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Sometimes a samurai mind needs to be shaken up.   And stirred.

297 days ago, I signed up for Silverspoon, a service from the creator of All Japanese All the Time, that is meant to guide you to Japanese fluency.  Today, I am celebrating by listening to German Rock.   What the heck? (BTW I switched 99 Luftballoons.  I couldn’t handle the German rock.)

Manga cafe booth--before I did Silverspoon I was already trying to "immerse"

I was just following Silverspoon “orders”:

Halfway day!

To commemorate halfway day, go ahead and do things in a language that you’re not as good at as Japanese. Preferably one that you don’t know a single word of. A tertiary language. An L3.

I don’t know if Arabic or Russian or German or Korean is it for you.

Whatever an L3 is to you, run with it

Don’t do anything in Japanese.

Don’t touch anything in Japanese.

Avoid Japanese as far as possible.

But don’t go to English either. Go to the L3. Start with Wikipedia or whatever.

Let me know how it went.

Silverspoon is a daily guided immersion experience.   The way it works is you log on to the Silverspoon website and see what your “sprints” are for the day.   On the first day, I received a link to watch silly Japanese commercials and encouraged to leave it on all day.  Every day you get “spoon fed” directions that may involve creating electronic flashcards, shadowing (trying to imitate Japanese audio), copycat sprints (copying out sections of Japanese books by hand), learning kanji, watching movies, and a plethora of activities. In between activities, Khatz suggests “chillax” periods where you just do something else besides studying.  The “chillax” breaks become longer throughout the day.  Silverspoon also bombards you with emails all day with inspirational thoughts in English (and Japanese) and links to Japanese websites.  You never have an excuse to have exposure to something in Japanese.

I signed up June 27th of 2011 as the school year was nearing to a close.  I’d already been studying Japanese for five years, but had gotten stuck in a routine of flashcards, flashcards, flashcards.  I was becoming robotic about it, and probably learning less.   Sometimes a samurai mind needs to be shaken up.   And stirred.

Kanji.koohii.com screenshot

Silverspoon has fit the bill.  I am learning more Japanese and having more fun with it.   Moreover, there have been some non-Japanese side effects:

  • timers have become my allies.  I’ve progressed in my writing by using five minute spurts.    As the “Time Warrior” is showing me, five minutes of actual action is worth a hell of a lot more than hours spent whining about not being able to write.
  • Khatz’s corny self-help quotations are rubbing off on me, and I am thinking in terms of possibilities.  An example from one of today’s emails:  Time is not loss. Time is opportunity. Any amount of time is an opportunity.
  • I'm reading self-help books in Japanese and in English and collecting my own set of corny quotes, like when Steve Chandler quotes Rumi in Time Warrior:

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.   Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.  Take down a musical instrument.  Let the beauty we love be what we do.  There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.—Rumi

Anki is a great website for creating and studying flashcards. But don't become a flashcard robot. Have fun contact with what you want to learn.

I quote Rumi and laugh inside.  It’s not every day I get to read a Sufi mystic while listening to Nena’s 99 Luftballoons.