Sunday, October 9, 2011

日本語 - Week 1 (Contemporary Japanese Vol. 1)

Welcome to my Weekly Japanese Journal which chronicles my weekly activities in learning the language. The book I am using is Contemporary Japanese Vol. 1 by Eriko Sato from the Tuttle Language Library. It would be nice if you could buy a copy of the book so we can study together and you could have access to the vocabulary lists and dialogues included in the CD. I bought my copy in a local bookstore and I honestly have no idea how you are going to get yours, hahaha. I am going to document my Kanji and Kana learning, albeit in a minimal level. I will not be putting Romanized pronunciations except for some Kanji, if I feel like it. This is not a Japanese language learning program and I am no teacher. This is a personalized journal of my Japanese language journey, and the target audience would be other students of Japanese, beginners if possible. If you are an advanced learner, kindly give us tips and correct some of the errors we are bound to make. Your feedback is important to us since books could not teach all. Let’s start! But before we do please watch the video after or while reading, it’s meant to complement the content of this blog article. If you watch just the video and not read, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. Volume 1 of the book has 61 lessons. I only study Monday to Friday, two days for each lesson, which means it will take us 122 days or 24 weeks and 2 days to finish the whole book. Target end date is March 20, 2012.

MONDAY: Lesson One - Familiar Japanese Words and Phrases for Gratitude 
Instead of starting out with the dialogues, I decided to just do the writing practice first. For this lesson the book introduces ten hiragana characters for a, i, u, e, o, ka, ki, ku, ke, and ko. Here they are in the same order: あいうえおかきくけこ.  In my video I just show you my not so beautiful handwriting, hahaha, and a bit of a demonstration. Anyway, there is a Grammar and Usage section at the end of each chapter. Volume one of the book has 14 all in all and each chapter is divided into lessons, which in turn are divided into different sections spanning only two pages. The total number of lessons for this volume is 61. 

TUESDAY: Lesson One - Familiar Japanese Words and Phrases for Gratitude
Today I grilled myself. I mean, I drilled myself with some hiragana readings. There is a reading drill in the book where they show you clusters of five hiragana each and you have to say it fast and then backwards. I am not doing it on cam because it is time consuming but having done it on my own really aided in rapidly recognizing these symbols. After the drill I proceeded with the two very short dialogues involving どうぞ and どうも which have the same first syllable characterized by a long vowel! The first one with a zzzz sound is used when you want to give someone something. It’s like saying “Go ahead” and accept it. The one with the mmmm sound is a shortcut for the longer どうもありがとう ございます which is the very long phrase for saying “Thank you.” Of course you could still stick with the traditional ありがとう which is what language learners really learn when they are just starting out. I like どうも better though because it is shorter. Remember, どうぞ and どうも are like a package deal. When someone says どうぞ you answer どうも. How to say “Welcome?” According to the book they just say いえ which literally means “No,” meaning you are not welcome. Hahaha, joke. It roughly translates to “Don’t mention it.”
WEDNESDAY: Lesson Two - Words for Japanese Food and Phrases for Introduction
The second lesson is all about food and introducing yourself. Of the five food on the list the only one I wasn’t familiar with was うなぎ which means “eel”. Yuck. I bet you are familiar with the others. They are: さしみ、すし、てんぷら、and すきやき. I wouldn’t put the meaning so you have to guess. Hello, these are so common in Japanese restaurants, but they forgot my all-time favorite とんかつ! I also learned from the review section at the end of chapter one that before eating you should say いただきます as an expression of gratitude.  After the meal you could say ごちそうさま.

THURSDAY: Lesson Two - Words for Japanese Food and Phrases for Introduction
Today is Hiragana practice day!  We have ten of them again and they correspond to the syllables sa, shi, su, se, so ta, chi, tsu, te, and to. In Hiragana they are written like: さ、し、す、せ、そ、た、ち、つ、て、and . After some reading drills I went on to the practice dialogue which was all about introductions. Basically you first say はじめまして which literally translates to “for the first time” and then you say your name and attach the all-around conjugated Japanese verb です. After that you say よろしく which is like saying “Nice to meet you”. A more respectful way of saying よろしく would be こちらこそ よろしく. One of the tasks of the day is to introduce yourself to your classmate which would be easy using this formula. I do that in the video after showing how to write the ten new Hiragana characters. Longest lesson so far! Additional notes! “Yes” is はい and you affix the suffix -さん after a name to make you sound more polite. There are other suffixes but this is most common. To turn a declarative statement into a question, add the particle - so if someone asks me, “ALFRED さんですか?” My answer would be はい!

FRIDAY: Lesson Three - Numbers in Japanese and Phrases for Greeting
Today I learned how to count up to ten and how the Japanese use their fingers to count. Here are the numbers in Kanji from 1 - 10: 一二三四五六七八九十 but you have to remember that four, eight, and nine have alternate readings but the Kanji does not change. I read the alternative pronunciations on the video. I decided to divide the twenty new Hiaragana in two so we would have ten a day. The characters today are for the syllables na, ni, nu, ne, no which in Hiragana are written as な、に、ぬ、ね、の.

See you next weekend! For next week I would be covering the second half of lesson three until lesson five. And then maybe I would add a special segment on my video to include a review section. We’ll see. We can do this, guys! The goal is to pass the N5 examination of the JLPT in December 2012 before the world ends! HAHAHAHA =)

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