Language Learning from the average unaverge high school kid Headline Animator

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Immortal Technique -- The Poverty of Philosophy

I also wanted to wish Merry Christmas to everyone, but I ran across this video by a rapper me and my friends listen to a lot, and he really has a LOT to say and listen to what he has to say, he really has a point, watch this. Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Today marks the first day of Christmas break!... Please, all 0 of my readers, keep the applause down. Not only is this important in the fact that:
1. I get sleep
2. I get sleep
3. I get sleep
but also in the fact that I have no homework, which means a lot of free time to engulf myself into the language books sitting around the house and actually use them instead of making myself feel good by staring at the covers. I actually just got 5 books for Christmas and my mom is willing to let me start reading one or two early so I think I might get a little head start on them. Out of the 5 books, 3 are Portuguese and 2 are Japanese, and I'll just list them:

Random House Portuguese Pocket Dictionary
Dom Casmurro(Brazilian)
O Corti├žo(Brazilian)
Japanese in Mangaland 1(Sort of a starter book, will explain further down)
Japanese in Mangaland Workbook

I am going to be at 1225 kanji by the time this night is over in Remembering the Kanji, leaving me with 812 to go. For all of you who want to study Japanese, I am sorry, but, Kanji are hell. There just is no other way to sugarcoat it. They are just hell. I hate them. I want to just get through these 815 and be done. Of course, once I get through, I will still be reviewing them with Mnemosyne, so I don't plan to forget them, but I don't feel like writing the confusing kanji for admonish or looking up the definition for what a decameron is, or trying to find out what a monme is(which isn't even on by the way). I really want to just blow past these kanji in the next couple of days and move on to the other resources sitting in my house. The kanji have forced me to put Assimil, Japanese in Mangaland, The Hirigana and Katakana writing systems, learning another language, and school all on hold, so I am just ready to get them past me and start enjoying languages again.

So, on to what Japanese in Mangaland is. Japanese in Mangaland is basically a 300 pg. semi-textbook that self-teaches you basic grammar, sentences, vocabulary, and kanji, all through manga cartoons. It was not very expensive, $17, you can probably but it cheaper if you really tried hard, I had to get it quickly while my mom was in a good mood, so money wasn't really the issue for me I guess, but if you think that is still too much money, well, you can contact me and I can discuss other ways you can go about finding materials. I am actually in the mood to do a bunch of kanji so I think I might go do like 100 or something and be angry tommorow when I open Mnemosyne and have to review about 300, but I guess I'll have time. I'm going to try and post for Christmas Eve, but if not, Merry Christmas everybody and Happy Kwanzaa!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Not much progress at all

What a week, what a week, what a week. I start off the week on a good note and end it on a bad one. If I haven't already talked about it on here(I never remember what I post on here), I have been experiencing lots of problems with migraines behind my right eye, and it has made me miss lots of school and time. It is also extremely painful and something I would rather not experience. It sort of makes me want to become a neurologist when I get older. Friday, I had to miss another day of school and got bored so I went online to research the migraines on my own a little bit, and fount a community online of people who are experiencing the same thing as me on livejournal. I made an account, posted, and amazingly enough, got 6 comments back by the end of today, all with tips on where to look next for help. What a good Christmas gift huh? I also haven't progressed much further in japanese than when I last posted, it seems the closer you get, the harder it gets to finish, but I WILL finish by time the book needs to be renewed at the library by January 8 or something, because it's getting annoying. I've lost weight though! And I believe I posted the link to it on the link bar to the side, just ignore all the ads at the top and scroll down, and you will see a great meal plan that I have been following closely, and it has helped me lose 10 lb. in a week so far, and if I keep this up to May, I will be a different person. Until then, peace.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

At a little milestone

Just wanted to post because I past a few milestones these past couple of days. Since I am currently at school, time is key, so this post will be much shorter than it usually would be. But anyways, I've reached a little over 1000 kanji and have about 1030 to go, and I've ordered 5 books, 3 Portuguese, 2 Japanese, for Christmas. Peace.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A trip to Virginia Tech and a little bit of a set back

I haven't been able to post for I believe another week as I have had possibly the busiest week of my life. I have never had so much work in my life, talk about frustrating. I did get some good things out of it though. I am reading a good book, Song of Solomon, which I really enjoy, and starting a really good diet, which I will put a link to right after I post this, got back to lifting weights, which feels good, and I got to lift weights. Sadly, I got a little behind in my Japanese but I believe I still will be done by New Years and I hope by saying that I won't get lazy and slack off. Looking at if I finish off my work for tonight, I will have done 981 kanji, and will have 1061 left, just about halfway there, which really feels good. I have done about 400 in about 3 weeks or so, maybe it was 2 weeks I am not sure, but I want to just get it done and start with the fun stuff. As with Portuguese, I am going to ask for some books and a monolingual dictionary for xmas(I feel like I put that in my last post) and that will help me with reading, and as for speaking? I am not sure what I can buy for that that is cheap, I think just talking with native speakers is enough.

But on to the Virginia Tech Trip. It was a 2 and a half hour trip that I spent mostly sleeping through down and back(off and on, my knees were killing me). When we got off, we walked a little ways and went into a little room where we were offered a bunch of donuts and water, and then went into an auditorium. There my peers presented their research on Arabidopsis thaliana, and I was going to present mine as well but my partner woke up late and missed the bus. When our turn was up, the teacher told us to come up anyway, and we had no powerpoint, paper, data, graphs, nothing. So we just spoke for about 3 minutes just from memory, and we somehow pulled through roughly. I can't remember the exact order of everything else we did, but we also got a chance to see other Tech seniors' research on Arabidopsis genes using a bunch of methods and stuff, and I barely remember the terminology they used. If I was to describe Virginia Tech, I would say that it has a LOT of good people, and good technology, but it was kind of ugly, and it was in the middle of nowhere. Plus, of course, we can only be so close because they beat UVA in football right??

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What a week

This is now officially my 6th post, but it's coming a little later than I planned on it being. It has been a hectic week due to a lot of work being due, plus having a couple health problems hinder me so I haven't been able to keep up with by blog this week. But I did make a little progress, especially in my Japanese. I was unable to do much work, but when I was fine I put in a lot of work into memorizing more kanji and I am currently up to 751 characters, and I have been counting down everyday to the final character in the book, so I now have 1291 characters left, which actually surprises me and motivates me to get them done. I've been trying to do about 50 a day which would get me to 1300 in 26 days, just in time for Christmas! Now realizing that my goal would be reached right around my day, I have proposed to finish this book and my 2042 kanji by Christmas Day, a hefty proposal but definitely a possible one. I know it won't be easy, but I'm fine with that and I am ready to do it. Memorizing the kanji usually takes me about an hour, which is a long time, but I usually have a lot of time on me, especially on the weekend, so I will probably step up the input on the weekend to maybe 80 and maybe drop the load down to 40 during the week, but always try and do 50 if I can. Now, coming into what I am about to say, I understand I am dealing with enough languages as is and adding yet another could really be too much, but at this point in my language learning "career," I find it quite easy to handle multiple languages, I never get confused except for the occasional pause when I am talking to people in different languages at once, or, I must admit, I have some situations where I am not sure how to say something in English! I am kind of worried, my brain is starting to think moreso in Portuguese or French than English and I have to say things aloud to myself a couple times before I am sure it is right. But, I don't really care, I'm not planning on being an English major. Now, what I was going to say was, I think I might try to pick up Russian or German, or maybe both. I might have mentioned it in one of my earlier posts, or on my blog before I changed it around and lost it, but I did do a little bit of German study but I didn't keep it up just because of loss of interest and tutor :). As with Russian, I've ran by PLENTY of materials I could use to teach myself Russian and I think I am pretty good at putting together a curriculum for myself. As with Portuguese, I have been talking much more in Portuguese and I think once I go back over my conjugations I will be at an intermediate level of Portuguese, I think at this point it's basically just a matter of learning vocabulary and working on my speaking/listening. My speaking is decent, I sort of developed a strange brazilian accent, I was talking to someone and I forget which region of Brazil, but I am kind of happy that I don't sound like an English speaker completely. But the thing I have to work on is just putting together sentences and sounding smooth when I talk. Listening is just really hard because Brazilians talk SOOOO fast. I can understand a little bit because I just take keywords and put them together and figure it out, but I want to be able to understand everything. Due to lack of time as always, I have to end it here but I will try to post again later, 1~

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Just wanted to add a lil bit of music to my blog.

And if anyone knows how to put videos on the side bar, please let me know.

Starting anew after Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a good weekend like I did. It was VERY nice having 5 days off and thankfully I have another day tommorow off before break ends. It is also another day where I have allowed myself to get behind in my Japanese. As I think I mentioned before, I'm using the Reviewing the Kanji website to review the Japanese kanji I have been memorizing everyday(I have to be honest, I haven't been doing it every day, or anywhere near there). But I am happy that I have finally reached the 600 kanji mark and I only have about 1600 to go. I only have to repeat what I've been doing since August and I'll almost be done! I also decided to go ahead and buy Remembering the Kana, which is a book also by James Heisig(author of Remembering the Kanji, the book I am using for the kanji), and Remembering the Kana is a book that helps you to memorize the 2 syllabaries of Japanese. The Syllabaries in Japanese are not NEARLY as hard as memorizing the Kanji characters but still a little bit of a challenge. As for my Portuguese studies, I think I am starting to notice a little bit of improvement in the speaking and listening department, as I have been talking a little bit more and I have noticed that I am starting to develop a more native accent while speaking. I think my trip to Brazil will really be a good experience and I hope the work I am putting in now pays off.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


This is the continuation of my last post on how I am going about learning languages. This is probably going to be very short. So, what I do with Japanese. What I did was I read up on what Japanese consisted of, which is this: 3 writing systems, a complex sentence structure, and the fact that I would have learn a bunch of vocab. This obviously wasn't a very nice thing to hear for anyone who wants to learn anything, it means it's going to be a lot of work. But I saw it as a chance for me to prove to myself that I could do anything I set my mind to. So I decided to learn it. I first decided to use Assimil, which is sort of like Pimsleur(if anyone knows what that is), it basically gives you some materials(a book and CD's) and takes you through each lesson, and you try to memorize the sentences pretty much, or at least listen to the tapes while going through them in the book until you understand what each sentence means orally. I didn't just do a good job of explaining it, but if you want to find more just Google it and you will find all the information you need. In conjunction with Assimil, I stopped by the UVA library and checked out a book titled Remembering the Kanji by James Heisig. Basically it is a book that helps you develop a method of memorizing all 2,200 kanji(the hardest of all the writing systems and the most necessary) that I high school student would need to know to graduate in Japan. I knew it was going to be hard but I didn't care so I went right into it, and hit a huge bump. I realized once school started I would never have any time to do all this stuff as well as work on my other languages each night, so I decided to just use Remembering the Kanji and finish it then move on to other things. If you are wondering how well I am doing, I am currently at 641, so I have about 1,559 remaining, which actually is surprising since I have to be honest, I haven't been doing the 25 I planned on doing each night or I would have been done by now. But I have fount a some of my old determination in me so I have been working on it hard and if I can suck it up and get at it I will be done by New Year's, which would be nice. And to all the readers, leave me comments on how my blog has been so far please!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How I am going about learning all these languages

For all of the 0 readers I have out there, if you think talking about what I am doing concerning my language learning I am not going to just talk to about what I am doing personally %100 of the time, but I am going to be talkiing about what I am doing all the time, I am also going to post links to sites I think would be helpful to others, as well as interesting articles about languages. I probably will even occasionally post links about stuff that has nothing to do with languages just because I think it's something worth mentioning.

Now, back to the languages. Today, I'm going to talk about how I go about studying numerous languages. The path to my method has come from a combination of many things: Time limitations, laziness, resources, and money. I only study 2 languages on my own(Japanese and Portuguese), and I study them differently primarily because of how difficult Japanese is(I want to get the hardest part over with).

Right now I am in my first year of Chinese at school and it is very, very hard, not because of the language itself, but all the work involved. I am enjoying it though, and I think it's easier to understand than other languages because in my opinion the Chinese don't talk very fast. As for French, I think it is the hardest language to understand orally because everything to me sounds just mushed together. I am in my third year of it and the honors track and even though I think it's hard to understand, I enjoy it alot, obviously.

Now for the languages that I am studying independently. What I do for Portuguese, quite simply, is talk. Anyone can find sites online to find penpals to talk to through e-mail, MSN, or any way of talking online. I try not to put too much information out about myself simply because you can't trust everyone you meet online, but I'm pretty confident that if someone came to my house expecting to kidnap me they would be in for a HUGE suprise. :) How I got myself to the point of being conversational in Portuguese was I went online to a site that uploads all the texts used by the Foreign Language Institute(U.S. organization used in the military to teach languages), and since it is owned by the U.S. everything it makes has to be free to the public, and therefore there are a bunch of language courses on the site to use if you want to learn x amount of languages(link will be posted below). I only went through about 14 units before I got bored and decided to just force myself to speak in Portuguese online and force myself to figure out how to say anything I want to say, either by using a dictionary, verb conjugator, or finding phrases online. I also use a program called Mnemosyne to memorize vocabulary and I actually use it for numerous languages, even for English vocabulary or Biology words. What Mnemosyne does is set up a spaced repitition system for you to memorize words. It works like a flashcard program and when it asks you for a word, you think of the word in your head or say it and then click "show answer," then choose 0-5, 0 meaning you did not know the word at all, and 5 meaning you immediately got the word. After you go through all the words until you have got them right, you make sure you open the progam up everyday and it will test you on words it thinks you haven't memorized yet. Basically what it does is test you on words it thinks your brain needs refreshed in your memory, and if your brain brings up words over longer and longer stretches, it gradually goes into your long-term memory. Due to lack of time, I will discuss what I do in Japanese at a later date, probably within the next couple of days. Also, if you are interested in Mnemosyne, I have posted a link where you can download it.

Link to FSI: Here

Friday, November 16, 2007

Languages for the average unaverage high school kid

Well, to start off the 1st post, I would just like to give an overview of what I plan to talk about on here. As you can see from the heading, I am in high school and play sports and a bunch of other stuff so expect to possibly see some off-the-wall stuff on here, I have a lot of stuff I do :) Also, don't be scared to leave a comment asking me about what I do that concerns my language learning or anything I post on here, just don't get too personal.

Now, to get on to the big reason for this. As you can read from the 1st two words, I am a guy who is about learning languages. I realized this was something I enjoy back in about 8th grade when I was really fascinated by the fact that my friend could speak Spanish. In 10th grade I decided to try and teach myself Japanese. I couldn't do it, and was sort of disappointed. But once the summer started the next year, I decided I would give it another try. But not only did I begin teaching myself Japanese, but I also decided on Portuguese. Even though I see myself as being a harder worker last year this year, I have been able to keep up with learning both, even though I have had some blocks and am at almost a brick wall in my Japanese that I hope to get over(I should have been done with the book I am using about 2 months ago). Doing this as well as going to school and playing sports has proven a little bit hard, but I don't mind seeing that it is something I love doing. I am going to go into more in my next post, it's always good to keep the reader wanting more :)

Also, I am going to leave some links to sites/blogs that you should look at:

Kevin Levin(my history teacher)'s blog
All Japanese, all the Time(Method a guy used to learn Japanese very quickly)
How to Learn Any Language(Make sure to go to the forum)

Also, you can add me on Facebook, just type in Torrey Payne in the search bar.