New textbooks

Other two books to add to my language bookshelf 😀

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I know that I’ve studied less than a half of the N2 textbook, but I couldn’t resist from purchasing the N1 grammar textbook of 新完全マスター series lol When it was delivered I couldn’t help but flick through its pages and reading the list of all the advanced grammar points explained in it that I can’t wait for learning even though I know that they are really complicated and rare, thus it will be difficult to practice them through reading and listening.

The other textbook is Advanced Grammar in Use, one of the best references to study advanced English grammar (: I don’t know if I’ve written about this before, but in most of Italian high schools during the last year English classes aren’t about grammar, but only about literature (particularly Romantic, Victorian and Modern literature), which of course is taught in English, thus the last time I opened an English grammar textbook was more than a year ago, I guess 🙄 In the university I’m going to attend there are English courses too, but they focus on the English used in the field I’m going to study, so I thought it would be useful to have a reference of advanced grammar, especially to refine my knowledge (; And I’m delighted that there are many chapters about the usage of articles because I have to admit that I still have some problems with them. There are articles in Italian too, and the rules are quite similar, but I’m not really sure of some usages yet, thus I hope this textbook will enlighten me ahah

Improve English speaking skills

The other day I watched this video about improving language skills from good to excellent and I have to say that it described perfectly my situation with English learning. Basically my skills are good enough to allow me to understand almost everything of what I read and listen to, but when it comes to speaking and writing I notice that these two skills aren’t as good as my comprehension level. As the video points out, the main reason why my speaking isn’t at the same level of my reading is that I tend to learn in a quite passive way. For example, since Italian and English share some similar words, especially the most technical ones, when I read a piece about a topic I’m not familiar about, such as medicine or science, I can understand it because most of its technical words are really similar to the correspondent Italian words, so, as I can understand them even if I don’t study them actively, I don’t pay much attention to them. As a result, I don’t become capable to use those words in my speeches and I end with using always the same words D:

According to the advice given by the two language learners of the video, I’ve made a list of what I should do improve English skills:

  • BE LESS PASSIVE xD
  • Force myself to use new words and expressions
  • Read about a wider variety of topics and watch English talk show or TV series

 

 

Language Tag

Today Liza of Jumping Jacqueline tagged me in her post answering questions about her journey in language learning. As I really enjoyed reading about her experience, I’ve gladly accepted her invitation to talk about my langauge learning adventure (:

What would you consider your native language?

Italian (;

What was your first language learning experience?

The first language I started studying is English, because it’s a compulsory subject in Italian schools. During the years of elementary school I was taught the alphabet and some basics expressions. Then, during middle school I started studying also grammar and vocabulary and by the third year oh high school I reached a grood proficiency in reading and listening.

What languages have you studied and why did you learn them?

Putting aside Japanese and English, I also studied Spanish and dabbled in Korean and Russian.

During middle school I had to choose a second foreign language to study between French and Spanish and I went for the second because I thought it was easier. My Spanish teacher was really competent, so after the three years of middle school I could hold a conversation in Spanish quite smoothly. However, after entering high school I stopped practising it, thus now I can’t speak it, but I manage to read texts written in Spanish because it’s similar to Italian.

I learnt Russian during the third year of high school because there was the opportunity to attend Russian lessons in my school. I was taught the alphabet and some grammar rules, but now I remember only the alphabet lol

As for Korean, there isn’t much to say because I blogged about my experience here (;

How does your personality affect your language learning?

Well, this question is preatty difficult. Generally, I can’t say that my personality influences my language learning positively because I’m a quite reserved person, so when I get in touch with Japanese a native speaker I’m reluctant to ask him/her to have a chat in Japanese since I feel that it would looks like I want to be in touch with him/her only to improve my skills. As a result, my speaking skills suck because I hardly ever practise ahah

Do you prefer learning a language in a class or on your own?

On my own! If you are a self-learner, you can study what you want when you want, thus you can organize your learning journey as you prefer.

What are your favourite language learning materials?

Grammar textbooks and novels.

How much time do you learn a language per day?

It depends on how much schoolwork I have to do, but generally I study 30 minutes per day during the week and 1 hour during the weekend. When there isn’t school I study more. The time I spend in Japanese learning increases if I include the time I spend watching dramas almost everyday (;

What are your short-term and long-term language goals?

My short term goals are to improve my speaking skills and to reach the N2 level.

The long term goal is to become fluent in Japanese.

What is your favourite language?

Japanese, of course.

What is the next language you want to learn?

I’m quite unsure about the next language to learn. I’d like to start studying Korean properly, but I’m also interested in Chinese, German and French. However, as for now, I want to focus just on Japanese and English. I’ll choose my third foreign langauge when I feel ready to start a new language journey.

What advice could you give new language learners?

Don’t hesitate to practise your target language whenever you have the chance to do it! (;

Here I tag some language bloggers I’d like to invite to write about their own experiences 🙂

Xuexi Sprachen

Panjjakpanjjak

Nihanhan

 

 

Japanese language updates – July 2015

July is over, so it’s time to make an overview of the month (:

As I mentioned in a previous post, I studied all the grammar points of the PDF I was using, so now my main book to learn grammar is Nihongo so matome N2. I like this textbook, but recently I’ve discovered that New Kanzen Master books are better as for grammar learning because they provide also an explanation in Japanese for each grammar point, whereas Nihongo so matome doesn’t provides explanations. This isn’t a big problem becasue I always use Izaodao, but I think that having everything in the same textbook would be more convenient.

During the second part of the month I focused on learning new words. I learnt new words mainly from news articles and from Read Real Japanese, but also watching dorama contributed to improve my vocabulary (;

Unexpectedly I continued to learn Korean (: I thought I would have stopped after a week, but this wasn’t the case. I spend only 30 minutes a day studying Korean, but it’s better than nothing. Even though at first I studied mosty with Sogang Korean program, now my main source is TTMIK (today I studied lesson 19 of level 2). I think that after starting level 3 I’ll try to study words with 해를 품은 달 OSTs! I hope to keep study Korean even during the school year (:

 

Korean learning

As you can understand from the post’s title, these days I’m studying Korean (: I’m not studying it seriously, but just learning something from Talk to me in Korean and Sogang Korean lessons. I’ve been learning Korean here and there for some years, but I still know only some bases (such as some conjugations and the main particles) because I always stopped learning it after few weeks and resumed my study after months during which I used to forget what I learnt before. So far I revised the grammar points I studied previously and learnt some new rules and words. I don’t know if I’ll continue to learn the language since the coming school year is going to be really difficult and I plan to focus on Japanese when I have time for language learning, but I want to enjoy this “new” journey as long as it lasts (;

The decision to resume Korean learning without obligations comes from the fact that I’m watching a fantastic Korean drama: “The moon that embraces the sun”. It seems that my addiction for Japanese jidaigeki is the same for Korean sageuk xD I really like the historical/epic atmosphere of this drama, with its plots and supernatural elements. 

  
One of my favourite characters is the queen dowager, the 대비마마. She is a really scheming and Machiavellian woman who does everything to obtain what she wants. It can appear a evil character, but I like her anyway for her abilities lol And I think that the actress plays this role really well. I got absorbed by this drama thanks to her first dialogue, which showed immediately the epic atmosphere of the drama. 

Now an evening with Japanese books is attending me (:

Portuguese poem: Sonhos meus

These days I’m really interested in Portuguese poems of 18th century. Last week our italian literature teacher explained Rococo and Neoclassic poetry, and so Arcadian poetry. I don’t know why, but I really like iddyllic poetry, both for themes and the style lol While I was studying I read about Arcádia Luisitana, a Portuguese academy founded in 18th century, so I looked for the poems written by the authors who belonged to this academy. I think they are beautiful! (: So these days I’m reading them. Last year I dabbled in Portuguese and, since both Portuguese and italian are Romance languages, they are similar, thus I could understand the general meaning of those poems. And knowing how Portuguese is pronounced is helping me to enjoy them more ^ ^

I’m pariculary fond of an ode composed by Marquesa de Alorna (1750-1839). Here the text:

Sonhos meus, suaves sonhos,
Sois melhores do que a verdade;
Quando sonho sou ditosa,
Sem o ser na realidade.

Amor, tu vens nos meus sonhos
Acalmar-me o coração;
Mas cruel! Quanto prometes
Não passa de uma ilusão.

Sonhei, tirano, esta noite,
Sonhei que tu me chamavas,
E que sobre a relva branda
Tu mesmo me acalentavas.

Disseste-me: “Dorme, Alcipe,
Amor sobre ti vigia,
Mal podes temer os fados.”

Dormi: neste dobre sono
Me achei n’um palacio d’ouro:
Entregaram-me uma chave
Para que abrisse um tesouro.

– “Chave mágica, sublime,
Que me vais tu descobrir?
Se é menos do que eu desejo
Será melhor não abrir…”

– “Abre, Alcipe” qual trovão
Brada o deus que me vigia:
Acordei sobressaltada,
E abriu-se, mas foi o dia. (source)

I wanted to translate it, but basically I can’t translate Portuguese prose, so translating a poem is impossible xD And a poem loses part of his charm when it isn’t in the original langauge (;

I’m feeling like resuming studying Portuguese here and there, but there are other languages I’d like to learn before it, thus I’ll wait for the time being lol

Formal language

The other day I read this post and it made me think about the fact that I basically use almost only formal language both in English and Japanese. I learn English at school, so it’s not so strange that my English is a little formal, since in Italian schools the English taught is formal British English. I know informal English, too, but I don’t use it a lot due to two reasons: I’m not comfortable with it and I don’t often speak with natives. And I admit an other thing: I’m studying English because I’m “forced”, so I don’t have the will to practise informal language. It’s not that I don’t like it, but I think that in future I’ll use English mostly for work or to read materials I’m interested in (as I’m doing now when I read something which is not available in Italian), so I don’t need to learn slang. Using informal language will be necessary if I move to a country where English is the official language, but in this case I’ll problably get used to use it easily because I’ll stay in touch with native speakers.

As for Japanese, it’s different. There are some reasons why I’m not very familiar with informal Japanese. First of all, as Almantina said, Japanese textbooks usually don’t teach informal language. Only some weeks ago I came across some dialogues with causal language and contractions. Then, the dorama I usually watch plays an important rule. Japanese learners usually get familiar with slang while watching dramas, but in my case I watch so many jidaigeki that I’m more used to polite  Japanese than informal Japanese lol I swear that the next drama won’t be a jidaigeki ahahah But the most relevant reason is that when I chat or speak often with Japanese, I usually use English so that they can practise English, so I don’t listen or read informal Japanese in an everyday conversation often.

Thus I made up my mind to work harder not to use only formal Japanese ^ ^
今からもっと頑張ります!