Jul 25, 2008

My suggestions for how to master and get good in Japanese

Deal the Zeal : Enthusiasm and its effects on second language Acquisition
Goals for Japanese Fluency
By Makurasuki, Brett McCluskey

This article was created to help those that need a boost to start or re-continue there quest for the acquisition and mastery of Japanese unto fluency.

You can improve your Japanese by following a few techniques I will show you and briefly outline here. In no time, your Japanese speaking skills will be better than you ever thought possible. Your success in second language acquisition should you accept the challenge, will be dependant upon the commitments you make to yourself to memorizing words part1, understanding, learning, memorizing then applying the basic Japanese grammar principlespart3+4 and finally your total amount of zeal you put into your efforts. The amount of success or failure you have in second language acquisition starts with you. The power is within you; now let us try to unlock it.

I want to share with you my zeal for learning another language and perhaps you might catch a little part of it and it might burn like the California fires of 2007 until you too have inspired others through your zeal and mastery of a foreign language. My roommates hated me when I was studying, because not only would I ask them to help me by quizzing me from my vocabulary list from which I studied without fail daily, but I would wake up very early in the morning to practice speaking Japanese. I would repeat sentences I learned like mantras until I got the chance to use what I learned in real life to see which ones actually worked. My roommates hated me. I had zeal for learning Japanese. It takes a great bit of it to be a successful language learner.

You MUST HAVE ZEAL for learning the language or you will become complacent and lazy. Determine within yourself now that you will find a way to harness zeal and enthusiasm towards the improvement of your Japanese unto acquisition. You must also have a purpose for your zeal. My purpose was to be able to speak with the Japanese people themselves, to communicate with them with no impediments of speech. ‘Like they say Quitters Never Win and Winners Never Quit’, so get going now and find your purpose and zeal it up.

The following is just one way and one example of what kind of language goals a person could set and realistically achieve, while at the same time making it challenging enough to maintain their interest. You might emulate these goals if you were learning Japanese; they are modeled after my own goals. They are in no way the only way to go, but they are, as I said, just one set of possible goals that you can use to help you attain fluency. They helped me acquire that ever-elusive second language (Japanese) and if they are couple with enough zeal, it will be very possible that they will help you get fluency too. Remember though, the amount of zeal you put into your work is exactly how much success you will achieve out of it. With the right amount of zeal, you are bound to be speaking native like a Japanese senator in no time flat. May your Nihongo wa jozu ni naru.

It has been said to be fluent a person must know a minimum 4000 words

Vocabulary –n. a list of words, and often phrases, abbreviations, inflectional forms, etc., usually arranged in alphabetical order and defined or otherwise identified as in a dictionary, or glossary.

It goes on to say that vocabulary is also all the words recognized and understood by a particular person although not necessarily used by him, these may be an interrelated group of nonverbal symbols, signs, gestures, etc. used for communication or expression.

Now let us do some math to see how long it will take us to learn 4000 words, or, what some have called, the minimum amount of vocabulary one must know and be able to use and still be considered fluent.

7 days a week
52 weeks per annum
4 weeks per month
12 months per annum

How long will it take to obtain a 4000 word vocabulary?

Well if we learned 4000 words in one day, it would only take us one day, but is it reasonable to assume that we will retain those words? Unless you have a photographic memory, we should consider something else. How about 4000 words in 1 month? Is that a reasonable goal? I do not think either of those goals are within a typical realizable amount attainable possible. We need a reasonable goal that is attainable that leaves us some breathing room to assimilate the vocabulary into our own speech system. I feel 6-8 words a day might be stretching us thin a little bit but it is the one I will recommend. Actually, the way I did it was to learn 15 words every two days but for sake of clarity, let us stick with words/day.

When learning Japanese or any language don't get burned out. Go at a good pace for you. We do not want to memorize too many words because we will end up worse than learning only one word a week. At one word a week, it would take us 4000 days, or almost 11 years to have such a vocabulary. That is too long if you figure that for an accelerated college degree program you will be spending 4-6 years to obtain your B.A. and still would not be fluent either way, 11 years is too long. These goals will be set for you to learn 4000 vocabulary terms in 1 year and 1 month from your starting date. This is still a very lofty goal. In order to learn 4000 vocabulary in 1 year and 1 month you will need to learn 10-11 words / day
That is the goal, 10-11 words / day, sunawachi everyday with no rest.

Day 1 goal – memorize 10 words today, tomorrow and 10 new words everyday for the next 9 months. Do not get discouraged after 9 months if you stick with your goals you will not be pera pera (fluent), but you will be enabled to handle almost any conversation that comes your way.

Day 2 goal -
Day 3 goal –
Weekly goal
Monthly goal
3-month goal
6-month goal


So what exactly is fluency?

How do we measure fluency? There are indubitably quite a few ways to measure fluency. I am not aware of any fluency machine that can instantly measure your fluency like we can measure blood pressure, or body temperature. I have heard it said at least once that fluency is dependant upon total vocabulary memorized. In addition, they put a number on it of 4000 different words. I cannot say I totally agree with that statement. No doubt, other requirements for language fluency certainly exist, other than just knowledge of the vocabulary. Although many other complex processes are involved in fluency, we will start with how to set goals in memorizing words to increase our vocabulary power. Setting goals to memorizing vocabulary is a good place to start. So how much vocabulary power do you have under your belt?

The amount of words that you know and are able to translate those words into and out of your native tongue and into and out of your target language. Know the meaning of words so thoroughly that you can interchange them instantly. I suggest the use of mnemonics as helpful way to memorize Japanese words.

Just as one can word or phrase or apply any manipulation to the language so that its suits our purpose and the main purpose and reason is to get our meaning across. Sharing a As long as the method we use suffices to get our message across it does not even matter if we can speak Japanese or not. In any language, if you look like you have to go ‘pee’ you do not have to say a word people will understand you. If you look tired or motion your hands as if you are sleeping, our knowledge of Nihongo lets body language assume the role.

What is the shortest distance between you and getting what you want? You are allowed to use any and all means necessary to get your meaning across.

Please see my article on circumlocution for sure fire ways to get your meaning across even if you do not know the Japanese words for it. http://ezinearticles.com/?Japanese-Pronunciation-Tips-13&id=472520

About our own Native tongue -

Just in mannerisms and the exact vocabulary and grammatical structure employed by the speaker, can there be vast amounts of missed meanings to occur. Japanese could be spoken in any number of differing ways; intelligently, suave, brave, naive, sophisticated, charming, honorifically, stately, manly cunning, feminine, drunk, legendary all sorts of ways to speak like and just as we have the ish to make something in Nihongo the word becomes -ppoi.

Noun + ppoi = noun ‘ish’ - Beautifully, wonderfully or bold or any other way you can think of, it becomes like it and takes on its characteristic traits.

The levels Keigo and the cultural implications of Kokugo^ must know how to manipulate verbs, while memorizing and strengthening your store of Japanese words to put into your goal oriented language arsenal. With that arsenal and using all of your faculties to summon together the ability to speak inside of another tongue, and also to be able to open your ears to such an extent that they become even more sensitive to different words, consonants, vowels phonemes.
Along with your noun memorization oath. (See appendix) noun (do not take for granted any place names that are presented to you on your quest for complete Japanese mastery. You have to commit yourself to a reasonable yet challenging goal.

Brett McCluskey, EzineArticles.com Basic Author