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Archive for the 'プチポスト' Category


Learning methods: does it matter?

Normally I hate blog posts that just links to another blog that links to another blog that links to the primary source, especially when I’m subscribed to both blogs. Just give me the source, I don’t need your one line comment and link!

Nevertheless, I read a blog post about language learning methods and felt an urge to add my two cents. Here’s an excerpt from the post.

The neat thing here – and I’ve counseled this before – is that language learning isn’t about following a method; it’s about getting in sync with and enjoying a language.

In this light, the debates about which method is best are silly. But if they keep people talking about new things that others might not have tried yet, they’re still useful. Ignore the bombast about who’s best, then, and keep reading the forums and blogs. You might just find what you are looking for now in spite of everyone’s best efforts to settle what’s best left unresolved.

Looking at the many comments on the merits and drawbacks of Heisig, I’d have to agree. I’ve learned that what works for some doesn’t work at all for others and most importantly, what didn’t work for me may work for others.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what study method you use as long as it helps you spend more time with the language. Still, I have to argue that you have to do my very simple method at some point for fluency, which as many of you already know, is to practice in a real-world context with real people and primary source materials not just artificial textbooks and dialogs. Ok, I guess it’s more common-sense than “a method” per se.

For completeness, here’s the blog post that is link to by the blog I just linked to (whew!). Amazingly, that blog doesn’t link to the primary source which is a thread in the’s forum. (゚_゚;)


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Things that lose “coolness” when translated

Some things in Japanese just seem to lose their cool when translated into English.
I’m sure there are examples where the reverse is true but it’s much easier for me to come up with these examples.

Fighting words
「ぶっ倒してやる!」 (Cool) -> “I’m going to beat you!” (Not cool)

Technique/Spell/Summon Names
「螺旋丸!」 (Maybe Cool) -> “Spiraling Round [Thing]!” (Definitely not cool)

語尾 (technically 終助詞)
「くるぞ!」 (Brave) -> “They’re coming!” (Scared)

Expressions and Cultural Phrases
「がんばれ!」 (Uplifting) -> “Do your best!” (Dork)

Heavily Girly Style of Speech
「嫌だもん!」 (Pouty Cute) -> “I don’t like it!” (Complainy)

Finally, basically all of Death Note in English is just awkward.


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Lingq, a cool and promising flash card website

I just wanted to write a quick post about Lingq, a website I just found about today. It’s so cool that I just had to write something about it right away. It’s a real world implementation of some of my ideas for a better flash card program. Instead of having to create your own index cards, the website has a thing called a store which is a library of content for the language you want to learn. You can create and share your own content by adding text and upload images/audio.

Flash cards are created by selecting text and clicking a little widget at the bottom of the screen. The flash cards show you a phrase with the word instead of just having the reading and definition like most flash card programs/websites. You can add them if you want, however, as a hint.

This is pretty much exactly what I was talking about. Sharing content and creating flash cards that have meaningful content. Though it doesn’t work for Chinese, Japanese lookups work amazingly well. Now, all they have to add is user ratings to help filter out the most interesting content.

There are also additional features involving tutors and Skype that I haven’t tried out.

I encourage everybody reading this to try it out.

My only minor complaints are that the navigation is hard to get at first and the site seems a bit slow.

Also, my original idea had linking and giving proper credit to the original content. I guess these guys are not too worried about the ethical implications of uploading other peoples’ content directly to their website without providing any kind of credit. Especially since it looks like they are trying to make a buck.


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Where’s the research for Japanese language education?

I was taking a look at last year’s admissions test for the Japanese Applied Linguistics Graduate program at Waseda and there are some very interesting and intriguing questions.

Here’s a small sample:
G JSLの子どもを対象にした日本語学習教材について述べなさい。

B CLL (Community Language Learning) について説明しなさい。

H 「総合型教科書」 について述べなさい。

You can download the whole file at:

It seems like there’s a lot of research and things going on for teaching Japanese. But I have no idea where I can get information about this stuff. For instance, how do I get these teaching materials for JSL kids? (I’m guessing JSL is Japanese as a Second Language like ESL?) I’m also curious about what a 「総合型教科書」 is and how it could help people learning Japanese. It certainly can’t be worse than the mainstream textbooks here. Or maybe Community Language Learning is the way to go for learning Japanese? I have no idea because unfortunately, real research studies and papers are nowhere to be found on the net. I guess I can try looking in University libraries nearby.

The thing I’m wondering is how does all this research help people learning languages? Biomedical research cure illnesses and technology research (eventually) creates new and innovative products but how does research in applied linguistics help improve the language classes that you and I take? Why are we still stuck with workbooks, flash cards, drills, cheesy dialogues, and crappy textbooks? When is this Applied Linguistics research going to “apply” to us?

I’m curious to hear from anybody studying Applied Linguistics particularly for Japanese or Chinese. What’s the best way for me to catch up on current research and introduce the good stuff to the rest of the world?


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How many of you have a stack of index cards collecting dust?

Following up from yesterday’s post about index card programs, I stumbled upon Jonathan’s blog and his post about spaced repetition software by following his comment link.

I won’t talk about them here because as we all know, I think they all suck. Why is it that these programs never think about sharing index cards, community ranking by difficulty level, and incorporating richer content than just text? Jonathan, if you want my opinion, you’re wasting your time. Please do let us know how it goes, though.

But it’s only been a few days that I’ve been using this method, so I can’t gauge yet just how effective it is. For now, however, I’m pretty pleased. It certainly beats the pit of near-inactivity that I have been falling in recently.

I certainly can’t argue with that.

Personally, I’ve tried them all and could never stick with it. I ignored the desktop or homepage widget, deleted my kanji email after they piled up, stop going to the websites, and my index cards were collecting dust long before I finally threw them away. I eventually realized it wasn’t a problem of motivation (I had that in spades) but rather a problem stemming from a flawed method. The index cards themselves were as interesting as reading a dictionary because well… that’s essentially what it is.

Have any of you successfully used these programs or index cards to study for a significant period of time? (I know my readership is dismally too small to make a statistical difference but I’m curious anyway.)


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I created a new category that I’d like to call プチポスト (tiny-post).
I have all sorts of random thoughts and ideas that are too short for a マジポスト (real-post) so hopefully this new category will allow me to post more often.
(Yes, as a matter of fact, I am making these words up as I go.)

Personally, I hate meaningless posts with just a couple sentences or a random image/video/link so I’ll try to post something that’s at least mildly interesting but feel free to ignore this category if you just care about the meatier articles that I pump out about once every month (or two).





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Skeptic calling out to all Heisig fans

Just a quick post since I’ve been very lazy lately. I just wanted to ask: Is there anybody in the world that learned how to write Japanese with James W. Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji? And notice I didn’t say Kanji because I’m sick and tired of hearing people say, “Yeah, I learned like 2,000 kanji in like three weeks!” Wow, that’s awesome. Now you can start actually learning Japanese!

You see, thinking “logic” and being able to write 理 doesn’t mean anything. First of all, 理 isn’t even a word. 論理、理論、理解、料理、管理、修理、義理、心理学 are words and until you can write real words in real Japanese, I’m not impressed. So I’d like to know: Is there anybody that learned to write a reasonable amount of vocabulary using this approach? And by a reasonable amount, let’s say about 10,000 words which is the amount JLPT Level 1 claims to cover. (You see, once you change Kanji into actual words, you’re in a whole different ball game.)

*Not that I’m promoting it but you can download a portion of the first book to try out here.


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