Saturday, August 6, 2011

Learning Japanese, One Week In

As I mentioned a week ago, I signed up for a 595 day 'course' in Japanese called SilverSpoon.  It's called this as it's designed to spoon feed the learner Japanese, one little bit at a time.  I'm now on day 7/595. 

It's been a very modest start.  Khatzumoto, our 'guide' in the program and creator of the AJATT blog, has us doing a LOT of passive listening.  I'm enjoying it and doing it most of the day and even night with podcasts.  I know there are questions over the usefulness of passive listening, and I can see both sides.  Fluent in 3 Month's Benny Lewis doesn't like it, but he also spends no more than three months on a language, giving passive listening far less of a beneficial effect.  I see how it can help when used over a longer period of time and alongside other methods.  It's a multiplier, though a small one.  If it's your only method of learning, you're multiplying against 0, giving you 0.  If you combine it with other methods, it has a cumulative effect over a long period of time.

The other technique we're using is called shadowing.  Basically, you copy what a native speaker is saying exactly how they're saying it.  It's said to help you with tonality, which Japanese admittedly has little of, making you sound more like a native speaker.  Again, I'm seeing this as a small multiplier that also helps build good speaking habits.  I'm not enjoying this quite as much as passive listening as native speakers seem to speak very fast.  I know this will become easier later on with more experience, but it's still frustrating.

Along with a quick glance at the Kanji, which we will focus more on next month, that's about it.  It can all be summed up with Khatz's Three Laws of Language Acquisition:

  1. The Prime Directive: Have fun
  2. The Promise: Suck less
  3. The Path: Make contact little and often
Summary:  worth it despite the price.  Another update next week.

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