Language Learning from the average unaverge high school kid Headline Animator

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.