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Teira Eri

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Everything posted by Teira Eri

  1. Although I'm American, I prefer British English. In the professional field of teaching English, I'm often asked if I can use British spelling and pronunciation instead of American. I don't know why this is, though. Perhaps it's the overall quality of speaking. In fact, I'd rather listen to British English and all of its variants than any American dialect. To me, now that I'm outside of America and living in Japan, my own English sounds unsophisticated next to the Australians, New Zealanders and British. It's kind of funny.
  2. The two writing styles I'm proficient in, Japanese and English, are extremely different. Obviously, the strokes to write kanji take way more time than jotting down alphanumeric characters. But, regardless, my penmanship has never faltered. I don't know if it's just because I'm rather meticulous, yet I'm always getting comments from English and Japanese alike about how clean, pretty and proper my handwriting is. It's not because I'm slow either. My all-time two favorite comments on my handwriting were, "Your handwriting is so perfect it's disgusting" and "This is handwritten? I thought it was typed!" I do know some people, though, who have more sloppy Japanese characters than English and vice versa. One Japanese teacher of mine wrote illegible Japanese on the whiteboard, but her English characters were amazingly clean-cut. Individual ticks remain evident though, like a person who rounds their characters tends to do so for any alphabet.
  3. I don't know if this has happened for me or not. Basically, I think what's happening in this situation that, as humans, we're reading the body language of the actors and picking up on the nuances of vocalizations to interpret situations that we might not otherwise understand. If you know what's happening, you certainly can clue into the non-vocalized methods of communication quite well. Most people today aren't as conscious of those cues. For me, it happens sometimes in Japanese movies when I'm not using subtitles. If I miss a word or statement, I think about how it was delivered and the circumstances surrounding dialogue or motions taking place. In that sense, I can glean what's going on. However, I think having some comprehension of the language aids in decoding the scenes. When I watch French movies without subtitles, I never know what's truly happening. And my inferences are usually wrong haha.
  4. Good question. Whenever I get asked by an English speaker if I'm fluent in Japanese, I answer like this: "Well, I would never call myself fluent, but when speaking to a native Japanese, they will say I'm fluent." Beating around the bush? Maybe. But I also believe it is very hard to discern your personal level of a language, even if you can understand 99.9% of everything you see and hear. For me, although I can speaking in various levels of Japanese, read the newspaper, write essays and watch television programs, there are still moments when comprehension goes out the window. The Japanese say I'm fluent because I can read, write and speak coherently. If that's how they judge my level, that's cool. But, I won't say I'm fluent until I don't suffer from moments of vapor lock, where my brain goes, "Wait, there's a word for that... Hold the phone, I'll be back in 12." When I can talk about esoteric topics like quantum physics, maybe then I'll achieved a personally acceptable level of fluency.
  5. Immersion into Japanese via living in Japan is the best method. I would know, since I've done it. I did use Rosetta Stone in the beginning, but it is as you say: worthless. I mean, I did learn vocabulary, pronunciation and the basics of grammar. But when I got to Japan I could only saw that I was hungry and that there's a cat on the roof. Not very helpful. Regardless, self-study is a great means of reinforcing what you learn elsewhere. What I mean by elsewhere is through direct conversation with a nature speaker. You might want to search for Japanese lessons on Fiverr or check out educational tutorial websites where there are people willing to teach you through conversation. As for my experience learning Japanese in a university... I had gone to Japan two years prior to taking the class. My short time in Japan afforded me enough skills to test out of EVERY LEVEL AVAILABLE at the university. The class was taught in English, although the instructor was Japanese. No one spoke more than four word sentences. You'll learn more translational skills at university or college rather than actual conversation.
  6. For me, it's dependent on how much I can use it in a given setting. I love language learning, but if there's no chance for utilizing it, for practicing it, all of my efforts go in one ear and out the other. Listening and speaking is how I figure out what's going on with everything else. Am I using the grammar correctly? Am I pronouncing it correctly? Does the word mean what I think it means? Japanese was easy for me because I could have all those answered through conversation with a native speaker. Whereas my attempts with French and Russian are going much less steadily.
  7. Hi M4tze, interesting survey. I hope my response helps. I'd be interested in learning more about your results when everything is said and done!
  8. Hmm, I too hit the IP restriction. I suppose the app is only open to a select number of countries! Still, it sounds like a marvelous resource. Those who can use it will mostly definitely benefit. I mean, free language learning software is blessing!
  9. All throughout grade school and high school, the district made language learning mandatory. However, there was little to be gleaned from the lessons. I did excel in Spanish during elementary school--and was placed in accelerated classes because of it. But when I got into Intermediate school, the Spanish courses switched to Italian (why, I don't know), then back to Spanish, and then to nothing my 8th grade year. If there was something, it was horrible enough to make me forget. In high school, I took French for 3 years then in my 4th year gave up with the language classes being a free ride to an A on my report card and took a harder, more intellectually challenging elective. On the side, I taught myself Japanese. I didn't want to learn to translate French. I wanted to learn how to speak it. But the teacher, in spite of being fluent in English, Italian and French, taught us in English, had us watch movies with subtitles, and assigned a text book where everything was presented in both English and French. I couldn't learn like that Maybe you could say I was a little too serious (still am) about language learning, haha.
  10. Hmm, that's quite the list of language-learning endeavors you've got going on there! I think, looking at this practically, depending on where you wish to go with your life, you should learn the language that will best suit your goals. Esperanto might not get you too much in the professional world, though it is an interesting and lovely language. But there's not enough demand for Esperanto-speakers, that I know of. So, looking mainly at Spanish and Japanese. Spanish is certainly a widely spoken language. If you live in the United States or another English speaking country, Spanish will definitely be of use to you in the long run. Plus, you'll have more opportunities to utilize Spanish in your daily life. Japanese is truly difficult. I would know! But I learned it for two reasons: out of passion and for life. Since I live in Japan, learning, studying, and having practical application to naturally develop an understanding of the language was easier than for most people trying to learn in another country. Bonus: Spanish is waaaay more romantic than Japanese, in my opinion. Japanese pick-up lines are just plain weird haha.
  11. Ah, I do this often. Sometimes when I'm on a less packed train in Tokyo, Japan, and have seat or a concealed place by the door, I'll take out my iPod or iPad and jot down the phrases I'm hearing around me to research later on. Of course, now that I've attained a level of fluency, I already understand most of what's being said. But when I hear someone conversing about a topic that I don't know much about, like economy and politics, I take special notes. Another time I do this is when watching anime. I'll keep a notebook near and just scribble down hiragana to words I don't know. Most of the time it's anime jargon or some silly name/slanguage though.
  12. @Blaveloper, nope! It's just that the dance scene in Japan is a wee bit stale. Minus the crazy night clubs. The Japanese are all about looking cute on stage, and me...I love rolling on the ground and improvisation. Have you see Russian's dance? (Aside from groups like the Bolshoi) Some of the studios in Russia and around Kiev, Ukraine have positively phenomenal dancers. Though they seem to speak English, I think learning some phrases would be a pleasant surprise for them and make understanding the culture easier for me.
  13. Thank you for this recommendation! It comes at an opportune moment since I'm considering studying dance in either Moscow or Kiev this summer and would like to study up on some Russian... since I know absolutely nothing about the language. It looks like a rather comprehensive book. But as Blaveloper said, does it have dialogue? I love practicing dialogue. Also, I see in the description that the book contains the Russian writing system, but is there a means to practice writing it? (Hopefully I didn't actually overlook this) Does it come with a workbook of some sort?
  14. One of my all time favorites is from Cool Runnings: Yul Brenner: How about I beat your butt? Sanka Coffie: How about I draw a line down the middle of your head so it looks like a butt? And Sanka: Cold?! I'm freezing my royal Rastafarian nay-nays off!
  15. Agreed! Acting Like a Child and Leaving your comfort zone are very important notes. Oftentimes, especially for young and mature adults, we tend to get wrapped up in our past experiences and cultural/societal norms of how we should learn a new language. We rely on methods used for mathematics and science, for example, and try to apply those learning principles to language. Which, while this isn't wrong, language isn't math. Language is something we attained as children through play, experimentation, and imitation. Language requires the use of senses and should be a less internalized study time than other subjects. I've found that I learn best when I'm free to be myself. Diving in is probably synonymous with Immersion here. Truly, going into a language headfirst is the only way to get rapid understanding. Immersion classes and courses or traveling to the native country are all ways to put yourself into a situation where you need to adapt. All in all, great list here. The only thing I'd like to add as a bonus number is Read Children's Books and Advance.
  16. I've used flash cards with teaching and with learning. Flash cards are great for building rapid recognition of something, especially when it comes to basic vocabulary. Children like flash cards with pictures. Adults may use flash cards with quips of sentences or images. I don't use flash cards much myself, but my friend who used them to memorize Japanese kanji swears by their effectiveness. However, you're probably not learning to build sentences because of the structure/nature of flash cards. It's just tidbits of information. Single word responses. A memorization tool. Writing, listening and reading are how you advance to the next level of comprehension. Unless you're gaining grammatical knowledge and sentence building know-how, flash card based learning is a shaky route.
  17. Thank you for the post! Very nice lists. I presently live in Japan, in the Kanto region where we speak the standard NHK Japanese. Whenever I meet someone from Kansai and ask them to see in their dialect, I get so confused. It sounds so foreign to me. And not just to me, but to other Japanese as well.
  18. I agree with you 100%. Sometimes regular TV programs incorporate very advanced lexicon and grammatical points that only fluent speakers can grasp. Therefore, since children shows are geared towards those still garnering linguistic information and developing their comprehension skills, the vocabulary and topics are often less challenging. However, we all know that children shows have a knack for hiding more adult themes beneath the veneer of naiviety. As your understanding of the language grows, attempting to locate these hidden meanings might become a type of reward. I highly recommend shows to people seeking to increase their listening abilities. Repeating what you hear is also great pronunciation practice. The one issue I see with this is when shows use phrases that aren't actually real words and you mistake them as legitimate. Anime, for example, does that and trips a lot of people up big time.
  19. Presently, I randomly teach English to one-on-one students in Japan as a supplement to my travel writing and dancing. It's pretty awesome. I mean, the conversations you have with your clients is pretty fun. Sometimes they end up speaking to a degree they didn't know they were capable of and turn red. It's cute. Schools here for English are either very professional or very unstructured. You can go either route, depending on your teaching style and educational level. For example, I've had friends work for the big companies like Gaba (don't go Gaba, they don't care), Berlitz (only positive ratings), Nova and Aeon. On the flip side, several friends have taught English at nurseries, cultural centers and even in cafes. Some places have a curriculum. Others want the teacher to provide unique lesson plans. Another example is the route my friend Chris went--he taught English via theatre and drama. Another friend of mine got a teaching certificate and is living in Belize with his wife, where he teaches English. Someone else does English tutoring online via Skype and Google Hangouts. I've never heard any one of my friends and acquaintances say that teaching English is not rewarding. No matter how you teach, it's a fun and rewarding gig.
  20. LIving in Japan has definitely accelerated my Japanese linguistic ability. I mean, yes, I did indeed enroll into a Japanese language school and attend a Japanese vocational college, so I'm quite immersed in the culture. However, even before school had started, just living day-to-day presented wonderful learning opportunities. A lot of people do speak English (or at least attempt), and they want to try out their English with you. But I'm the stubborn butt that keeps responding in Japanese no matter what. Unless I'm tutoring my Japanese friends in English, then that's a different story. But yes. Living abroad is one of the best methods of learning a language, because you're forced to adapt. The only times I've witnessed someone having a hard time getting the language skills is when they resist. As in, they continue using English exclusively, don't attempt to study, and don't put themselves into situations where they'd need to utilize another language.
  21. Japan. I did this for Japan. Back in 2010 I had the opportunity to enter an International Japanese Language School in Shinjuku. Not knowing the culture or really anything about how to function on my own in an alien society, I went anyway. My initial reaction to the move and to Japan itself was not terrible. I actually adapted rapidly, though handling the language was a trial. There were times when I refused to go out because I didn't want to have answer questions in Japanese (for example, the ladies in the make-up section always come over to ask if you need help -- but I didn't know that then). Of course, there's also cultural misunderstandings that rise up. Japan is a 180 from America. But I was fortunate enough to have amazing friends. We studied together, tackled the attractions of Tokyo together, and basically made sure we were never alone in our adventures. I graduated from that Japanese school, returned to America briefly and am now living and working in Tokyo, Japan. Living in Japan in rough. No lie. Tourists get it a bit easier, but those foreigners living in Japan don't get that kind of flexibility. People are not very patient--just passive aggressive. If you don't understand something immediately, you're deemed as stupid. If you don't sacrifice for the group, you're considered selfish. There's also the people who assume that because you're foreign, you're not fluent. You get avoided, spit on (literally) and hassled. But...in spite of that, I'd rather be in Japan than anywhere else at the moment.
  22. I'll answer the latter first since that's easier! Generally Japanese uses a mix of Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana and Romaji -- as Blaveloper mentioned in a post after mine. So a sentence generally looks like this: 私の好きな俳優はジョニー・デップだ。彼はカッコすぎーと思うよ。Translation: My favorite actor's Johnny Depp. He's just too cool! In that sentence there's kanji (私、好、俳優、彼、思)、Hiragana(の、な、は、う、よ)、and Katakana (ジョニー、カッコ). When it comes to understanding the meaning behind Kanji, there are two ways: 1) the standalone meaning, and 2) the reading of it when combined with another kanji. There are also radicals--or pieces--of the kanji character that carry meanings to help define what a single symbol stands for, however going into detail about that will only obfuscate the explanation, so let's backpedal. First, let's look at 俳優 (actor, haiyuu, はいゆう、ハイユウ). When we separate the characters , they have different readings. 俳(はい)has no other reading, but 優 can be read as ゆう/ う (from Chinese) or as a verb or adjective (優れる・すぐれる|優しい・やさしい). If it's combined with another symbol, it's usually the Chinese reading. When it's standing alone, it usually carries the meaning the Japanese assigned to it. That's probably confusing as heck to someone who's never studied Japanese before haha. Sorry if I blew anyone's mind (.__.)
  23. 耳!(みみ) あんな象の耳はめっちゃ大きい!
  24. Japanese kana isn't a dialect, it's a writing system. For example: は、さ、ま、ら、た、な is kana. It is the foundational system of Japanese, the first that children learn when learning to read and write. However, kanji is based off of Chinese characters, has two different readings depending on its form, and can carry a dozen different meanings. So, where kana isn't symbolic and just needs memorization, kanji requires understanding of kana, comprehension of the symbolic meanings and readings, and the ability to write said kanji.
  25. Learning languages has been a lifelong passion of mine--ever since my elementary school introduced Spanish lessons with Miss Maldonado. Learning the language was a gateway to another culture, another world far beyond my own at the time. Plus, it gave me reason to approach the ESL kids at the school. In middle school, aside from learning Italian and Spanish, I took ASL extracurricular classes and got the confidence needed to speak with the deaf kids on my bus. About the time I reached high school, where I took up French and Japanese, I had developed writing and speaking and interpersonal skills that would have never been honed were it not for language learning. Being bilingual has also opened a ridiculous amount of doorways for me. The network of multilingual friends and acquaintances I have is astounding.
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