Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year!!

Where have I been? I have really been procrastinating way too much with this blog. Let me update everyone on what I have been up to the past few months.

I joined the #Add1Challenge that ended in December with my chosen language being German. The goal is to be able to have a 15 minute conversation with a native speaker after 90 days of studying. I managed to complete the challenge, and make a video for it. (Warning: the video and audio gradually become out of sync for some reason.) HOWEVER, I did not make it into the final three for the chance to win a trip to the country of my target language. Oh well.  It was great motivation, and I really had fun with the challenge. I highly recommend it, if anyone is competitive or looking for an incentive to learn.

I was so focused on German that I really let my Korean and Japanese suffer. I haven’t had lessons since November in either language. This week, I’m getting back on track. Since the challenge ended, I have been doing WaniKani for my Japanese, though. That site is so addictive!

I started using Duolingo to practice my German, and from there I also added Spanish to my app. It is also addicting. (And plus the owl is super cute.)

Starting January 16th, italki is having its own language challenge. It’s free to join, and you could win $500 towards a flight to the country of your target language. I decided that I’m going to do this challenge. I’m going to use this opportunity to try out some different tutors, and see which ones I want to use.

After my successful German challenge, I wanted to use the next three months to work on another new language. It’s really hard for me to decide, especially since a few of my options don’t have a lot of tutors available on italki (that match my schedule.) SOOO, I’m trying something a little bit different. I’m trying out Polish Pod 101 with a Premium Plus account, where I have my own tutor. We’ll see how that goes.

In non-language related news, I got a tadpole for Christmas! His name is Omelet, and he will grow up to be an African Clawed Frog. I will post pics later.

What are you goals for the new year? Has anyone tried the langaugeclass101 tutors before? Any tadpole advice?


Japanese Studying 08/05/2015


I finally finished reading  the first volume of 砂時計 with my tutor. We are going to watch a video next time to work on listening. After that, we will either continue with the next volume OR start the first volume of オレンジ by 高野苺, if I can get my hands on it. Kinokuniya only had volumes 2-4 last time I went. I did snatch up some “easy readers” as I call them, though. They’re 10分で読めるお話. I got grades 1-6, of course. I cannot NOT buy language study materials when I see them.

I also bought a Ghibli DVD collection. It has the Japanese and English versions (plus Mandarin and Cantonese, too.) Even though I went to the Ghibli Museum in 2008, I am no expert. I have only seen Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, Totoro (my fave, of course!), Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Princess Mononoke, and only in English. I’ve been meaning to watch them in the original Japanese, and I want to see the other movies. What’s your favorite Ghibli movie?

Finally, I have been working on my 漢字. They are, by far, my weakest point in my Japanese studies. I’m starting from the basics, and working my way up. Why do the ones that native speakers write look so pretty, and mine all look like hideous potatoes??????

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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?

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.