3 Reasons To Diversify Your Language Learning Notes With Colour

3 Reasons To Diversify Your Language Learning Notes With Colour

We’ve all been there before, stuck behind an imaginary wall of boredom while we slowly go insane scribbling in black and blue ink.  The idea of looking at your bland notes after a long day of study isn’t the most satisfying thing one can imagine. In fact, I bet half of you reading this don’t even look at your notes after you’ve written them. I know I’m guilty as can be. The fact is though, we just can’t help not looking at them, they’re so… dull.  But don’t fret there are more than two colours in the spectrum, so today I am going to share with you all 3 reasons why you need to start adding colour to your language studies.

Coloured Notes In Language Learning
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Colour Is An Attention Seeker

We are visual creatures! Colour grabs our attention more than anything else, this world isn’t black and white, so why the hell should your notebook be? Splash a bit of rainbow here and there. Colour pens are like a gift sent from the heavens, the sibling you never knew you wanted, the puppy you didn’t expect for Christmas. All of this and more! Colour adds a whole new dimension to your language learning experience. Imagine writing all your vocabulary in purple, grammar in blue and conjugations in green. The sheer amount of effort you put into cycling through colours will not only ensure the quality of your notes, but also the amount of attention you give them.

My notes
A mixture of my notes in Japanese and Spanish

Have You Seen The Instagram Logo?The Instagram Logo

Christ! That logo is probably the best thought of social media logo I can think of. It’s an entire rainbow spectrum, furthermore, there is a camera lens in the middle. Then when you open the app, you get even more colour, and vivid imagery because obviously, the app is photography based. Compare this to your language notebook, if people aren’t snagging your notebook from you to look at it, then you’re doing things wrong. How many likes do your notes have? Has anybody ever taken the time out of their day and said to you “Damn, that’s a really nice notebook?” Think about it, if everybody is writing in the same ink nobody is going to care what you’re writing down…unless of course, you’re writing from your paint palette.  Be like the Instagram logo when taking down your language notes, have an entire spectrum at your disposal, attract eyes instead of boredom.

Coloured Language Learning Notes
My Swahili Notes

Colour Helps Us Remember Better

Let’s be honest right now, how many of you have taken down notes from your Japanese language class, but because it looked so typical and bland you ended up remembering nothing that was said about the ~て(te) particle until you later sat down with the professor only to be re-lectured face-to-face. 🙋🏾‍♂️

Colour helps us to remember better
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

The reason behind this is that colour helps us create memories, and studies have shown that the more vivid the memory the better the brain remembers it. Writing your language learning notes in colour creates these vivid memories while keeping your attention. Its a twofer, and furthermore it looks amazing.  Try writing the word cat in three different colours in your target language, sure it might take you a bit longer but I can assure you, that you will remember it better than if you just wrote it down once in black ink.

So What Kind of Colour Pens Are Best?

Personally, pens that are extra fine are an amazing asset. As you can see in my study notes,  I used extra fine 0.4 pens. These provide for my accurate, precise lines and save on space in the long run. However, I also make good use of my blue gel pen. It has a smooth glide and it has a good weight to it when writing on the page.

Special Cases Non- Romanized Script

Screenshot_2018-08-13 Kiandro Scavella on Instagram “Confessions of a Japanese Addict #iregretnothing”(1).png

Now If you’re studying a language that uses a pictographic alphabet, then I recommend a brush pen. It’s a beautiful supplement if you want a set of heavenly brush strokes with an authentic feel to them. I highly recommend this brush if you’re practising kanji, Chinese or any other language with a none romanized script. There are coloured fude pen brushes, but the one you see me using here is just black ink, unfortunately.

 Have Fun Using Colour

Seriously, adding colour will add an entirely new dimension to your language learning journey. Even if its just only a combination of 3 colours! You will immediately notice a difference in your mood, motivation and cognitive skills when dealing with your target language. Its a form of therapy for all language learners and it works wonders in both the short and long run.

4 Miracle Phenomenon of Staying Thin In Japan

4 Miracle Phenomenon of Staying Thin In Japan

Are you thinking of travelling to Japan, but you’re worried about your weight, health and overall fitness? I know it’s not a question you get asked often, but if it is well then, you’re in luck. Japan happens to be one of the easiest places to maintain and even shave off some of your unwanted pounds.

Here are 4 things that can help you stay fit and healthy while in Japan!

Japan’s Fish Based Diet

Japan is an island nation, thus meaning its surrounded by water. And just what exactly lives in water? Healthy, lean, saltwater fish, crustaceans and yummy invertebrates (I’m talking about you Mr Octopus).

Map of Japan
Map of Japan

If you’ve ever been to Japan, the one thing you will not have a problem finding is fish. When I studied there in 2016, fish was my primary source of meat. I’d just walk to the nearest convenience store, turn my head to the right and buy myself a nice, meaty package of tuna or salmon (crab if I was feeling sophisticated).

Japan is also the location of the largest fish market in the world. The Tsukiji market boasts an impressive 660,000 tonnes of fish per year, which can either be viewed as terrifying or stunning. You’ll have the option of consuming significantly less saturated fat than if you were consuming red meat (which is a good thing).

Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market Vendor

The Wonders of Cycling In Japan

While Japan has an outstanding metro railway system, they also have bike lanes…lots and lots of bike lanes. To break this idea down, I’m going to list some numbers.

  • Japan’s population: 127,370,00
  • Bicycles: 72,540,000
  • Cyclists: ~56.9%
Biking is one of the most popular methods of transportation in Japan
Japanese girl biking to school

Are you getting the idea here yet? Bikes are in abundance! If you decide bike everywhere then you are going to burn some major calories. Exercise is more of a passive act in Japan, in the sense that you don’t even know that you’re doing it. This is partially why staying thin in Japan is so easy. Roads are beyond smooth, and people aren’t jerks when it comes to the bike lanes. Nevertheless, if bike lanes are too quaint for you, then feel free to hike your bike up to the summit of one of Japan’s billions(hyperbole) of mountains and trails.

According to iloveebicycling an average 180lb cyclist riding at a moderate effort will burn approximately 650 calories per hour.

Hmmmm, I wonder how much 650 calories is compared to a hot bowl of ramen.


WOW Its like you never evenScreenshot_2018-08-12 Calories in Tonkatsu Ramen - 1 bowl from Nutritionix.png ate! But still got all the nutrients you needed from that ramen bowl (Ignore the 83% daily value of cholesterol, you’ll live)

So, whenever the time comes, walk your lazy butt over to your bike, before chowing down at the nearest Yoshinoya.spicy-pork-tonkotsu-ramen-bowl-780x675



Walking Makes For Beautiful Scenery

Japan in my honest opinion remains undefeated in natural scenery. I’ve never seen such beautiful images flash before my eyes in a continuous sequence. Gardens, temples, sculptures, pop culture, flashing lights, who in their right mind would want to catch a train for a short 10-minute trip when you could walk through 30 mins of Japan? My biggest regret when I studied abroad in Japan was taking the train so frequently. Not only did I spend tons of money, but I also missed out on a lot of the great scenery Nippon has to offer.


Walking, just like biking burns calories, but most people don’t walk as often as they should, so the caloric burn is barely noticeable. However, I ensure you that if you walk around Japan for a day and just suck up all the natural scenery possible, you wouldn’t even notice when you drop a waist size.

According to verywellfit A 180-pound person burns about 100 calories per mile. If you live in Japan and don’t see things that make you have an eyegasm while you’re walking, then you’re doing it wrong, walk some more.

Crazy Nightlife

Japan’s nightlife is absolutely off the freakin’ charts. Staying thin in Japan has never been easier thanks to the constant raves and footwork culture.Between Shinjuku and Roppongi there are an endless array of clubs, and all of them promise to animate the night scene. I remember when I went club hopping for my birthday… alone (yeah, yeah, I know call me what you want *rolls eyes*). I arrived at The Womb in Shibuya around 10 am then around 12 am I went to club Atom which was right down the street. I When 5 am came around it was time to leave and everyone was drenched in sweat. We(everyone who was in the club) then proceeded to storm the convenience store across the street (conveniently located by the way) and doused ourselves in a gallon of water before stumbling towards the train.

Being thirsty after the nightclub
This was basically how we all looked

The point I’m trying to make is that the nightlife in Japan will have you melting your glycogen stores. This is good, for one reason – timing. When your body hits baseline insulin, you begin burning body fat for fuel, so after a nice long hibernation after a fun night of partying you’ll be more than ready rub down your sides in the mirror and say “WOW”.

Sweating in Japan's Nightlife
Japan’s nightlife summarized in one minimalistic picture.

It’s easy to passively stay fit in Japan, after a long day exploring, eating and partying, you’d be back to square one in the morning. Be sure to take advantage of the nutritional diet, splendid scenery and vivid nightlife in Japan to keep your waist grateful and your soul happy!






Rice Water: The Miracle Growth Potion in Guangxi China

The Yao Women Of Guangxi And Their Rice Water Tradition

Asia has been known for centuries for its abundance in rice, wheat and grain. There is even a specific ethnic group in China known as the Yao women who take a special advantage of the miracle grain. Women of the Yao group use rice water to grow their luscious locks to an astounding length, it’s literally the most beautiful thing you will ever see in this crumbling world.


Yao Women of Guangxi With Their Hair Up
Yao Women of Guangxi China

The women of this village only cut their ONCE in their entire lifetime, and that is at the age of 18. The hair that was cut is then preserved by an elder of the village until the women are married. The hair is then sewn into the fabric of their clothing as a symbol of union. The hair of the Yao women traditionally was thought to be sacred and the only the husband is ever allowed to see it in its full length. Nevertheless, the Yao women wear their wear in one long (and I mean LONG) protective styled braid. Rice water has also taken a huge stance in the hair growth community as people turn to use it fermented, boiled or stagnant.

Yao Woman Of China Braid

5 Step Guide To Making The Perfect Rice Water

Now before we start this recipe it is important to note that there are diverse types of rice, and different methods to make the rice water. The type of rice doesn’t necessarily matter as I’ve used wild rice as well as white rice to make the rice water.

The first method of preparation I am going to talk about is the fermented method.

Fermented Rice Water Preparation

  1. Pick your rice and throw it in a decent sized container
  2. Fill the container with water and shift it around until the water becomes milky or murky (or you can just leave it alone since its fermenting)
  3. Separate the rice from the water, and put the rice water in a separate container (preferably a jar or spray bottle)
  4. Let the rice water sit in a warm environment to ferment (the warmer the environment the quicker the rice water ferments).
  5. After 1-2 days put the rice water in the fridge to stop fermentation.

And that’s pretty much how you make fermented rice water!

Bowl of rice for rice water

Fermented rice water is more acidic than regular rice water, obviously because it’s been fermenting. So, before you think of dousing your hair in this stinky concoction (yes, it stinks too), dilute the rice water by adding fresh water. This way you won’t burn your scalp off, and you still reap the benefits of the rice water. If you’re worried about the scent of sour socks filling up your bathroom, bedroom or wherever you choose to apply the rice water to your hair and scalp, then add a bit of natural oil to the mix and that should help. I tend to use Black Jamaican Peppermint Castor Oil for this purpose and peppermint works wonders for your hair and scalp. I also have a huge mint addiction too, so peppermint is a go-to for me. But feel free to use whatever oil you want, I’ve heard wonderful things about lavender oil. The Yao women are known to put orange peels in their rice water, which is mainly fermented.

The second method I am going to walk about is the boiling method. This method is the standard in the natural hair care community…

Boiled Rice Water Preparation

  1. Pick your rice and throw it in the pot
  2. Fill the pot with water and proceed to bring to a boil until the water turns milky
  3. Separate the rice water from the rice (be careful it’ll be hot)
  4. Put the rice water in a container that won’t melt right away (a glass spray bottle should do or a jar)
  5. Let it cool, and there’s your rice water!

The issue with the boiling method is said to be that chemically the proteins and vitamins in the rice deactivate at a certain temperature so some say that it is less effective than just letting the rice sit for fermentation or shifting it around to extract the nutrients. However, it is quicker than the fermentation method if you’re looking for a quick spritz session with your spray bottle.


The Rich Person Method

This is an alternative method to obtaining rice water if you’re not in the mood for any of this and happen to have access to a computer, internet, and a product name. Many online retailers sell both the fermented and the unfermented rice water pre-made in a bottle. I kid you not, this is a real thing!

5 Incredible Benefits of Rice Water For Hair and Skin

Yao Woman Elder Guangxi

Many people are unaware of the benefits of rinsing rice to make rice water. The nutrients that come from rinsing rice are ten-fold compared to cooking it. Let’s see, you’ve got Vitamin A, Iron, Zinc, Folic Acid, Protein … can you imagine applying all of that to your hair or even your skin? You would be glowing from head to toe. HEAD – TO – TOE.

  1. Get a beautiful complexion – The ph. balance in rice water when applied to your skin will assist in getting rid of dark spots and tightening loose skin.
  2. Softer Hair: When rice water is applied to your hair it feels like you’ve been bathed in a tub of milk and honey, rice water makes your hair more pliable and less susceptible to breakage.
  3. Shinier Hair: This one is a giveaway.
  4. Diarrhoea: Rice water is said to help prevent and cure diarrhoea. Although there is little research done on this statement, there are plenty of personal testimonies.
  5. UV Protectant: Rice water acts as a natural sunscreen when applied to the skin and can help soothe itchiness, redness or flaking.

HINT: Try Drinking It. No, you won’t die, rice water is edible… unless it’s fermented. In that case, you may just want to stick to the external application only.


3 Perfect Japanese Learning Books For Beginners

3 Perfect Japanese Learning Books For Beginners

Japanese books for beginners aren’t all made the same. Language learning is a tedious process and finding the right materials to take you through to each stage can be bothersome. Today I’ll be guiding you through the basic layout of 3 Japanese books for beginners.

Here are my top 3 Japanese Learning Books For Beginners!

Genki I

Target Audience: Elementary Level I

Method: Dialogue Conversations, Vocabulary, Grammar, Speaking Repetition, Audio

Place Most Likely To Be Used: Any Japanese 100 Level Course

What Genki Will Do For You: Teach you how to read hiragana, a few basic kanji, introduce you to grammar concepts, get you accustomed to speaking Japanese

Recommendations While Using Genki I: Supplement your study time by reading the stories in the textbook aside from the dialogue.

Mary Genki I

Story Line: Mary is an exchange student you just arrived in Japan. If you’ve ever been an exchange student in Japan you know just how scary it can be at first, literally terrifying. Mary is looking for all the help and advice she can get while trying to learn more about Japan and Japanese. She meets a young man named Takeshi and they go on adventure after adventure. The storyline is designed to teach you a new aspect of Japanese culture while learning the language, just like Mary. Its an extremely interesting tale, and quite frankly I don’t think you’ll get bored of it… it reminded me of a comedy-drama.


Reminder: Be sure to also use the workbook to supplement your studies with written content.

Genki: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese Workbook I [Second Edition] (Japanese Edition) (Japanese and English Edition)

Genki II

Target Audience: Elementary II- Lower Intermediate

Method: Dialogue Conversations, Vocabulary, Grammar, Speaking Repetition, Audio

Place Most Likely To Be Used: Any Japanese 200 Level – 300 Level Courses

What Genk II Will Do For You: Improve your reading speed, expand your common word vocabulary, teach you everyday grammar usage, expand common kanji knowledge.

Recommendations While Using Genki II: Supplement your study time by reading the stories in the textbook aside from the dialogue. Also be sure to practice the new grammar by creating new sentences of your own each and every day.

Story Line: Mary has become a bit more adapted to the lifestyle at this point and more or less she’s just doing her own thing now. Takeshi begins to come on to Mary (in a more friendly way of course, because this is a children’s book) and he starts to offer more social outings and hangouts to Mary. However, Mary becomes a bit rebellious and troublesome due to her homesickness, and the situation just flairs out of control for a couple chapters. How will it end?

Meet Mary Genki

Reminder: Be sure to also use the workbook to supplement your studies with written content.

Genki: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, Workbook 2, 2nd Edition (Book & CD-ROM) (English and Japanese Edition)

The combination of Genki 1 and Genki 2 are the ultimate Japanese books for beginners.

James: Heisig Remembering The Kanji

Target Audience: Elementary II –  Any Level

Method: Mnemonics, Kanji Memorization, Radical Memorization

Place Most Likely To Be Used: Independently, or alongside a kanji software such as WaniKani

What Heisig Remembering The Kanji Will Do For You: Upon completion, you will have memorized nearly 2,500 kanji’s English meaning, their radicals and have a creative story for each of them.

Recommendations While Using Heisig Remembering The Kanji: Since the book only teaches the English equivalent of the kanji, you want an alternative source of knowledge. If you plan to finish memorizing all 2,500+ basic kanji its recommended that you find a route that also allows you to memorize the kanji’s onyomi, kunyomi and gives you some vocabulary in context. The Kanji Study app is a great reference for that purpose.

The Crazy Kanji Rollercoaster

The Kanji Rollercoaster- An Epic Journey

If you’ve ever studied Japanese before you know exactly why that headliner caught your eye. Learning kanji is an entirely different process altogether than learning Japanese. That probably sounds strange because kanji is a part of the Japanese language, but there is a good reason for that statement. I finally decided to stop dicking around with my kanji studies in 2017, this would’ve been my third year of Japanese language studies. Yes, I put kanji off for three entire years! I certainly do regret it, because I am so much further behind than I should be in terms of literacy. In Japan, in order to be considered literate, you need to have knowledge of approximately 2000 basic kanji characters. Naturally, native Japanese speakers have a higher capacity of kanji – think about how many words you know in your native language (you probably can’t because you haven’t been counting), that’s how many kanji characters there are in existence.

The Great Ascent Up The Kanji Rollercoaster

Heisig Holds My Hand

The very first thing I turned to when I started to learn kanji was a book focused on mnemonics. It was James Heisig (Remembering the Kanji), and this book was a priceless resource (until I lent it out in college and never got it back, but that’s a different story). The book consists of all 2000 basic kanji characters plus a couple more, each with their own little unique mnemonic to help the reader visualize, memorize and internalize the kanji. The downside to this book was that it only gave you the English meaning of the kanji. So I ended up “knowing” about 800 English meanings of kanji (newsflash – I never finished all of 2000). It was still incredibly helpful though and revolutionized my approach to learning kanji.

Climbing The Kanji Coaster

WaniKani Helps Me Get To The Top

After my pleasant experience with (Remembering the Kanji), I began searching for similar resources with the same approach behind them, mnemonics. Suddenly, I came across a blog by the name of Tofugu. Just so we’re clear if you study Japanese and you haven’t heard of Tofugu you’ve been living under a boulder *clears throat* pardon me, a rock in the words of Spongebob. Tofugu is like THE Japan/Japanese blog, and it is packed to the brim with useful resources, tips and strategies for all things Japan. One of their resources was an online software program Wanikani. Which translates into crab alligator in Japanese, I thought “Wow, this is kind of crazy… I like it.”. Wanikani promises any serious learner that it is possible to learn all 2000 kanji, their readings and 6500 vocabularies in a span of a year using their platform. For those of you who know me, you know I like results, but you also know that I can be very lazy. I went into this program and 1 year 6 months later I’ve yet to complete it, however, I’m almost halfway done at level 27 out of 60, 950 kanji and 3200 vocabularies. You know when you think you know something, but then get exposed to something completely new in that area and then realize that you knew nothing? That’s kanji in a nutshell.
Wanikani Dashboard

Trying To Come Off The Kanji Coaster

Whose Helping Me Get Down?

Well, you don’t ever come off the kanji coaster, you’ll be on it for the rest of your natural life…at least I know I will. Kanji is such a beautiful yet complex structure of language, it’s so hard to leave it alone once you’ve started. And god forbid that you do leave it, it’ll hurt you much more than you hurt it – like a bad breakup. Our memory loves to recycle junk, so to be sure that kanji doesn’t end up as junk you just have to keep exposing yourself to it. Eventually, your brain will say “Hey I kind of need this, and that, oh and I can’t forget these other 2000 over here.”
Another great program that’s really assisted me with the descent down is a software called Glossika. Its mainly focused on audio repetition, but its always a great feeling when you can read the sentence in Japanese before the audio is voiced.
Netflix, of course, is in its own league when it comes to kanji. If you’ve never tried buying a VPN, setting it to Japan and binge-watching your favourite shows with Japanese subtitles, are you really living?

Personal Goals

Currently, I’m attempting to stuff down at least 500 more before its time for the JLPT 2 in December 2018. Apparently, I’m not that far off from knowing the kanji required and I’m actually blazing through my Wanikani levels. With the right diet, mindset and stress balls I think its quite possible. Let me know some of your goals in the comments!