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Performance Review & Progress Report, 2014

2014/09/21 Leave a comment

In 2009, I started my current stage of language learning by choosing to study Japanese. Before that, I consider myself as having been just like most other people. These “Performance Review” posts try to better show I’m nothing special and you can do this too.

Previous posts: 2013. 2009-2012. 2009.

Hello, 5 year mark! 5 years since started Japanese and began learning various languages. Here’s a quick look at all the languages I touched on and their statuses compared to last year. That’s what this post will cover, and in the listed order. This is not a look back at the past 5 years.

Main efforts

  • Mandarin – Notable improvement.
  • Korean – Notable improvement.
  • Japanese – Slight loss.
  • French – Some improvement
  • Spanish – Extremely slight improvement

Lesser efforts

  • Vietnamese – Slight improvement.
  • Shanghainese – Continued, slow advancement.
  • Southern Min (Taiwanese / Hokkien) – Continued, slow advancement.
  • Thai – Little change, both positive and negative.
  • Arabic – Slight Loss.

(the following languages will not be covered in this post since there’s not much to say.)

  • Hindi – No change, maintained.
  • Cantonese – No change, maintained.

Not targeted

  • Hmong – Still ignored
  • Yoruba – Still ignored.
  • Swahili & Zulu – Still ignored.
  • Russian & Greek – Slight loss.
  • Morse Code  – Some loss.

Read more…

My 3-Year Performance Review & Progress Report, 2009-2012

2013/07/05 Leave a comment

In this last post, I went over what was my position in languages 3 years ago, in 2009, before I started learning Japanese and got into this current stage of language learning. After reading that post, I hope I sounded like a pretty typical person. I haven’t done anything impressive, so I hope many people who may think it is can see that I don’t have any special history, skill, or natural talent that has allowed me to get to where I am now. I simply do it without consideration of excuses and misconceptions.

This is a review of what I’ve accomplished in the past 3 years, up to summer of 2012, with a brief overview on how I did it, so that you can do it too. For that reason, links will be provided to any mentioned resources, but check out my Language Resources Page for a full list.

So now it’s time to go over what’s actually happened, and where I am now.

In case you’re looking for something specific, I’ll let you know this article mentions:

  • Japanese
  • Mandarin
  • Hindi
  • Korean
  • Morse Code
  • International Phonetic Alphabet
  • Russian & Greek
  • Vietnamese
  • Cantonese
  • Hmong
  • Yoruba
  • French
  • Spanish

The Decision


Which Language?

Starting Japanese is the big landmark marking where everything started. I wanted to start a new language, with not much of a goal in mind other than to see how it goes, how far I get, and how quickly I learn. I wasn’t going to put much effort since I foresaw myself getting busier in the upcoming years, and wasn’t going to care much for motivation. The only motivation needed is to do it: keep it in mind, do it when possible, but make sure I find that time and make time as possible. I considered Italian since I’ve had the interest and it would be easy, but it’s pretty close to Spanish, so I saw little need. German seemed like a good choice, but you know what? I decided I wanted something considered totally different, so let’s check out East Asia, I thought. Chinese characters, yes! So Mandarin or Japanese? I felt Mandarin would be more useful, and I have a little more interest in China culturally, BUT I had already started watching some anime, listening to some Japanese music as introduced to me from anime, and I was beginning to pick up a tiny selection of words. Thus, Japanese had the better and most promising opportunities for “practice.” Japanese it was!

Common First Step to all Languages

Something else I do to gauge interest and get a feel for a language, is to check out its grammar, so whenever I’m curious about a language, I go look over its article on Wikipedia, looking for the grammar section or grammar article.

The scary G-word is definitely something too many people over-concern themselves with (eg., in school courses), but I do believe it’s nice to start with it. What distinguishes a language and gives it its personality, its attractive qualities? I would say grammar! If languages didn’t have differences in word order, structure, parts of speech, conjugation, etc., learning language would be nothing more than learning vocabulary to swap out, and translations could be made virtually word-for-word. So I read up on grammar.

In the case of Japanese, then, I learned that it doesn’t necessarily use a Subject-Object-Verb (SOV) structure, but it is instead primarily a topic-comment structured language. Topics can be dropped if obvious, and it’s much more common (informally) to make extremely short or single-word statements than in English. Questions are structured the same way as statements, only with question words and/or just a “ka” at the end. Different tenses/moods/aspects exist, but all persons (I, you, they, etc.) use the same conjugation. Seeing example sentences helped me see what this all means and how it really comes together.

After reading up on the basics of a language’s grammar, no matter how I continue learning, I’ll better understand why words are coming together the way they are, and the boost to my interest in the language helps make sure I keep goingRead more…