Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.


Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Japanese Language Study


I've just completed #60 of 64 lessons in the Japanese language course I'm taking. Over all I think my retention of new material is between 70 and 80%. Material I've reviewed could be over 80 or 90%. I'm not really trying to memorize vocabulary, as much as recognize sentence patterns and grammar. I can look up what I don't remember, and if I look something up enough times, I'll remember it. I'll let word frequency drive my vocabulary.

In theory, I should be pretty conversational. In practice, it's tough to think fast enough when speaking, but I do better with writing, which is as expected. For speaking, I am better than survival level, but not quite conversational. As with most things, it's a matter of practice.

As far as writing goes, I know the meanings of over 200 kanji, even if I can always remember how they sound. I know I have a long way to go before I even reach high school level, but I'm making progress. I'm grinding right through them.

In emailing an engineering manager in Japan, I manage to make small talk with him in Japanese, using kanji as well.

The end of the course is in sight. I'll be doing a major review when I'm done. Then I'll begin working on other material. Among them is the bilingual magazine I've found and a number of independant books on the Japanese language, or aspects or it.

The self paced, on line course I'm using is: http://www.yesjapan.com/
There is a free downloadable Japanese-English-Chinese dictionary, with LOTS of features at: http://wakan.manga.cz/
The bilingual magazine I alluded to is Hiragana Times, and is located at: http://www.hiraganatimes.com/

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