Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Studying Japanese

It is interesting that I have studied a lot of theory about how a language is acquired, both first and second etc., and have a good idea about the standard strategies to suggest to students studying English, but am not so successful in following my own advice when studying Japanese.

I find myself making the same (supposed) mistakes many students do when learning English. (Focusing too much on form/grammar etc.) when speaking---in class anyway. It is nice to tell someone not to do this, but damned hard advice to follow. It is hard to define what "too much" is. Of course, one has to be somewhat cautious about being too dogmatic with these theories. They are mostly just the best evidence, not a universal truth.

I have found that reading a lot---in addition to listening practice---has helped my listening comprehension considerably. I can't say it is definitely because of the increased focus on reading, but my listening ability has improved at a faster pace since I started it. It hasn't helped my speaking as much, but speaking improvement usually follows listening improvement. They are rarely concurrent, and speaking improvement rarely precedes listening improvement.

I just passed the nationwide Japanese test, but have a ways to go to pass the next and probably the most challenging level. I studied Japanese in college via grammar-translation which does little to help one communicate. I studied at Nichibeigakuin in Tokyo for 3 months in 2000, but quit mainly because of too many people in one class (13) and the huge amount of homework given daily. (4 hours minimum. Too much for someone working full time. It was more than 4 hours if one had any problems.) I only got back into serious study just over a year ago.

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