Learning Japanese #5 Giving up? Sumimasen! and Jisho?!?!

Hello WordPress! Over the past few months this entire learning Japanese thing has been an interesting journey. To start with I started a blog, every view means a lot and encourages me to keep going and especially now I need it because Japanese just got difficult! Well ok it didn’t just get difficult but after a busy week I have very much hit the point where I am asking myself why I am doing this, after all I am learning a language spoken by one country I doubt I will ever live in and I will probably only visit once if I’m lucky. But, then again shut up brain! I refuse to give in at this or any other point and I encourage anyone at the same point as me to do the same!

So the bit of Japanese I have focused on this week is mainly words and this is where I found a degree of difficulty. If you, like me, use Japanese.about.com then you should know it’s not perfect and it doesn’t explain some very important aspects of the language. For example it clearly states that (Sumimasen) すみません means excuse me, however by sheer luck I found out it also means sorry as well. Now this was very confusing, I had to question how two such different meanings could both come from the exact same word, but indeed this is the way it is. This site also doesn’t explain what (Gozaimasu) ございます means, what it is or how to use it and with this I still aren’t sure as far as I can tell it is used to make certain words or phrases more polite without really meaning a great deal, if this is its use then this is extremely confusing to me as we have nothing like this in English! So if you are using this site to learn, and I believe it is the best site of its kind out there, then make sure to regularly check some of the words to make sure you don’t get anything wrong.

I also found some more free sites for those fellow frugal language learners, Japanesepod101 I will not link this site as I don’t think it can be trusted, upon registration it tried to get me to download something to my computer and after that it has been constantly trying to get me to buy things, the site looks professional but I just will not trust it. I would however recommend Jisho.org, this site is an online English to Japanese dictionary that works better then the few other dictionaries I have seen. Not just this but it is also incredibly user friendly unlike the majority of sites I have found whilst on this learning journey.

Thanks for reading! Any comments are welcomed and I will respond to all of them! J

Japanese.about.com- http://japanese.about.com/

Jisho- http://jisho.org/

My Twitter- https://twitter.com/LayedBackMitch


Learning Japanese #4 Katakana conquered! Still struggling with phrases and Japanese media!

Hey WordPress! Thanks for checking out my blog, I’ve been getting some great comments that have really been encouraging me to continue writing, which is great. Anyway as the title might suggest I managed to conquer the Katakana! Although having spent some time reading Japanese text I now know it isn’t used as much as Kanji so I still need to use the Romanji to learn certain phrases. I have now found a whole different kind of problem however since I finished with Kana a few days ago and that is what do I do next; do I focus learning solely on Kanji so I can read, do I focus on phrases so I can talk or do I do a mixture of the two. I have been trying to fit in both of them making very little progress I can’t help but think that there might be no easier way to learn the language and maybe this is where it gets truly hard but any help is more than welcome. I got a comment on one of my posts a few days ago about a learning method to help retain information in an easier way, I will leave the link to the article down below I think number 4 would be the most effective and I will let you know as soon as I have properly tested it out.

I have had the time this week to indulge myself in Japanese media, having spent most of the week listening to J-pop and watching Japanese anime and films. I think it is helping with learning the language as it is getting me used to hearing it which helps not only with hearing individual words but it also helps with pronunciation to a degree. It might also help understand Japanese culture a little better. Maybe I’m wrong and it doesn’t help at all but that doesn’t bother me as I genuinely enjoy everything I have watched and I’m thinking about writing a review of one of legendary director Akira Kurosawa’s films. If you have never watched one and are interested in pretty much everything Japan then I would strongly recommend watching one. As far as J-pop I have only really found two artists that I truly enjoy and they are the wonderfully weird Kyari Pamyu-Pamyu and the magnificent Miwa, it took me about 10 minutes to come up with the alliteration don’t judge me, if you haven’t ever listened to them then please do they’re great!

Anyway thanks for reading!  Please leave any comments you may have down below and I will reply to them all! Make sure to share my blog and invite others into this journey!

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/LayedBackMitch

Good Japanese Learning Site: http://japanese.about.com/

Article about retaining information: http://www.cracked.com/article_20166_5-brain-hacks-that-give-you-mind-blowing-powers.html

My first movie review! Law Abiding Citizen

Hey WordPress! Welcome to my first movie review, as you may have guessed by the title I will be reviewing Law Abiding Citizen I will do my best to avoid massive spoilers but I may still spoil parts of the film so if you want to watch the film first without any parts being ruined then I suggest you watch the film then come back to this. Law Abiding Citizen was a film that I hadn’t heard a lot about until very recently and while I aren’t a huge fan of Jamie Foxx and the director Felix Gary Gray has never really done anything remarkable with his career I decided it still sounded like a good film, as for me the idea of getting to see inside a murderers head, metaphorically of course I aren’t a weirdo. The first hour of so of the film didn’t disappoint and I thoroughly enjoyed that part of the film, until Jamie Foxx’s character Nick set about stopping him thus ruining the film but creating many plot holes, for example how could a modern prison not notice one of their prisoners keeps escaping out of his cell? It’s not like we don’t have some sort of visual recording device available for a cheap price. It wasn’t just this that I felt the film just ignored in order to not disturb the story it is merely the tip of the iceberg and one I will not delve as I would quite like this blog to be under two thousand words long.

For me the one thing that this film lacked was a good reliable director, I for one haven’t heard of Felix Gary Gray before and his CV suggests that he either isn’t being offered, can’t or doesn’t want to undertake big directorial roles, I think he lacks the talent. This film had a very good script and while I aren’t a huge fan of Jamie Foxx I still realise he is a very talented actor so I can safely say that the actors offered were of a high standard. This begs the question why was the budget not stretched to a great director; I don’t understand why the company behind this decided to take risk with someone and it for me ended up back firing. I personally was siding with Gerard Butler’s character to prosper throughout and I still aren’t sure if I was supposed to, if I wasn’t supposed to like him then I think that is bad directing as the director made me side with the wrong person. However if you were suppose to be confused about who’s side your on in a ‘you have to question yourself’ way, then I think that was a terrible idea for the director to do and it ended up getting lost on me.

Something else that I was great was how, for lack of a better word, badass Gerard Butlers character was, how he manages to take down the entire city behind bars was great to watch however I think this was the catalyst to why the film could and really should have been better. The reason I wanted Clyde Shelton (Bulters character) to prosper was because he was an interesting multi-layered character who I wanted to find out more, where Nick was just an ordinary cop who, to be honest, bored me.

To sum up I think this film was a good film that very easily could have been a great film if only it had better directing who could decide what he wanted to film to be as, it felt as though the film couldn’t decide if it was an intense serious political thriller or just a good cop chases psychopath, a-la Heat, and it ends up being a mixture of both, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing. So I would have to rate this film a solid 7/10 which might sound high but I think it could have so easily been a film to remember and a classic instead it will just fade into history.

Thanks for reading! J If anyone has a film they would like me to review or watch then please let me know! Also any feedback of any kind would be great and I will respond to anyone and everyone who writes me a comment.

Make sure to follow me on twitter:  https://twitter.com/LayedBackMitch

Learning Japanese #3 Katakana and struggling with phrases!

Hey WordPress! Now in this blog ill talk about learning Katakana but first I will say that I am thinking about writing movie reviews on top of what I do already so please let me know what you think down below. Anyway having spent most of the week really nailing down the Hiragana I felt confident enough to start learning Katakana, used for onomatopoeia and foreign words. However it isn’t sticking in my head as easy as Hiragana did, this could be for many reasons such as I keep getting Hiragana and Katakana  characters confused however after remembering that Katakana uses more straight lines and Hiragana curves more. I think the reason is because I’ve slacked off learning the associated pictures and/or phrases that goes along with them; this shows just how important it is to do the word or picture association along with all the characters.  The stroke order however is easy and it is something any learner must learn as there is a stigma attached to people with bad hand writing in Japan as they assume you didn’t learn the stroke orders correct, so stroke order becomes vital. However Katakana isn’t too important when it comes to learning everyday Japanese phrases.

I also thought I would try learning some basic Japanese words and phrases and it really isn’t going too well! If anyone reading knows any good way to learning Japanese then please let me know because I am struggling, they just aren’t sticking at all in my head and I can hardly use any kind of word association with entire words. I have however found two interesting websites that could really help me and I will be sure to link below one of them is essentially one guys journey through living in different countries trying to learning there way of living and it is a good read. The other is a free site that helps you learn Japanese, while the first example might not be able to directly teach me Japanese it could teach me certain ‘life hacks’ which might help me learn quicker. And while the latter is a great site considering it is free, there are certain things it doesn’t teach you however I would certainly recommend you fellow language learners who are also on a budget.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to share my blogs and help me build up a kind of following J

Make sure to follow me on twitter @LayedBackMitch and make sure to follow my blog for weekly updates.

Katakana mnemonics- http://englishwilleasy.com/japanese/hiragana-katakana-mnemonics/

Stroke order- http://www.123japanese.com/index.php?cmd=kana&menu=katakana_chart

Check this out- http://www.fluentin3months.com/

A decent free site-  http://japanese.about.com/

Learning Japanese #2 and a half…. Cooori!

Hey WordPress, this is just a quick update regarding my previous blog. After I made it pretty clear how terrible the online language site Cooori and after I emailed them explaining just how awful there site is. I, surprisingly, received an email from the CEO of the company Arnar Jensen who asked me to help give them some ideas for the site. Needless to say I was blown away at the company’s attitude to how unhappy I am with the site and after a few back and forth emails he has made me feel assured that before long the site will change drastically. Whether or not it does remains to be seen, they would be committing business suicide if nothing changed however the CEO himself has assured me a lot will change. I will keep you posted on future developments on this site.

Make sure to follow me on twitter, https://twitter.com/LayedBackMitch thanks for read, bye bye! 🙂

Japanese blog #2 Hiragana and free language websites!

Hey WordPress! This is my second blog about learning Japanese, as if the title wasn’t enough. This past week I have been hard at work learning as much of the Hiragana as I possibly can, thankfully it wasn’t that hard. Although I maybe could have done it in a more stimulating way, all I did was write down all the characters in English then next to it in Japanese I did realise in the last few days is match up all the characters to a picture to help it stick in my brain easier. This method way coined by James Heisig I would recommend looking into this as most people I have spoken to agrees this makes language learning easier. For those of you who don’t know what it is, basically I look as a symbol and recall it with an image. For example, when I see とI think ‘toe’ because it looks a little bit like a toe with a splinter, ‘to’ is the pronunciation, admittedly some of these involve a little bit of imagination and some are downright ridiculous but if it works, it works.

Aside from learning the Hiragana I have also been looking into some free online language learning services and so far I am less than impressed, I found Busuu.com which claim to be great and free when really it is neither. To get the only content on the site that is useful after your week free premium you have to pay, I am not sure how much. However it offers a wide array of different languages and one plus I like about the site is it offers you the chance to talk to native speakers of whatever language it is you’re learning, although the site makes little to no attempt to get you to the point where this is possible it might be worth a look if you want to learn the language and I shall link below. I also found Cooori.com which is, to put it bluntly, one of the worse sites I have ever used. This spurred me to do something I wouldn’t normally do and in my enraged sense I did something terribly British and I wrote them a letter, or Email it’s your choice. All this site does is spit out random words in Japanese and once you have had 30 different words thrown up at you, your trial expires and you can’t progress which  in this case ‘progress’ might not be the appropriate word. This site doesn’t explain anything about Japanese and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

Anyway rant over, thanks for reading! Make sure to share with everyone you know. Also follow me on Twitter; I need more followers’ https://twitter.com/LayedBackMitch Bye bye. 🙂

Busuu: http://www.busuu.com/enc/

Cooori: http://www.cooori.com/

Hiragana mnemonics:  http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~if2n-szk/mnemonics.html

My first challenge!!! Learning Japanese #1

Hey WordPress! Welcome to the start of my first internet challenge! Are you excited, I am! Anyway, the first challenge I have decided to attempt to undertake is learning another language and having learnt French throughout school thus leaving me with an at least basic grasp of the language I have of course decided to learn Japanese… Japanese, that’s right Japanese, the language where you read little drawings which somehow mean words. The reason I have done this is because I wanted to see if the internet could really allow me to learning something that is so different to anything I have ever done before in my life. Now this could literally take me years! Which will mean I will at least have something to write about for the foreseeable future and, after the high I got after finding out someone from Trinidad and Tobago read my first blog I assure you I will continue writing as often as I feel is necessary.

At the minute I am reading up about Japanese culture as much as I possibly can as well as watching some Japanese films and anime with English subtitles, purely so I can get used to what the Japanese language sounds like. I recommend watching ‘Seven Samurai’ even if you don’t have a strong interest in Japanese culture, or indeed any interest, as it’s great! As far as actually learning Japanese is concerned I haven’t started yet as I wanted to get a good idea about where to begin, all I did was think about  where we start as children starting school. We begin with basic letters and the alphabet, unfortunately there are 3 types of Alphabets in Japanese; Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji, all are vital. At least I have a starting point now and I can finally begin learning this beautifully complicated language.

I apologise if this blog was a little boring, I’m still getting used to this whole writing thing! In the next blog I will talk about one frugal man’s struggle with the Japanese language so be sure to check it out!  If anyone has any questions or general comments then please leave me a comment I would love to read it. Thanks for reading!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/LayedBackMitch