Tag Archives: immersion

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.

 

 

May the Non-Force Be With You

For a couple of bucks I left to go to a manga kissa in a different town.  Easy enough and a little adventure to boot.  You don"t have to kill yourself to try and learn something new.  Look for small but powerful shifts.

For a couple of bucks I left to go to a manga kissa in a different town. Easy enough and a little adventure to boot. You don”t have to kill yourself to try and learn something new. Look for small but powerful shifts.

I’ve been in Japan for about three weeks now.  The jetlag has gone away and I am coming to my senses more.   But I’ve noticed one strange thing.  Up until a few days, I had not bought reading material.  Reading is part of my immersion path (I don’t want to say strategy-because that sounds a little too calculated).  I go to a manga cafe almost every day and I have the opportunity to check out magazines and manga every day and I do.   There are a few bookstores close by and I’ve taken the opportunity to go browsing there a few times.  But I’ve only taken one item home.

I’m not worried.   First of all, the fact that I can stroll into a Japanese bookstore, browse, and realize that I am not interested in anything is a big victory.  I know what each section is, I can skim the titles, the table of contents, etc.  One of the things that I rediscovered through AJATT is that reading doesn’t have to look pretty.  In “Why the Way We Read Sucks” series AJATT really explores how to really get the most out of reading by avoiding the stifling obligation patterns we learn at school.  For me, reading is fun but what makes it more fun is also about making choices, rejecting,  and jumping around the text.  Browsing is a powerful reading activity.

Browsing is also a powerful review though it may not feel lik it.  Browsing is a reminder that the most important review is in real-life, in navigating, hunting, and just plain old having fun.  There is a time and place for hard work and effort in real life but fun can work too.   There is a time to be the worker ant and soldier on for the colony.   But there should be time to be like the hummingbird, flitting around and looking for nectar.  There is a time for “force” and “study” but the fun stuff reinforces it and gives it life, too.

Lots of pictures.  Information I am interested in and oodles of information I already know.  All part of letting the non-force be with you.

Lots of pictures. Information I am interested in and oodles of information I already know. All part of letting the non-force be with you.

I finally found a book at the local Numazu bookstore.  It is a visual guide to how to use an i-Pad mini.   Recently, I’ve been looking for books with a lot of pictures.    Besides the pictures, the nice thing about the iPad book is that I kind of know how to use an iPad already and I am really interested in learning how to use new apps.   I already have the inner motivation to use the knowledge in the book.   I already know a lot of vocabulary but what really helps to “read” this book is my slowly growing knowledge of kanji.  I don’t look up words, write down key sentences, etc.  I am enjoying what I am reading and that enjoyment is sealing the deal on whatever worker ant work I’ve pushed through.

Fun little book I found in a manga kissa.  This manga kissa had different offerings and was a fun, but comfortable to stretch while at the same time getting some work done.

Fun little book I found in a manga kissa. This manga kissa had different offerings and was a fun, but comfortable to stretch while at the same time getting some work done.

Currently, I am in a manga cafe in Mishima, a quick train ride away from Numazu, where I usually go to the same chain store.  But it was a little bit of adventure to find this place, the books and lighting are different.  I  have work in English to do, but with frequent breaks of intentional Japanese study and just “goofing off.” Currently, I am browsing and looking at book about the pop culture (video games, pop stars, and manga) of Japan in the 80’s.

Use your hard power.  Use your soft power.  Fly like a bee and sting like a butterfly and vice versa.  May the non-force be with you.

 

Keep the Fire Burning, (Man)

“Keep the fire burnin’…never let us lose our yearnin'”  . . . REO Speedwagon (ugh!)

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 7.03.03 AMDo you try to have all of your breath all at once?  No.  A small steady supply feeds all your body systems and your mind.  Small keeps the fire burnin’.

Whatever you are trying to move in your life doesn’t necessarily have to move at once.  In some ways, it may even work better to go small.   I used to wait until my summer vacation and make big promises to myself to write and I did write.   These days, I have around fifteen minutes every morning to write.   I use a timer and then study Japanese.   I’m getting a lot more done than when I had “all the time in the world.”

Small works when it is consistent.  Daniel Coyle writes in The Little Book of Talent  five minutes a day is better than infrequent and longer practice period.   It is easier to link thoughts in writing when it is day to day.  With musical instruments, it is easier to keep “muscle memory” going.  Try to stop breathing for an extended time and see how much fun it is to get breathing again.  On second thought, don’t.   It will be a lot more pleasant for everyone if you keep breathing.

Fun illustration from 1分スピード勉強法。 Short term memory expires quickly.   However, through repetitions the memory can cover the distance to light the candle of long term memory.

Fun illustration from 1分スピード勉強法。 Short term memory expires quickly. However, through repetitions the memory can cover the distance to light the candle of long term memory.

Small leverages the short term to long term memory connection.   Masami Utsude describes transforming short term memory into long

Real language exposure is the best and I get that too.  However, I do a few minutes of iKnow every day.   It keeps it from getting boring and takes advantage of short term to long term memory connection.

Real language exposure is the best and I get that too. However, I do a few minutes of iKnow every day. Short periods keeps it from getting boring and takes advantage of short term to long term memory connection.

term memory.  He describes it as  a relay race.  Imagine a team of matches.  One match (short term memory) runs until almost exhausted and lights the next match, continuing until it reaches a candle (long term memory).

Khatz, over at AJATT, talks about learning languages and suggests that critical frequency, moments of constant contact with the language will help it thrive and stay alive:

A language is like a cross between food, air and a pet. You can’t just binge on it once and call it a day. You need it there constantly, no, not constantly — very frequently — and when it does go, it needs to come back soon. Otherwise the skill dies.

Don’t let the skill die.  Don’t prevent it from being born.  Keep the fire burnin’.

 

 

 

Take a Little Off the Top (and the Sides), Samurai

Take a little off the top and the side.  Don't be overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible.

Take a little off the top and the side. Don’t be overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible.

Just yesterday some friends shared a little clip from an organization called code.org.  I have to admit, just the thought of coding is something that overwhelms me.  But according to Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the creators of twitter, dropbox and many other mega-sites explain, it is an approachable skill.  One of the coding stars explains that it is like any skill that might seem scary at first, whether it is playing an instrument,  learning a sport, or hey learning a language.  I don’t know if this clip is propaganda for some kind of coding cult but I like its message of how the seemingly impossible can be possible.

One phrase that helps me with this these days is “take a little off the top.”  I am a teacher and a father of two young children.  I am pulled in ten thousand directions, so the thought that I would also write, learn Japanese, and learn guitar seems ludicrous.  But taking a “little off the top” is doable and that’s what I’ve learned to do day to day.

I think the ability to persist in small and steady games has been one of the benefits of doing Silverspoon, an online coaching service I used to immerse myself in Japanese more.   In one of the emails I got from Khatzumoto, he summarizes the game/plan of action:

AJATT 7-Step Victory Formula: 0. Have no good intentions whatsoever. Just pick a good direction. No intentions. 1. Start off on the wrong foot. 2. Set your quitting time ahead of time (timeboxing) 3. Do a bad job. Quick. Dirty. Ugly. 4. Do only half the job (or less), using only what tools are immediately available. 5. Stop and switch games at quitting time, before quitting time or as soon as you get bored, whichever comes first. 6. Get more, better tools. 7. Return to step (1)

(BTW, AJATT has a really interesting new article on the importance of skimming.)  I could complain that I don’t have all the time in the world to write the great samurai self-help book or I could play around with writing in 15 minute stretches every morning.  I could whine that I don’t know that I don’t know how to play guitar or I could pull out a lesson from my SRS deck, Jamplay, or any other tools and then just let myself play.  I may not be able to put in 10,000 hours but I can “take a little off the top.”

You can also take a “little off the side.”   What I mean by this egregious hair metaphor is the importance of changing tactics,

Some Brazilian players play "futbol de salao."  Small, challenging environments can improve skills.  Work it!

Some Brazilian players play “futbol de salao.” Small, challenging environments can improve skills. Work it!  BTW this isn’t futbol de salao.  🙂

environments, and tools in addition to the persistence of “taking a little off the top.”  I just finished reading The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle (in five minute daily increments).  His tip #9 is “To Build Soft Skills Play Like a Skateboarder.”  He encourages people to explore and expand their skills “inside challenging, ever changing environments.”  He is alluding to the skateboarders that are featured in Dogtown and Zboys.   One of the ever changing environments they discovered were empty pools.  Confined, ever changing environment that took skateboarding in new directions.  Coyle also discusses how some Brazilian soccer teams train in small rooms that force them to learn all kinds of new skills.

Games are fun because of their limits.   Don’t be scared to develop the skills you want because of limits.   Bend time and space like a ZBoy.  Take a little off the top.  Come at it from all sides. Enjoy.

Keep on Hacking, Samurai!

When I first tried to start immersing in Japanese, I carried around a CD player and an electric Japanese dictionary.  (Yes, I was one of those guys who refused to get the latest technology.)  I ditched the CD player many moons ago and when I bought an iPod and then an iPhone.  I left the denshi jisho at home and started using the Midori app.  My arms and my back thanked me as I dropped all the weight.

Midori allows you to create different lists in addition to allowing you to view your history. I started lists of vocabulary from a few books but these days I just try to enjoy books and immerse in vocabulary through context.

Midori allows you to create different lists in addition to allowing you to view your history. I started lists of vocabulary from a few books but these days I just try to enjoy books and immerse in vocabulary through context.

Midori is a robust little Japanese-English dictionary app that allows you to look up Japanese and English words and names, either by typing or drawing the kanji.  One nice feature is that Midori allows you to create word lists and also allows you to create flashcards from those vocabulary.

I have a couple of “rules” when I look up and study vocabulary:

  • I have to be genuinely interested in the word.  When it comes up again on flashcards, I like to have some pleasant association.  Like when I went on a hiking trip with three Japanese folks in their 60’s.   We stopped at a souvenir shop and discovered bags of candied rice grasshoppers (いなご).  Pleasant.
  • I don’t have to “finish” studying vocabulary on my list.  Midori is mainly an option when I don’t have internet access, I don’t have easy access to a book, and have a little “crack” of time.  I just take a little off the top each time.  When it stops being fun or starts feeling like work, I stop.

However, I’ve added a little change to my vocabulary games.  Learning vocabulary by studying words in isolation is not the most efficient way to learn vocabulary.  Both antimoon and ajatt have both clearly laid out why using sentences and engaging content are the best way to acquire vocabulary and another language.   (Informallanguage goes as far as saying “Disregard grammar …acquire vocabulary.  Kind of unrelated but a fun post.)

It's great to look over the history of which words you've looked up.

It’s great to look over the history of which words you’ve looked up.

Lately, I realized that I was falling into the learning vocabulary by isolation “rut.”   So I’ve added a step to Midori flashcard reviews.  Once I come across a word I’ve forgotten, I look up the word again.   Most definitions include sample sentences. I read those sentences aloud (or mumbling if I’m in the subway–just another New Yorker talking to himself in tongues 🙂 ).   I stop before I’m bored.  I “own” a few more words because of that.

The bigger point is to keep inventing games for yourself. Daniel Coyle, author of The Little Book of Talent, writes that when you get in a rut you need to shake it up:

Research by Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, a professor of psychology at Florida State University and co-editor of The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, shows that the best way past a plateau is to jostle yourself beyond it; to change your practice method so you disrupt your autopilot and rebuild a faster, better circuit.

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Khatz, the dude that turned me on to that little book, recently wrote “Dude. Do It. It Will Work.”  He explains why you should keep on following your mind and trying new methods:

Because I just know. It’ll work.
And even if doesn’t work…it’ll work.

Why?
Because when you do it, you become a doer, a tryer, a player1. You become the kind of person who:

  1. Has crazy ideas, and
  2. Actually acts on them

I know, doing flashcards differently is not shaking up the world but it’s all part of how I am moving in ways that I wasn’t two years ago.  Party on. Excellent.

Samurai Immersing: An Ode to an iPhone

It's a sad day when I have to take a picture with my laptop.  By the way, the author of Study Hacks really recommends DS as a study tool.   I don't spend too much time with it these days.

It’s a sad day when I have to take a picture with my laptop. By the way, the author of Study Hacks really recommends DS as a study tool. I don’t spend too much time with it these days.

I’ve brought language immersion to a great new heights (lows).  I dropped my iPhone into the toilet while listening to Japanese music.  I’m relying on Facebook, email, Skype, and landlines to communicate.   Is this how our ancestors survived? 🙂  They had to rush to their computers at home to find out how cute Japanese cats jumped into boxes?

I’m convinced that my iPhone’s possible demise (it’s been sitting in a bag of rice for the past three days) was a result of betrayal.   The other day I thought it would be a nice idea to take out my DS Lite and play around with it.  I used to use it for my primary electronic dictionary using a program called 漢字そのまま。Just by using the stylus I could write out kanji words and look up the meanings.  When my iPhone and Midori entered the picture, I realized that I could just leave the very heavy DS at the Writer’s Room.  The other day I decided to trot it back out.  I think that’s when my iPhone decided to take the “plunge.”

While my iPhone has been hanging out in a bag of rice and silica packets in an attempt to dry it out, I’ve been experiencing phantom iPhone experiences:

  • at the elevator, hoping to do one more Japanese flashcard repetition
  • on my commute to and from work when I listen to Japanese music, podcasts, or Japanese101.com lessons.  (I’ve found that after doing a long period of immersion, I am appreciating and understanding the grammar lessons more.  I limit my lessons and pay attention to grammar explanations but don’t do anything to consciously use or remember grammar rules.  I don’t know if that is the best method, but I have momentum and am enjoying it)
  • looking for my evernotes for music scales, etc…luckily all that stuff is on a “cloud”
  • checking for mass Japanese emails on how to learn English…thanks Silverspoon for that idea

On the other hand, without an iPhone I’ve discovered that I have more time to think.  Supposedly that is good.  :). I’ve also pulled my old fashioned pen and paper samurai notebooks and have been reviewing those on the train, when I would normally be looking at my “device.”  Still, when I try to make up for lost time and do a Japanesepod lesson at the Writer’s Room, I am astonished by the amount of time it takes.  I was able to do a lot just walking to where I needed to go.

This is a fun app.  There are various ways to look up vocabulary including drawing kanji.  There are oodles of sample sentences though I don't completely trust all of them.  The flashcard option is just to study single words which is useful but not necessarily the most effective way to learn vocabulary.

This is a fun app. There are various ways to look up vocabulary including drawing kanji. There are oodles of sample sentences though I don’t completely trust all of them. The flashcard option is just to study single words which is useful but not necessarily the most effective way to learn vocabulary.

Update:  I took my iPhone to apple and had to get a replacement.    I did anki and surusu flashcard reps on the store computer while the nice “Genius” helped me get hooked up.  Once I got the new device the almost sad loss was my word history on Midori.  I had accumulated so many words through my summer travels and readings.   Though I have the app back, I don’t have the words I collected.  However, I was beginning to realize the limits of using the single word flashcard program.   (It’s a lot better to study vocabulary as it is imbedded in sentences.)  I also haven’t figured out how to load my music from my ancient computer onto my ipod.  The new device has a nifty podcast app that makes it easier to manage podcasts, but music is beautiful brain candy.

You don’t have to have a smartphone to immerse.  It’s just really one really helpful tool.   Books and notebooks are still around, right!  They are also a lot safer (and cheaper) to take to the bathroom.   Stay flexible, stay samurai mind!

 

Hybridize Your CRACK! Samurai Mind Reading

“Man reading should be intensely  alive.   The book should be like a ball of light in one’s hand.”  Ezra “Could I Getta” Pound
One study hack I enjoy is just reading the table of contents.   It reinforces positive information I want to have or it's a nice review of a book I've already skimmed.  Easier to read on a fast moving train, too. Writer's Room mug in the background. :)

One study hack I enjoy is just reading the table of contents. It reinforces positive information I want to have or it’s a nice review of a book I’ve already skimmed. Easier to read on a fast moving train, too. Writer’s Room mug in the background. 🙂

Let’s warp this already awesome quote and make it more politically correct:  “Samurai reading should be intensely alive.  The book should be like a ball of CRACK in one’s hand.”  Of course by crack I am referring to my patented 🙂 method called Crevice Reading Acquiring Cool Knowledge.   This method involves taking advantage of little crevices in time to read books to have fun, increase your skills, and in the process save the earth.   There are no “rules” in CRACK reading but there are some general principles:

  • the book should be fun.  If it’s not,  choose something else.
  • you don’t need to read cover to cover.   Read the back first. Re-read.  Savor the flavor.
  • use “time pressure” of reading in small windows of time to turn reading into a game
  • repeat

CRACK reading works on several levels.   Repeated exposure to a language or a skill takes advantage of both short term and long term memory.   It also helps maintain and sustain momentum.   And most importantly, life is short why not enjoy it by surfing all the great skills, ideas, and silliness your mind can surf?

Now, here is where you can take CRACK to the newest heights:  HYBRIDIZE it!  This works especially well if you are trying to learn a foreign language.   For example, the author of Study Hacks!  suggests that his Japanese readers learn English by reading the great English books about accounting.

If you make the happiness decision then maybe you can experience more creativity in your life.  Self-loathing and criticism aren't going to help you.  I finally got around to getting out my Japanese guitar books.  Learning through love.  Trying to make the happy decisions. Two birds with one CRACK.

If you make the happiness decision then maybe you can experience more creativity in your life. Self-loathing and criticism aren’t going to help you. CRACK will.  My Japanese guitar books. Learning through love. Trying to make the happy decisions. Two birds with one CRACK.

Let’s say you’ve done something silly like make New Year’s resolutions.   You want to learn Japanese and you want to learn Japanese.   Get your little hands on a fun little guitar book and carry that around (or copy pages of it).   Pull it out and enjoy it whenever you have a minute.  Remember, it’s always a good time for CRACK.   You understand Japanese/Spanish/German/Serbo-Croatian?  You don’t even understand the letters?  Look at the pictures.  Look at the letters.  Admire how cool they are.  Move on.   Have fun.  Remember:  if it’s not CRACK, it’s whack!   Hybridize, enjoy, have fun, and enjoy the year of the CRACK!

Goodbye Silverspoon!

Five more days left on Silverspoon.  It's been a fun ride.

Five more days left on Silverspoon. It’s been a fun ride.

Note:  I am still doing the old Silverspoon where you get a list of daily activities and links to do.  Neutrino is a little different and I haven’t played around with it.   I am kind of old school and like to see my “day” laid out for me.  Today I am going to write in bullets.

Why I Signed Up

  • I like Khatz and his writing.   I do business with people and support writing that I like. Shop loco.
  • I was turning into an Anki and iKnow zombie and not looking at real Japanese.
  • I didn’t have time to strategically think about how to shake up my Japanese learning.  I am a teacher and a father of two children. Nuff said.

How I Veered from the Silverspoon Path

  • I didn’t do every activity.  The bulk of my available time is in the morning.  Luckily most of the heavy lifting of Silverspoon came in the morning “sprints” when I have the most time to invest.
  • I still held on to doing iKnow (30 minutes a week), Anki, and Japanesepod101.com (sporadically at first–lately every day).
  • I didn’t do a lot of independent media watching, though we have TV Japan at home and my wife and children speak Japanese.
  • Um, well, I didn’t study every card that I made.   Thanks to Silverspoon, I got really comfortable with making monolingual flashcards.  However, I didn’t study those cards a lot because I was busy with other systems (iKnow and Anki) or just plain busy.  I also could have purged more cards (again thru Khatz’s tutelage) so I would have less of a やや attitude towards my decks.

Benefits:

  • I have a rich, fun tank of Japanese websites on my Surusu web shuffler.  Every time Khatz sent a link via email or through the sprints, I added it to my shuffler.  It’s like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you are going to get.  If I could do anything over again I would do more of the web shuffling that Khatz recommends.  Real Japanese all the Time.  Real Japanese is the real rep.  Reinforce what you know through fun.   Get exposure to new material through fun.  Not fun?  Shuffle again.

    One of the nice things about the Silverspoon thing has been to get links to Japanese websites I never would have thought of.  I add the links to AJATT's freee url shuffler tool and then I have it forever.

    One of the nice things about the Silverspoon thing has been to get links to Japanese websites I never would have thought of. I add the links to AJATT’s free url shuffler tool and then I have it forever.  These days my real shuffling comes from real books.

  • Motivational emails.  In Japanese and English.   Corny, but after a while you start to believe you can learn Japanese and more.  Combined with timeboxing, I also started to write more, using small moments to gain momentum.  The emails are also a daily reminder that I get to play around with Japanese.
  • Going monolingual.  Learning to make monolingual cards has been great.   Even if I don’t study every card I make, I get several minutes of deliberate practice of being monolingual in Japanese.
  • Different “hacks” for learning kanji, “speed reading”, and many more.

Results

Am I fluent?  No?  Did I do all of Silverspoon the way I was “supposed to”? No.  So what’s different?  Well, the big difference I can tell is that these days I just read Japanese for fun.   After the day’s work and studying is done or waiting for the train, I pull out my Japanese book of the day and read and learn and laugh, think, or just use the information for my life.  I understand more or just guess the context through my deeper knowledge of kanji.

The other big difference is that I am learning to hack time.   Small moments pile up like drops, carving out mountains.  Playing around with Khatz’s different timeboxing strategies, I’ve learned to take advantage of small moments.   Don’t get it right. Get it started. Don’t get it good. Get it going. Don’t get it finished. Touch it. Don’t do it. Do three minutes of it.”  I’ve started writing (if you could call this writing 🙂 ) again, and more recently started playing and thinking about guitar and music theory.  Little pockets.  Little cracks in time.  Big difference.

Was Silverspoon worth it? Yes, yes, yes.  Should you get it?  Who the heck knows?  Enjoy your life.  Enjoy your year.

 

 

Study Hacks!: Samurai Book Preview

Just started reading this book and already getting a lot out of it.   Some positive reinforcement of things I already do and some fun "hacks."

Just started reading this book and already getting a lot out of it. Some positive reinforcement of things I already do and some fun “hacks.”

The other day Christmas came early when I bought Study Hacks by Ryuusuke Koyama.   (in Japanese) This book fits the bill of one of the main missions of samuraimindonline.com to bring you “books that explore study methods and how to better optimize learning and growth.”  (Plus, I got double stamps for buying $10 or more on day with a “three” in it. 🙂

There's nothing like a point card to motivate me to read Japanese.  I get double points for buying books on any day with a three on it.

There’s nothing like a point card to motivate me to read Japanese. I get double points for buying books on any day with a three in it.

楽しいながら成果が上がるスキルアップのコツと習慣:  Improve Your Skills While Having Fun

Study Hacks begins with three glossy pages with photographs of the essential goods you can use to improve the effectiveness of your studying and introduces three key points:

  • Get goods that will help you concentrate wherever you are.
  • Use your ears to study. [ラク耳勉強法」Shut out distracting background noise.
  • Get the “goods” that will help you multiply your study results and passions.

Top Study Hacks! Recommended Goods

  • Noise cancelling headphones:  Koyama displays the same model of earphones I own, good for increasing concentration and “ear study”
  • IC Recorder:  hey, it’s a voice recorder.  Keep your learning on an audio loop
  • iPod:  listen to podcasts in your target language or for your target interest.
  • Massage oil aroma oil:  use aromatherapy when you are tired and concentrate–news to me!
  • Herb tea:  herb tea?  chamomile, vile weed!  I’ll have to get back to you when I get later into the book.
  • Shadowing materials:  Koyama suggests CNN English Express for Japanese speakers to mimic the sounds of English through “shadowing” . . . if you are learning a foreign language find podcasts, youtube materials of things that you would normally be interested in and just mumble through it . . .
  • Evernote:  make your own dictionary” . . . .Take advantage of the little chunks of time and use this “remember everything” platform to make your own personal learning dictionary

Hello Evernote

I have to admit, I don’t get out much.   Last week I  heard about Evernote from a dad I met in the playroom who said he remembered all our names because he had put th

Just started playing around with this tool to play around with music theory and Japanese!

Just started playing around with Evernote to play around with music theory and Japanese! So far so fun!

m into  his Evernote program.  However, it took reading it in a Japanese book before I actually looked up the program and began playing with it!

So far so good!  I’ve been using it to capture my notes from the Jamplay website to remember things like scale patterns and the Circle of Fifths.  I’ve also recorded a few of my “jams” (so not ready for public consumption) since I read in the Advancing Guitarist that it is good to record yourself and periodically listen.  Evernote makes it easier to keep track of it all.

I’ve also taken pictures of Study Hacks at junctures where I think there are really interesting ideas.  What’s really been fun is that I’ve been able to clip dictionary definitions from Midori into my notes for each image.  I’ve also started reading the passages outloud with the voice recording tool.   (So far I’ve learned that I need to work on the tonality of my voice.  🙂 )

So far, I’ve gotten a lot out of my $14 besides the extra stamps.   Yes, I have read tons of study and brain books and some of this book is repetitive.  However, it is interesting to me and motivates me to find new vocabulary and incidentally introduces me to new uses of kanji.  It’s not boring.  When it gets boring I stop.  Boredom kills.

I could read Murakami in Japanese but I am not interested in it right now.  I’m learning about learning to learn more Japanese and to help others learn more.  Quadruple stamps!

 

“Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)”

I love it when a song pops in to your head and it fits what you’ve been thinking and reading about.   Enjoy yourself (it’s later than you think).  I just discovered the Louis Prima version but I was introduced to the song by a ska group called the Specials.

Sometimes you just have to jump into your desired skill to enjoy it.  The sign from this ice cream shop in Japan says,  "If it drinks and it eats the dessert, it becomes happy feelings about this shop."  That's my philosophy about deliberate practice in one confusing sentence. :)

Sometimes you just have to jump into your desired skill to enjoy it. The sign from this ice cream shop in Japan says, “If it drinks and it eats the dessert, it becomes happy feelings about this shop.” That’s my philosophy about deliberate practice in one confusing sentence. 🙂

Hi my name is Juan and I’m going to enjoy myself first.  (obscure song reference 🙂 )  What got me thinking in this vein was a quote from my current carry around town book,  1分スピード記憶勉強法:  Study Method with One-Minute Speedy Memorizing:

好きで興味があるところだかららくに読め、くり返すことができ、どんどん言葉になじんでいくでしょう。この「いい環境」の波に乗ることばでりば、頑張らなくてもどんどん「英語を読む」ようになっていくのです。

If you read things you are interested and read in a relaxed way,  reviewing is easier, and bit by bit the you will be steeped in more vocabulary.    If you ride the waves of this “Nice  Environment”,  you will be able to [read English] without knocking yourself out.  Masami Utsude

I actually finished this book a while ago but decided to just carry it around for subway rides, waiting for appointments, etc.  It’s fun, easy but with a lot of new vocabulary, and just reinforces positive thinking and methods I want to incorporate into my life and learning.  It’s like All Japanese All The Time except it’s written in Japanese most of the time!  (There are sample English sentences for Japanese learners who want to learn English.)

A big part of learning involves controlling and nurturing your environment and ensuring that you will both push and relax into your hoped for skill.   In the morning I create and study flashcards and all that other Silverspoon-push stuff.   In the off moments, I may be listening to Japanese music or watching snippets of Japanese youtube videos.   Then, I “read” my Japanese books.   I may read every word on every page or just read the chapter headings or the table of contents.  I don’t worry if I know every word.  I may look at a new kanji compound and think, “Wow, I haven’t seen you before.”  And then, I move on.   I’m light years away from where I was months ago, when a page of Japanese text put me into a cycle of self-loathing.

Whatever you are doing or try to learn, there is a place for “pushing” and practice but an equally important place is relaxing and enjoying your skill.  Create a “nice environment””

  • Begin by being nice to yourself.  Be as nice as you would to a child learning to walk.
  • Think in terms of games.  I just realized that some people have crosswords and sudoku and I have kanji.  I’m not going to master “kanji”  I’m going to play kanji.
  • Find the teachers and tools that you enjoy or at least choose to enjoy your teachers.  Currently, I am watching Steve Eulberg’s lesson on the Circle of Fifths on Jamplay.  (They have a sale in December!  Follow the link on the right)  It’s wracking my brain but, hey, I like the guy.
  • Make time on your side.  Use timers to turn the “pushing” part of your day.   Lately, I’ve been going at the Japanesepod101..com lessons (check out yet another link on the right) but using incremental and decremental timers (an AJATT tool) to make it all mission-impossibly fun.  It’s also part of adding speed to my game.
  • Let yourself play and play “bad.”  I’ve been playing a lot more guitar since I’ve given myself the opportunity to play badly.  In fact, it’s been liberating to give up.  Nope,  I am not going to play like Keith Richards tomorrow.   But I can practice this G scale pattern and noodle around afterwards.

I’m glad we all survived the apocalypse.  But the timer is still ticking.  Enjoy yourself.  It’s later than you think.