I was clearing very old emails and I stumbled upon an email invite from the staff at Lang-8, a Japan-based language learning social community where everyone around the world can learn (and improve) any foreign language by writing short journal entries in that said foreign language. In turn, native speakers of that language would come and comment with any corrections and, optionally, explanations on how a certain sentence structure or vocabulary work. It’s a very difficult way of learning a foreign language because it should be assumed that you already know the basics and that you’re doing all you can to write better sentences using a dictionary in hand, so on, and so forth.
I even starred that email on my Gmail because I wanted to get back to it later, but then, the date was back in 2011, and I neglected it. That is, until today. I went ahead and registered a free account. During my lifetime, I’ve only (attempted?) to study two foreign languages: Spanish in high school (all four years), and Japanese in college/university (all four years plus one year of independent study). There is one problem, of course. High school and college/university days for me were around 10+ years ago, and the only practical use I had for Spanish was reading Spanish text in public places (I live in California, after all) and for Japanese, with attempting to read original manga in its Japanese format, botched-up translating some Japanese magazines, all for the sake of fandom. And then the next thing happened, I’ve completely abandoned both of them altogether.
I also dabbled a bit on Korean when I was training in Taekwondo and a bit of Hapkido back in college/university, but now the only thing I can remember is counting 1-10 and super-simple phrases like annyeong haseo, kamsamnida, and saranghae, and a number of Taekwondo/Hapkido terms that you’ll never use in everyday conversation unless you’re training in the martial art. And then, the whole K-Pop/K-drama scene suddenly spread like wildfire in today’s pop culture. I never really dabbled in Hangul anyways, so I decided to stick with my love for Japan, its culture, its pop culture, and most of all, its language.
Spanish was somewhat easy for me to refresh, since my native language (Filipino/Tagalog) has many bases on Spanish, but Japanese is a whole different ballgame. I’m still happy that I’m able to remember how to read and write Kana (both Hiragana and Katakana), but there’s a lot of super-basic elementary school-level Kanji (borrowed Chinese characters) that I’ve completely forgotten. It’s more of like, I would remember what it means when I see it, but won’t remember reading it or the other way around. That also includes the stroke orders of writing it too. Right now, it’s really making me feel bad because I just recently got back to being a Cardcaptor Sakura fan again (for the third time), and that I’m building my very first anime character shrine for 7-8 years since I stopped. A brand-new CCS sequel manga is coming out next month in Japan on the July 2016 edition of Nakayoshi magazine, and being a CCS nut that I am, I knew in my heart that I would need to have that.
And then, there would be a problem too. I would have to take the time to refresh with my Japanese because I seriously don’t want to rely so much on my dictionary of any form1 and just write down all the translations already. I’m also becoming impatient for scanlations also, and more so with the licensed versions. This is why I’m tackling this the hard way.
Going back to Lang-8, so far, I like it. I posted my very first journal entry; a quick introduction of myself. I’m quite surprised that I have all the Kanji right (well, thanks to the dictionary) and the only mistakes that I had, according to the native speakers, is the particle usage that I’ve used. Some suggested better vocabulary words, which are much appreciative. I just wished that some of them would explain what I’ve done wrong, so that I can understand it a little better. I’ve checked out other journal entries of other members (mostly Japanese trying to learn English, but there’s a lot of people all over the world who are in here), and, much as I’m embarrassed, their English was better than my Japanese.
Another thing that I’ve done lately was to subscribe to the mailing list of this hilarious and entertaining YouTuber, Yuta Aoki, who posts random survey videos of everyday Japanese people (in Tokyo, I’ll assume) about anything in general, such as the Japanese mindset and their thoughts about foreigners and foreign culture in general. I also subscribed to his videos too because they do help me give an idea about Japanese life (at least, the urban life) and everything else related in a different country’s point of view. He also teaches the Japanese language the way that general Japanese people would speak, which is a lot helpful. Aoki-san is an awesome guy, I highly recommend following him.
もう一度日本語勉強頑張ります！ (I’ll do my best with studying the Japanese language again!) Look for me at Lang-8 if you’re going to learn/refresh on a foreign language (doesn’t have to be Japanese) if you do join. ????
- I have a Kanji dictionary for the old Nintendo DS, I have countless Japanese language textbooks that I still kept from college/university, you have no idea… [↩]