TIL: Pimsleur Level 1-1, Influent, and Human Japanese Ch 2

I write this with a bit of a headache at the moment. I’m a sugar addict. I eat at least 1000 calories a day of various candy. And I’ve decided to cut back. Today was day one of not buying any junk food. I’ve had to leave my debit card with my wife so that I can’t just cave to my cravings and fetch something from 7/11 during my work day. On top of that I’ve brought my weight vest to work, and am attempting to get back into the habit of using the gym at lunch.

Which brings me to Pimsleur. I decided that if I’m to force myself onto a tread mill, and thoughtlessly burn calories… perhaps it would be better to make the exercise slightly less thoughtless. Each lesson in Pimsleur is 30 minutes long, and that’s about the amount of time I get to work out at lunch, so I figured it makes sense to combine my efforts. I listened to the first lesson today, and it’s straight forward enough. I get hung up on little things. It seems preposterous that anyone would would ever have a conversation in which they don’t think the person they are speaking to understands them, so they ask if they speak English (in Japanese).

すみません。わかりますか。えいごがわかりますか。 (Excuse me? Do you understand? Do you understand English?).

Maybe they do it just so that I’ll stew on it and be extra sure to remember the lesson. It seems like it’s as good of a time as any to listen to it. It’s impossible to take anything in if I listen whilst working, but I’m able to pay a good amount of attention while on the treadmill. I think getting some audio/verbal reinforcement is probably good.

Aside from that, it turns out that Influent is 80% off on Steam today. I actually decided this year that I wouldn’t buy any more video games. I’ve currently got a massive backlog of games to play (112 on Steam alone!).


Consider that New Years Resolution gone, I guess! Really though, it shouldn’t count. This is for learning, and it’s really essentially glorified flash cards. I haven’t had a chance to play it tonight, but now that I’ve picked it up, I think it will take priority over Fable. Which is just as good since I’m not comfortable yet playing a game in Japanese.

Aside from that, I did get through Chapter 2 of Human Japanese tonight. The one takeaway I had from it, is the idea of 常用漢字 (The Jouyou Kanji).After World War II, laws were passed that limited the Kanji that could be used in newspapers to a fixed set of about 1850 characters. Everything else was to be represented in Hiragana and Katakana. That set of characters has changed a little over the years and today consists of 2136 characters called the Jouyou Kanji (“daily use Kanji”). To be honest, I was intimidated by Kanji the last time I put effort into learning Japanese. I feel it’s a lot of memorization for a skill that I may never really have much use for! But, the reality is, if I want to be able to read the language, it’s just a necessary evil.

I mentioned All Japanese All The Time on Friday, but forgot to add a link. It’s here now 🙂 As khatzumoto mentions on that page, his suggestion is to “Learn at least 2046 general use Kanji in English, using James Heisig’s seminal book, Remembering the Kanji, Part I. You don’t need the other parts. […] Do not: pause in your Kanji study. Do not: start learning Japanese grammar on the side. Learn your Kanji. If you’re going at like 25 Kanji/day, then it will take 3 months. At 12 Kanji/day, it will take 6 months. And that’s fine; if you’re a busy person with other commitments, then it’s going to take that much time. Stay the course. If you start today, you will thank me 6 months down the line.” It looks like memrise already has some flash cards ready to go for the Kanji. And it’s even organized by the grade Japanese Students learn them.

There’s so much damned advice out there. And so much memorization. Languages are a nightmare to learn. But hopefully I can figure this out and become fluent in a second language before my son becomes fluent in his first language. I don’t like the idea of memorizing words without learning the grammar. I don’t have the ability to do All Japanese All The Time as his blog suggests… so I’m going to have to do it piecemeal. As Human Japanese puts it, Japanese children don’t start learning Kanji until they already speak Japanese fluently…