さよならポニーテール

This might be one of the cutest songs I’ve ever heard.  *squeals*

From what I can gather, Sayonara Ponytail is a three-member acoustic pop group that seems to exist only in drawings.  Yep.  Members Miina, Nacchan, and Ayumin, along with their cat Kuroneko, are the black-and-white creations of illustrator Yuritan.  It’s not too clear to me how much of this group is real and how much of it is fiction or what exactly is the role of the illustrator in the production of the music.  Regardless, the group manages to remain firmly rooted in Sayo-Pony World, a fantasy that’s easy to uphold because the group doesn’t give live performances and prefers to connect with their fans only via MySpace and Twitter.

Most of Sayo-Pony’s MVs are adorably animated (see above) and feature the three “singers” (though apparently the members can be “erased” for bad behavior) – and this is one of my favorite songs by them.  I remember looking up ~たり… ~たりする after listening to this song because it was repeated over and over again in the chorus.

  • ~たり… ~たりする:   VST+거나; 예로 들고 그 밖에도 비슷한 일이 있을 때 씀.  Used to express multiple actions or states of similar nature.

Actually, that’s why I feel using a song to learn grammar is so great because a lot of songs tend to use parallel sentence constructions in order to sound more lyrical.  It’s a good way to pick up vocabulary too, obviously.

Check out Sayo-Pony’s YouTube page for more cuteness!

Audio Post #3

In which I record myself speaking in Japanese for the first time ever.  The audio starts with a brief intro and then I read aloud a journal entry I wrote on Lang-8 about one of my favorite J-dramas, Kimi wa Petto.

I stumble quite a bit and my intonation/pronunciation is all weird but here’s to hoping  I improve. -___-

5 Tips on taking on another foreign language

As I forge onward in my Japanese studies and toy with the idea of dabbling in Italian again (I studied Italian for a couple months long before getting into Korean), unsurprisingly, I find myself faced with road blocks.  It’s not an easy task self-studying one language and it seems counterproductive to study seven or eight at the same time, but I’m sure I’m not the only language learner out there to indulge in the occasional new-language sabbatical.  I don’t know about you, but I really miss that “Everything is New and Shiny and Exciting!!!” phase of language learning.

That being said, these are a couple of things I’m trying to keep in mind as I start to study Japanese in earnest.

1)  Kill two birds with one stone.  If you’re comfortable enough in the first foreign language (FL1) you started out with, try to incorporate it into the new one you’ve decided to tackle.  Again, be logical with this, because it’s probably not a great idea to learn Japanese through Spanish, if Spanish is your FL1.  It might make more sense to study French in Spanish, and just stick with your native language to study Japanese.  Use grammar books, dramas with subtitles (see my previous post) in your FL1 to learn your second foreign language (FL2) and you’ll be learning and reinforcing both at the same time.  Take notes in your FL1.  When I was taking Japanese in college, I went through my textbook and wrote most of my grammar and vocabulary notes in Korean.  This way, you don’t even have to feel “guilty” about abandoning your FL1.  The key is to get comfortable enough before taking on FL2.

2)  Don’t feel guilty.  Did you spend three months on your FL2 and completely ignore your FL1?  Don’t feel bad.  You may have forgotten a few things here and there, but that’s fine.  I’m a big proponent of learning languages because you love them, not because you have some grand goal to achieve (though the latter is fine too).  The difference is that one makes you purely happy and the other has a sense of obligation attached to it.  If you’re like me and you’re learning languages because you just love language,  then learn whichever one makes you happy at that moment.  If Japanese (or whatever your FL2 is) captivates you for a certain period of time, go for it.  Don’t feel like you “have” to go back to your FL1.  Don’t feel like you’re wasting time on a new language when you could be progressing in another one.  No one’s tying you down and forcing you (if you’re self-studying, that is).  Go back when you’re ready.  Chances are, if you’ve spent considerable time with your FL1, you will go back and you will still remember it.  (Again, the key is to stagger your language learning so you have a solid basis in your FL1 to fall back on.)  Enjoy learning FL2 as thoroughly as you can.

3)  Don’t compare language learning experiences.  Are you slower at learning Japanese than you were Korean or vice versa?  Don’t let it discourage you.  It took me a while to understand this myself but languages are obviously different.  And it’s likely that what worked for you in FL1 isn’t going to work for you in FL2.  It’s all about exploring your options and experimenting with different learning styles until you find what works for you in your language of interest.  I learned most of my Korean by reading, but this doesn’t work for me at all in Japanese because Kanji is such a hindrance.  I actually find that I’m learning more Japanese through listening, which, unlike my experience in Korean, is helping my vocabulary grow faster than my grammar.

4)  Don’t overwhelm yourself.  This applies to learning foreign languages in general, be it FL1, 2, 3, or onward.  I’m sometimes guilty of reading or writing something in Korean and being proud of myself for having understood the nuances correctly and/or expressing myself well.  Then I turn around and despair that I’ll never be that good in Japanese/Italian/French/Hindi/whatever else I want to learn.  I’ll never learn to be eloquent, I’ll be stuck with my textbook understanding of the language forever.  Granted, I’m not even that great in Korean, but it worries me that I won’t even reach this level in Japanese, etc.  My advice if you think like this:  STOP.  Remember that you started out with a clean slate in your FL1.  It took you time and effort to get to where you are now.  You’ll need to put in time and effort to achieve the same level in FL2.  Depending on the language (see #2), this might vary, but just because you’re somewhat comfortable with FL1 doesn’t mean FL2 will come easier.  Remember to face that learning curve.

5) Communicate.  This falls in somewhat with #1.  Try to find native speakers of your FL1 who are learning FL2 and try and learn along with them.  If you can meet up with them in real life, that’s even better, so you can practice your FL1 speaking.  Online is great too.  I don’t have any Korean friends learning Japanese at the moment, but it’s certainly nice to be able to communicate with people who started out learning Japanese first.  I follow several people on Lang-8 who are Japanese learning Korean or vice versa and it’s nice (and interesting) to be able to use a mix of both languages to communicate with them.

I’m sure there are a billion other things I could add, but these are the main things I have to remind myself of daily as I study Japanese.  Best of luck to all you would-be polyglots out there! :)

韓国語で日本語の勉強

I don’t know if it’s because of how crushingly disappointed I was in Big or how much I’m loving Rich Man, Poor Woman, or how mind-blown I was with 告白 (Confessions) – but somehow or another I’ve gotten back into the swing of studying Japanese.

I had a revelation a few days ago, when I suddenly realized I could understand more than four consecutive lines of drama dialogue at a time, that I should give Japanese a second (third? fourth? nth?) try.  After all, it was sort of my 첫사랑 of languages!

My interest was rejuvenated not only because my listening skills are (finally) starting to improve, but also because of Korean.  A couple months ago, I started rewatching Nobuta wo Produce with Korean subtitles and since then I’ve moved on to rewatching Hana Yori Dango, Ouran High School Host Club (the anime’s better), Lucky 7, and Fruits Basket with Korean subs as well.  And it’s working wonders.

First of all, since I’m getting better and understanding grammar nuances in Korean, the subs help me pick up on those nuances in Japanese as well.  The drama-watching itself is a bit slow going (I have to pause the video a lot, though my reading speed is improving) but it’s helping both my Korean vocabulary and Japanese vocabulary tremendously.  Also, it helps if it’s a drama I’ve seen before.  Then I don’t have to focus too much on missing the plot and just pick up whatever I pick up.  It sounds weird, but Korean has kind of drawn me back to Japanese dramas and anime and that’s all I’ve been watching these days.

My Korean’s not good enough to use Japanese language books in Korean but I do try to look up Japanese grammar explanations in Korean as much as possible, along with English.  The English explanations always seem kind of intangible? to me because it’s just plain difficult to explain when to use which sentence structure, when there’s no real English equivalent.  Luckily, when I’m looking up a particular grammar point, the Daum and Naver Korean-Japanese dictionaries provide me with a good place to start.  For example, I wanted to know how to say ~게 되다 in Japanese and learned about ~ようになる from the Daum dictionary.

Instead of thinking in English, I try to think in Korean and then translate into Japanese, and that’s helping my Japanese writing sound a bit more natural than it used to.  (Of course, the goal is to think in Japanese when I’m writing/speaking in Japanese but I’m not quite there yet.)  Kanji is still a frustration, especially when it comes to writing, but I’m learning to deal with it as it comes instead of getting immediately discouraged.

This is crazy.  I’m more resolved and excited now than when I was taking Japanese in college.  よっし~!