(It’s only day 2, not too late to jump in and join the contest! Challenge yourself!)
I think the contest will be a great way for me to improve my reading skills and read more often. I’m not planning on winning, not by a looong shot, but….
Taking part in a community contest is really motivating!
Other people will be able to see how much I’ve read. Can’t be slacking now, can I?
People I know are doing it, too. (Okay, people I “internet know”.) Shared experiences make the tough going easier!
I can see everyone’s progress at any time. That’s daily motivation to keep the fire burning! Thanks to a nifty script from contest creator LordSilent , everyone’s page counts are easily updated via Twitter.
I’m actively seeking new stuff to read. Finding out about the contest motivated me to break out of my reading rut that I was getting into (reading the same type of stuff, blugh), and to find lots of new and interesting and otherwise awesome material. Also gave me an excuse to plan an NYC trip to raid BookOff and Kinokuniya ^^
A month of reading should be habit-forming. And that’s exactly what I want, to enhance my reading habit!
Gotta keep up if I want to be able to trash talk. ’nuff said. 読みましょう bitches!
Lots of these motivators would probably apply to you, too. What’cha say, why not join the contest?
You can follow the progress of the contest on Twitter, we’re using the hashtag #tadoku
No, not looking up Japanese-learning videos. I mean YouTube the way you’d see it if you were logging in from Japan: Set in Japanese with Japan’s featured content. (Each country has its own featured videos, categories, popular videos, etc. The videos that display on the US homepage are different from the ones on the Japan homepage and from the ones on the Korea homepage, etc.)
Here's what the homepage looks like when I log in. I'll let you know how to do this with your account (And why you should!) later in the post!
YouTube opens up a whole new portal to Japan and Japanese for language learners! Music PV’s, concerts, how-to’s, cooking ideas, personal vlogs, game shows, news, cute animal videos, you name it. There is literally something for everybody, and nearly endless content to explore! What an awesome way to have fun and immerse yourself in the language!
Especially awesome are the various videos (mostly music and TV shows) you can find that have captions (captions, not subtitles, naughty naughty!). Woo hoo! Makes listening a whole lot easier when you can read along, too.
You can use YouTube to find different movies, musical artists, animes, dramas, etc. that you really enjoy and then hunt down the DVD/CD/manga/etc. at stores or online! This is one of my favorite things to do, and I can’t wait until my BookOff/Kinokuniya trip next week to hunt down the ones on my lists.
How To Set YouTube to Japanese interface with Japan’s content
This is pretty easy, and perhaps more important than how to do it is why to do it. We’ll start with how to do it…
Scroll alllll the way to the bottom of the page. You’ll see two categories on the lower left-hand side: Current Location and Current Language. Click “Show locations” and “Show languages” to change them to 日本 and 日本語 respectively, and you’re good to go! Easy, right?
You might be tempted to set the location to Japan so you can get Japan’s content, but keep the language in English (or your native language if it’s different). Resist the urge! Setting the interface to Japanese adds way more Japanese-learning and reinforcement time! If you don’t know what おすすめ、音楽、動画、人気、or お気に入り mean, I bet you will after a few times visiting the site like this! And if you already know how to use YouTube in your language, a lot of it is very intuitive. (Plus, you can always turn on your Rikaichan to help you if you need it.) You’ll likely see a lot of stuff you recognize too, which is super encouraging and exciting!
If you want, you can get some ideas by finding me on YouTube (veganlizz) and checking out my favorites and playlists.
Here’s a cute commercial that’s been popular lately. It was the first commercial I ever fully understood, so I tweaked out about it!
Ideas for Making the Most of YouTube
Find and favorite whatever you’re into. Trust me, it’s on there. Great way to learn vocab for your areas of interest, too!
Find new stuff to be into! Check out the related videos on the right hand side of the page after you’re done watching a video. This will often lead you on a trail of videos where you find great new stuff you dig!
Explore the most popular videos and most favorited videos. (In the box 人気の動画) See what’s popular in Japan right now, get some more cultural knowledge, be in on the “in” things in Japan!
Make playlists. These’ll help you sort all those favorites on your ever-growing list.
Share with friends. Send fellow learners/friends links to your favorite videos! Challenge them to make and trade a playlist with a theme with you. You both make your own playlist of “Best/Weirdest Commercials” or “Favorite Japanese Disney songs” or “Top 10 Moments in J-Dramas”, or something less corny… and then share with eachother and enjoy!
Have fun! All of this is assuming you enjoy perusing the site, as there’s no use trying to learn by doing something you dislike! But with the vast expanse of Japanese goodness offered to you by YouTube, there really is no reason not to head over to the site, Japan-ify it, and get exploring!
My grocery list from last week, unedited and uncut! Yes, I eat a lot of vegetables.
Are you a list person?
I’m a list person. I make lists for things I have to do, have to buy, want to watch, want to listen to, etc. I realize I may or may not have a problem.
Regardless, lists are a great opportunity to practice writing and learn new vocab!
I sit down for a few minutes before my day/grocery store trip/shopping expedition/whatever, and write down what I need. If I don’t know a word or kanji, I look it up. I help myself with furigana where I need it, but no English! (In my game I play inside my head, that’s cheating!) If I need to, I’ll butcher the heck out of a word to get it into katakana (See “Pedialyte” on the list to the right, haha. I’m easily dehydrated 😦 )
Is it perfect every time? Probably not. Actually, definitely not. But that’s okay, I’m learning way more than if I didn’t do it!
Try it out! See if you can do it for 10 days. After that, I bet it’ll become habit, and you’ll have learned words and kanji for some of your regular buys/to-do’s!
So much to read! Magazines, manga, novels, more manga...
Remember when you were little (and literate, not like 2), and books were the most amazing things ever? They took you to far-off places, with new and fascinating characters, on super-epic adventures. Even when you were still learning to read, each new book was a whole new world. Not being able to understand every word didn’t stop you from devouring the thing whole and wanting more.
Well, since I’ve started reading literature in Japanese, I’ve got that feeling back! 懐かしい～！
No no, I’m not picking up a novel after 2 years of studying and flying through it with ease, or even understanding every sentence. I am, however, understanding more and more, learning new grammar and vocabulary, and loving every minute of it.
I can’t recommend reading Japanese literature enough! It’s done wonders for my learning.
Maybe you’ve tried reading stuff for native speakers, and maybe you’ve loved it, or maybe you got way too frustrated and quit. I used to read to understand every word and every sentence, every grammatical structure and utterance. I drove myself into the ground doing this, reading became tedious and painful. Now I know what makes the difference for me: The way I read it.
The way I read now is FUNand easy! Learning this way is fun and awesome and “gotta get me some more of that”. And I’m learning at a much greater pace than I was when I was hyper-analyzing.
All I really need...
How I Get My Read On
To read, I need:
1 Manga/Novel of interest (Must be of interest/use to me.)
Post-It tags or other page-markers
Monolingual and/or bi-lingual dictionary
1. Read for basic comprehension and understanding. Get really excited when I understand things. 2. If I don’t understand it at all: Skip it. Don’t sweat it. 3. Use dictionary for help if I’m close to figuring something out. Try mono-lingual first. If still no comprehension, use bi-lingual. If sentence makes no sense to me, don’t look up every word in dictionary, see Step 2. 4. Use Post-It tags to mark phrases and sentences I want to put in my SRS at a later time. (Doesn’t even have to be fancy post-it paper stickies, can make do with with pieces of scrap paper with the first few words of the phrase I want to SRS tucked into the page.)
That’s it. Easy, right?
Just plop my stickies in the frames with the text I want to SRS. Click on the photo to enlarge it, can you read any of it? (From よつばと！)
Once I’m done with a reading session, sometimes right after, sometimes hours or days, I go back and review what I’ve circled, adding it to my SRS deck and looking up things I need more info on in a textbook or grammar book. I don’t SRS while reading, it interrupts my reading groove.
There are 800,000,004 different types of reading materials out there: books/manga/magazines/newspapers/novels/websites etc.. You’ve got to be interested in some of them!
If you’ve tried before and now dread reading, maybe it’s time to change the way you read. Check out articles and blogs on how others read, and why, and try ideas out! Everybody learns differently, so develop your own system that works for you!
It doesn't matter if you're 2 or 22, tub markers make learning fun.
Last year, I bought some Crayola BathTub Markers.
A solid way to spend $6, if you ask me. Having a little cup of tub markers in the shower really helps spark some Japanese practice and use.
Why tub markers? Well, because they’re fun! C’mon, when else can you pick up something colorful and draw all over the walls with it? I’m for anything that makes learning fun.
←This is what my family’s shower looked like before the JLPT 4 in 2008. (If you click on the photo, it’s bigger and you can read my beginner’s Japanese!)
Swing by your favorite craft store (or Target or Wal-Mart, if you must…) and pick up a box! Even if you don’t end up practicing Japanese, you’ll still have fun drawing dirty pictures and writing obscenities and insults for your fellow shower-ers to find.