How I take notes (cram) for JLPT N3

So it’s only a few days before the big test, everyone! I made a video yesterday about how I take notes and pretty much cram for the test. I’m not focusing on listening as in all my practice tests, listening is the best aspect, but I really do need to work on vocabulary and Kanji. As I’ve mentioned many times before, just making lists of words won’t help, but learning the vocabulary word or Kanji in context of its meaning is very useful.

For that reason, I’ve made a color coding system for my notebook and it helps me easily distinguish between the words, their meanings, and example sentences.

Notebooks
1. Kakao Friends Neo Garden ring bound notebook (vocabulary)
2. Thin Muji A5 brown notebook (from a pack of 5 with different colored spines)

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The Nihongo 500-mon book, and my Kakao Friends notebook for vocab

Stationery & Color coding system
Black pens (Muji 0.35, 0.5 and Daiso pens) = Kanji and kana
Blue pens (Muji 0.35 and 0.5) = Word meanings
Pink pen (Muji Sarasara click pen) = Example sentences
Yellow marker = Highlighting words I still need to memorize after reviewing once

Screenshot 2018-11-29 at 09.44.57

Process
1. Do the example test in the 日本語500問 book
2. Turn the page and see if I did it right
3. Check if there are any new words, especially if I got the question wrong
4. Highlight or underline the word in the book
5. If there are grammar explanations, write the grammar in a separate notebook
6. If there are new vocab words, write them using the system above into a larger vocabulary notebook
7. Review regularly and highlight using yellow if I still need to get the word in my long-term memory

Other notes
I mark the pages in my test practice book with sticky notes. One note is for where I need to summarize from (meaning put new words or grammar explanations into my notebooks), and the other note means I still need to highlight words to be put into the book later.

Screenshot 2018-11-29 at 09.46.35

That’s about it for now, because I should probably get back to studying.
Good luck to all of you taking the exam this Sunday! 🙂

Language learning and creativity [Guest post]

By Mari Polyglot

Chances are you haven’t realized yet how close language learning and creativity lie. Maybe the first thing that pops in your mind is what your crafty friend Laura does while sending letters to her pen pals; but creativity is not exclusive to glitter addicts and artists.

What is creativity? Let’s see what different languages think about it.

According to the Oxford dictionary, creativity is “The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.” But for the RAE (Royal Spanish Academy – Real Academia Española) it is simply “the faculty of creating” and “the capability of creating”. And according to Dutch dictionaries, it is “the talent to create new things and/or to be creative”. What I want you to take from this is that even though we use different words to describe something we still get to the same point: the art of making something new.

We can all agree that creativity is the art of creation. The way we create new ideas and projects is by thinking outside the box. Getting new perspectives on things, situations and relationships is what makes us leave our comfort zones and create.

Going back to the definitions before, we can see how languages open up new ways of getting a new point of view. So, even though creativity translates directly to the spanish  word creatividad, each language has a way to define it.

This phenomenon translates to many aspects of language learning. In English and Spanish we would say seventy-five and eighty-two while in Dutch and German the counting will be five and seventy , and two and eighty… And then there’s the French who will say sixty-fifteen and forty-twenty-two respectively.

Just with counting, we can see how many different ways there are to express the same concept. Learning multiple languages thus leads us to think differently and foster more open-minded ideas.

These perspective shifts are not only from a linguistic point of view. If we go deeper into other cultures, we gain many other abilities. Not only do we develop empathy towards others, love for the unknown and a big heart, but we start to be creative by mixing traditions, ways of cooking, social environments and opening up our lives to opportunities that are no longer confined to the limits of our own culture.

lindie 1

“Not only do we develop empathy towards others, love for the unknown and a big heart, but we start to be creative by mixing traditions, ways of cooking, social environments and opening up our lives to opportunities that are no longer confined to the limits of our own culture.”

Experiencing linguistic and cultural immersions help us think creatively and become more prone to finding creative solutions to any situation.

Language learning for creative people

Now we know that languages affect our creativity in a positive way. What about the other way around? How can creativity help our learning? This one is very simple and even though you can still bring your crafty side to this, it is mostly related to the way we study.

You guys are geniuses, I’ve seen it. You come up with new ways to memorize, to take notes, to learn better almost everyday! That is creativity, finding different ways to do something so it gives you a new benefit. I love seeing all of the challenges you come up with and how supportive you all are of each other’s ideas.

PS: I am not even mentioning Conlangs because that’s a whole other topic, but think about how creative and interesting are languages that come from someone’s imagination entirely. I am fascinated by the amazing linguists that are behind these powerful new languages and have created communities around them.

Creativity and self study

Like most of you, I learn languages from home using all kind of apps, books, websites and videos. The reasons why I learn from home and not in a classroom environment are first, because I can do it in my pajamas and second because I can adapt it to my needs and move as fast or as slowly as I want. Than means that even though I have teachers, tutors and friends that correct me as I learn, I am pretty much my own teacher. I have to come up with new activities, a lesson plan and a sort of balanced learning process. Of course, I don’t do it exactly as a teacher; actually, I do it without even realizing it.

Because I know that my best way of learning is by doing fun stuff, I need to come up with innovative ideas that will keep me interested and engaged during my language learning process. So my creativity comes in handy! I paint fun scenarios and then write a story behind them, I share my progress on social media to feel some sort of validation, I sing, I follow tutorials, I play games and just keep doing fun – almost childish – activities.

It is not about creating a perfect schedule or routine; the most important thing is to create powerful ways of learning that will help you really memorize and learn long-term.

Why mixing creativity and language learning?

Sometimes we underestimate the power of creation, or even worse, we think we are not capable of coming up with good ideas. In reality, we just have to think of creativity as a natural way of thinking. Changing up your language routine is not only necessary to be constantly progressing – because you have to learn different things in each stage of your learning – but also so you can stay motivated.

Once again, the point is to find innovative ways to make your language learning more efficient. If that way includes crafts, do it! It might include going to a language cafe, translating songs or playing video games in your target language.

I am sure that most of us are interested in many things, so mix and match your passions. Let one inspire the other. Find like-minded people and enjoy the language process as much as you can! Languages are everywhere, so there’s no excuse! It is time to create and learn.

Oh, and remember to have a lot of fun with it!



Written by Mari Polyglot
Illustrated by Mari Polyglot
Edited by Lindie Botes

Mari is a language enthusiast from Venezuela with a passion for teaching. She hopes to one day serve as an inspiration and guide for future polyglots.

Instagram / Twitter : @MariPolyglot
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/MariPolyglot

 

Why I’m OK after not getting my dream job in Korea

I applied for a job in Korea earlier this year. The company was my dream company and I was a fan of their work since my first year in university. When I read that they were hiring designers, I was elated. I was even more excited when I saw that they required applicants to be fluent in Korean (and not necessarily Korean by birth).

My portfolio and CV was tweaked and I spent lots of late nights working on the edits. I wanted to make sure my Korean was perfect and that my design work was a of a standard good enough for this company.

Before sending in my portfolio, I prayed that if this was not God’s will, I would not get the job. And if it were God’s will for me to move to Korea and work there, that He would make the way. I placed all my trust in Him and sent my work through.

As I somewhat expected, I didn’t get the job (the company didn’t reply to my email). But it’s okay! I know that if God wanted me to be in Korea right now, I would have been there. For now, I can rest in the peace that God’s plan or me is to stay here in South Africa and work hard at the wonderful company I’m at now. God’s timing is perfect and he knows the desires of our heart. More importantly, He know’s what’s best for us!

I can rest in Him and know that He has plans for my future. Right now is not the time for me to work overseas, and that’s totally fine. Now I can direct all my energy into fostering relationships with friends and coworkers here in South Africa. I can put my all into my work here. I can love my family and spend time with them in person. God has me right where he wants me to be.

Here’s the video about my application process and how I feel about it not working out. Press CC to activate English subtitles.

 

How to study Japanese grammar

Grammar is either your favorite part of a language, or the most frustrating part of a language. Here’s my guide on how to study Japanese grammar:

1. Take a grammar structure and practice writing it in your own way. Then, get it checked by a native speaker. 
For example, if you have the structure ~てみる which is to “try”, then and your example is 「この本を読んでみてください」 (please try reading this book), then you can take the sentence and replace words to make it your own. e.g.:
このパンを食べてみてください Please try eating this bread
その車を運転してみてください Please try driving that car

2. Don’t just rely on one textbook.
There are great grammar forums that you can use for reference to read more about grammar structures. I suggest the following:
Jgram (so good, even has JLPT level indicators and study lists)
Take Kim’s guide to Japanese
Maggie Sensei

3. Use the structure as soon as, and as much as you can
As soon as you learn something new, don’t just write it down in your notebook and forget about it. You can make an Instagram post using it, write a blog in Japanese using it, or even just talk to yourself or make a video where you use it. The more you say it, even if you just speak to yourself, the more it will become cemented in your memory.

4. Keep listening and reading Japanese
If you constantly listen to Japanese music, TV or radio, you might hear the grammar structure being used and then you’ll say “Oh! I remember that. Now I see how it’s being used in daily conversation”. You’ll feel good about yourself and you’ll be reminded of what you’ve learnt.

5. Get a grammar reference dictionary
My FAVORITE grammar dictionary is A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar by Seiichi Makino and Michio Tsutsui. It’s full of examples ❤ There are 3 dictionaries: One for basic, then intermediate, and finally advanced. I use the intermediate one. I kind of use it like a reading book and just look at it for fun, which is super geeky, I know. It’s so beautiful.

6. Don’t focus exclusively on grammar. Learn from daily conversation and remember not to neglect reading, writing, and listening. Think of it as a workout. You can’t go to the gym and just do leg day every day. Your arms won’t be toned and your legs will be insane. You might be excellent at grammar and vocabulary but you may not have confidence to speak because you’ve never practiced speaking. Everything is connected, so by practicing Japanese daily, you’ll be ingraining grammar into your memory too. Just remember, practice makes permanent, not perfect… so make sure you check things with native speakers if you’re unsure.


Header Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash