How I’m Studying Korean, Japanese and Chinese

I always try to be as organized as possible when I’m studying foreign languages. I started learning Korean a bit over three years ago- I think-; I picked up Japanese again last year and started learning Chinese about a month ago. I still remember when I first started Korean I was all over the place and it took me almost a year to get some semblance of progress and order. I think all my trials and errors during that time helped me figure out how to plan efficiently for the additional two languages. I usually try to tailor most of studies to a specific goal, but still maintain some sort of balance between skills.

My first step is to establish a definite short term goal (something you can actually measure and test). Right now these are my goals for each language:

Korean: Pass at least TOPIK II Level 3 in October/ November 2016.

Japanese: Be able to write a simple 5-sentence-long paragraph.

Chinese: Master the Chinese tones and be able to distinguish between them when I hear them.

My second step consists of figuring out where I was failing. First by asking myself what are my weaknesses and then how to remedy that using my strengths (and change strategies if one doesn’t work).

Korean:

Problem: I can’t do the writing section of TOPIK because I lack vocabulary.

Solution: Read, read, read and read. Then, write, write, write and write.

Chinese:

Problem: I can hear the difference but I can’t produce it.

Solution: Listen and practice the tones as much as possible while a friend corrects me.

Japanese:

Problem: Lack of pretty much everything, but especially vocabulary.

Solution: Write the vocabulary down and make up simple sentences using the vocabulary.

My third step is to figure out how much free time I have and how much I can dedicate to each language. In this case, Korean is my main language so I tend to devote a lot of time daily to it and alternate between dates among the other two. For example, I dedicate 3 hours daily to Korean and study the rest for an hour on alternate days.

My last step consists of figuring out the material I will be using and then spreading them out. At the end I get something like this:

Korean (each block 1 hour):

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Textbook Textbook Textbook Textbook Textbook Textbook Textbook
Grammar V: list/quiz R: Yonsei Grammar V: list/quiz R: News W: TOPIK
R: Novel R: News Writing L: Drama R: Novel W: TOPIK L: Drama

Chinese/ Japanese (each block 30 mins): 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Japanese Chinese Japanese Chinese Japanese J/Ch J/Ch
V: review Tones Writing Tones Grammar Textbook Textbook
Listening Vocab. Writing Writing Listening Tones/ W T/W/Gr

My study blocks change once I have accomplished my goal and set another one. That’s pretty much how I manage to study all three. Then find out how much time I have during a period of time.

That’s it! Until next time!~

March- July 2016 Book Haul

Hi! I’m back -sort of-. I have been on a non-stop lazy mode the last two months (more like moping). Maybe because my new friends are leaving in August and I decided to stay longer in Korea. Also, work has made me become busier LOL. 

Not that stopped me from buying books. 

Learn Korean Books

I mentioned that I was on the verge of finishing Ewha Korean 3-2.  I bought the 4th level texbook, workbook and study guide. I think my pocket might have cried a bit. I also bought Yonsei Reading 3 and I have to say that it’s perfect for me because I don’t have to look up in the dictionary for words I don’t know.

Ewha 4, unlike the lower level books, has a discussion section. I think it’s pretty neat because it includes the sort of expressions you should use to express whatever the section is about as well as you can practice them. The drawback is that the section is designed to be used in the classroom so there isn’t much you can do.

I chose Yonsei Reading 3 because I thought it would be challenging enough. Imagine my surprise when I started reading it and I pretty much knew almost everything hahaha. I really like that you get a variety of excersices before and after reading. I use the questions as writing prompts since that’s my weakest skill. 

Korean Novels:

I loved the drama 성균관 스캔들 and whenever I’m out of dramas to watch, I go and watch it again. I’m actually surprised it took me this long to buy the novel hahaha. 

The actual title is 성균관 유생들의 나날. It is divided into 2 two volumes and it has a sequel which is also divided in two books. I only bought the first one and haven’t really started reading it LOL.

I also bought 구르미 그린 달빛 which will have a drama coming out in August. It has 5 volumes in total -something I didn’t realized when I bought it hahaha. I have started reading it two weeks ago and I’m already on the second chapter (I’m in page 43). I think I’m reading it quite fast considering that I only read it twice a week (as part of my study blocks).

Korean Webtoon/mahwa, Korean version of Japanese manga and Japanese manga:

I read webtoons like there’s no tomorrow hahahaha. One of my favorite webtoons is 우리 사이 느은. The story is about these friends who fall for each other while they are in college. It’s really funny amd cute~ 

 I also read 밤을 걷는 선비 ( which is really different from the drama). I love the Japanese manga 高嶺と花 so I bought the Korean version of it but it also had another manga called in Korean 불로 남매 by the same author.

These two were a birthday gift from one of my closest friends here in Korea. Sadly, volume two wasn’t in Kyobo so my friend bought me vol. 1 and 3. Now, I’m just missing 6 out the 10 volumes~

That’s it for today! Until next time~

漢字 (Kanji) Readings

Kanji are one of the deepest rings of  Hell for a Japanese language learner. I, on the other hand, find Kanji to be interesting and fun. Nothing to dread about drawings (something I love). However, as I wondered how to read them, I felt confused about how to learn reading the characters. Some resources go on talking about the two types of readings, but don’t explain why they’re called such so I’m certain that was the root of all my confusion.

The first type of reading is called 音読み (On-yomi). This type of reading was imported from China (the “original” Chinese sound). It is reserved for words written with multiple Kanji only -mostly-. I stopped confusing it with it’s native Japanese reading when I learned that 音 stands for “sound”. 読み stands -more or less-  for “reading”. I made the association by thinking: reading the [Chinese] sound. Ex: 水曜日(sui-you-bi)

The second type of reading is 訓読み (kun-yomi). This one is the Japanese reading. It is usually used for a stand-alone Kanji, a Kanji accompanied by hiragana, usually verbs and adjectives. 訓 means Japanese rendering of a Chinese character. It also means instruction. I think it would be alright to assume that the instruction of the reading leads to learning  native Japanese words.  Ex: 水を下さい (mizu (w)o kuda-sai).

The kanji for water is 水. Wednesday in Japanese is 「水曜日」 which is a compound word in Japanese so 「すい」 (on-yomi)  for the water part and just plain water 「みず」(kun-yomi).

I noted some voiceless sounds change to voiced sounds in compounds. Surnames seem to be the exception to On-yomi as it seems they tend to use kun-yomi reading like 田中 (Ta-naka) -both are kun readings-.

That’s it for now. I hope it’s clear! I will try to explain simply Japanese verb conjugations next.

Until next time!~

New Year, New Goals

Hello, again!~

Unofficially, I will be staying much longer in Korea (over 1 year if it’s possible) so that means I will be able to keep studying and actively use Korean.

I haven’t made much plans as they have a tendency to not happen XD. I did decide that I wanted to pass TOPIK level 4 by the end of this year. I’ve been studying Japanese for a bit over 7 months (5 by myself) so I decided to take the JLPT N5 this year, just to see how it goes hahahaha.

Besides taking the tests, I haven’t made up my mind on what to do. I thought I wanted to return home by August and then apply for the JET Program and live in Japan for at least 2 years (if I got accepted), but now I don’t know since I want to stay much longer in Korea. I guess I’ll know for sure around summer LOL.

Blog-wise, I have a lot of drafts that I haven’t finished writing and hopefully will see the light soon. My goal is to have 3 more posts by the end of January and at least one of them about Japanese.

43th TOPIK Test and Other Things

As some of you may know, I took the last TOPIK I test of the year this past Sunday. Like I had said in an earlier post my goal is to score at least 90 points in both parts, but while I’m confident in listening, I’m not so much in the reading part. I’m certain that I will pass 2급, but perhaps my goal won’t be accomplished, but that’s okay too.

Honestly, I didn’t study much (lots of work to do in the last few weeks) so I deserve what I get XD. I mean each time I’d say I’m studying Korean today, I’d end up studying Japanese instead. I can say I have made progress with Kanji (reading them) thanks to Wanikani. Wanikani is absolutely amazing (I’m already doing their level 3)! Anyways, going back to Korean, after the test I felt really motivated to study and to improve. I want to see if I can actually try for the 3급 in January. However, I don’t know yet.

I have been reviewing the (으)러 (으)려고 and 을/를 위해서 and I completed reviewing them so I will post my notes here within this week. I also hope to post about Japanese as well, but maybe not this week.

Book Haul September-October

Hello! It’s been a while since I last wrote anything, but I’m back. I’ve become used to working so each day I have more time. Although normally I would use it to post here, I’m studying for the TOPIK. I do plan to write more frequently now that I’m no longer applying for the JET Program. Anyway, I bought a lot of books with my first paycheck hahaha (most TOPIK related).

wpid-p_20151002_135439_p.jpg

I’m not familiar with the new format so I bought Hot TOPIK and I can say I really like it. The book gives you a breakdown of the types of questions and strategies to find the answer. First, it introduces the type of question, then it gives you practice and the end of the book it has a mock test.

wpid-p_20151002_135516_hdr.jpg

I know vocabulary is my weakness so I also bought  쏙쏙 TOPIK 초급 어휘. It’s really good even with some minor typos so I always make sure. The book has 24 vocabulary items for each day as well as a small quiz at the end each day’s vocabulary.wpid-p_20151002_135601_hdr_p.jpgwpid-p_20151002_135622_hdr.jpg

wpid-p_20151002_135651_hdr.jpg

The next one, TOPIK 쓰기, is old, but I like how it goes step by step in writing. I didn’t buy it for TOPIK, but rather for me to practice writing as well as learn some grammar.  I absolutely love 외국인을 위한 한국어 문법 의미 가능편.

wpid-p_20151024_094634_p.jpg

wpid-p_20151024_094843_1_hdr_p.jpg

TOPIK 쓰기

wpid-p_20151024_094700_1_p.jpg

It’s super cute and I find myself fascinated that I can understand most of the grammar explanations. When I feel like I’m not learning, I go to this book and realize that I have learned a lot in just over a year. It also helps that I’ve been studying vocabulary hahaha.

wpid-p_20151024_094722_1_p.jpg

I bought the third book of 1CM, 1CM 아트. It feels slightly more complicated to read than the second one, but it’s just as pretty. The drawings are based on iconic art (both classics and pop)

wpid-wp-1445649023286.jpg

wpid-wp-1445649118955.jpg

wpid-p_20151002_135723_1_hdr_p.jpg

I bought the latest volume of 暁のヨナ (Yona of the Dawn) and even though I can’t read it (yet), I couldn’t resist.  I bought a picture dictionary to use in my class and a Japanese graded reader. It has both Korean and Japanese so for me it’s a plus. It also has an audio CD. It includes vocabulary and some grammar patterns. Darakwon has a whole series of Japanese graded readers and it looks amazing! Each volume in the 초급 series is harder by the number so I bought volume 1.

wpid-p_20151002_135804_hdr.jpg

That’s it for this haul. Until, next time~

Book Haul May-August 2015

This one was super overdue.

In late May, I started a Japanese course back home and we used Japanese for Busy People I and since my professor knew I could read Kana, she told me to get the Kana edition. I also bought Basic Japanese Kanji vol. 1 (which I noticed it is sold out online).  It covers 205 Kanji, and it has an interactive CD-ROM; the CD has reading quizzes, printable Kanji Flash Cards, and some other exercises. It is also under 20USD so it’s even better (I bought it for $14 online)

wpid-p_20150905_100139_hdr.jpg

I love how Japanese for Busy People is quite simple to follow and it has a lot of writing exercises using and adding the grammar and core points of the lesson. The only thing I wish it had is an audio solely focusing on the vocabulary presented. Below are some pages of the 1st lesson:

wpid-p_20150905_100211_hdr.jpg

On the left are the grammar points and on the right the dialog and vocabulary. They also add notes below the vocabulary for explaining briefly culture or grammar.

wpid-p_20150905_100228_hdr.jpg

Writing Exercises and new vocabulary

wpid-p_20150905_100518_hdr.jpg

What I like about Basic Japanese Kanji is that first they give you some mnemonics, and the most used words as well as common compound words. Every two Kanji, you get a short reading section using those Kanji as well as others and get a reading comprehension quiz. Mayor drawbacks are: it has no on-yomi, kun-yomi readings and if you are just starting (like me) then you don’t have much vocabulary so it can be a bit hard. On the other hand, it is good for acquiring vocabulary and excellent for reading.

wpid-p_20150905_100651_hdr.jpg

At the end of the chapter (10-14 Kanji), you get a chapter test. This photo of the first test but as you go learning, it all becomes Japanese. Overall, I think it is a really good book to learn Kanji and use them actively through reading simple things. I do hope they keep adding volumes and fix some of the mistakes in this book.

While I was in Busan, I went to a Bookstore in 부산대 (also went to another one in Shinsegae) and bought:

The latest 3 volumes of 밤을 걷는 선비 and a book for learning Japanese.

I should add that the Korean drama and the manhwa are loosely related. I was really disappointed in it so I stopped watching it.

wpid-p_20150905_100800_hdr.jpg

Sorry for the bad quality!

wpid-p_20150905_100847_hdr.jpgIT

It is super colorful, but that’s a trademark of most Korean language books. I plan to complement it with both my Korean studies and Japanese for Busy people because it starts with Kanji so I feel it’s more natural. Although, the Kanji has furigana at first, the book stops giving it when the word is one from a previous chapter or is in the exercise section.

wpid-p_20150905_100939_hdr.jpg

Kana and vocabulary

wpid-p_20150905_101018_1_hdr_p.jpg

The last 2 books were given for free during my TaLK National Orientation.

wpid-p_20150905_101141_hdr.jpg

You can find the e-book version for free at: http://www.kscpp.net

That’s it for now!