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Class frustrations, immersion software, CDs & other methods

Hideo

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Holds PhD in Packing
 
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Joined: October 29th, 2002
Location: Shimizu, Japan

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  • Added on: October 1st, 2009
In an attempt to not forget the Japanese I learnt when living in Japan a couple of years ago I am studying Japanese, but all these points apply to any language learning.

I go to evening classes but get quite frustrated there for a number of reasons:
- the pace is slow at times, and too quick at others when the teacher moves us along despite nobody really having mastered the point.
- the range of abilities in the class is big, even for a small class number, despite all supposedly being at the same level.
- when paired for practice with some students for drills they prove utterly incapable of doing it even though what they need to say is more or less written out for them, and they give up and speak in English.

This has lead me to try various other methods to keep up my study (although my own personal laziness does get in the way at times it must be said.

I had used Pimsleurs prior to going to Japan and a little bit since, and I think it's quite good. It doesn't just start off with the normal basics, by which I mean saying hello, counting, days of the week etc, but gets quickly into real situations and full sentences, adding more basics as you go. It also doesn't mention what grammar point your are using, even though you may be using a specific form of the verb that you may not otherwise have learnt for a while. This has good and bad points to it, but for me the main drawback was that it only teaches you more formal speech rather than informal or "real" speech.

I'd looked at other methods too - various books for example but find it hard to motivate myself to use them often enough.

That lead me to look into software which claims to help you learn in an "immersion" style such as Rosetta Stone. This is very expensive so I haven't bought it, but I have tried a far cheaper immersion program which was rather disappointing. I've seen mixed reviews of Rosetta Stone, and while I think the theory is a good one, i.e. to learn in the same way you learnt your own language, it would just take too long to learn another language that way since you'd never be surrounded by it all day every day.

I've previously used Michel Thomas cd's for Spanish and thought they were quite good, and may give them a try for Japanese although I'm unsure how it would work for Japanese since with the Spanish cd's a lot of it was based on the fact that there are many similarities between English and Spanish, and many words the same other than the endings, which clearly isn't the case with Japanese.

Other ideas I use are language podcasts which deal with grammar points, new vocabulary and listening practice (japanesepod101.com is quite good) and use various homemade flashcards for vocabulary and kanji, and also watching movies in Japanese with English subtitles - rather difficult though as it's very fast.

Put simply, I feel like I'm fighting against the current the whole time rather than progressing. Maybe it's my own motivational problems, or maybe I haven't found the best method for me, but I just wish one of these methods would help things click into place.

Anyone have any thoughts or good ideas about what has worked best for them, or opinions on the various methods I've mentioned here?
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step."

Tortuga_traveller

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Joined: November 19th, 2004

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  • Added on: October 1st, 2009
I am language learning disabled, which is to say,I'm good at what I'm good at, but when it comes to memorizing conjugations and specific usages, its hell on wheels for me.

Oddly enough, I am very good at reading Spanish, one of the best in my class in Spain, and I write it pretty well too, given time, but I always have to look up conjugations of a specific form.

Spoken is my bane. and I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact I'm practially tone-deaf, and so, don't process sounds as well as written input.

Everyone has a favored means of input, be it written, spoken, or pictorial. Find your favorite means and go from there. Read, read, and read some more. Reading can never hurt. Reading impinges on you the correct grammar whether or not you recognise it at the time, and does wonder for your vocabulary.
Open your heart, and your dreams will follow

Hideo

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Holds PhD in Packing
 
Posts: 165
Joined: October 29th, 2002
Location: Shimizu, Japan

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  • Added on: October 1st, 2009
Very true re the reading. However with Japanese that's another task in itself!
I'm fine with 2 of their 3 alphabets, but can't read very many kanji characters (the chinese characters) and so only children's books are readable for me.

That said, children's books are probably what I should try reading anyway to build up vocabulary and basic grammar.
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step."




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