Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year!!

Where have I been? I have really been procrastinating way too much with this blog. Let me update everyone on what I have been up to the past few months.

I joined the #Add1Challenge that ended in December with my chosen language being German. The goal is to be able to have a 15 minute conversation with a native speaker after 90 days of studying. I managed to complete the challenge, and make a video for it. (Warning: the video and audio gradually become out of sync for some reason.) HOWEVER, I did not make it into the final three for the chance to win a trip to the country of my target language. Oh well.  It was great motivation, and I really had fun with the challenge. I highly recommend it, if anyone is competitive or looking for an incentive to learn.

I was so focused on German that I really let my Korean and Japanese suffer. I haven’t had lessons since November in either language. This week, I’m getting back on track. Since the challenge ended, I have been doing WaniKani for my Japanese, though. That site is so addictive!

I started using Duolingo to practice my German, and from there I also added Spanish to my app. It is also addicting. (And plus the owl is super cute.)

Starting January 16th, italki is having its own language challenge. It’s free to join, and you could win $500 towards a flight to the country of your target language. I decided that I’m going to do this challenge. I’m going to use this opportunity to try out some different tutors, and see which ones I want to use.

After my successful German challenge, I wanted to use the next three months to work on another new language. It’s really hard for me to decide, especially since a few of my options don’t have a lot of tutors available on italki (that match my schedule.) SOOO, I’m trying something a little bit different. I’m trying out Polish Pod 101 with a Premium Plus account, where I have my own tutor. We’ll see how that goes.

In non-language related news, I got a tadpole for Christmas! His name is Omelet, and he will grow up to be an African Clawed Frog. I will post pics later.

What are you goals for the new year? Has anyone tried the langaugeclass101 tutors before? Any tadpole advice?

Add1Challenge: German!

I have applied to take part in the next Add1Challenge. As you all know, I already am above A1 level in English (native), Spanish, Korean, and Japanese. My next challenge is German! It was difficult for me to choose, because Polish and Italian were also contenders. But, I have tried German before (and failed.) This is my chance to redeem myself. Wish me luck! I made a video about it here, if anyone cares to watch.

Korean Studying 08/11/2015

This week, we chatted a lot about music and actors. My tutor and I have similar taste, but I like more idols than she does. haha Neither of us find 김수현 attractive. haha Sorry! I think he’s a great actor, but I just find his face too girly for me, personally.

Anyway, we started reading “효녀 심청” from Once Upon a Time in Korea. I only got maybe 1/4 of the way through. But, we did go over a grammar point:

…는 소문을 들었어요. 소문 literally means rumor. So, it could mean “I’ve heard a rumor that…” or just “I’ve heard that…” My tutor’s example was 김수현이 수술했다는 소문을 들었어요. haha Her words, not mine! So, if the thing you’ve heard is past tense, you just take the past tense stem and add 다는 소문을 들었어요. If it’s in the present tense, you add -ㄴ or 는 depending on if the stem ends in a vowel or consonant. For example,  에밀리가 케익을 먹는다는 소문을 들었어요. haha Once again, her words, not mine, but I think this one might be true.

Have you heard any good rumors lately?

Japanese Studying 08/05/2015

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I finally finished reading  the first volume of 砂時計 with my tutor. We are going to watch a video next time to work on listening. After that, we will either continue with the next volume OR start the first volume of オレンジ by 高野苺, if I can get my hands on it. Kinokuniya only had volumes 2-4 last time I went. I did snatch up some “easy readers” as I call them, though. They’re 10分で読めるお話. I got grades 1-6, of course. I cannot NOT buy language study materials when I see them.

I also bought a Ghibli DVD collection. It has the Japanese and English versions (plus Mandarin and Cantonese, too.) Even though I went to the Ghibli Museum in 2008, I am no expert. I have only seen Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, Totoro (my fave, of course!), Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Princess Mononoke, and only in English. I’ve been meaning to watch them in the original Japanese, and I want to see the other movies. What’s your favorite Ghibli movie?

Finally, I have been working on my 漢字. They are, by far, my weakest point in my Japanese studies. I’m starting from the basics, and working my way up. Why do the ones that native speakers write look so pretty, and mine all look like hideous potatoes??????

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Korean Studying 08/04/2015

Last night, I read “은혜 갚은 까치” from Once Upon a Time in Korea. The title alone gave me so much information. I knew that 은혜 means “grace,” because of actress and former Baby V.O.X member 윤은혜. But, I didn’t know that 은혜 갚다 is kind of like “to return the favor.” If a good deed is done to you, you should 은혜 갚다. I had never heard of 까치 before. It is a magpie. Apparently, in Korea, the magpie is known as a good bird. In fairy tales, it is always a kind animal.

New Vocabulary:
선비 – I guess the official translation would be “scholar,” but they are more than that. 선비 were 조선 era scholars who lived modest lives and aimed to have a perfect character, rather than wealth. 선비 are idealized and romanticized in Korean literature. They will often pass up positions of wealth and power in order to live a life of integrity and study. You can also see more of them in the current drama “밤을 걷는 선비.”
과거 – A national civil service exam during the 고려 and 조선 dynasties. In literature, 선비 often prepare for this exam or even pass it, but turn down government positions. Remember, they just want to improve their intelligence, not attain power.
한양 – During the 조선 era, 서울 was named 한양.
새가 울다 – In English, we say that birds sing or call. In Korean, they cry.
구렁이 – A type of sake
둥지 – Nest
나그네 – Literally, “wanderer,” but “traveler” sounds better in English.
복수를 하다 – To take revenge.

There we have it. This story had a lot more cultural and historic points than the last one. I had no idea that magpies were such kind birds. Apparently, crows are known to be a bad omen in Korea, too. What are good/bad birds in your culture?

Japanese Studying 07/21/2015

I had a lesson on the 21st with my Japanese tutor. I began the lesson by asking about お食い初め (okuizome). My Japanese friend just held the ceremony for her three-month-old daughter, and had sent me photos. お食い初め is celebrated on or around a Japanese baby’s 100th Day. It is a “first meal” for the baby. The family sets a meal out with rice, fish, vegetables, and other food for the baby to try. I think usually the baby doesn’t really eat, but it’s more about the ceremony. In the photo (which I won’t post for privacy reasons), the baby did not look happy. haha

After discussing the ceremony, we read 砂時計 as usual, and almost finished the first volume! I love this series so much, and it’s nice to be able to read it in the original Japanese. Next lesson, we will finish the first volume of 砂時計 and watch a video to practice listening.

I have found that my lack of knowledge of kanji (I only know about 50 or so) is really holding me back. So, I started a kanji notebook that I have been writing in every day. I can do this! Anyone have any kanji study tips?

Korean Studying 07/20/2015

I had a lesson last night with my tutor. We read “해와 달 이야기” from Once Upon a Time in Korea. I really struggled with reading the stories in this book in the beginning. It used to take up the entire hour lesson. But, now, on the 18th story, it feels so easy. Of course, there was some vocabulary that I hadn’t known, but the grammar was all familiar.

New vocabulary from the story:
키우다 – to raise (as in children)
잔치 – party
문을 두드리다 – to knock on the door
문틈 – crack in the door
뒷문 – backdoor
도끼 – axe
찍다 – to chop
남매 – siblings
하느님 – God
빌다 – to pray
튼튼하다 – to be sturdy
밧줄 – rope
썩다 – to rot

After the reading, I learned a new grammar point. I had already known -아/어지다 meant “to become…” But, I had used it for “to be hugged” (안다 -> 안아지다) which is WRONG. It’s 안기다. Apparently, there are a few different syllables that can be added to verbs to mean “to be ___ed.” I will just have to memorize them as I encounter them. Below are some examples of the grammar we did:
간호사가 고양이를 잘 먹서 고양이가 뚱뚱해어요.
간호사가 고양이를 잘 먹서 간호사가 고양이를 뚱뚱하 만들었어요.

Vocabulary:
안다 to hug
다 to be hugged
뚱뚱하다 to be fat
뚱뚱해다 to become fat
뚱뚱하 하다/만들다 to make someone fat
다  to feed

Overall, it was a good lesson that made me feel successful, but also made me frustrated with having to memorize grammar (a normal Korean lesson.) Tonight, it’s on to Japanese.