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Learning Japanese through Korean

I’m actually glad that Japanese is very similar to Korean. I seldom get confused on what particles and sentence endings to use (unlike some of my classmates). I just need time to get more familiar and comfortable with them as I go along.

I’m also glad to find some cheatsheets like THIS. So when the English explanation in the textbook baffles me, I just Ctrl+F through that document and check the Korean equivalent and everything clears up.

I also listen to NHK’s podcast lessons in Korean and it makes me feel better because I can learn Japanese at the same time test my Korean comprehension.

Learning languages is fun (Japanese verb conjugations aside lol)! 🙂

I also found Korean subtitles for my new Japanese drama, Rebound. Happy me! 🙂

rebound

頑張る

I’m the odd ball in our Intermediate Japanese class. Though I “passed” my beginner Japanese class, I consider myself as a beginner. Can you just imagine how I feel sitting among intermediate learners and still can’t read anything Japanese on our first week? I also ALWAYS have mistakes when answering class recitation – a big proof that I do not understand a thing. I even greeted everyone with おはよう ございます during a group presentation despite the blazing heat of the afternoon sun (because I thought it works the same way as 안녕하세요 OTL). I nudge my seatmate for correct answers when there’s a class recitation. I leave my quizzes blanks. And can’t even check my seatmate’s quizzes properly.

I was like that for the past 4 weeks. I dread our class not because I hate it, but because I feel so stressed.

But now I’m excited to go to class because I have prepared well. I may not still know a lot of things, and may still fail my quizzes ㅠㅠ but I think I will not be so lost anymore now that I can read Hiragana (at least) and have learned all the grammar points we have discussed, we are discussing, and will be discussing.

I feel more confident now that I have gone over our entire textbook.

In our class, we have quizzes everyday and we have what we call a “5-quiz Combo”. We can get extra points if we get perfect scores for five consecutive quizzes. At first I thought, “Never mind! That is something impossible for me to achieve”. But now I’m actually up for the challenge :)! I’ll try my best to get at least one “quiz combo”. 頑張る!

My Urarachan, Aibu Saki

Bio_SakiAibu_Front

Heh! I never thought I’ll actually like a Japanese actor! Was it because my crush said she’s cute that’s why I like her? Nah! Haha. (Maybe we really just have the same taste XD). It’s just that her character in Kaseifu no Mita is so cute and bubbly. And she is so gorgeous yet still cheerful and bubbly in Rich Man Poor Woman. But she will always be Urara-chan to me. 🙂

It’s also awesome that the friend of one of my students is friends with her!  すごい! Haha!

I guess I found my next drama to watch – Aibu Saki’s Rebound!

Cramming Japanese

My right hand (and arm) still hurts as I type this. I’ve spent 3 days poring over my Japanese textbooks and taking down notes. I’ve finished 15 chapters!

It’s actually my fault, to begin with. Because I did not study when I was taking the beginner class, so I have to start from square one. We are currently on Chapter 9~10 of Genki but I decided to continue reading until Chapter 15 – the last chapter we will cover until the end of the semester. That way, I can focus more on my thesis later on.

I just focused on grammar lessons, so I still lack so much vocabulary and I still have to memorize learn about a thousand and a half words. But despite lacking vocabs, I did learn a lot these past 3 days.

And finally Japanese language has started taking form. When I was watching Anego, I still find Japanese language gibberish. I tried to listen well, but I only ended up catching as many Korean sounding words I can XD. With Kaisefu no Mita I started picking up expressions, especially from Mita しつれいします,  しょうちしました, それは。。。うみとさんがきめることです, あります. But since I started reading my textbook and taking down notes when I started Rich Man Poor Woman, I started recognizing sentence endings while watching that drama. I re-watched re-listened to Rich Man Poor Woman as I continue reading and not only was I able to recognize the sentence endings, but I can also recognize word boundaries now! And as my mom starts watching Kaseifu no Mita I watch with her and I can even now play my guess-what-the-character-is-about-to-say-next game (even if it’s just 分かりました, あります, ありません, 別に, ただいま, 好きです).

Seems like my cramming for Japanese is starting to pay off. I still need to learn Katakana and 200 Kanjis, but 3 straight days of writing down notes made me more comfortable in “mind”-reading (I’m still very slow when it comes to reading out loud) and writing Hiragana. I never thought I’ll have this much fun in learning Japanese. So it seems like it’s the effort and time that I really needed to jumpstart my Japanese learning. Though it’s not as fun and as comfortable as learning Korean (and perhaps will never be XD), learning Japanese is not too bad after all. I still need to exert more efforts though. 頑張る.

Liking Japanese Dramas

The only Japanese dramas I’ve seen before were 14 Year Old MotherNodame Cantabile and Power of LoveAlthough those three were good ones, they didn’t leave as much impact to me as Korean dramas that’s why I stopped watching Japanese dramas ages ago.

Of course I admit I have my huge bias towards Korean dramas. If you’ll let me chose between a really good Japanese drama and a mediocre a bad Korean drama, I would definitely pick up the Korean one without batting an eyelid. Maybe because after years and years of watching Korean dramas I feel “at home” with them. Korean dramas are oozing with Korean culture and language that I am comfortable with that it doesn’t matter whether the story is good or annoying, heartwarming or frustrating, I can still stand 16, 20, 24, 30 hours with it. After all I find every dialogue uttered in a Korean drama a learning opportunity for me (of course it doesn’t stop me being frustrated or disappointed, but my point is I’ll still watch them at any given time ^^).

Japanese dramas on the other hand screams “foreign” to me. It’s not only that I’m not ‘assimilated’ with the culture, I also have very little to no knowledge about it thus a lot of stuff feels either weird or awkward or strange. And when I start to get bored, I can’t play my usual catch-as-many-words-and-grammar-pattern-you-can-recognize or guess-what-the-character-will-say-next games because everything sounds gibberish to me.

But finding myself sooo lost while sitting in an intermediate Japanese class this semester, I decided I must exert a lot of effort if I want to survive this semester.

My main struggle is getting the “feel” of the language. All the lessons on our textbooks and classes and the hundreds of vocabulary words we need to memorize just won’t sink in. They just doesn’t make sense to me. So I ended up just being frustrated with all the conjugations and sentence endings and conjunctions; all the ru-verbs, u-verbs, te-forms, short-forms and long-forms. Everything feels like learning and memorizing random codes. And it makes me close my books and not study because I know no matter how much time I devote in studying will be futile.

And I know I can’t stay that way if I want to pass my Japanese class (and graduate). So I made an effort in exposing myself to Japanese. And what’s the best way to do it  than by watching Japanese dramas? After all I’m not a big manga and anime enthusiast. And maybe… just maybe, it’ll spark my interest in Japanese language just like how Kim Sun Ah and Korean dramas did.

What to watch then? That was my next problem. It’s a make or break decision for me XD. If I made a mistake in selecting something that I will not enjoy or appreciate, then that’s the end of it. But if I’ll make the right choice, it might “unlock my heart” and finally see Japanese language in a different light.

At first I only wanted to watch My Name Is Kim Sam Soon dubbed in Japanese. But it’ll take time for me to receive a copy. So I asked some friends for drama recommendation. My ‘drama requirements’ were so specific it’s almost funny. The main character must be this and that. The guy must be like this. The story should be about this. No this. No that. And I’m glad a good friend and fellow Kim Sun Ah fan recommended Anego.

★ ANEGO アネゴ

400px-Anego1

I’m really grateful someone recommended this to me. And I’m glad that I picked this up first. It fits my ‘drama style’ perfectly. A 30-something single woman – successful in her career, looking for ‘the one’, wanting to be loved. Marriage. Unrequited love. Love affair. First person narrations. A whole smorgasbord of the many elements I enjoy in a drama (the nay-december love story – not so =.=)..

Well, the smorgasbord thing could very well be the dramas’ weakness. There are just too many things this drama wants to say in less than 10 hours. And because of that I also sometimes can’t comprehend what Anego really wants and it annoys me. But I think that’s what I liked about it too. The way Anego struggles with every confusing thing that is going on in her life.

For the first time, I was able to relate and empathize with a Japanese drama character! I was so engrossed with Anego’s life and lovelife that the loopholes in the story didn’t bother me anymore. I just want to know how she feels and what she’s going to do and what choices will she make.

Gah! This drama even made me cry many times!

Anego is a drama that I can watch over and over. Yes, fortunately, it did “unlock my heart”.

 

★ KASEIFU NO MITA 家政婦のミタ

350px-Kaseifumita

THE drama that a lot were raving about. I’ve heard about this from a couple of my Japanese students last year and have made a mental note to watch it, but I never did.

I immediately wanted to watch another Japanese drama after Anego because I don’t want to break the momentum. But my heart is still too weak for another love story after all the heartaches in Anego. So I thought it’s the perfect time to watch Kaseifu no Mita

The drama was so engaging right from episode 1. I am no longer surprised why its ratings was so high. I loved everyone in this drama. From Mita to Kii to Urara. And even if this is not a romance drama, there’s still a little bit of an unrequited love in the persona of Urara.

Mita. I love her character so much. Yes, there are bunch of loopholes as well, but I couldn’t care less. I want to have a kaseifu like Mita!

It’s a really good family drama and I also found myself crying on some scenes. I  also have a lot of favorite lines from this drama. And I suffered from an intense withdrawal after the final episode. I miss Mita and the entire family. 😦

 

★ RICH MAN POOR WOMAN リッチマン、プアウーマン
350px-Richman,poorwoman

 

Again, not wanting to kill the momentum, I picked the next one on my list. Rich Man Poor Woman reminds me so much of The Social Network. But I like the drama way better.

Though this drama may not be something that I will watch over and over, it was good while it lasted. I can’t even stop watching it even if it’s already 4:00am and I have a morning class.

I also love seeing dear Urara (Aibu Saki) in this drama again. And I actually love her character, Yoko, more than Natsui. Natsui is cute and fine, but somehow I think Hyuga and Yoko are also a good pair. Reminds me so much on how I root for Dr. Jo Eun Seong and Hwang Ji Ahn in I Do I Do. Why oh why do writers create such fine third wheels? Urgh! It seems like my second-lead syndrome extends to Japanese dramas O.o! But I can’t help it! Yoko is really really cool and pretty! And I think I’m liking Aibu Saki now! 🙂

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ON DRAMANOTE

And then there was Dramanote! THE awesome Dramanote! I’m so in love with it as much as Shanna.

At first I was put off because I definitely cannot navigate it with my (still) poor reading skills in Japanese. But I remember I used to be like that in Korean too and I somehow managed. So I just google translate/google search things to survive and found my way on the scripts of the Japanese dramas I learned to love!

I’m really glad I came across that website from Hangukdrama. 🙂

—-

I am not watching a Japanese drama right now but I’m clipping Yoko’s scenes in Rich Man Poor Woman so that I can watch her over and over. Mom’s watching Kaseifu no Mita therefore I can hear also catch a glimpse of it every night. Planning to rewatch Anego and compile all of Anego’s narrations (and turn it into my final project for my Japanese class perhaps). And waiting for my My Name Is Kim Sam Soon DVD dubbed in Japanese and watch it right away (yey! So excited!). I am also currently downloading Aibu Saki’s Rebound リバウンド and it looks like I’m gonna like it. It’s Saki after all. 🙂

Any other Japanese drama recommendations? ^_^

Goals and Motivation in Learning Japanese

Thinking about goals and motivation in learning Japanese is not as easy as thinking about my goals and motivation in learning Korean. Especially because there was no goal and no motivation to begin with.

At first I just wanted to pass my intermediate class. Doesn’t matter if I’ll just get the lowest possible grade. I just want to pass the subject to graduate. No more, no less.

But as I’m slowly enjoying the process of learning Japanese, my Japanese learning journey may go beyond the classroom.

It would be nice to get to understand Japanese dramas. Talk to Japanese with my Japanese friends. Understand Kim Sun Ah‘s fan meetings in Japan (and attend one sometime in the future?). Read the book Kim Sun Ah wrote in Japanese? Talk to Kim Sun Ah in Japanese?

Why did I not realize that the person I admire the most and my main source of inspiration and motivation in studying Korean is also very well connected with Japanese? I often fret that I never appreciate learning Japanese because I never really liked any Japanese dramas and will never understand why a lot of people enjoy mangas and animes. But I actually don’t have to look very far to find enjoyment in learning Japanese. As soon as I finish studying my Japanese grammar lessons, I’ll be watching all of Kim Sun Ah’s video clips in Japanese including her fan meeting early this year. I’m so excited to catch as many words, expressions and grammar patterns that I can.

I’m still not sure what I want to achieve in learning Japanese, or if there’s any. I’m just enjoying this for now and I might continue learning it even after the semester is over.

Learning the Kana

It took me forever to memorize Hiragana when I was taking my beginner’s class and it only took a few minutes for me to totally forget everything.

Now that I’m learning Japanese again, I must memorize Hiragana again and finally learn Katakana (and of course, Kanji). But learning Hiragana is simply very difficult for me. Spoiled by the simplicity of Hangeul, Hiragana, despite it’s prettiness  often frustrates me.

But after a week, I finally managed to decently remember Hiragana. I keep writing them over and over until I memorized them. My problem is retention. Yes, I’ve memorized them, but I can easily forget them. What I did I chose a Japanese song that I like (not really a favorite) that has been a part of my playlist for years. I searched for the lyrics and converted them all to Hiragana. I printed it and I keep reading/singing it. I’m still slow in reading, but I’m getting faster as I get more and more familiar with Hiragana in the lyrics I printed. I’m planning to do the same thing with Katakana. 🙂

Learning (to like) Japanese

Last year I attended a beginner Japanese class. I was never motivated and I ended up just being frustrated and annoyed – complaining on almost everything about it. Why are Hiragana and Katana so difficult to memorize? I want to practice reading interesting stuff online after I learned the Kana but those difficult Kanjis are just everywhere, it made me frustrated and I stopped reading before I even reach the end of a stanza of a song. Why does the sentence endings have to be so complicated and confusing? Why are there so many rules in conjugating verbs? Where are the freaking spaces?

It doesn’t help that I didn’t enjoy our class either. A number of my classmates are already familiar with the language and most of them are know-it-alls (well, that’s how I felt then). They are also so into Japanese culture and they keep talking spazzing over this actor and this singing group and that drama and that manga and that anime. I felt so out of place in our class. It also doesn’t help that I dislike our professor. Not him per se but the way he conducts classes. He doesn’t make the non-Japanese culture fans fell at ease (say for example trying to introduce Japanese culture). I also felt he is not very keen in teaching beginners. The class’ pace was also very fast. I dreaded every class meeting because I felt so stressed.

I know it was also partly my fault. I should’ve exerted more effort. I should’ve spent more time studying. I should’ve tried getting to know more about the culture. I should’ve tried exposing myself to the language. But I just didn’t have enough time to do all that, that semester. I have zero motivation too.

But even if I don’t have a lot of interest and motivation, I really really wanted to try learning Japanese. But I ended up giving up on it after a semester of “torture”.  I thought it was just something not for me.

But due to some stroke of fate, I suddenly found myself sitting in an intermediate (Yes, INTERMEDIATE) Japanese class this semester. So I am now relearning Japanese.

Honestly I was so lost in the class. Just imagine the entire class was already talking about short-forms and quoted speech while I’m still trying my best to relearn Hiragana.

I’m still intimidated by my classmates and I still feel so stressed whenever I step in our classroom. From day 1 I never answered anything correctly during the recitation. I even greeted everyone おはよう ございます when our class is in the afternoon. BUT I’m happy to be part of the class because of our sensei.

Our professor is the best language professor I’ve had! Since he also teaches introductory linguistics subjects, his approach in teaching is very ‘linguistics’. We don’t follow our textbook religiously, rather he connects one lesson with another and we go back and forth our textbook in accordance to the way he sequenced the lessons. I’ve learned a lot already with his ‘personalized’ lessons. He  also integrates cultural stuff everyday and I’m liking the way he do it. It doesn’t make the ‘noobs’ like me feel out of place, yet the Japanese culture fans are also enjoying and spazzing about it. Maybe because he doesn’t join the spazzing (and talk in ‘gibberish’ fan-language that only fans can understand) and just let the students spazz on their own and make sure the others understand his points. And most of all he tries to inspire his students. He doesn’t make fun of those who keeps failing their quizzes and those who keeps making mistakes, rather he encourages them. He also doesn’t ‘praise’ those who always have perfect scores on their exam, rather he reminds them that scores are not the most important thing on earth.

“…what I really wanted to point out is that you should never just study/learn to meet the requirements of the course, especially something as widely applicable as a language course. Aim for a high grade, but don’t stop there. よい三連休を!”

Did I say I’m loving him now? He’s just too good that I’ll feel bad if I fail learning Japanese this time.

I’m still getting zeros on my quizzes (because I don’t really know and I don’t really understand a thing) but I’m working hard everyday, trying to learn what I should’ve learned already from my beginner’s class (until I catch up on our lessons). It’s difficult, but I finally am enjoying learning Japanese now. There are times that I can’t help but sigh and mutter “Why does it have to be this difficult?” or “Why can’t it be as simple as how it is in Korean?” but the thought of giving up is something that is absolutely not going to happen now. Never!

I still am struggling to learn the vocabs that I should know by now and I know it’ll take time. But I’m enjoying learning the grammar now (because I want to learn the beginner grammar as fast as I could because I’m so excited to catch up with the grammar that is being taught in class). I also don’t mind the Kanjis now. I’m more familiar with the characters because of my 2 Mandarin classes and at the same time I never let the Kanjis stop me from reading things. I just convert them to Hiragana for now since my Kanjis are still limited.

I also find time to expose myself to Japanese now. Though it doesn’t come as natural as it is with Korean, I just carefully chose songs and dramas that matches my taste. And I find time to watch Japanese dramas everyday despite my busy schedule. And it looks like it’s paying off because I no longer feel very much ‘distant’ with Japanese this time.

Any good Japanese beginner to intermediate lesson podcast? Something like Talk To Me In Korean conducted in either English or Korean. Actually I’ll be very interested in Japanese lessons in Korean. 🙂

Times like this, I wished I had…

…studied Japanese well!

Kim Sun Ah in KNTV Guide February 2012 Issue (credit: SunWook Forever)

On second thought, I guess even if I studied my Japanese well, I still won’t be able to read it. Never mind, the good points were all translated in Korean in Suna Unnie’s fancafe. I should just read that instead.

Photo: SunaWook Forever