It's been years since I've really put a lot of effort into studying languages. I used to spend 3-5 hours a day studying Japanese or Mandarin when I first left the States. The goal back then was to become conversational as quickly as possible.
I became conversational, and I even figured out how to be able to communicate in a new language in just a few months. But going from intermediate to advance seemed like such an impossible taste, despite all the effort I put in. I kind of gave up.
I've tried to get back to studying many times, and I've dabbled in Spanish and Indonesian too, but I haven't really gone back to making language study a main priority, I've had way too much to do. I was writing music and stories, blogging for crypto, working, and recently I've been doing all the extra work of being self-employed too.
Though my listening and grammar is still far weaker than I'd like, I think vocabulary is really where I could use the most improvement. Languages have SO MANY WORDS, and I'm trying to read fluently and understand what's going on in all situations, you really need a massive word bank for that.
I have tried a few ways to make sure my Japanese improves instead of deteriorates, and I'm also thinking of ways to learn Spanish, both without taking too much time out of my day. I think I've finally built a nice routine.
I started doing flashcards a while ago, but I realized that out of context, the words barely stuck. Instead of just using a textbook, or a novel which is a big commitment, I decided to rewatch my favorite anime, Made in Abyss, and to treat it as study material.
I'll re-watch 10-15 minutes from it a few times every day, while I'm stretching, while I'm on the toilet, while I'm working on social media stuff. I'll save each unfamiliar vocabulary word and practice each sentence a few times. Then I'll make flashcards.
Yesterday I taught one of my students, a really cool high school kid whose parents are friends, and he has a big test coming up. I realized vocab is also his weakest point and so we brainstormed how to fix that. 25 words a day can be hard, but if they are from context in life or from study material or fiction, they are a lot easier. So I told him to make 25 flashcards a day from his practice tests, and I promised to do the same thing, though I'll be taking mine from anime.
I've actually learned over 200 words in a day but it took a few hours of review, I think 25 words is doable in less than a half hour and that hour doesn't even have to be consecutive. 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there. If he can do it, I can do it, and if I can do it, he can do it. We will test each other and brainstorm how to memorize the words more effectively next week.
I know this list is useless to most people since not everyone is studying Japanese, but just to get an idea, here are some words I learned from the anime so far:
ぐうの音も出ない - To be at a loss
一攫千金 - To strike it rich
羅針盤 - Compass
深淵 - Abyss
あまた - more (rare formal way)
且つ - moreover
採掘 - mining
あらかた - mostly (rare)
いかなる時 - any whatsoever
備品 - equipment
紛失 - to go missing
ご法度 - contraband
没収 - to forfeit
ちょろまかす - to sneak around
惨状 - sorry scene
孤島 - desolate island
直径 - diameter
原生 - primitive
懐に入れる - to pocket
疑わしい - doubtful
騒がせる - to disturb
誇り高い - proud
全開 - full throttle
指し示す - to indicate
格上げ - promotion
単独 - sole
査定額 - assessed value
27 words there ;-)
Having the context of the anime makes it a WHOLE lot easier to remember, context is the key!
Meanwhile, I keep finding more reasons to learn Spanish, between the Hivesters that speak it and the fact that I'll likely visit a Spanish speaking country and want to speak with locals, and also the fact that it's often intelligible to Portuguese speakers and I plan on visiting Portugal as well. If I can get conversational in Spanish I will move on to Portuguese.
Rather than putting any big effort into learning Spanish, I will just make sentences with a dictionary on twitter and to friends, a few every week. I'll have a grammar goal every month and learn as much vocabulary as I can, starting with verbs.
I remember "to be" pretty well, so...I'm starting with "I am ---ing":
Que eres haciendo? - What are you doing?
Estoy aprendiendo. - I am learning.
El esta estudiando. - He is studying.
Estoy hablando con ella. - I am talking to her.
Estoy viendo una pelicula - I am watching a movie.
Estoy escuchando musica - I am listening to music.
Unlike the last few times I tried to study a language, I have figured this out so that it won't get in the way of my work or my activity at Hive, and easy but challenging enough so that I want to keep at it.
I would never focus so much on vocabulary in the beginning of language learning now that I've tried it so many times. I find the best thing to do first is to focus on basic grammar structures and learn vocabulary in the progress, but since it's my weak point, I want to attack it head on.
If I can, I'd love to learn about 2500 words in 100 days in Japanese, and get comfortable using simple grammar in Spanish over the next year. I'll check my progress every week. This should also give me a chance to connect more with #langtwt. If anyone else would like to join me there on twitter to try and make some new friends, let me know. Hope to bring them all back to Hive but maybe you can help ;-)
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