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Learning Language Like A Baby

IMG_1004.JPGLearning a language is easier than people think. Just look at yourself now, you are reading an article written in English by someone probably very very far away from where you are. You most likely learnt this language as a young baby – as your native tongue – or perhaps you learnt the language later in life.

Baby Amy
Me as a baby

Regardless of whether it’s your first, second or sixth language, it got in there. The hard part about learning a language is the getting around your own mind to allow it in. Most of us learnt a language growing up that serves to comminicate with our community in both a written and spoken form (however, some are not so lucky, due to physical or psychological issues) We learn it as we grow for one reason: survival. If we want to get fed, we have to communicate that we are hungry. If we are scared, we need to be able to explain the danger that is facing us.
As a baby, your parents were probably quite good at understanding the babblings and cooings you made as a kind of personalised pre-language to know when you were hungry, sleepy, scared or needed changing. Parents and guardians are very good at picking up on the needs of the people in their care. But you had to be able to communicate better. If you wanted one of the toys in front of you, it would help you acheive getting it if you said ‘Ball’ or ‘truck’, so the listener would know exactly what you wanted.
You aquired language as a necessity for your survival, pleasure and comfort.
Learning a second language requires a bit more work as we try so hard to learn it through our first language. It is very normal to say “What is this in English?” or “So ‘____’ is just like ‘___’ in English?”
When it is a language that is similar to your langage it is okay, but when it is two entirely different languages it gets confusing. One of the biggest problems I am finding in learning Korean and Japanese is that it is so hard to learn it through the context of English, because they are so vastly different. At times, I even find it a lot easier to learn Korean through Japanese, because they are at least slighty similar.
When you were a baby, the only way you could work out what something meant was through context. You would see and hear how it was used and learn from that.
A Korean baby can’t hear the word “비행기” and think “I think that’s Korean for ‘airplane’.” But they hear it said, maybe the parent points at a toy plane or a picture of a plane as they say it and the child will eventually put two and two together.
It can be a slow process, but it’s the best proven method to make you both natural and comfortable in that language – It made you fluent in your native language!
I know it is incredibly tough to learn another language without referencing your native language, but there are a couple of ways that you can try to work around your native tongue.

 

Go Sub-free

Copyright (C) SBS
Copyright (C) SBS

It’s so easy to watch television programs in the language you are studying and always have the subtitles on. It’s the safer and easier option which means you can take everything in as easily as if you were watching a show from your home.
But, you can find that you’ve watched an entire series and barely looked up from the words on the screen!
I love watching Japanese and Korean dramas without subtitles because I can really watch the performances and it’s a great way to test what I know and try to figure out the stuff I don’t know from other sources (i.e how it’s said, the context of the scene and the relationship between the speaker and listener).
It can be tough and you may miss some details, but it really does help (and gives you an excuse to watch it again later)!
Sometimes, as you improve, you will also find ways that the subtitle writers didn’t get it totally right or misunderstood and you can get an even clearer understanding of what the character is saying. I remember watching a Japanese drama where the subtitles consistantly made a mistake that confused me for ages until I watched it without, actually listened to the actual Japanese dialogue and suddenly it all made sense!

Stick to it

sticky note 1One method I use is to put up sticky notes around my bedroom and office space that have words in Japanese and/or Korean that have pictures to describe what the word or phrase means! I don’t put a single word of English on it so that I learn to recognise and appreciate it in that language. It’s a bit like pictionary, if you think about it!

sticky note 2Try to leave sticky notes or flashcards around for yourself so you learn to recognise them with ease. If you’re feeling tricky as you boost the difficulty, perhaps write a description of what the word or phrase means IN the language you’re learning. If you have friends who speak that language fluently, get them to write some of the words and answers for you so that 1) you can’t cheat (because, if you wrote it, you might remember it) and 2) you’ll know for sure that it’s right!

Read it and weep (or don’t weep)

Try buying a book in the language of your choice. Try reading a bit of it from time to time and see how much of it you understand or just try to look at the grammar and sentence structure to get a better understanding of that. Reading an original book in the language will give you a good feeling for how it is consumed on a day-to-day basis and help you really immerse yourself. Don’t worry if the book makes absolutely NO sense to begin with, just keep studying and soon enough you’ll start to pick stuff up.
I bought myself a book of Korean poetry (which was a difficult first choice) and I’m finding with time that I can pick out more and more that I understand. I’ve got a long way to go, but it really helps to have that as a marker of where I’m up to!

Take it social

Again, the more you immerse yourself the more comfortable around the language you will become. I try to make myself unescapably surrounded by all of the languages I am trying to learn – and that includes online too!
On Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, I try my best to keep my exposure to language high. I’ll follow Korean and Japanese people on Instagram and Twitter and try my best to read their messages. Interacting with people is great because it’s a perfect opportunity to test your written knowledge and try have a chat with people.
(Of course, always be careful of who you talk to online. There are creeps everywhere and in every language, so always use your common sense when talking to strangers)
I always keep my ‘Trending Topics’ bar on Twitter set to either Japanese or Korean and I’ll make sure that every time I check Twitter that I am reading every trending topic.
On Facebook, I follow the Korean Huffinton Post, Korean stores like G Market and Retrip (a Japanese online magazine) which is great for a casual glance over the news and makes a nice buffer between quizzes and stressed-out revision statuses!

Listen up

Listening to audiobooks, like reading, gives you a subtitle-free and pure exposure to a text but also has the added benefit of being able to hear clear pronunciation, often totally uninterrupted by noisy surroundings or music that you would find in at TV show or movie.
There is a huge wealth of audiobooks available online, so have a look around and have a listen!
I’m currently listening to the Korean radio play adaptation of Don Quichotte by SBS that is available to listen to on Youtube!

I hope this piece is helpful to you! If you have any questions, please share them in the comments or over on Facebook or Twitter! Xx

Happy Halloween! How to have a safe Halloween!

10748868_717444431673566_657748307_nI hope you are all having a very happy Halloween!

I’ll be working away at the restaurant tonight — portraying the terrifying character of an exhausted waitress (whoooooooo, scary!) — so I won’t get to join the usual spooky celebrations, but I wanted to wish you all a very fun and safe Halloween!

 

Here are a quick few tips on how to make the best of your Halloween:

Lights on, lights off

I know Halloween is all about scares, and who isn’t at least a little creeped out by the dark? While you’re using the dark to set the atmosphere, be careful to make sure that the area is clear of any trip hazards, and try to have some torches on hand. (also, I recommend that stairs and steps stay lit, as no-one wants real accidents on Halloween)

 

Plan ahead

If you’re going trick-or-treating or to any Halloween parties, plan ahead your route and make sure you know where you’re going. Remember, on a night where everyone is wearing masks, it’s even harder to know who’s behind them.

 

Keep your wits

If something feels wrong, don’t just brush it off. Always keep your instincts with you and remember that safety comes first. If you don’t trust someone you are with, feel safe or have any worries, handle the situation as smoothly and calmly as you can– Don’t ignore it for the sake of a party.

 

Tamper-proofing

Free sweets, free food, free drinks! On a night with so much food and drink being passed around, there comes some risks. Don’t eat or drink anything that you think has been tampered with and just kindly decline. We’ve all heard the stories, we don’t want to live them.

 

Dress accordingly

Sure, you want to be a ‘sexy ghost’, but it’s still October and it’s still cold. Try to take warm clothes with you and avoid getting chilled. It can seriously spoil the authentic look of your costume if you’re shivering and sneezing all night!

 

Have safe fun

On nights where people often let go of their cares and senses to go have fun, a lot of stuff can happen that can ruin the fun. No-one wants to end a ‘fun’ night crying, scared or in the emergency room, so make sure your fun takes safety into account. That way, you can keep enjoying your night and future fun times to come without the burden of worry or upset!

 

10745084_717444415006901_1988275491_nHave a great night guys! Have any great pics from your Halloween parties? Come share them on the Learn With Amy Facebook and Twitter and come connect with me on Twitter and Instagram! Have a fun and spooky night! Bwahahahahahaha!

How to add keyboards on iPhone

 

Hey, guys!

A lot if you are asking how I’m able to write in Japanese and Korean from my phone. It’s actually super easy, so I’m gonna cut to the chase!

So here is how you can set up your desired language keyboards on your iPhone!

Adding Iphone Keyboards

In your iPhone, go to the Settings app

iphone-keyboard-post1

Then under Settings find ‘General’

new1

In General, scroll down until you see a tab called ‘Keyboards’. Open that up.

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Then click ‘Add new keyboard’.

new2

And then choose the keyboard you want to add…6d

Repeat as necessary!

It really is as easy as that and, to switch keyboards when writing, all you have to do is press the little button that is one to the right of the bottom left of your keyboard until you are on the right keyboard!

I’ve also done a similar post on how to add extra language keyboards on your Windows PC!

Excellent language books: Japanese

There are so many books online fore learning languages and they can all vary greatly when it comes to quality. I’ve bought many language books and some of them are fantastic, while others are no-gos so bad that they can set me back weeks in my learning.

So, here are the language books I’ve bought that I’ve absolutely loved (the bad ones will remain nameless)

Japanese from Zero!

This is a series of Japanese textbooks that take you through different levels of skill, starting from zero, and working your way up!

The book clearly explains subject as well as offering fun and helpful exercises to help reinforce your learning!

These books were, in my opinion, TOTALLY worth the time and investment!

 

Teach Yourself Complete Japanese

This is a fantastic book which really manages to set the information in your mind through explanation, exercising and also making use of that information for later exercises and dialogues, so you can reinforce your knowledge.

Learn Complete Japanese was actually the first Japanese book I bought and it was worth every penny as this book really does teach you so much and insures a solid grounding of understanding.

The only issue I found with the book is that, in my opinion, it doesn’t use Hiragana as much as I would like and relies mostly on Romaji. However, that does prevent the student getting too hooked up with learning the characters, and gets them familiar with the language.


Colin’s pocket Japanese Dictionary

For all of your translation needs, this dictionary is a fantastic travelling companion

I take this book most places I go (It’s come in handy helping some lost tourists in London before now!) and it hasn’t failed me once.

This book is a must-have for Japanese learners.


 

I hope my top 3 books are interesting to you! I will be doing more with each book I buy!

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

How to read Hiragana

How to read Hiragana!

I love Japanese! It’s such a fun, energetic and satisfying language to learn – and it isn’t for the faint-hearted! Japanese isn’t the hardest language to learn, but it’s not a piece of cake either — and that’s what adds to the fun! So, let’s get to work!

 

There are three writing systems in Japanese (four if you count Romaji- the Romanization writing system). The one we will be learning today is the most basic one you need to get started with Japanese, if you want to progress beyond Romaji.

So, let’s start with the basic 5!Evernote Camera Roll 120140625 002833

あ [a]

Pronounced “ah”!

い [i]

Pronounced “ee”!

う [u]

Pronounced “oo”!

え [e]

Pronounced “eh”

お [o]

Pronounced “O” — like “Oh” cut short

 

Those really sounded like the noises you make watching a firework display, right! “Oo” “Ah” “Ee”!

Now you know these ones, you’re well on your way to knowing all the sounds you’ll need for speaking Japanese!

Hiragana chart 1

wa
ra
ya
ma
ha
na
ta
sa
ka
a
ri
mi
hi
ni
chi
shi
ki
i
ru
yu
mu
fu
nu
tsu
su
ku
u
re
me
he
ne
te
se
ke
e
wo
ro
yo
mo
ho
no
to
so
ko
o

 

You can download this hand Hiragana chart pdf: hiragana chart

You’ll notice that there are a few odd ones in there. The characters ‘fu’, ‘tsu’ and ‘chi’, and they’re ones you’ll want to be careful of. Thankfully these characters look quite distinctive and it becomes quite tough to miss them once you’ve got the hang of it!

Keep checking the site as I’ll soon be sharing the next Hiragana chart which will complete the set!

Thanks for reading! If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, send me a message using the contact form below!