The pressure is on!

I just registered to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. The test was designed in Japan to test your control of the Japanese language. For me, this is the big kick in the pants I need to get me to study the language seriously.

I opted to take the hardest level, N1 because, what the heck! I either know Japanese or I don’t. I have the feeling I will fail it but I tell you, I will go down swinging! This means that in the next 3 months, I will study ONLY Japanese. All other languages will be put on hold.  By December 1st, 2013, the day of the test, I will be able to understand Japanese in oral and written form fully. Yeah, sure. No problem!

To accomplish this herculean task, I will pull out all stops. Luckily, the test is designed to assess comprehension which is kind of my super power. Also, I now have a MUCH better sense of how to study and what I need to learn plus, I have tons of resources.

I feel tremendous pressure now. I did one thing one MUST do in a situation like this and that is, I announced to my friends and family that was taking this test. The people in these groups, family and friends, are the most over-achieving bunch you ever met! Doctors, professionals, writers, musicians, etc, etc. So it would be a HUGE disappointment to let them down.

Wish me luck!

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The power of persistence

When I began studying Japanese on my own, I found a number of resources that I knew were good at an instinctive level. They made no sense to me at the time but I made a note of them for future reference. Once in a while, I would revisit them and and they still didn’t make sense.

One of these resources is Kira Teachings. I found kira sensei on YouTube a while ago.  I just began reviewing his lessons again and wow! they are clear as a bell! I attribute this new found understanding to the fact that I stuck to the process. I’ve learned a lot since the first time I encountered kira sensei. Now his lessons are bearing fruit and expanding my knowledge of the Japanese language by leaps and bounds.

Kira sensei teaches in Spanish and Japanese so unless you speak Spanish, you won’t be able to benefit from the lessons. But if you do speak Spanish, I highly recommend this resource.

Japanese collocations

Until I watched the most excellent video by Anthony Lauder on YouTube, I had never heard of collocations in language. Turns out they are super important in language learning. Collocations are groups of words that often go together in a language. As an example, Anthony gives the phrase ‘fast food’. We, in the United States say fast food, not ‘quick food’ or ‘rapid food’. Fast food is the collocation of the words fast and food to describe food you get at a counter at a restaurant such as Wendy’s.

An English learner could describe the concept using more language than ‘fast food’, but to sound like a natural English speaker, at least in the U.S., fast food is the way to go.

Naturally, I hit the Web to search for resources on collocations in Japanese. I hit a wall right away. The only resource, and it’s EVERYWHERE, is the book Japanese Collocations by Kakuko Shoji. I could not find an extensive free resource anywhere. So I resigned myself to buying the aforementioned book. Before I did that, I looked for some reviews of the book and what I found was that many people said they could have gotten the same material from a Japanese-English dictionary. Hmmmmm…

I reached into my language bag and pulled out my trusty Random House Japanese-English/English-Japanese dictionary and perused through its pages and guess what? they were right! Here are some examples of Japanese collocations from the dictionary (in Romaji; sorry)

jitsuwa – true story
Jitsu no haha – biological mother
kono mondaijitai – the problem itself
sei sabetsu – sex discrimination
kodomo-sae – even a child
…ni seihirei shite – in direct proportion to
nomisugiru – drink to excess
mentsu o ushinau – lose face
mi ga naru – bear fruit
kusuri ni natta – (I) learned a good lesson.
hookookankaku – sense of direction
jikan ga arunai – have no time
jikan ga aru – have time
hora o fuku – tell a tall tale
tabehoodai – all you can eat
gozonji no yoo ni – as you already know
fuji no yamai – incurable disease

…and many more.

I guess I will work with the collocations in my dictionary for now.

Thank you for stopping by!