Japanese Studying 07/21/2015

I had a lesson on the 21st with my Japanese tutor. I began the lesson by asking about お食い初め (okuizome). My Japanese friend just held the ceremony for her three-month-old daughter, and had sent me photos. お食い初め is celebrated on or around a Japanese baby’s 100th Day. It is a “first meal” for the baby. The family sets a meal out with rice, fish, vegetables, and other food for the baby to try. I think usually the baby doesn’t really eat, but it’s more about the ceremony. In the photo (which I won’t post for privacy reasons), the baby did not look happy. haha

After discussing the ceremony, we read 砂時計 as usual, and almost finished the first volume! I love this series so much, and it’s nice to be able to read it in the original Japanese. Next lesson, we will finish the first volume of 砂時計 and watch a video to practice listening.

I have found that my lack of knowledge of kanji (I only know about 50 or so) is really holding me back. So, I started a kanji notebook that I have been writing in every day. I can do this! Anyone have any kanji study tips?

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Korean Studying 07/20/2015

I had a lesson last night with my tutor. We read “해와 달 이야기” from Once Upon a Time in Korea. I really struggled with reading the stories in this book in the beginning. It used to take up the entire hour lesson. But, now, on the 18th story, it feels so easy. Of course, there was some vocabulary that I hadn’t known, but the grammar was all familiar.

New vocabulary from the story:
키우다 – to raise (as in children)
잔치 – party
문을 두드리다 – to knock on the door
문틈 – crack in the door
뒷문 – backdoor
도끼 – axe
찍다 – to chop
남매 – siblings
하느님 – God
빌다 – to pray
튼튼하다 – to be sturdy
밧줄 – rope
썩다 – to rot

After the reading, I learned a new grammar point. I had already known -아/어지다 meant “to become…” But, I had used it for “to be hugged” (안다 -> 안아지다) which is WRONG. It’s 안기다. Apparently, there are a few different syllables that can be added to verbs to mean “to be ___ed.” I will just have to memorize them as I encounter them. Below are some examples of the grammar we did:
간호사가 고양이를 잘 먹서 고양이가 뚱뚱해어요.
간호사가 고양이를 잘 먹서 간호사가 고양이를 뚱뚱하 만들었어요.

Vocabulary:
안다 to hug
다 to be hugged
뚱뚱하다 to be fat
뚱뚱해다 to become fat
뚱뚱하 하다/만들다 to make someone fat
다  to feed

Overall, it was a good lesson that made me feel successful, but also made me frustrated with having to memorize grammar (a normal Korean lesson.) Tonight, it’s on to Japanese.

My Korean Language Journey

Well, I’ve already told you about how I started learning Japanese and Spanish. Now, it’s time for Korean. In high school, I was searching for Japanese penpals, and found a few Korean penpals, too. One of them, 경진, taught me how to read 한글. At the same time, I started getting into kpop through BoA, who I knew through jpop. I became a member of a Baby VOX community, and learned some Korean vocabulary there. I taught myself words through lyrics again (사랑, 사람, 이제, 눈물, etc.)

But, then Baby VOX broke up in 2006, the same year that I graduated high school, and I kind of lost interest in Korean for a while. Then, in 2008, I decided to give Big Bang’s 붉은노을 a listen. I was hooked! I started listening to more and more and more kpop songs. Then, I got into dramas. My first was 궁 because Baby VOX’s 윤은혜 starred in it.

I started taking Korean lessons online in 2011 on italki after I graduated from my master’s program, and have not stopped since. I plan on taking the TOPIK soon. I really think I can do it. But, I’m so scared.

In 2012, I visited 경진 in Korea for the first time. We had so much fun! We traveled to 12 cities in 14 days. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. I desperately want to go back. But, now she’s working in New Zealand, so I will have to make it on my own.

How/Why did you start studying your target language? You can also check out my Spanish and Japanese stories.

My Japanese Language Journey

Ah, 日本語, where do I begin? My journey into Spanish was so conventional (school classes to using it at work), but Japanese was much more of a weird maze of a journey spurred on by actual desire to learn.

I guess it technically started in middle school, when I got into anime. But, I was only watching things dubbed and didn’t really learn very many words. Then, in 2002, when I was in high school, I heard “Simple and Clean” on TV in a Kingdom Hearts commercial. I immediately found out who the singer was (宇多田ヒカル), and what else she released. From there, I entered the world of jpop, jrock, and dramas. I was hooked for my entire high school career and into college. I fell in love with Japanese music, language, culture, and people. I taught myself how to read ひらがな and カタカナ. I was able to teach myself a decent amount of vocabulary from song lyrics alone. (Some of the first words that I learned: 愛, 夢, 恋, 抱きする, 大好き…)

During my obsession with learning more and more about Japan, I met two Japanese girls online who became my penpals: Rie and Hiroko. In the summer of 2008, I was able to visit both of them AND attend a L’Arc~en~Ciel (my fave band) concert in 東京ドーム. It was an unforgettable experience! Rie lives in 岩手県 (Iwate) in a small city called 遠野市 (Tono.) I stayed in her house with her and her family. I got to experience the countryside of Japan. Everyone, even the townspeople, were so welcoming. I never wanted to leave. But, I did. I took the 新幹線 (bullet train) to 東京都 to meet Hiroko. I got to experience the other side of Japan – the hustle and bustle of places such as 新宿 and 原宿. Plus, I had floor seats at 東京ドーム where I could see L’Arc.

I still talk to Rie, and she is one of my closest friends. However, I don’t really listen to Japanese music much anymore. My faves aren’t releasing stuff right now, and I’m not a fan of most of the stuff out now. I’ll listen to my old classics when I study, or before a lesson to get me into that mode. So, that complete obsession/passion/thirst to learn is gone. I still find the language beautiful, and study with an online tutor.

I have gone through over 10 Japanese tutors in three years. Currently, I am studying with Takako on italki. We are reading 砂時計 by 芦原妃名子. The dialect is difficult for me, but I adore the story, so I’m struggling through.

How/Why did you start studying your target language? You can also check my Spanish and Korean stories.

My Spanish Language Journey

How did I start learning Spanish?

Spanish is the language that I have been studying the longest – 16 years! In sixth grade, I had to choose which foreign language I would study for the rest of my school days. The choice was between either French or Spanish. At the time, my dad was dating a Colombian woman, so I chose Spanish. I took Spanish classes every year from 6th grade until I graduated high school (12th grade).

In college, my major required me to take six credits (two classes) in a foreign language. They offered French, Spanish, and Italian. My mother’s family came from Sicily, so I really wanted to switch to Italian. But, I decided to stick with Spanish, since I was familiar with it. I took more than the required two classes, and actually had enough credits to minor in it if I wanted too. (I chose to minor in History.)

In 2007 (summer after freshman year of college), I had the opportunity to go to Spain for two weeks. I stayed with a friend and her family in Barcelona. I was so excited to be able to finally travel out of the country and to a place where I could practice my Spanish. Unfortunately, I didn’t use my Spanish at all while I was there. I spoke English with my friend (and her friends/family), and everyone there was speaking Catalán. I was young, and hadn’t even known that there were other languages used by natives of Spain. (I’m much more informed now, I promise!) So, this was quite a shock to me. I came home with the same language skills that I had left with.

Then, in 2012, I began taking online Spanish lessons through italki, and I haven’t stopped. In August of 2014, I started working in a community where 60% of the population speaks Spanish. I was able to put my Spanish skills on my resume, and I use it every day at work, talking to patrons. I think this job has improved the speed at which I speak and understand Spanish. Because of this I plan on taking the DELE in November.

How/Why did you start studying your target language? You can also check my Japanese and Korean stories.

First Post!

Hello Readers,

My name is Emily. I decided to create this site to track my language learning and traveling – my two greatest passions. I am currently studying Spanish, Japanese, and Korean. As for traveling, I have been to over 10 countries so far, and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Come join me on my adventures!