It’s Wrong? What do you mean it’s wrong?!

So, I am now in full Japanese grammar nerd mode.

I spent two days learning some grammar points.

I took a 27 question quiz on those grammar points.

I did not do as well as I had hoped I would do, largely because these questions, much like the questions on the JLPT are evil!  Evil, I tell you!  EVIL!!!

Okay.  Deep breaths.  Deeeeeeeep breaths.

So, what is the next step?

Or, rather, steps.

First:  Examine the wrong questions to make sure I understand why I got them wrong.

Second:  Review any grammar points that I need to.

Third:  Take the darned quiz again.  Yeah, it’s the same questions, so it’s not a perfect option, but at least it’s something.

Fourth:  Tomorrow start on new grammar

Got it.

Here we go…

頑張って

 

Advertisements

Where Do I Study?

An excellent question.  I thank myself for asking it.

So, here’s how it works:

Bunpro and Memrise are both apps on my phone and tablet, so I can study them whenever and where ever, and I often do.  However, my preference is to do that studying first thing in the morning while everyone else in the house is still asleep, because it’s nice and quiet.

Next up, listening.  That would be the phone again, and I do it while driving, while washing dishes, while cooking, while walking and so on, so that kind of squeezes when ever there is time.  This isn’t an everyday thing, but I recognize that it needs to be.

Reading and grammar.

Yeah.

That’s the tricky part right now.

Reading I can more or less squeeze in here and there.  Trips to the restroom, while taking a bath (sorry if this has suddenly taken a personal hygiene track) or while sitting around anyplace that is sufficiently quiet to allow me a modicum of concentration.

Grammar is the tough one right now.  It works best if I have some sustained time when I can really focus on it.  I have grammar descriptions to read, example sentences to break down, reviews to do…I need someplace relatively quiet for this.

The problem is that I have had house guests for the past nearly three weeks, and there is almost no place in the house that is quiet, so studying has become a bit difficult, but there’s nothing to be done except get up extra early and try to get it done then.

My success at this has been somewhat limited.

Fortunately, the grammar for today is:

とおり、によって、たびに、ば。。。ほど、ついでに

And, what do these things all have in common?

(I don’t actually expect you to know the answer to this one, by the way.)

I am already familiar with all of them.

Yay.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I will just glance over them and move on.  I still intend to study and break down lots of example sentences and then glance over yesterday’s grammar points for a quick review.

I don’t quite know when and where I’ll do that today, but I’ll do it.

頑張って

 

Got Grammar?

And so, here I am cramming chunks of grammar into my head, which is just about as painful as it sounds, and I found myself faced with the question of what is the best way to do that?

Sou Matome and New Kanzen Master both take the same basic approach – they explain several grammar points and then quiz you on them, generally with multiple choice question (since this is, after all, prep for the JLPT, which also gives you multiple choice questions).

The questions typically take the form of a sentence with a blank in it, and you have to choose the correct word to go in the blank.

Now, let’s be honest:  just reading over the material isn’t studying.  It’s reading.  It’s good preparation for studying, but it isn’t actually studying.

So how can we study the grammar?

I have decided that, for each grammar point, I will analyze a bunch of sample sentences and see how the grammar point is used in each sentence. (Not just read the sentence, mind you, but break it down.)  Then, of course, the next obvious step would be to write my own sentences and have somebody more knowledgeable than I am check them over for me.

That works.

So, where do I get the sample sentences?

One really excellent option, suggested by rold2007 (thanks!), is A Handbook of Japanese Grammar Patterns for Teachers and Learners which you can find discussed at Tofugu.  I asked my Cafetalk tutor about the book, and she immediately held up the all Japanese version and asked, “You mean, this one?”

She told me that it was a great book, but she wouldn’t recommend the all Japanese version to me at my current level (in fact, the she gave me the ever popular ダメです), but the Tofugu link above talks about the relatively new English version and even links to it on Amazon.  It looks like a really excellent book to have.

Another option is a site that I have gone to several times but hadn’t really dug into:  jtest4you.  This site will give you a (brief!) overview of a Japanese grammar point and will then inundate you with example sentences.  (The first grammar point I clicked on had 14 example sentences, with the first few being pretty straight forward but the later ones increasing in length and complexity.)

Each sentence appears three time:  Kanji, English translation and hiragana.  There is also audio for the sentences.

From a learning standpoint, I’d prefer some breakdown of the sentences or an English translation that highlights the grammar point instead of the most natural sounding English translation, but what do you want for no charge?

Now, if I can really get a handle on the difference between うちに and あいだに…but that’s a whole other post.

Well, back to work.

頑張って

Moody

You know what?

I don’t want to study this morning.

I usually study in the morning, but, today, I just don’t feel like it.

This is actually part of the process, though.

Not wanting to study is part of the process of learning Japanese?

Yep.

Some days are just like that, and you have to decided how to deal with those days.  Do you force yourself to study whether you want to or not, or do you take a day off?

Good question.  The answer is, “It depends.”

It depends on you, on who and how you are, on what else you having going on around you, on how much you’ve been studying lately, all of those other intangible variables that make you so uniquely you.

In my case, I know why I don’t want to study today.  It’s mostly because the ac isn’t working properly, so it’s really hot and humid inside, and, for a whole bunch of reasons, I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately.

So, what will I do?

Well, I actually want to study, I just to don’t want to study right now.  So I’ll put it off until lunch time, confident that I’ll feel like studying then.  (This is where the “knowing yourself” part comes in.)

I am in the “yes, it’s okay to (rarely) take a day off” camp, but, generally, I am in the “I’m going to study anyway” camp.  I know myself well enough to know that I’ll be glad later if I study today, so I’ll study today.

Just not right now.

頑張って

P.S.

Later:  Posting that made me want to study, so, a few minutes after hitting the enter key, I opened Memrise and reviewed all of my vocabulary for the morning.  Yay!  It’s all about knowing what works for you.

You you you

総まとめ第1週4日

Continuing my adventures in grammar, today’s lesson in sou matome is all about you.

Wait.  Let me restate that.

Today’s lesson in sou matome is all about よう.

 

ように

This basically means “to do something in order to accomplish a goal”.

So, for example:

忘れないように書いておこう。

忘れない – not forget (the goal)

ように – in order to, so that I don’t, etc

書いておこう – write it (the action taken to reach the goal)

I write it down so that I won’t forget it.

Which gives us the basic structure  [goal] + ように + [action taken to reach goal]

朝飯前!

 

ようにする

This basically means “to try to do something”.

So, for example:

分からないことは先生に聞くようにしている。

分からない – not understand

こと – thing, usually for intangible stuff

は – topic marker

分からないことは – things not understood

先生 – teacher

に – particle indicating direction

聞く – to listen, to ask – you have to figure out which from context

ようにしている – to try to do , to make a point of doing, to have a habit of doing

I try to ask the teacher about things I don’t understand.

 

ようになった

This generally seems to be translated as “to reach the point that”.  It indicates that a change of state of some kind occurs.

一年間日本語を勉強して、日本語が話せるようになった。

一年間 – for one year

日本語 – Japanese language

を – direct object particle

勉強して – study (with suru in the て form).

一年間日本語を勉強して – having studied Japanese for one year

日本語 – Japanese language

が – subject marker

話せる – to be able to speak

ようになった – indicates a change of state (in this case, the change was from being unable to speak Japanese to being able to speak Japanese.  Ah, the state we all long for!)

Having studied Japanese for one year, I can speak it now.

After having studied Japanese for a year, I have become able to speak it.

 

Looking ahead in the book, which I probably really shouldn’t do, I see that tomorrow is all about more uses of ように and the next day includes ようとする.

Sou matome likes to be related grammar points close together so you can really home in on the subtle distinctions between them, which is a good thing.

I’m probably not going to keep posting about the grammar.  I was just running through these points today for my own benefit and decided to stick them up on the blog just because I had written them out.

I’m actually enjoying the book, though, again, the grammar explanations are on the skimpy side, so you have to look things up other places in order to get a complete picture, but I don’t mind that.  It actually helps keep me interested because, let’s be honest, grammar studying can be boring.

Well, back to work.

頑張って

 

This Is Like…

One of the things about the sou matome grammar book is that it tends to put similar grammar together into groups.  Similar, but not identical.  That’s good, because it really helps stress the distinction between them.  It does, however, sometimes makes things a little complicated.

For example, on the Week 1 Day 3 you get:

~みたいだ

~らしい

~っぽう

all of which could more or less be translated “like” but which all have slightly different meanings.  As I understand it, it works like this (always with the caveat that my understanding could be wrong or incomplete):

~みたいだ is the basic version of “like” as in:

Even though it is winter, this is a spring-like day.

I want to meet someone like you.

 

~らしい also means “like” but it contains the implication that things are as they are expected to be or supposed to be, as in:

She is very woman-like (i.e. feminine)

If I said that about my wife, I would use 女らしい, because I would expect her to be feminine as opposed to ~みたいだ.  In fact, 女見たい would be considered to have a negative connotation, since it implies that femininity is, in that case, unexpected.

 

~っぽう also means “like” but might be better translated into English as “-ish” or something like that because it have a more conversational or casual tone as in:

I wish they’d turn on the AC.  It is kind of warmish in here.

That cat over there is kind of lionish isn’t it?

 

I came up with these after a little scouting around the internet, and I used these as my basis to answer the quizzes at the end of the section, and I got them all correct, so either I have the basics of this, or I just got lucky.  I’m going to go with option 1.

頑張って

Sticking With It

Life is beginning to resume some aspect of normalcy at this point, which means that I can dig back into some Japanese.

The current goal:  Pass the JLPT N3 in December.

The current tools:

The “of course I’m using these” list:

Memrise though I have back way off on the number of courses I’m studying, really focusing now on just two – Minna no Nihongo and JLPT N3 Standard 2400.

The textbook Chuukyuu Kara Manabu

Bunpro for grammar reviews

And what else?

This is where I am drifting a little bit, trying to decide which of the N3 tools out there would be the best.  Of course, I prefer ただ (free) tools whenever possible, but, sometimes, you have to spend a little money, and I would generally rather spend it something that you pay for once and are done rather than a subscription site where the paying just goes on and on.  Plus, I like books.

After some consideration, I have decided to give the 日本語総まとめ (にほんごそうまとめ) books a look.  The title translates as Japanese Summary, and, to be honest, one reason that I like them is that they look very user friendly.

Here’s a sample page from the grammar book:

nihongo-so-matome-jlpt-n3-grammar_4814_800x

You get a brief daily conversation, and then you get generally three grammar points a day.  The next page has the third grammar point (which, in this case, is とく as in 書いとく) followed by five questions in which you have to pick the correct grammatical form and two questions where you have to put some words in the correct order in a sentence.  (I personally find those last questions difficult.)

Oh, also, when I opened the grammar book to week one, day one, the first word I saw was 頑張らなくちゃ.  I liked that!

The downside of the books is that they don’t have complete explanations of each grammar point, but there is a whole internet out there to fill in any gaps, especially the excellent Maggie Sensei, so I’m okay with that.

For six days, you study two pages daily, and then, on the seventh day, you get a quiz (three pages long!) in the format of the JLPT.  All in all, each book is supposed to take six weeks.  Do them now and then review in the month or so before the JLPT is my plan.  Of course, I would have to work through two books at once to make that time frame, but that sounds okay.

I have been using this grammar book for all of two days (today being day three) but I can say that, so far, I like the book and am interested in looking at others in the series.  In the meantime, I will stick with what I have.

頑張って