of all...