Tags: 1-1-2

Nihongo

Into Lesson 3

So tonight I continued with Lesson 2, and it dipped back into Level 1 for reviews, which were good. My ability to say the words and string them into sentences is really improved.

I did run into my first bit of frustration tonight, however, and I think it might be confusing to some people, but I realized what was happening, and just had a bit of a grrrr moment. More on this in a moment.

Lesson 3 brings to the vocabulary colors and some other adjectives, occupations, questions, and more pronouns. The core lesson was much like those in 1 and 2, and most of the time, I got the concepts right away, and when I didn't, it soon became clear within a couple of screens. Some of the words are hard to wrap my tongue around as it were, not being used to stringing such strange syllables together like that. I can't help but think of the first time I tried to say the Spanish ¡Ayudarleme! I think I decided that if I ever needed help so badly, I might just die for want of being able to pronounce it. This was not my frustration. That I can practice, break down, and pull back together to make it come out right.

My frustration came in a couple different parts.

First, there was a Speaking section for Lesson 1. They set the pattern: Guy is swimming. Guy are swimming. She is reading a book. (Picture of four guys reading a newspaper.) I say "彼らは新聞を呼んでいます。" ("Dudes're reading a newspaper.") It is clearly a newspaper; I think the sports section. It insist that they're reading a book. Whatever. I redo the thing saying 本を (book) instead of 新聞を (newspaper), and it scores me right.

Next, there's a bit for Lesson 3 Grammar. I love these because they highlight the different parts of the sentences and via the pictures let you discern those subtleties more easily. Here's the problem I encountered. This screen is about the difference between "to be" and "not to be." It shows a couple of teachers at the front of the class, and one says "We're teachers." The next picture shows a lifeguard, and I'm to select the correct sentence he should say. The choices are "I'm a policeman," "I'm not a teacher," and "I'm not a doctor." -_-;; Either "I'm not a doctor," or "I'm not a teacher," could apply, but it won't accept "I'm not a teacher." This is the first real beef I have had with this system. The last picture is of a farmer, and I'm given the choices "I'm a policeman," "I'm not a doctor," and "I'm not a teacher." Again, same problem. I guessed right that they wanted "I'm not a teacher," this time.

I suppose it's a bit of a minor point since the fact is I did know that there were 2 "right" answers to each of those. So I am learning the language well enough. I kind of expect that sort of thing no to be there, though. Learning a language can be a frustrating experience and getting confusing signals like that really don't help. For the price of the course, I figured anything so glaringly obvious would have been fixed.

Overall, I still believe that the course is very good, and really the most natural way I've ever learned a language apart from being dropped into the midst of a bunch of real people speaking it. You know, like as a baby. I'm not going to pack up the box and send it back for something like that, but I will send RS a note about it.
Nightmare Night Applejack

Level 1 > Unit 1 > Lessons 1 & 2

It appears that the "Core Lesson" teaches the vocabulary that is to be used in that lesson's further bits, and further lessons incorporate previous vocabulary. I started going through the Lesson 1 stuff and just couldn't seem to stop. It's kind of addictive like a game. Learning can seem a lot easier when it's fun.

There's a short voice recognition section on Pronunciation. It breaks some of the words down into their constituent syllables, showing the hiragana for each and saying each before prompting me to say it. At the end of each it shows and says the whole word and prompts me to say it. This is really helpful as it not only reinforces the word, but it teaches the hiragana as well. I'm reminded of the silhouettes on The Electric Company saying the parts of a word then the whole word. You know the bit:

The next section is Vocabulary, which puts up the word and says it, and I'm prompted to select the picture that matches. It's a good review to make sure I have the words down and reinforces them.

After that, it moves on to actual Grammar. This section is really interesting since it switches from the hiragana to the kanji/furigana, which is the kanji with the hiragana above it in small characters. I didn't realize what that option was all about, but I think I will keep it on, as it lets me pick up the kanji, and yet be able to read the syllables! The reason it does this is that the kanji are clues for learning the bits of the nouns. For instance, the first examples are of 4 people: a girl, a woman, a boy, and a man. It highlights the first kanji for each to show that 男 (otoko) represents the males and 女 (onna) represents the females. It continues the examples by showing the last kanji indicates either 子 (ko), child, or 人 (hito), adult. So combining these with の (no) between them, I can make 女の子, 女の人, 男の子, or 男の人 which mean a girl, a woman, a boy, and a man, respectively. All that is in just a couple of screens of photos and without a word of English. It also shows the particles that indicate subject (は) and object (を), and how plurals are indicated for certain words. (I'm unsure so far, but I've only seen the latter applied to "people" words, but I will probably get more clarification on this as I progress. This is one of the queer things about not getting a direct translation in the instructions, but I think in the long run it may help with hard to understand subtleties. See por/para in Spanish.)

After that, there is a Reading section, which is a lot like the Pronunciation section, but I pick the kana out of a multiple choice instead of hearing and repeating. More good practice for learning hiragana.

Then comes the Writing. Now, I understand why it does it this way, but it is a little disappointing to have to use the romaji. Writing is like Reading and Pronunciation except I type in the answer instead of saying it or picking it from a list. I suppose it is a necessary evil, and it does teach what the romaji equivalents of the kana are. My concern is that I may look at a syllable and impose my English-speaking bias to the sound I make when I see the corresponding kana. Of course, even using the keyboard to make the kana I'm putting in these posts, I'm doing pretty much exactly what it is having me do in this section.

At this point, it introduces me to Lesson 2 > Core Lesson, which gives me some new vocabulary words and a couple new bits of grammar. One of those bits of grammar threw me for a loop at first. I couldn't understand the difference between verbs ending in います (imasu) and いません (imasen). The people seemed to be doing the thing or near doing the thing. It wasn't until the person was doing something totally unrelated to the verb that I had it dawn on me, and it was a eureka!moment. I got it at once and am now pretty sure that I won't forget it. This is really the first moment where the immersion bit of the course really helped drive home a point. I'm sure in a Grammar section for Lesson 2, it will point this out, but it felt just wonderful to actually make that breakthrough myself.

After a Pronunciation section for Lesson 2, it brings me back to Listening and Reading for Lesson 1 as a sort of refresher. Like I said in a previous post, parts of each Lesson are interspersed among the later Lessons, which makes sense, I think.

In summary, I am really liking the system. It's fun, and it seems to be working well so far. Also, already tonight I can tell you if my cats are eating, drinking water, sleeping, and running. Now to hope Lesson 3 includes the verb for going potty and vomiting. Once I learn that, I can tell you pretty much anything about their lives. 猫は食べています。 猫は水を飲んでいます。 猫は寝ています。 猫は走っています。 Being a cat is serios biznis. ~_^

Well, this entry got long, but I wanted to tell a bit about all I did tonight with the course. Good night!