Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, 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:
There is a free downloadable Japanese-English-Chinese dictionary, with LOTS of features at:
The bilingual magazine I alluded to is Hiragana Times, and is located at:

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