January Language Summary

This is not something that I had planned but I figured that maybe doing monthly summaries will give me some motivation to keep on track with my studying. Now, I do have to admit that January was the month of finding a feasible routine. And maybe this might even still run into February. The truth is that this is my first time trying to learn a language so I’m not sure where to even start. It’s all about learning. So while I didn’t hit my daily studying goal, I am immensely proud of what I have accomplished, and I think acknowledging our steps, even the itty bitty ones, is one of the best ways to keep that motivation strong.

Improving My Spanish

As I mentioned in my goals post, my goal with Spanish is to improve it since I already speak it natively. I haven’t had any luck finding many foreign books in Japan (expected) but it was just the holidays and I was on a spending high. I did a bit of browsing on Book Depository and ended up ordering a few books, some in English and some in Spanish. One of them actually arrived a few weeks back. It’s a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while now and it hits many of my likes: history and dark stuff. It’s called Gulag and it’s by Anne Applebaum

I also bought myself a notebook, which I’m really happy about. My brother got me into those soft ring notebooks and while they’re a bit more expensive than I’d like, they’re SO NICE. It works out. I’d like to fill this notebook (80 pages) with Spanish vocabulary, phrases, and sentences (from the book but also of my own making). The idea is that as I progress, I will write fewer words because I will have already acquired most from the start. That said, all of the words I’m writing in the notebook aren’t just words I don’t know. They are also words that I want to become more familiar with, to begin incorporating into my usual vocabulary

Something else that I’m doing to further my Spanish studies is writing in the margins in Spanish. I initially started in English and then thought, hey, it would be better if I did this in Spanish, so I did. It’s…harder than I thought, especially since I want to make sure I spell everything right the first time. But I told myself that spelling in the margins doesn’t matter. AND, as an extra challenge, I also make videos of me talking about my studying! That’s so I can practice speaking and pronunciation. I post these on YouTube because I talk too much, but maybe I’ll post a few short ones on IG

Anyway, since the book is about the history of the Soviet Union’s concentration camps, the terminology I will be writing will probably reflect this!

I don’t study every day but I try to balance it with my Japanese. A little bit of this one, a little bit of that one so I can take a break and actually absorb what I’m learning.

Learning Japanese

Learning a language is hard because where do I start?! I suppose it depends on what you want to do but also where your interest lay and where you see yourself in X-amount of time. I’m doing this out of necessity but also fun, so I try not to stress myself out. Besides, I’ve given myself a year before I really start to tell myself to stop goofing

I’ve been trying different ways of learning. I picked up a kid’s show on Netflix, but I’m just not a very good video watcher. I can’t always keep myself interested in something, but it’s a task I’ve told myself I should do a few times a month. I think it’s good listening practice. Another thing is that I’ve been “reading” Japanese books for kiddies. The problem is that even the kids’ books can be pretty difficult to decipher. I recently got one about fruits and I swear, each fruit has maybe one or two sentences and then I end up in this neverending kanji search. It’s fun though!

The problem then becomes, am I studying things I won’t ever need? I’m not sure, but I think that a lot of the words I’ve seen (not learned yet) so far are words I would expect a normal person to know. They’re not complicated so while I may not need them now, I think it’s good to at least encounter them. And, like I mentioned already, this is fun

I mean, how did I end up going from learning plant terms to writing the word love affair?! And, of course, I had fun writing the word for polygamy and polyandry! Also, apparently, the word for penis uses the kanji for majestic (…). And why does the word for sweetheart use the kanji for woman? Can it be written with the kanji for man? I plan to look into this but since this was today’s study, I had to cut it short

I was initially keeping my studying on the lowdown, but it made it hard to make time to study since most of my free time is usually when I’m around many others. So I decided to stop being too self-conscious and just study in the open. The nice thing about this is that it made me more open to asking people questions, and so far the people I’ve asked appear to be pleased that I’m studying (and that I’m asking them questions). I also think this is helpful because they also help me with my writing. For some of the more complex looking kanji, I ask the people around me to write them down so I can compare the “natural” writing to my noob attempts

While most of my studying is done in my tiny little notebook, also a soft ring but smaller in size, I have started to use my “kanji practice notepad”. I am not entirely sure if this is what this notepad is used for but it’s basically a notebook with vertical squares where you put individual kanji. While my notebook is a hot mess, this notepad is a bit more organized, with only 2 major kanji per sheet.

For example, in the image above, I’m practicing the kanji counters for years and things. Not pictured are the opposite ends where I practice a phrase or question. For the “year” side, I’m practicing “one year” and for the “counter of things” side, I’m practicing the phrase “how many months?” both of which share the two main kanji I’m studying. I hope that makes sense

I also don’t fill out the whole sheet in one go. I do one row of each a day and then come back to it on a different day so I can recall. So far I’d say I’ve learned about a dozen different kanji (in context) and maybe a few more word combinations/phrases, which is great considering I knew zero.

Also! Here’s a thing! I don’t have pictures but I did read a children’s Spanish book that I randomly found on the shelves?! As for the Japanese, well, I’m constantly trying to read one book or another, only to not ever finish it, RIP. I will make it one day!!

Well, that’s about it for my progress so far. I’m excited to see what I show you all for February

– G

2 thoughts on “January Language Summary

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