Tag Archives: Japan

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

Tattoos and Tattoo aftercare

As I mentioned in one of my recent posts, I have 3 tattoos that I love very much that all carry very strong meanings to me.  They’re important and I want to make sure they last well.

A lot of people ask me

“Wasn’t that really painful?!”

firsttattoo1Personally, if you are worried about pain, probably best to leave getting a tattoo for a while. When I got my first one, I was very scared of the thought of the pain and almost chickened out a bunch of times. Then I laid down on the tattoo bench, and when I sat up I had a tattoo — it really wasn’t that bad!

I will be honest, some points hurt a bit and different areas hurt more or less than others, the thought of the pain hurt more than the pain itself, and the sting of getting a tattoo disappears very quickly.

“Aren’t you worried about regretting it?”

In life, there are some things that we just know and I knew that all of my tattoos were good ideas. They all had very strong messages behind them and I went into the tattoo room absolutely confident in my decision. Trust me, I’m not going to mark myself for the rest of my life if I’m unsure about it.

tat2“Did you get that for a boyfriend/ex?”

No. Getting tattoos like that is a very dangerous idea. Even if you and your partner last a lifetime of love and commitment, you might not always want a tattoo of their name/face/starsign/whatever stuck on you forever!

I 100% recommend against getting tattoos for friends or someone you are in a relationship with. There are so many ways it can go wrong!

“Are you worried about employability?”

Maybe once upon a time, people in western culture couldn’t have tattoos that were visible in the workplace, but times have changed. As long as the tattoos aren’t offensive in any way, then there isn’t much to worry about.

Yes, in other countries tattoos can be an issue, but more and more countries are learning to accept tattoos, especially on those from a culture where they are commonplace.

“There’s this band I love and -“

NO! Please, stop right there. Regardless of how much you love a tv show, band or movie, you don’t need a tattoo from it. Again there are so many things that could go wrong.

You could decide that show sucked, a horrible revelation could be found about someone involved in it, the band could go downhill and your opinion could change — those are just to name a few!

If you are so pushed to get a tattoo of something entertainment or pop culture related, sit on the idea for a good long while before you go through with it.

“So, does that mean you aren’t an actor now?”

So many actors, performers and artists have tattoos. They are a form of self-representation and artistry which artists often can’t get enough of. So many actors, from Justin Chon to Jackson Rathbone to Angelina Jolie, have tattoos and love them! If they have tattoos and can survive as actors, so can I! 🙂

“How do you take care of your tattoos?”

tat3So, the best advice I can give for caring for your tattoos is

1) Don’t sweat it – Seriously, try not to sweat on it too much. Keep that sucker clean and dry(ish)

2) Don’t scratch it – Scratching is can really damage it and cause some serious irritation

3) Careful of allergies – When I got my first tattoo, I used Bepathen  the baby cream to soothe my tattoo. However, I soon realised that it actually felt a lot worse AFTER I applied it and later realised that I am allergic to one of the ingredients in Bepanthen (Lanolin). So, watch out for stuff like that and find something that isn’t going to make you itchy as heck later on!

4) Keep children away – I don’t know how or why, but children have the amazing ability to locate and exploit your weak spots. With every tattoo I have had, some kid (or about 20 kids one time) have managed to cause me eye-watering pain by punching, pinching or scratching my fresh and delicate tattoo. Until it’s healed, keep ’em away!

 

To clean a tattoo, don’t use any drying or irritating product that contain alcohol. You want to keep your tattoo fairly dry, but you don’t want to damage or crack it. Just use gentle soap and water and then dab it try with a CLEAN towel.

If your tattoo shows any signs of infection, contact your tattoo artist and a doctor immediately and see if you need to be put on antibiotics. I have been incredibly lucky with all of my tattoos not to have had any complications, but it’s always better safe than sorry!

 

I hope this piece has been interesting and helpful to you. As always, we want to hear from you, so drop us a comment or send us a message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #learnwithamy!

 

 

 

Couple’s Fashion

 

A couple ring
A couple ring

Love’s awesome we all know it! And some awesome couples, especially the youngsters, love to show off their affection to the world by wearing couple fashion. It’s a common and adorable way of showing your relationship status (I mean, if the girl you like is dressed exactly the same as the guy next to her, you’re probably going to get the hint.)

While very common and popular in Asian, this isn’t a really common thing to do in the West. But if you like this idea and want to try it out with your significant other (S.O for convenience sake), here are some suggestions:

Couple jewellery

Couple rings

Like a wedding ring, but not as serious, couple rings are a cute and personal way of quietly displaying your love and commitment, as well as a nice reminder of your other half when you want them beside you.

Couple necklaces

Necklaces are a cute and slightly more private piece of couple wear, as they can be very discreet and even worn under clothes. These necklaces often fit together in a kind of puzzle fashion and often on long chains, so they can be worn close to the wearer’s heart.

Couple bracelets

Couple bracelets are often just any kind of matching bracelet or watch. Often couples choose to wear their bracelets on opposite hands, so they can be displayed together when holding hands. Again, due to not really being a symbol of relationship status like rings, bracelets are also a very subtle option for love birds.

Couple fashion

Couple co-ordination

Some couples like to go out looking rather similar, so the world can easily identify them as a pair, by co-ordinating their outfits by style or colour.

For example, a couple may co-ordinate to both wear denim or plaid clothes, or both agree to wear blue and white or earth tones. It’s subtle, yet brilliant.

Twin fashion

Some couples like to go even further and actually match the same styles and colours as each other This can go either way and either look really cool or make them look a little bit funny – but I’m happy if they’re happy!

 

Shoes

Some couples enjoy wearing matching colour or styles of shoes when they go out.

Right now, one of the biggest shoe trends in Asia is Timberland style boots, and it’s always so cute when I see couples walking around in matching boots!

 

Couple’s tech

Watches

Matching watches, occasionally custom designs, are popular with couples who want an everyday item that they don’t have to go out of their way to co-ordinate. So watches are a really easy way to go. They wear it every day without thinking, but get to have that bit of matching style that’s both cute and convenient!

 

Phones

It’s very common to see couples with phone accessories or cases that match each other. Some just have matching charms, whilst others go for very flamboyant cases that match or pair with the other (for example, one has a burger phone case and the other has a fries phone case)

It’s cute, fun and a pretty neat conversation starter – and good news for you phone, as any case is better than no case at all!

 

I hope you like all these ideas, and maybe found some inspiration in there! If you have or want to try any of these ideas, let us know in the comment section, or share photos of your couple clothing on FacebookInstagram and Twitter using the hashtag #LearnWithAmy and I’ll share the best ones I see! X

 

Cultural views on tattoos

So, I have 3 tattoos and the reaction to them varies from person to person. Some love them, some hate them and most don’t really care that much.

When I met my best friend, tattoos were one of the first conversation topics between us and I realised that the opinions of tattoos varies greatly from place to place.

tat1
My 3rd tattoo (wrist)

My best friend is Japanese and Japan still has very strong negative views on tattoos and the type of people who get tattoos. To them, tattoos are quite frightening and associated with criminality.

Similarly, but not as extreme, Korea is still not a big fan of tattoo-lovers. Many singers, actors and other creatives alike decorate themselves with tattoos, but they aren’t very common on ‘average’ people. Tattoos are considered a very big decision in Korea, and they should be treated very seriously (probably a good idea for anyone, to be honest).

Around Europe, there are many varying opinions of tattoos, but most are still influenced by the idea of ‘Tattoo=dodgy character’.

Here in Britain, tattoos are INCREDIBLY common and, while we know the understand the association with criminality, we accept that a lot of good honest people have tattoos.

In the restaurant where I work, all but one of the people who work in the back have tattoos and we don’t think that weird in the slightest.

tat3
Brand new! This is what a tattoo looks like for the first day or two.

So, my advice to people with tattoos visiting other countries (especially Asia) is to take care to be respectful and understanding of the culture. If you have a lot of tattoos, try to put people at ease by making your personality clear – and remember that it isn’t their fault that tattoos scare them! Perhaps try to covered your tattoos in some circumstances, just as a gesture of respect.

For those visiting countries where tattoos are commonplace, remember that tattoos are not an indication of criminality. While gang and prison tattoos can serve as warning signs, tattoos are so common and it’s best not to judge someone purely by their tattoos. Try to be understanding and not too judgemental.

 

I’ll be uploading a post and video (yes, a real-life moving video) on how to cover up a tattoo very soon!

As ever, if you have any questions or comments, please let me know in the comments or using the contact form below! X

“When my name was Keoko” and Korea’s Japanese occupation

Being fairly worldly-minded, it’s very important to me to respect the past and whatever comes with it. History is full of the most unpleasant events, mistakes, petty rivalries and desperate struggles, but they all contributed in ways (good and bad) to the present day that we all live in and serve as the foundation of the future.

So, with the recent celebration of 광복절 (Korean Independence Day) on August 15th, I decided to start reading Lynda Sue Park’s “When My Name Was Keoko” to learn a bit more about what life was like during the Japanese colonization of Korea.

And our Song of the Day is a live perfomance of Korean girl group 2ne1’s ‘Come Back Home’

A little history!

Between 1392 and 1910, the Korean Peninsula was ruled by the ‘Joseon Dynasty’. However, in 1895, the Joseon Dynasty were forced by the Japanese to sign a treaty which began the course of Japanese occupation and, in 1910, Japan officially declared control over Korea.
During this occupation, Koreans were forbidden from teaching, speaking or writing Korean, Koreans were required to take on Japanese names, many historical documents were destroyed and many Korean land and business owners had their livelihoods stripped from them.
Many Koreans were forced to work in Japanese factories or the military and thousands of young Korean women were forced to work as “comfort women” to Japanese soldiers (effectively sex slaves)

You might not think you know anything about this subject, but there is in fact a very big current issue that is a result of Japan’s colonization of Korea.
When Korea was liberated, two countries came to Korea’s aid. Soviet Russia and the United States of America both became ‘international trustees’ of Korea (Russia taking charge of the north and the U.S for the south) and thus Korea was separated at the 38th parallel into North Korea and South Korea – And this is still going now, 69 years later!

When My Name Was Keoko

‘When My Name Was Keoko’ tells the story of Kim Sun-Hee and Kim Tae-Yul, two young siblings living in the midst of Japan’s rule and World War II.

I do not want to reveal too much about this book, but I can say that it has fulfilled my wish of getting a little better an understanding of what the Japanese colonization and World War II must have felt like to those who experienced it. This book has taught me a lot about the recent history of Korea as well as showing just how powerful love, for your family and country, truly is.
The story of Sun-Hee and her family is a terrifying and historically accurate portrayal of life in 1940s Korea and I highly recommend you read this book.

This book also teaches you a lot of interesting stuff, like how Kanji works, Korean history and about the Japanese and Korean language.

I will be writing more on this subject very soon and we can learn more about Korean history together!

You can also read about the author, Lynda Sue Park, and browse her other work on her website.

If you read or have already read this book, let us know what you think!

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