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|Friday, February 9th, 2007|
We just got the exciting news that we have the opportunity to be a host family for a week to a 12-year-old Japanese girl. One of the moms in my homeschooling group used to teach English in Japan and a friend of hers is coming to the States for a visit. Yoshimi teaches English in Japan as well and is bringing four of her students with her.
I'm really nervous as well. My Japanese is still embarrassingly poor, and whle I realize most host families don't speak Japanese at all, I'm ashamed of my faltering attempts. I'm also already having anxiety over doing something rude unintentially. One of my less desirable traits (although I suppose sometimes it can be desirable) is obsessing with minute details. What should I tell her to call me? Would it be rude to ask her to call me by my first name? What if she's really bored? What if she thinks it's weird that I have so many Japanese things, watch Japanese television, use Japanese craft books? What if we aren't American enough and she's disappointed with her American experience? And the biggest one--how are we going to keep family arguments to a minimum for a week? Because honestly, I am a shouter.
Wow, that's quite a list, huh. Pretty funny when I read it over. I'm still nervous.
|Monday, January 22nd, 2007|
My Japanese studies have taken a definite downward turn since last fall. We bought a house in November, and with the initial house hunting, and then packing up and settling in, I really didn't have much time to really devote to studying. I was trying to do something weekly, whether it was book studies or Rosetta Stone, but it still didn't have the intensity of what I did over the past year. Trying to get back into it now, but it's hard with the girls getting older and all the other things I am trying to do. Still, I want to get back into weekly studies. I know it's much slower than what younger people can do, but I am not in any hurry, I don't need to know Japanese by any specific time. Right now I am focusing on reviewing and reinforcing, and that seems to be going well, in some aspects I am encouraged by what I have learned, and in other aspects a bit lost. I got a mixi invitation last week and still am having trouble deciphering the email, that's a discouraging as I would have thought by now I would know more. On the other hand, I am translating a third grade social studies text and am doing rather well, although the pictures probably help. At least I haven't lost interest, I was afraid of that, but I still enjoy it just as much as ever. So there is that and I just keep trudging along.
|Saturday, July 29th, 2006|
I remember years ago as a child going to a Children's Peace Fair, where there was a table about Sadako and the thousand cranes. The woman running the table corrected my pronunciation of Hiroshima, telling me that Japanese doesn't stress syllables the way English does. This has become one of the most difficult things to overcome in my pronunciation, the hardest part of not being able to listen to someone speak Japanese--although listening to doramas and working with Rosetta Stone is helping a good deal. Still, I have problems distinguishing between the sound of a stressed syllable and an elongated vowel. I was watching a show where a teenage girl answered rather in disgust wa--ka--rima---shita, which to me sounds a good deal like wakariMAHshita so I have been walking around saying the two aloud to actually hear the difference. In, repeating dialogue on dioramas has been a fairly good tool in getting pronunciation correct.
I've been trying to find a new drama to watch, preferably one that doesn't deal with romance or high school. AznvTV
put up some new doramas recently, among them Teru Teru Ashita
. Pretty good so far and it's fun spotting the references to
Ame to Yume no Ato ni
, which was a separate story but featured a number of the same actors. I really am impressed how quickly AznvTV gets new stuff up, this dorama was just aired in Japan a few months ago. I wish they would get Unfair, though. I watched the first two episodes on d-addicts, but they don't have the rest subtitled and I know I would pretty much be hopelessly lost.
|Monday, July 24th, 2006|
Man, trying to work my way through
Japanese For Busy People II
is tough. It took me 2 1/2 hours just to get through the reading and practice exercices for Chapter 4, I didn't even get to the quiz. This book introduces kanji, which is great, I need so much work on kanji. I had hesitated to buy this book because of the business focus, but it really was the best one that fell within my budget guidelines--Genki is just a bit too much, even though it comes to highly recommended. And despite the focus on business situations, I still am learning grammar forms that can apply to any situation. The book does have a tendency to just introduce grammar by example--"write it this way" without breaking it down and explaining it. On a whim I grabbed
Japanese the Manga Way
during a recent trip to the library (I seldom get to browse when I take the girls, I have to grab whatever looks good). I didn't have much hopes for it, I thought it would be along the lines of some of the websites I have found teaching Japanese through anime. It really is a great resource, I bought a copy for myself and it makes an excellent supplement to the Busy People book. It breaks the grammar down in an easy to understand way, and the index is well arranged as well--something that has annoyed me in other textbooks. So, armed with these two books I am tackling my second year of Japanese on my own--hard to believe it's been a whole year alread and I have stuck with it this long.
I still need to find a way to something everyday. So far my big study sessions are 2-3 hours Sunday night when I can get away while Brian watches the kids. But I need to do a little every day, even if it's just for a half an hour. I have free access to Rosetta Stone through the Columbus library and despite my best intentions, haven't been using it nearly enough as I should. I wanted to do a half hour every night and instead when I get some free time to relax I just dick around on the internet.
|Tuesday, July 18th, 2006|
Someone on my personal LJ posted a quote she really liked:
"The Chinese have no writen symbols for the word crisis. Interestingly, to express this concept you must combine two other symbols, one signifying danger and the other meaning opportunity. That is generally an accurate description of one's position as signifigant change enters one life: danger plus opportunity."
Which is a nice quote, but struck me a bit as not quite understanding the function of Hanzi as well as being along the lines of "Eskimos have over 100 words for snow because it's so important in their culture" So a google search very quickly turned up an article not only debunking the quote, but giving a brief explanation of the function of Hanzi/Kanji
"There is a widespread public misperception, particularly among the New Age sector, that the Chinese word for "crisis" is composed of elements that signify "danger" and "opportunity." I first encountered this curious specimen of oriental wisdom about ten years ago at an altitude of 35,000 feet sitting next to an American executive. He was intently studying a bound volume that had adopted this notorious formulation as the basic premise of its method for making increased profits even when the market is falling. At that moment, I didn't have the heart to disappoint my gullible neighbor who was blissfully imbibing what he assumed were the gems of Far Eastern sagacity enshrined within the pages of his workbook. Now, however, the damage from this kind of pseudo-profundity has reached such gross proportions that I feel obliged, as a responsible Sinologist, to take counteraction."
The rest of the article can be found herehttp://www.pinyin.info/chinese/crisis.html
|Wednesday, June 21st, 2006|
|Wednesday, June 14th, 2006|
|Monday, June 12th, 2006|
|Sunday, June 4th, 2006|
|Wednesday, May 31st, 2006|
Newest Ebay acquisition, Japanese textbooks from Hawaii. Fortunately trying to find old Japanese children's books is proving to be a bit difficult, which makes my budget a bit more tolerable.
The one with the children playing in the ocean is my favorite. It has color illustrations which you can see an example of below
These appear to be for grades 6-8. There are some English definitions for the kanji at the beginning of one, so I am not quite sure if these are for Japanese speaking children, or English speaking children learning Japanese. The one with the kids playing in the ocean was copyrighted in Honolulu, the rest were printed in Japan.
|Tuesday, May 30th, 2006|
One of the mothers in my homeschooling group told me that as a resident of Ohio I can get a Colimbus library card which would allow me to access Rosetta Stone online for free
. It's through the Worthington Library, I just log on with my library card number. I've been doing an hour of study every night. It's going to be a great help with reading and pronunciation.
However, I remember on a message board someone said Rosetta Stone wasn't very helpful for Japanese as the speakers spoke with an accent not used by many Japanese. I've already noticed a few things, but since my exposure to spoken Japanese has been pretty much through doramas, it's entirely possible I just wasn't catching the pronunciaton before. For instance, おんな の ひと sounds like onna no shto and いちご sounds like ichi ngyo.
Typing one hand while holding sleeping kid, need to get to bed.
|Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006|
I finished Japanese For Busy People (Kana Version)
and have been looking around for a new textbook. Busy People was okay, but had a few drawbacks. I decided to get ようこそ
out of the library to see if it presented any new information and might be good for a review (I would have prefered Genki
but alas, even through interlibrary loan it wasn't available). I looked through ようこそ tonight and oh, I Don't Know Anything. Well, I know some, but still am sadly lacking. ようこそ really emphasizes Kanji, which Busy People didn't use at all, so I think I am just going to work my way through this book and even though I am pretty clear on about half the grammar points, it will still be good for working on kanji and review.
Downloaded this program today, which seems pretty cool http://www.polarcloud.com/rikaichan/
|Sunday, April 16th, 2006|
There is a British comedy show called Goodness Gracious Me
that I used to watch. One of the skits involves a group of young Indian-British people sitting in a pub, waiting to meet the new girlfriend of a friend. She's not Indian, so they wonder what she is like. And when she does arrive, she greets them with "Namaste", makes the symbolic gestures with her hands that you see Buddha making in statues, wears her hair in braids and is dressed in a salwar suit. And they all just sort of stare at her in disbelief. I try and remind myself of this everytime I think I am just emersing myself in a culture. When I think it would be fun to go to the Cherry Blossom Festival and take bento lunches and make happi coats for the girls, I have to remind myself of that episode--do I really want to be comedy? Be more Japanese than the Japanese people attending? Back off a bit. Okay, the bento boxes are cool, so go ahead and take lunches. But not so much the happi jackets perhaps.
It's sometimes such a fine line between respect and admiration for a culture, and culture appropriation. Some of the stuff is a bit obvious. Kanji tattoos? Pretty much appropriation, particularly if you cannot read Kanji, and even worse if your tattoo artist can't read it either. Just check out Hanzismatter
There were some parenting boards I used to frequent where a number of moms would talk about conducting Blessing Ways for their newborns. If you aren't Dine, conducting such a ceremony can be considered offensive. I've known people who turned to Shamanism, or Santeria, or Hare Krishna.
And often, it's privileged white people, spending money, looking for some sort of spiritual revelation. (although to be fair, with Santeria, it appears that even if you are Hispanic, it takes money to be a Santero, so there is privilege there as well). It's just frustating to me, how cultures become "cool". And often it's a minority culture that is supposed to be "cool, and a dominant culture doing the exploiting. Suburban white kids pretending they are in a gang.
Where am I going with this. The sort of rambling post I don't usually make.
|Thursday, April 13th, 2006|
|Monday, April 10th, 2006|
しまった！ さむい だ よ。 春だ ね？
今日いっしょに ふたりむすめが こうえんに いきました。はれでしたが さむかった
です。そうして みせね いって ぬのを かいたかった。あめもを かいました。娘
は あめが とても 好きですから うれしい。
|Tuesday, April 4th, 2006|
The books I won on Ebay arrived today. They are part of series called Kodomo Challenge, which appears to be enrichment education for preschoolers. The books are great--I got 8 altogether. There are stories, activities--and each book deals with a different subject. One deals with--pooping. Should be no surprise, a number of the children's books I have found deal with bodily functions in a very matter of fact way. We even had one book about that zoo that featured photos of animals in the act of defacating.
However, this book still makes me snicker a bit. Everything really does have to be kawaii, doesn't it?
This is part of poster explaining the digestion process, the end result of which is happy, stinky poop.
At first I thought this was angry poop trying to get out, but it appears he is actually sneezing and this is what causes gas?
This page explains what a poop that is just right should look like. I am pretty sure the Tiger is proudly stating that his poop is indeed, just right. A few other examples are included for reference.
Lessons should be fun.
|Monday, April 3rd, 2006|
I think I am learning Japanese the same way I learned Calculus--I can memorize and spit out a formula, but I don't really know how to apply it. So as long as sentences follow the same structure, I can substitute other things and still have a pretty good idea of what I am doing. But translating things into Japanese still takes a bit of work. One of the sentences in my textbook is "I live near my office. It's a 15-minute walk". My translation was かいしゃのちかくにすんでいます Okay so far, I got that part right. But then I was confused, because I felt "walk" was a noun, rather than a verb. So I wrote さんぽが １５ぶんです which I knew was awkward, because if "walk" was a noun, then 15 minutes is what--an adjective? Ah, my rotten English grammar. And of course it's always difficult when you translate something word for word. The correct answer is あるいて １５ふんです which confuses me even further, because it's a use of -て form that I don't think the book has covered. I understand it's use (sort of) in the middle of a sentence, as the polite imperative, asking permission and refusal as well as the present progressive, but this seems to be none of those.
Japanese for Busy People is a pretty good textbook for self-learning, but it does have a tendency to just throw things at you and say "this is how it's done" rather than actually explaining them. With the resources I have found on the net I have been able to sort out a number of things, but there are still a few that baffle me.
I am working my way through ﾄﾘｯｸ ｻﾞ ｺﾐｯｸ but it's pretty tough going since my kanji knowledge is pretty much first grade level. I pretty much have to look up almost every single kanji, but I am learning some interesting jujutsu. Of course it helps immensely that I have watched the episode several times so have a good idea of the story line and even the dialogue. Although now I am wondering if it would help to read the manga along with the dorama as a learning tool, it seems to follow the script pretty closely.
|Sunday, April 2nd, 2006|
Finally Spring here, although it's still gray and muddy. The warm weather is nice, but I can't wait until there are leaves on the trees.
Finished up with Midnight Rain. It was--okay. As always, Hiroshi Abe is good to look at. The storyline seemed to drag on a bit. It was sort of like--and then the big twist is--! but wait, there's more! but that's not it! And then finally the whole big mystery wasn't really all that mysterious anyway. There also seemed to be an implication at one point that someone had deliberately brought them all together, but I don't know if that was ever actually explained or if it was just supposed to be fate.
Fate seems to come up quite a bit in Japanese dramas, the idea that you can't get away from your past. People are reunited under the most extraordinary coincidences. A Sleeping Forest, A Million Stars Fall From the Sky, Keizoku and Midnight Rain all had that same theme.
I started watching Unfair, but I can only find the first two episodes subtitled, and I am no where near being able to figure out what is going on by just the dialogue. I can barely figure out Tonari no Totoro, and that's mostly because I have seen it so many times in English. Although I got the Japanese video from the library, there are no subtitles, and I do pay more attention to the dialogue when I am not distracted by the text--I was surprised how much I actually understood (which still wasn't very much). Sometimes I get so intent on reading the subtitles, I am not paying attention to the spoken dialogue.
So is Watashi Baka Da
supposed to be clever and I am just not quite getting it? I saw some stickers at Hot Topic and pointed out to Brian that the grammar was wrong, as it omitted the particle wa. He was pretty impressed, although he tried to play it off by just looking embarrassed. I need to find other people who are learning Japanese so I can complain about these things properly. Hot Topic also had wristbands that said "I 愛 Anime" I sneered at those as well.
|Monday, March 20th, 2006|
I know some of you on my friends list are self taught--how did you do it? I have met people online who seem to be well advanced, so it's possible, I just don't know how to do it myself. I keep wondering if I am somehow messing up and it will hinder me further on down the line. I have looked over Tae Kim's Guide
and he starts with kanji right from the beginning. I am using the Kana version of Japanese for Busy People, but when I write out the lessons, I wonder if I should be using Kanji instead, if relying on kana is going to be as bad as romaji in the long run. Sometimes I think I am doing rather well, but it's still all kana, my Kanji is pathetic. I started reading the Trick manga I bought, but I need to write down almost every single Kanji because I don't recognize it. I am still watching doramas and movies almost daily. It seems a bit pathetic until I realize how much television most Americans watch and at least I can delude myself into thinking it's educational
I do think I am making some progress, and it's gratifying, particularly since learning languages is supposed to get harder as you get older. And this is one thing that is making me feel old, old, old. I am far older than most of the people I encounter online. But I don't think my age is making it difficult, I think it's just that having a kids means I don't get to devote as much time to studying as I would like to. We are still trying to learn together, and the kids continue to learn vocabulary and songs, Miranda can put together a few simple sentences and undertands the structure enough to be able to substitute other words. And sometimes I pick up books and try to read them and suddenly the kana makes sense when previously it didn't. Ivy had a very simple board book that had a two set phrases in them and one I could not figure out,when I looked it up I got nothing that made sense and one day I realized that I was running all the kana together and the phrase was あさだよ So simple, but it really was great to understand.
So some days it's going good and I feel I am making progress and other days I wonder what I am doing and will I ever really learn anything. Obviously I am never going to teach the girls in a truly proficient manner, but I really just want to expose them to another language. For myself, it's different. I really would like to improve. And I am just not sure how to do that without actual lessons, or exposure to a native speaker. I am thinking about checking around for some sort of lessons, just to be actually able to speak with people in Japanese.