Today i finished chapter 1 of An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese! *やった* I am really happy about this. I thought by writing everything by hand, it would take much longer to finish a chapter, but this was obviously wrong. I started working on the translations for the three dialogues, the reading and speed reading section, in about 4 days. Working through the chapters like this, feels more rewarding to me, than doing everything on my PC. It is almost as if i were doing RTK again. Only this time with long sentences, my Basic, Intermediate and Advanced dictionaries of Japanese Grammar, and some other books.
Yesterday i caught myself at the thought of just starting to do the translations on my PC. Word was open, and i started copying and pasting a sentence into it, changed the colors of various parts of the sentences, according to the function of the elements the sentence contained, and I even began adding notes to the broken down sentence. When i was done with this one sentence, i was playing around with the font-sizes, changing from 10 pt. Calibri to 7 back to 9 and up to 14 pt. Then i was looking at my desk, at all my papers full of handwritten sentences, and knew that this is not the way to go. As easy and fast a process as copy and paste might be, i didn’t like doing it at all, which is kind of strange. I just quit doing right away after only one sentence, and began writing on paper again instead.
While working on the sentences, I started to keep listening to my favorite music again, Ennio Morricone for example, or i let some random Anime run in the background of my desktop. I feel relaxed all the time, i enjoy the process, i like to add grammar notes on my papers, and Post-It Index markers to the pages of my dictionaries. On top of that, it really feels rewarding to be able to say, I have translated all those sentences, and now i really understand what is going on. And what’s more is that i started noticing that my understanding of sentences, sentence structures, and whole passages of text, began to deepen. There are worlds of difference between adding notes to already existing content which i did before, versus writing everything down myself, and adding notes and translations there. This is why I cannot emphasize enough the importance of writing by hand. I can’t believe that i withheld it for so long …
The only thing i really plan on doing is to change the way i work with the sentences. There is potential to make the overall process a little more time-efficient. As i already mentioned, writing sentences down by hand doesn’t take much more time, than writing on PC. It is a matter of a minute or two at most, depending on the length of the sentences. What takes so much time is to look up the information about grammar and to add it on paper. Another time consuming part of the process is the translation of words, and once i have collected the necessary information, writing a full-length natural sounding English sentence. I am usually writing down all the information that can be found in the little boxes under the main entry of a grammar point from A dictionary of [Basic | Intermediate | Advanced] Grammar, and the various meanings, written next to it. I will probably skip adding this information all the time, and instead just add the information once, and next time i just look up the meaning in the dictionaries. I guess that this way i will be able to save some time.
One thing i was considering is to start adding some drawings to the text on paper. Right now it’s only square boxes containing everything, so a few drawings would make the process even more worthwhile. But knowing that i will add the sentences into Anki at one point in time, with either the full array of grammar information, or only a reference to the grammar books, i can also do it on my PC if i feel like it. I haven’t been using my graphic-tablet for ages, so this would be a good chance, to do something with it. One of Michiel´s drawings reminded me that i could start doing it, at least occasionally, this is how this idea came to be. It would sure be nice to have something funny to look at, when i look back in some years, and dig through my papers.
Lately there was also some good news about Hiyaku – An Intermediate Japanese Course, a book i have ordered a couple of months ago. It was finally sent after many delays, and it will hopefully arrive in the next two to three days. Although i doubt it, since i received a mail from Amazon, telling me that a part of my order from January came back to them. According to Amazon it was because the delivery failed. And i can only guess that this was Hiyaku. Everything else from that order is already here. I think it was The Cambridge History of Japan Vol. 3 and another book. Which only leaves, you guessed it, Hiyaku. But then again, i received another mail, telling me that i get a sales-tax payback of 4,55 Euro, for that book. I think i will have to wait and see if it’s in the mail or not.
Another thing i started thinking about is the post An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese phase. The following are the options i will most certainly have by the time i will be done with the book. Authentic Japanese: Progressing from Intermediate to Advanced is one option i had in mind. Since it is the follow up book, and written in pretty much the same way, as AIAIJ. I could also do some other Intermediate textbooks which haven’t gotten released yet. Those books are Intermediate Japanese by Michael L. Kluemper, Lisa Berkson and the Workbook, Hiyaku, or Kanji in Context. I will definitely work with Living Japanese: Diversity in Language and Lifestyles [With CDROM] (Conversations with Native Speakers), The Routledge Course in Japanese Translation by Assistant Prof. Ph.D. Yoko Hanasegawa, and Kanji in Context because it contains so much vocabulary.
I already got the Living Japanese, and also Kanji in Context plus the Workbooks, The Routledge course has not been released yet. I’ve been watching and listening to the DVD of Living Japanese already, the chapters about school life, Anime, and about University students. I was surprised how much i was able to understand by just listening. This gave me a real boost of motivation, and you can never have enough of it! What i like so much about it is the possibility to look at the different faces of the people being interviewed. All their expressions, how they look, all the details of their faces, the movement of their lips when they say something, it is just fascinating. But i have yet to really work on it. No, not working on it, but having fun reading, listening, and gaining new vocabulary.
Now it is time to end this all too long article about my random thoughts and future plans. No, there is still one more thing, i want to write about. Another source i recently started drawing motivation from. I can express some thoughts in Japanese already, but this is not nearly enough to express those things, that are really important or interesting. A comparison that comes to my mind that best describes how i feel is this. You surely know the movie The Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland, Margaret Hamilton, etc. I compare myself to the Scarecrow, whose wish is to get a brain, when he sets out with Dorothy to meet the great Wizard. For me to know that i will be able to think in that language, to express all my thoughts that are taking shape, is really something that keeps pushing me forward. And i know that this wish will come true sooner or later it all depends on myself.
What keeps you motivation to keep on learning, dear reader, would you like to tell me? Please leave a comment if you feel like sharing your thoughts with me.