Okay, so I’m taking on a different approach.
I’ve realized that my vocabulary is lacking. And so, I picked up this JLPT vocab book. It’s nice. It has lists of vocabulary broken up into functions such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and whatnot.
I’m starting with the JLPT5 section and writing words I’m not familiar with onto flashcards. Starting with the easiest grade is perfect. These are the essential words I’ll need for Japanese.
After that, I test myself on the words and put the ones I got wrong into the “wrong” pile. I put the correct ones into the “correct” pile. Then I’ll shuffle them up and test myself on the wrong ones and go through the same process. Once I have none in the wrong pile, I’ll test myself on all of them again.
I realize this will take a while, but in the end it will be worth the studying. I have to get the vocab in me somehow. This means some memorization. Start with the easy levels first, then move onto the hard ones. This book has all 5 levels. By the time I get to level 2, I’ll have a pretty strong vocab base.
So studying vocab helps with proficiency. What’s gonna help me with fluency?
Nothing beats talking to tutors and friends. We learn languages from people. But people only have so much patience and time and tutoring can get expensive.
So yes, I’ll be talking with friends and a tutor, but I’ll also be doing lots of extensive reading and listening. And I’ll also be watching easy videos. It takes a while to find videos at my level. Beginner videos are almost non existent. I’m glad I’m at an intermediate stage where I can understand most of what’s going on. It took a while to get to this point.
If I had taken Japanese in Elementary school, perhaps I would be at the intermediate level by high school. I’m not really sure. All I know is that the school system might have killed my motivation completely by the time I got to middle school.
I remember first year Spanish in high school was awesome! In the second year the teacher taught Spanish too fast. He used quite a bit of native material and not enough material at my level for me to acquire it.
The same thing happened in college. My first semester was awesome. The professor taught us at our level. It wasn’t too difficult. Then I went onto the second semester, and she made us watch videos that were way too above our level and boring! It was about some lawyer lady in Los Angeles from the 1980s! Even with subtitles we couldn’t understand it at all.
And that’s why I decided not to continue on with Spanish in college. I got a C in the second semester class. I guess I wasn’t really cut out for Spanish. Little did I realize that I wasn’t really my fault at all.
You see after reading up on language acquisition years later, I finally realized why so many language teachers fail these students.
Now I know what works and what doesn’t. I know all of the myths that are spread throughout the Internet about learning languages and the truths that are told but rarely understood.
You see my professor didn’t know how to teach languages to our level. It was so far above us that we were lucky to catch anything at all!
Oh yes, it was because I slacked off and didn’t study enough. That’s why I wasn’t speaking fluently. That’s why I became a false beginner, right? So excuse me if I get a C; I just wasn’t studying enough.
The truth is it wasn’t my fault. It was the teachers’ fault if I wasn’t getting the language!
That’s what Michel Thomas always said. Look him up. There’s Youtube vids about him and his method. It’s fascinating! He knew exactly how to teach using the student’s native tongue as a bridge. For absolute beginners, I highly recommend Michel Thomas for European languages.
Pimsluer is also excellent for the beginners out there. Some would argue this is too heavily output based. I would disagree. You’re getting input that is broken down and made comprehensible. Output is minimal. You’re getting more input than output. You’re training the responses to be quick with Pimsluer’s approach. It’s the same with Michel Thomas, but he does it in a slightly different way that is very relaxed.
These are great for getting basics down. Once you get through these you’ll need something else. Take a class. Get a tutor. Find some language helpers. Do some extensive reading.
Summary of Plan
- Vocab: JLPT book -> Flashcards
- Anki: Grammar sentences. 10 new ones per day.
- Extensive Reading: Graded readers, Children’s Books, Easy web news
- Extensive listening: CD’s with Graded Readers, Easy web news reading
- Watching Easy videos: Youtube vids, Anime I know by heart, Instructional videos, Dramas I know by heart.
Here’s a great documentary on Michel Thomas: