Get in the Fun: Learn a Foreign Language

Use your "addictions" to learn a foreign language.  I choose brain books over manga.  It's just how I roll. :)

Use your “addictions” to learn a foreign language. I choose brain books over manga. It’s just how I roll. 🙂

It’s interesting that as I try to learn Japanese and hunt for books to read, it seems like I am attracted to the same book in different packages.   Basically I seem to be reading the same brain book but with different emphases.   This time I am reading  脳の時間割り  (Brain’s Time Table) .   This book explores how to better use knowledge about circadian rhythms in order to use your brain better.   Hey,  some one should start a website called Samurai Mind Online!

If one of your life goals is to learn a foreign language, I think it is fine to read material where you know or think you know, what the text is saying.  And, I think it helps that it should feel addictive.   These days I am attracted to Japanese language books that also have pictures.   I was attracted to the book’s bright yellow cover and the fact that it had pictures.  Plus, it offered me the promise of being able to use my brain better.  But I thought to myself, “Hey, I have oodles of Japanese brain books at home that I’ve only half way read.  Do I need another Japanese brain book?”  I left the section to scan for more books but the harpy of a book kept calling me.

One of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve gotten from All Japanese All the Time is to go for the guilty pleasures in the language that you want to learn:

Your language-learning method should make you feel guilty. It should make you feel bad. It should make you feel a little dirty. Like learning English by watching Jersey Shore. 

The book reinforces things I already practice.  I am an early riser and walker.  The author, a brain researcher, explains how the sun stimulates brain activity.

The book reinforces things I already practice. I am an early riser and walker. The author, a brain researcher, explains how the sun stimulates brain activity.  Familiarity and fun are key ingredients in learning a foreign language.  Get in the sun.  Get in the fun.

Do I really need yet another Japanese brain book?  Yes, I do.  While it helps do study words and do flashcards, etc, I  need a steady diet of brain candy in Japanese to just keep getting exposed to the language. When I read a Japanese book,  I don’t look up words.  I skip over sections when I start getting tired.  I re-read.   I read the table of contents.  I look at the pictures.

Along the way, I meet a lot of unfamiliar kanji, vocabulary, and unfamiliar grammatical structures.   But I let myself float over this because I also devote time to consciously pushing up on the language with flashcards, sentence study, Jpod 101, surusu, etc.

What’s nice is when these two approaches meet and reinforce each other.   That’s what it is all about.

 

 

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10 Responses to Get in the Fun: Learn a Foreign Language

  1. Jordan says:

    Do you have any recommendations for beginner fun books. I want to get some good Japanese books that I can read and look up the words later. Especially for class and work I have a lot of downtime with nothing to do. Also get overwhelmed when I look at Japanese books I think that is my biggest problem I see so many thing I don't understand and get discouraged. Do you have any tips?

    • taijuando says:

      Let me think about it. In the meantime any other readers have ideas? In some ways it'sgreat to just look at magazines with lots of pictures. I think it's also good to look at words and kanji and just pass over them and let them flood by. Follow your interests even if your vocabulary isn't there yet.

    • taijuando says:

      try to just get fascinated about what you don’t know but don’t let it become “work” unless you want to

    • taijuando says:

      http://www.amazon.co.jp/コミック-漫画-Kindle-キンドル-電子書籍/b/ref=sv_kinc_4?ie=UTF8&node=2293143051&tag=alljapanallth-22 what are your interests? what do you have guilty fun reading in English? try to find that in Japanese. There is a time and place for looking up words but it is really really important to just read, skim, have fun. http://www.nihongo-yomu.jp/en.html.

    • Frances says:

      I don't know about Japanese, but I have some Chinese books at home that say in big letters on the cover: for children ages 2-6! They are actually picture books that show a scene developing over time on different pages, with things to look for in the pictures. There's a bit of text on each page describing what's going on, and then the names of some of the things in the picture (the ones you have to look for). It sounds so childish, but I found myself completely engrossed one day looking for something- thinking 'I'll be damned if I'm gonna be beaten by little Chinese 3 year-olds!'
      Maybe if you're just starting out then you should try looking at books like that? Let go of any preconceptions of what you should be reading. Nobody has to know (unless you plan to whip it out on the bus on your way to class!).
      I am in in the country so it's easy to get hold of this stuff, but generally Amazon will do the trick too…

  2. Keegan says:

    This is one of the things I get most jealous about when talking to modern language learners. I study Latin, and almost all of the fun stuff is highly advanced. It's like learning English with a few elementary-school chapter books followed by, I dunno, Virginia Woolf. If I'm ever fluent in this language, I hope I have the time and inclination to write or translate piles of easy-to-read guilty-pleasure Latin for intermediate-stage learners.

    • taijuando says:

      Puella en silva est. That’s1 all that’s left of my high school latin. Veni Vedi Vici1 Uh oh – thanks for staying in touch

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  4. Andie says:

    Learning foreign language is tough but it's pretty fun. I'm learning Korean and seems like it's a great language to go through. Korean have different cultures and food inspirations. To learn about these things from deep inside requires to have Korean language and I'm doing it for that.

  5. Leah Lena says:

    Jordan,

    I always buy language books that have an option audio Cd with them. I listen to the audio several times and then I move onto learning the vocabulary words and grammar. Maybe this technique will help you?

    Also, I would suggest reading Japanese through Manga land. It plenty of pictures, but not too much text, and it really does help you increase your Japanese language skills! I think you can download it from the net. But I perfer the physical book as reading from a cpu screen makes my eyes hurt after a while.

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