Archive for the ‘Japanese’ Category

Thoughts on Lithuanian and Japanese

January 2, 2007

After some thought, and alot of playing around with languages and setting myself up for success yesterday, I have decided to put my “vocabulary list” with Lithuanian on hold for the time being.

I was getting materials set up yesterday so I would not have to actively look for vocabulary lists in my target languages (textbooks, vocabulary list books, websites, etc), and it dawned on me that I do not know enough about the Lithuanian language – more specifically about the alphabet and how the writing is pronounced – that I should be learning words yet.  (Kind of the “doh” factor, you know?)

In any case, I’ve decided to put the Lithuanian list on hold for now, until I have time to work my way through the pronunciation section of my “Colloquial Lithuanian” book and the corresponding audio, and I have a firmer grasp on the sound of the language.  I will probably make audio files of the material I have from Transparant Language (101 World Languages), and listen to those, and Pimsleur, when I’m at work.  This will enable me to get more comfortable with the sounds of the language.

I also am thinking it would be wiser not to set myself up the same way with Japanese.  I am currently working with the hiragana and katakana syllabaries, and I think my Japanese time will be focused more on that.  I will continue with Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone, however, and I’m sure I’ll be picking up limited vocabulary from those.

New Year’s Language Resolutions

December 30, 2006

I hadn’t realized it’s been so long since I’ve posted.    Life has been busy, the Christmas season is finally over, and the New Year is nearly upon us.

I recently decided that it was a mistake trying to learn Italian, before I had mastered Spanish.  I was having a lot of trouble remembering Italian vocabulary without constantly comparing to Spanish, and the Spanish would continually pop into my head before the Italian would.  It’s been about 10 years since I’ve studied my Spanish in any depth, and it has fallen into disuse.  I had thought it would be smarter to gear away from the Spanish because of how much I did not remember, but I realized awhile ago that this is not really the case.

So I have decided to go back to my Spanish, to review and improve that before I move onto any other languages.  That being said, I also do not want to get bored with it (and I know I will), so I have decided on Japanese as a secondary language.  I spent alot of time debating between Chinese and Japanese, but I think Japanese is more doable at this point.    Perhaps choosing to spread myself between two languages is a mistake, but I think it will help fill those points where you don’t feel like you’re advancing in the language you are focusing on.

I don’t like making specific goals, since I have no idea how much time I will have to devote to my language learning, nor how quickly I will progress with what time I do have.  So to make it simple:

1.  Spanish:  My goal will be to learn 15 new words per day.  That should give me a (new) vocabulary of about 5500 words at the end of the year.  I will continue to listen to radio, podcasts, watch movies, and work through grammar and reading books, but those are things that are much harder to quantify.  I’d like to be back to intermediate/advanced speaking proficiency by the end of 2007.

2.  Japanese:  My reading/writing goal will be to learn the 2 kana syllabaries, and begin learning the kanji, well enough to read through some basic Japanese texts.  Three words per day for vocabulary, and working through grammar as time permits.

3.  Other:  I’ve kind of become fascinated with Lithuanian, and have a few books (with audio) on it.  I also feel that I could learn a fair amount of another language or two (I’m thinking Russian and German, two languages completely different from the others I am focusing on) over time, if I commit myself to learning 3 words a day in each of them.

I think the important thing, dealing with the “other” languages, that if I decide to do that, I’m ONLY learning vocabulary.    The only reason I would do this would be so that when I decide to focus on these languages, I will already have amassed a decent amount of vocabulary and it will (hopefully) be quite a bit easier to get further faster.

It seems like alot of words, all in all, but if I decide it’s too much, I may decide to forgo the German and Russian.  With Spanish, that is my primary learning objective, to gain vocabulary. so I don’t think it’s really that big of a task.  We shall see.

Too Many Languages, Too Many Programs, Not Enough Time!

October 14, 2006

Hello, and welcome to my little language blog. I like languages, and I wish I could learn them all. Well, maybe not ALL of them, but at least 20-30 of them, to start out with! Let’s see – I know some Spanish, from long ago when I was in high school (and college). But it’s been 8-10 years since I’ve used it to any degree, so maybe I should start near the beginning to remember everything.

After I re-learn my Spanish, and get to a semi-proficient level, I’d like to learn Italian. And French and Portuguese. After that, I’d like to learn Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and maybe German. (Actually, I have no real desire to learn German, other than it is the most spoken Germanic language (other than English). From the year in high school I spent learning it – of which I retained next to nothing – I got the impression it is NOT a language I would want to spend my time in. However, there would be many advantages to learning German, and it would probably be less difficult if I already had a handle on Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. We’ll see, if (no – WHEN) I get to that point.

I would also really like to learn Russian (which would be a good jumping point to learn any and all Slavic languages). Japanese, for sure, is in my top 5 (after Spanish and French, along with Russian and Mandarin Chinese. It would be nice to learn Hindustani, Bengali, and a half dozen dialects of Arabic. Then I’d be able to talk to just about anyone in the world.

Realistically, at this point, I don’t have the time or energy to focus on a dozen different languages. Right now, I want to focus on improving my Spanish, and getting a basic, working knowledge of Italian. There will probably be a point where I start blogging in Spanish, but not for awhile yet.

My goals for the time being are this: 25 Spanish words per day (which adds up to more than 9k words in a year’s time) and half an hour of Italian. Right now, I’m working through Pimsleur, but it is becoming boring pretty fast. I am looking at Michal Thomas, Linguaphone, and Learn in Your Car programs. I wish I could get my hands on Assimil, but my local library does not have those programs (bittorrents, anyone?).

As a single mom (my fiance passed away in January 2006), I cannot afford to purchase many of the pricey programs out there. I’d rather spend what little money I have to take care of my twin four-year old daughters. (Who, right now, are in desperate need of some socks and some warm shirts – none of which I can afford at the moment.)

My pitiful financial situation aside, my love of languages, and the goal of being fluent in a few of them within the next few years, gives me something to do with what little spare time that I can find. So off I go on my journey to become near-fluent in Spanish, and to gain a basic understand of the Italian language. I think within the next month or two, I will add some Japanese to my schedule. Perhaps, with my limited study time, I will just work on a katakana or hiragana every day, or work on a handful of them over the weekend. That way, when I am ready and able to put the time into it, there will be one less mystery.