Foreign Language Learning: Does Your Personality Change?

Within the realm of language-learning, we often find ourselves lost in a flurry of unfamiliar words, sounds, and sophisticated grammatical structures. Thankfully, all of this doesn’t drive us crazy (well at least not to the extent that we think).  We face a brief identity crisis which in turn creates a personality we would’ve never thought possible from our original.

But how exactly can language-learning bring about a personality change? Think about it for a second, at birth you were gifted with the language in your most immediate environment. From this language, shaped several aspects of your personality through everyday interaction with society and the world. So how does this change when taking on another language? What clicks in your brain and makes you say, “This is a part of me that I don’t associate with my first language?”?

Unlike our first language, the second, third, fourth etc… are not passively acquired. They are gained through various means of exposure and reaction to the world. The morphologic content of second-language learning relies on an individual’s methods of acquisition.  For instance, how would an individual’s personality change or split if they began to learn German with a first language background in Spanish?

My theory is that The cultural dependency on the first language would inevitably, at some point in time intersect with that of the second-language, thus creating a new identity.

If I had to describe my personality in the languages I can speak it’d be like this:

  • Bahamian Creole : Sharp, Snappy, Bold
  • English: Smooth, Neutral, Creative
  • Japanese: Jovial, Curious, Excitable
  • Chinese: Confused, Clumsy, Light-Hearted
  • Esperanto: Courageous, Hopeful, Proud
*Disclaimer: I grew up in The Bahamas, a nation whose first language is English as we were ruled by the British in the past, BUT we also speak Bahamian Creole which is a constructed form of the English language made by our African ancestors in the days of slavery.

I believe the direct result of these various aspects is the factors I had to face in each period of my life using these languages and developing a core for each of them.

So, what do you’ll think? Can learning a second language affect your personality type? Or is it just myth, and all in our heads? What language do you coincide with, and how would you describe your personality when speaking it?

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Learning Japanese and Chinese Simultaneously : 3 Observations

My goal in this lifetime is to become multilingual…I am talking about learning as much as I can before my time on this conflicted planet ends…Chinese is the second language on my list of global competence. I decided this after taking multiple Chinese history courses and the result was wanting to expand my knowledge on a nation that had went through some millennia of geographical, social, and political change. (Also, the fact that I’m an Asian Studies major)

However, having studied Japanese for four years now there are some common misconceptions I would like to address.

  1. Japanese does not equal Chinese: PEOPLE… These are two completely different languages – yes Japan did borrow China’s hanzi writing system, converting it into kanji but other than that these two languages virtually have nothing in common linguistically. However, culturally the two nations do share some of the same cultural facets. Just to name a few: filial piety, tea, Buddhism.   I constantly find myself blurting out the Japanese pronunciation of Chinese characters in class, while it is a bit frustrating it’s thrilling in its own way.

2. Japanese = Syllabary, Chinese= Tones: Mandarin Chinese has four tones you need to be aware of always. These tones will make or break a word in an instant, and training your mouth to say them correctly is a workout. However, you do have a bit of wiggle room in Japanese because it uses something called pitch accent rather than tones. Meaning, you can alternate your voice in a variety of ways and still be understood, because of Japanese being a contextual language – Chinese can also be contextual, but not to the extent of the Japanese language. To be honest I have been completely underestimating my tones in Chinese class, I think everyone has – it’s as if we know they are there and realize their importance but we just cannot deal with them…yet.

3. Hiragana…where are you?: For those of you unfamiliar with the Japanese language there are essentially 3 alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Hiragana can be mixed with kanji to form a word or it can just be written by itself to form the phonetic composition of a word. However, in Mandarin Chinese or any dialect of Chinese for that matter fillers like hiragana don’t exist. It’s like you’re thrown into the lion’s den in a violent carnage of hanzi. You cannot rely on the little curvy script you know and love when you forget a character. Funny story is though, although we are learning simplified script in Chinese class – the moment I forget the traditional, I am writing that **** in Japanese (the traditional form). While I do feel guilty sometimes doing that, its life saving on tests because I still manage to mark up 3/4ths of the points. Sense- I mean Laoshi says that it will take some time for me to get adjusted but I am just cruising at this point in a world of words *float* float*


LingQ

The Monbukagakusho Scholarship

Recently, I was awarded the Monbukagakusho scholarship from MEXT, Japan (Ministry of Education Sports Science and Culture) for graduate studies. This scholarship covers basically everything while you’re conducting your studies in Japan and it even allows you a monthly stipend. Today, I will be sharing with you my process of applying and obtaining the scholarship.

Things to Know

  • Applications open up somewhere between late February and early March.
  • This is a global scholarship, each country, represented by a consulate or an embassy.
  • There are two categories for collegiate studies:
    • Undergraduate – This is the same as when you graduate high school and go to college, only in Japan. You are expected to WANT to learn the language and focus your studies at the same time. In addition, you are expected to do research on schools you want to attend and which ones offer degree programs in English if you are not up to standard in Japanese.
    • Research Student- This is the one that I applied for and got; and its essentially the same offer as the undergraduate but at the graduate level, and you start as a 研究学生 (research student) and have the opportunity to extend the scholarship into your doctoral studies. The way it works is that while conducting research on your area of focus you will have a chance to take your universities exam to test into the master’s program, if you pass and the embassy still favors you then your scholarship will be extended. The doctorate follows the same pattern.
  • There are other opportunities with this scholarship too, such as: Language schools, technical schools and teaching opportunities, but the two categories, which are, focused the most are the Undergrad and Research.
  • You will be expected to show an interest in the Japanese language in culture, even if you do not expect to be fluent in the language, there as to be at least a spark.
  1. The application process: As stated earlier this began in March 2017 for me, but I was aware of this scholarships existence about 2 years in advance. With that being said my #1 tip here is preparation. Have all your documents and identification together, my mother always told me make copies of everything, even if you don’t need them, to this day I still carry at least 5 copies of every official document I have with me (but that’s another story). The application seems long and scary at first but it is really just a lot of information you need to give up. This is a lot of money they are giving you after all (free +stipend +the opportunity to get a part time job).
    1. If you are a research student and have not written your thesis yet, you need to write a detailed well mapped out proposal of what you are going to research and how your research is relevant to Japan AKA is your research worth going to Japan “WHY CAN’T YOU RESEARCH THIS IN ANOTHER COUNTRY? Is the question you should be trying to answer at all times when writing this?
    2. Finding your schools of interest (I will talk about the hard part later): So this is just the part when the embassy ask your first, second and third choices for education. This can always be changed later on in the process but this part is somewhat stressful early on…because it is freakin’ Japan.
    3. You are going to want to get some SOLID letters of recommendations; I am talking about SOLID, ROCK HARD, CONCRETE, “I LOVE YOU” recommendations. They really take a good look at these – I have a story later about this.
    4. Health Certification: They require a detailed, and I mean DETAILED physical, from your doctor/clinic and it must be stamped and no older than 6 months. However, they will not ask for this unless you have passed the interview stage, but since you need all of your documents by the time of the exam, you should aim to have it by then (and it never hurts to get a physical done). If you do not happen to have it by then you can contact the embassy and explain that you will turn it in later.
  1. The exam(s): This is the part where the stress kicks in; in my scenario I was applying as a research student with the proposal of exploring the cultural barrier in SLA, with future plans of pursuing a masters/ doctorate in Japanese language & Culture – So studying for me really wasn’t an option. However, in general they usually do not pay any close mind to the Japanese segment of the exams if you are major or field of research is not pertaining to it, but you do have to get above a 75/100 on the English exam. There are also topics other than Japanese and English if you are going into a field of science etc.

*Music/Art majors have to submit a recording (music) or their portfolio (art)

*But all applicants must take the English exam (no exceptions)

  • During the exam, they examine your application right in front of you, and they will call you up to the desk if there are any errors on it or incomplete sections. One person barely had anything in his application folder and the exam overseer simply said “No.” If you are wondering, how many files should be in a complete application, your folder should feel like a decent sized book. The person I mentioned earlier had about eight sheets of paper and his photos.
  • TIP: During the Japanese portion of the exam, even if you do not know anything do not leave until you finish that entire paper. This shows that you have guts and a sincere intention to obtain the scholarship- I was the last one in that room and used up the full 3-hour time slot. This in and of itself is like a secret interview.

EXAMS ARE DONE…WHAT NEXT?

  1. Interviews: If the panel (panel as in whoever oversaw the exam) approved of your marks/effort then you will be called to schedule an interview- I received my call the very same afternoon that day. During this interview, they will try and BURN your research topic to the ground, your primary goal in this interview is to prove that your research is worth it. Keep your cool and show them that you know what your goal and purpose. If they even sense a fiber of weakness or doubt in your body, they will instinctively pounce on it. Your secondary goal in this interview is to demonstrate your knowledge about Japan (however as mentioned, this is secondary do not focus on it too much.) Thirdly, they want to get a sense of how independent you will be once in Japan. They do not want to give the scholarship to someone and then have him or her breakdown in Japan. Overall the interview will test three things:
    1. Purpose
    2. Independence
    3. Experience
  1. Contacting Schools (LOA): So if you have managed to pass the interview you will be required to contact the schools of your choice (this is when you can change things up a bit). You will be mailed tamped documents from your embassy as proof that you have passed the secondary screening. Your job here is to ensure that you have a spot at your school. As a research student, the goal is to go to your school’s website get faculty and graduate school information and contact them ASAP. The difficult part is that usually the faculty you will be speaking to will be speaking in Japanese , so this is where you may need an interpreter or manage by yourself (if you can). On the other hand, you can send the professor you want to study under an email explaining your situation and that you have passed the interview, in need of a Letter of Acceptance.
  • Once you get a Letter of Acceptance, send it to the embassy right away, as they usually need these before a certain date.

DO NOT TAKE THIS PART FOR GRANTED. THIS PART IS THE GRAND FOLLOW-UP FOR THIS SCHOLARSHIP

Rumors have it that once you’ve gotten your LOA(s) you have a 99.9% chance of the getting the scholarship.

I contacted about ten graduate schools by phone and email and out of ten, only two accepted me. In addition, you can only apply to three graduate schools at a time. Therefore, the game plan here is:

  1. Have a fallback school
  2. Apply early
  3. Contact by PHONE AND EMAIL (Using only one will slow things down)

The Long Wait: So after you have done all of that listed above, it should be around September at this point…remember you started in February/March. You have done all that is humanly possible and now your one mission is to wait for the final yes or no.  Depending on which country you are from dates may differ by a few weeks, but people hear back between Late December- Early March *this is a yearlong application* (I started my application in the month of March 2017 and received the final “Yes” in January.)

Final Contract Acceptance: As all scholarships have some terms of agreement, this one is no exception. Should you accept these terms (I know I will: /) you will be on your way to Japan to start your graduate/ undergraduate career.

-Peace!

Island Boy Dro

I forgot to mention throughout this whole post that undergraduate students do not have to sit in interviews.

 

For more information please follow the link  http://www.studyjapan.go.jp/en/toj/toj0302e.html

10 Fast Track Japanese Phrases On Your Way To Fluency

10 Japanese Phrases That Will Make You Sound Like A Native

When you want to become fluent in Japanese, you need to master phrases that make you sound natural, and you should learn how to ask for explanations of the world around you. Once you have the ability to ask questions and build your vocabulary, your confidence will grow.

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Blossom! PhotoCreds: Kiandro Scavella

When you’re nervous, it’s because you’re afraid of making a mistake or sounding dumb. But remember! Almost always, Japanese people are going to be excited to speak Japanese with you, even if you make mistakes. You may feel like a baby because there are so many things you can’t understand. But it’s important to smile and have fun when you make mistakes, and your partner will hopefully find a graceful way to correct you.


Now get out there to your nearest Japanese restaurant and gambarimashou! (Let’s try hard!)

  1. I’m sorry, please say it again. Please speak more slowly.

Sumimasen ga, mou icihido itte kudasai. Motto yukkuri hanashite kudasaiすみませんが、もう一度言ってください。 もっとゆっくり話して下さい。Practice this a lot. I promise it will come in handy.

  1. How do you say this in Japanese?

Kore wa Nihongo de, nan to iimasu ka?これは日本語で、何と言いますか?This is one of the most useful phrases you can learn. It’s the key to becoming a fluent master in time.You can replace “kore” with the word in English if your friend will understand.

  1. How do you write it in Chinese characters?

Dono you ni Kanji de Kakimasu ka?どのように漢字で書きますか?As soon as you learn any new Japanese word or phrase, ask your friend how it’s written in kanji. Write the phrase 10 times in your study book.The next time you say that phrase, try to imagine how it’s written while you speak. Once you get into the habit of writing everything down until it sticks, you will be learning 10 or more characters per day!

  1. I understand (thanks to your explanation.)

Naru hodo!なるほどWhen your Japanese friend is done explaining, you can say “naru hodo” to indicate that you understand thanks to their help. It’s a bit more natural sounding than “wakarimashita.”

  1. If you want to become proficient in Japanese, you must study.

Nihongo ga jouzu ni naritai nara, benkyou shinakereba ikemasen.日本語が上手になりたいなら、勉強しなければいけません。In Japanese, when you’re saying, “You must X” you’re literally saying, “if x does not happen, things will be bad.”Look at the example sentence. You can use the basic form “X shinakereba ikemasen” with any verb that makes sense.You must do laundry. Sentaku o shinakereba ikemasen.Try making your own sentence!

  1. You always thank the chef after a meal, right? You probably know how to say thank you….

But if you say “arigatou gozaimasu” after a delicious Japanese meal, it’s going to sound weird.Instead, you say “Gochisousama deshita!” ごちそうさまでしたIt’s also polite to leave a small bite on your plate, to show that the chef gave you enough food. Japanese custom is to keep filling your glass and dishes until you stop drinking/eating.Some romantic phrases….Maybe you want to ask that cute Japanese girl out on a date. She would be even more impressed if you ask her in her native language. Here are a few phrases that will help you break the ice. This is an informal situation, don’t say these phrases to your boss!

  1. Anata ni deatta toki kara, kokoro ga doki doki shita

あなたに出会った時から、心がドキドキしているFrom the first time I met you, my heart has been beating like crazy.

  1. Issho ni asobi ni ikou!

一緒に遊びに行こうLet’s go on a date together! (Literally: Let’s go out playing together)If you’re ready to make the move, just go ahead and ask her out. It will probably be extremely forward, but maybe she’ll find that charming.

  1. Tsuyoku dakishimetai.

強く抱きしめたいI really want to hold you in my arms. This is a really romantic sounding phrase. If she likes you at all, this will certainly make her heart melt.

  1. Keitai bangou oshiete moraemasu ka?

ケイタイ番号をおしえてもらえますか?What’s your cell number?They say the best way to learn Japanese is on the pillow. If you managed to break the ice with your Nihongo skills, try asking for your new friend’s number.If you’re struggling to find the motivation to study Japanese, think about what your goals are for learning the language. Do you want to be able to understand anime? Or do you want to make Japanese friends in preparation for visiting Japan? Be clear about your goals and it will naturally motivate you to study a little bit every day.

4 Tips For Learning Japanese

SPEAK JAPANESE!

Tips for Japanese Language Learning


Japan is a beautiful country with a mixture of traditional and modern cultural assets. The island nation breathes the idea of self-sustainability and accountability. Japan has slowly been taking over the modern world by inventing riveting pieces of equipment and cultural phenomenon. The nation, along with its unique features attracts an overwhelming amount of tourists every year. In fact according to The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, Japan is ranked 4th out of 141 countries. This number may be soon to change with the upcoming 2020 Olympics. This is excluding its high scores in various aspects such as health and hygiene, safety and security and cultural resources.

It goes without saying that Japanese language is a must learn for any devoted Japan/Japanese enthusiast. So, here are some tips how you can learn Japanese in a quick and effective way in order to kick start your adventure to the Land of The Rising Sun.headphone-152409_1280

Make a habit of listening to Japanese- It is said that listening can make a lot of difference. If you make the habit of listening to Japanese regularly, then you can surely make an impact to your skill level, which is in the least, noticeable. Audio learning is considered to be one of the best forms of learning. This method has been found effective in many cases. Even if you have no idea of what you are hearing, you will become familiar to some of the words eventually. Your brain needs time to set up the neural pathways that you are being exposed to; there is a reason why an unseasoned language hobbyist may mistake one language for another if they are closely related. Fluent Forever gives an incredible illustration of how this process works (highly recommend reading it.) At first, obviously, nothing would make any sense, but you will get accustomed.

STORY TIME: When I began my Japanese Studies in college (the year 2014 to be exact), everything I heard was just noise, the Japanese language shied away from my ears, and I only heard the muddles of gibberish that my brain made me believe was Japanese. Then I studied abroad in the Fall 2016; upon arrival I was almost deterred from the language because of how fast everyone was speaking. If you thought listening to your American professor speak Japanese at what seems to be fast pace was bad…you have literally heard nothing yet. END STORY

This is why listening is so important; learners who have adopted this idea have developed the capability of responding to rapid fire Japanese. Listening teaches you to slow things down in an instant and pick out what you need. Over time you will become a natural when it comes to every day conversations listening is 80% of the battle.  If you need good listening material, YOUTUBE (live feeds of Japanese news) or JapanesePod101 helps tremendously when it comes to improving your listening skills

TURN OFF THE LIGHTS, CLOSE YOUR EYES, ENTER THE VOID, AND LISTEN (Good Meditation Exercise)

 

  • Get hold of daily news- When you are interested in knowing about a language, it is essential to get hold of the daily news from a particular source. There are many kinds of sites on the Internet where you would find such news; NHK EASY Japanese, <a href=”http://Learn Japanese Online” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>LingQ, Beelingua app…etc. By keeping a close eye on the news in Japan, your knowledge on certain topics would expand itself, thus giving you more access to conversation topics. Nobody wants to hear 「天気はいいですね」 every time they bump into you. Rather how about a decent conversation starter like 「命の意味は何と思うか?ニュースでは、彼らと言った「神様は存在がいない、今どうするか」。 Do not mind me…I am in my feelings right now….

 

  • Going to a school is not an option- Okay I MEAN SUUUREEE IT ISSSSSS….but let’s face reality, if all you do is sit in a class room for 1-2 hours, 3 days a week and don’t study outside of class or expose yourself to the language… YOU WILL NOT LEARN…at least to any decent level. In any kind of learning, the most important thing is self-learning. Even if you spend a lot of money in going to language schools, nothing can help if you don’t learn it yourself. You have to immerse yourself in the process entirely. No book, course, or even teacher can make you understand the complexities of a language unless you try your own process and methods. Better option is to not opt for any school and going for self-taught lessons.
  • Relax and enjoy the process- We all remember how painful it was for us to pay attention to all those subjects taught at school. Do not make Japanese language learning feel like a capital punishment. Learn the language so that you can relax and enjoy learning it.women-2653309_1920.png

Creative Language Learning Awakes: Kanji with WaniKani

What is WaniKani?

The Creative Language Learning Platform For Kanji

WaniKani is an online platform designed to assist Japanese learners to overcome the massive obstacle they face, kanji. Many learners shake and quiver in fear at the mere thought of seeing ten strokes flash across their eyes, not knowing what each of those strokes means. Classrooms tackle kanji through standard repetition methods, mainly through textbooks, this method can be a described as a bit dry, difficult, and “mendokusai”. Imagine this, cramming ten kanji in the lobby ten minutes before class before just to pass a test, wipe the sweat off your forehead and begone with them forever. Heartbreaking right?

WaniKani however, makes this a bit more interesting through its space repetition and mnemonics system.  The websites colourful layout also runs circles around the traditional black and white book.

Wanikani Dashboard

So what exactly makes this language learning platform so well known in the Japanese language learning community?

Let’s start off with a list of positives this colourful, multifaceted crabgator offers.


Pros of Wanikani

Creative Power Unleashed

WaniKani’s mnemonics system introduces a plethora of wild and crazy stories to help you remember a kanji in its entirety,  forget strokes (well okay, don’t forget them, but stash them away somewhere safe while using Wanikani. It also introduces you to the breakdown of radicals, which are the building blocks to kanji. If you know all your radicals and creative enough you can effectively memorize all 2,000 + kanji.

 

Learn Kanji In Context

Wanikani doesn’t just throw kanji at you and say “Here, you have a week to learn these, then you’ll have a test.” Sound familiar professor? Just kidding, but seriously Wanikani introduces you to vocabulary associated with the kanji you are you learning. It also provides context sentences so you can see exactly how the vocabulary word in its kanji form is being used.

Wanikani review

Wanikani kanji break down and context sentences

 

Spaced Repetition is King

You will not advance to the next level until you GET it. Wanikani ensures that the users actually learn the kanji, vocabulary and radicals. Its level system is a huge motivation factor, you must reach the level of guru on 90% of the kanji that was introduced before advancing to the next level. Depending on how fast you are this can take anywhere between 7 and 100 days.

Wanikani Progression Bars

 

Modify The Way You Learn Kanji

There is a massive collection of plugins to help you modify your learning experience. So you won’t be stuck with the same old wanikani layout and software 24/7. You can create your own learning environment and go at your own speed.

 

Stay Engaged With WaniKani’s Online Community

There is also an active community forum for you to use while your reviews are on cooldown. You can basically go and talk to other members on the same journey as you are. It’s a great way to stay focused and avoid distractions. It’s also beneficial to see the different methods people are undertaking to study Japanese, prepare for exams and discuss in general just about anything.

 

Wanikani online community


Cons of Wanikani

Wanikani has a slow startup

It is slow in the beginning! If you happen to already know some basic kanji you are still going to have to go through the beginning levels to access the higher levels and more intermediate lessons. You cannot skip levels. If you fall behind on reviews…. you will drown. BUT! There is a vacation mode you can activate when you are not able to do any reviews. It will freeze your review lineup until you get back.

level 1 wanikani

Level 2 WaniKaniLevel 3 WaniKani

Radical Radicals, No Pun Intended

The radicals can be a bit strange at times. Depending on whether or not you have some experience of radicals already, making the switch to WaniKani’s highly creative platform can be a challenge. Some of the radicals you will be introduced to will be extremely RADICAL if you catch my drift. I forgot a narwhal was an actual animal until Wanikani named an entire radical after it. Use your discretion here…

Wanikani Radicals Tie Fighter

 

The Conclusion on WaniKani

Overall Wanikani is a highly affordable platform for Japanese learning for what its worth.  While its platform may be difficult to become adjusted to, that doesn’t change the fact that the mnemonics approach works wonders. Its unique methodology is what attracts learners from various backgrounds; it certainly doesn’t feel boring and its interface is bright, creative and mesmerizing.  It’s like the crabgator has you in his hypnotic prowess, and you can’t escape unless you finish all 60 of his trials and tribulations!Wanikani Pricing

 

Did I mention that these 60 levels all together can be finished within a year if done at maximum speed? Did I also mention that WaniKani teaches you effectively just over 2400 kanji and 6000 vocabularies…that’s kind of crazy when you compare this amount to Japanese grade school. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR HAIL THE CRABGATOR!

Image result for wanikani pictures


http://www.wanikani.com

https://www.tofugu.com/learn-japanese/

https://www.tofugu.com/japanese/japanese-learning-stack-koichi/