ryanheise's experiment log - Experiment 3 (Japanese)

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ryanheise's experiment log - Experiment 3 (Japanese)

Postby ryanheise » Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:43 am

For this log, I will try to run a language learning experiment each week or month and measure the results. After looking at the results, I will try to keep what works, change what doesn't work, and run the next experiment.

Language: Japanese
The story so far: I first started Japanese about 4 years ago. In the first year, I learnt Hiragana/Katakana and maybe 300 Kanji before tiring and putting that aside (which I've since forgotten), did 2000 vocab flashcards (which probably wasn't a good approach), then moved onto full sentence flashcards based on "A Frequency Dictionary of Japanese" (a big step in the right direction), I also tried some LingQ beginner content and remember struggling, and toward the end of the first year I tried doing language exchange but didn't get very far with it. After the first year I got really busy with work for a couple of years. Now in 2019, I've started up my Japanese again. I'd completely forgotten the few Kanji I knew, and decided to focus purely on audio input, and I've been trying to learn by listening to stories, dialogues, podcasts, etc. and learning vocabulary as I go. I can say that I've definitely made much more progress this year than the first, in that I can understand a whole lot more on the first hearing. Probably what's made the difference is that 1) I've had more time to dedicate to it, 2) what I learned from a few years ago has somehow not been lost and got reactivated, 3) listening to "real" content like stories and podcasts is much more enjoyable and motivating because I want to find out what's going to happen next in the story, and that pushes me to keep working through the vocabulary. I haven't done much speaking yet (since in the Japanese language learning community there's a general inclination to immerse early and speak late). However I've at least been doing shadowing practice to get my muscle memory going. More recently, I've also started doing language exchanges to help activate my passive vocabulary.
Last edited by ryanheise on Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:06 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Resources

Postby ryanheise » Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:44 am

I'll put a list of the current resources I'm using here.

Software


Learning techniques

  • antimoon advocates flashcards and recommends not making mistakes.
Last edited by ryanheise on Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:41 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: ryanheise's "experiment" log - Experiment 1 (Japanese)

Postby ryanheise » Mon Sep 02, 2019 1:03 pm

Experiment 1

The goal of this experiment is to more effectively apply the following antimoon philosophy in the context of language exchange sessions:

If you’re not sure how to say something, don’t say it. (This applies to both grammar and pronunciation.) If you can’t say something correctly, it’s almost always better not to say it. You don’t want to teach yourself the wrong way to say it. You can try to look for the correct sentence in a dictionary or on the Web (see next point), but when speaking, usually you don’t have time for that. So it’s a good idea to say something else — something that you know is correct. It can even be something on a different subject.


What are the problems?

  • Brain freezes can prevent me from even saying "something else".
  • If the language exchange partner is too patient with me and waits silently, we could be spending that time more effectively.

What will I try next time?

  • Suggest that in the event of a brain freeze, my exchange partner ask me some leading questions that suggest the answers, or anything else they can think of to keep the conversation going.
  • Before the session starts, I'll ask my exchange partner for some natural expressions that I can use in these situations, write them down and see if I can use them during the session.
  • Suggest that since the reason for the brain freeze is usually not knowing the correct grammatical pattern needed to convey a certain idea, if my exchange partner can guess the type of thing I might be trying to say, they could help me by also try conveying a similar type of thing so that I can hear a valid sentence structure and then copy it myself using my own subject matter.

I have a language exchange session tomorrow, so we'll see how much of the above I can implement, but I'll hopefully run this experiment for a few sessions to get a feel for whether it's working.
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Re: ryanheise's "experiment" log - Experiment 1 (Japanese)

Postby dicentra8 » Mon Sep 02, 2019 6:57 pm

ryanheise wrote:The goal of this experiment is to more effectively apply the following antimoon philosophy (...)

Thank you for that link! I do agree with a lot of things that are written there when it comes to make mistakes while learning a language. Oh and I'm really looking forward to read your experiment log! Good luck with your language exchange tomorrow. :D
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Re: ryanheise's "experiment" log - Experiment 1 (Japanese)

Postby ryanheise » Tue Sep 03, 2019 3:09 pm

Thanks! I'll write up how the exchange went soon. But yeah, antimoon makes some quite persuasive arguments, and its worth taking seriously when you hear how well Tomasz speaks.
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Re: ryanheise's "experiment" log - Experiment 1 (Japanese)

Postby ryanheise » Tue Sep 03, 2019 3:32 pm

Preliminary results of Experiment 1

My language exchange partner liked the suggestions and he did a really good job of putting them into practice. On one occasion he asked me a question and when I couldn't answer it myself, he started giving his own opinion which was great because hearing what form an answer would take is exactly what I needed to know in order to construct my own answer. Other times he would just narrow the question down and then I could answer. The main problem I noticed was that sometimes when he was giving me his own opinion, I should have been paying more attention to the form of his sentence so that I could learn from it and use it myself. And then moments later when I wanted to give my opinion, I couldn't remember the natural sentence form that he used. For this reason, I feel I need some more practice to get this right.

Also, it wasn't until after the session finished that I realised I should have been keeping a scorecard to more accurately keep track of how many times I got stuck and how I managed in each case so that I can see if there is any improvement over time. Perhaps I'll record the next session with his permission. Also, it wasn't until afterwards that I realised I forgot to ask him for some natural expressions to use when I'm stuck, but he wrote a few down for me after the session, so I'll be able to practice them for next time.
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Re: ryanheise's "experiment" log - Experiment 1 (Japanese)

Postby ryanheise » Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:56 pm

More results from Experiment 1

Today I had another language exchange session with another partner, this time over Skype. I was really interested to see how this one would go mainly because in the past I've found it harder to have a flowing conversation with her, due to her inclination to speak more quickly, use more advanced words, and ask questions that would seem to require the use of more advanced words. But I wanted to see if this new approach could help to improve the quality of these sessions.

After explaining the basic idea up front, we got started. Right off the bat, the conversation flowed more easily than it ever had before. She played along by giving her own answer/opinion to her own question if I didn't answer quickly enough. Sometimes when she gave her own answer, I realised that when I thought the answer would require the use of more advanced words, it actually didn't. There were words I could have used for my answer which I knew but which just didn't occur to me. So hearing her opinion/answer had the effect of refreshing my memory on a whole bunch of relevant words to the topic at hand, making it easier for me to give my own opinion/answer.

Although I feel I'm getting better at this approach, there were still a few situations where I missed an opportunity to use one of the situational phrases that my previous language exchange partner taught me, so I'm going to need more practice and more opportunities to use them.

Again, I didn't keep score, or record the session. I'll try to remember this for next time.

My next exchange session isn't scheduled for a while so in the mean time I will think up my next experiment.
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Re: ryanheise's "experiment" log - Experiment 2 (Japanese)

Postby ryanheise » Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:39 pm

Experiment 2

The goal of this experiment is to improve my listening skills through the gradual lengthening of repeated segments of audio.

What are the problems?

  • I have so far had a lot of practice listening to short phrases or sentences and trying to imitate what I hear. But my brain is so used to stopping at the end of the short segment that when a real person is speaking to me in longer strings of sentences, my brain just stops at about the the length I've practiced.
  • While this imitation practice may help with speaking short sentences, it does not help as much with listening to long sentences. It is also likely that those sentences that I hear others say will be longer than those sentences that I produce myself, so I need a new study technique that will help me to extend my attention span while listening to longer sentences.

What I will try?

I will use the WorkAudioBook application. This piece of software automatically cuts up audio into short phrases and allows you to choose the minimum length of each phrase. The approach is as follows.

  • I will start by cutting into short phrases. When listening, I will press a button to repeat the phrase as many times as needed while also verbally imitating, before going onto the next short phrase.
  • I will then increase the minimum phrase length to about the average sentence length and repeat the exercise.
  • I will then increase the minimum phrase length again, but now I will stop doing the verbal imitation and just focus on trying to take in the meaning as if I am purely a listener not concerned with speech production.
  • I will then increase the minimum phrase length again and repeat the exercise.

The hope is that this workout will have a positive effect on my ability to listen in actual conversations. One way to measure this is to keep track of how many times I have to ask the speaker to repeat a sentence.
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Re: ryanheise's "experiment" log - Experiment 2 (Japanese)

Postby mentecuerpo » Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:58 pm

The workbook WorkAudioBook seems interesting.
I will take a closer look when I come back from work.
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Re: ryanheise's "experiment" log - Experiment 2 (Japanese)

Postby mentecuerpo » Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:54 am

Hey ryanheise,

I want to thank you for pointing the WorkAudioBook software, I downloaded it today and I have been playing with it, I like it a lot and it can save me hours of manually creating mp3 phrases. I was looking for a solution like this one, and I was searching in the wrong places.

By the way, I also like the antimoon philosophy of language learning by listening and reading. This is how I am approaching the German language and how I am making my daughter study French.

I will use the WorkAudioBook to load the French audio and make my daughter pronounce some phrases without reading the French just listening to the sounds and reading the English translation to create the comprehensible input so that she understands what she is listening and does not get bored and works her vocabulary.

I am sure prefers to be watching Netflix but I am her father and I can spend 20 minutes a day with her studying French. But I guess this is another topic on the forum, how to help and motivate your child learn a new language, all I can say that it is easier said than done, it requires hard work.
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