Project Français log #0: The start of Project Français

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Japanese: 6 years of jack diddly squat


You know, I hate to admit it, but I should be more than fluent in Japanese by now. I discovered ajatt.com more than 6 years ago, and If I had just applied all the methods and tools I discovered there, with discipline and consistency, during all that time... woooow.

I could read blogs and manga completely written in Japanese. I could watch all episodes of One Piece in Japanese as I so much dreamed about doing. I could even translate texts in Japanese to English and/or Spanish and charge for that. I could translate this website to Japanese and help English learners from Japan. And if I had enough money, I could work, teach and live in Japan as I imagined in my university years when I was studying electronic engineering...

... but NOPE. 6 years. 6 freaking years and all I achieved was learning the writing and meaning of 3000 kanji using Heisig's method (which means NOTHING if you don't know how to READ each kanji), some phrases taken from ajatt's "My First Sentence Pack" (which I don't even remember by now), and some words here and there taken from a frequency list with definitions taken from the wwwjdic.

6 years later I couldn't get out of the beginner-novice-noob level in the language, but not because the language was weird, complicated or difficult. It isn't. No language is difficult - they are just different to what you are used to.

If I didn't manage to reach an intermediate level in Japanese was simply because I wasn't consistent with my learning. If everyday I had just sit down, with discipline, to learn new words in the language, to read, to listen, to decipher content in Japanese (instead of thinking that listening to content passively would help me)... I would master the language nowadays.

But I didn't. Instead, during the few hours that I dedicated to my daily Japanese learning (on the days I WOULD actually dedicate time to it... which was uncommon... dammit...), I wasted too many hours creating and introducing cards in the spaced repetition program Anki. And whenever I finished inputting them, I was too tired and fed up to do the hour and a half of phrase reviews waiting for me right after.

After I reached kanji 3030 using Heisig's method, if I reviewed kanji everyday then everything was well (it took me about 40 minutes to 1 hour to review all kanji for the day). But if I took about two or three days of not reviewing... ohhhhhhhh boy, a "well deserved" hell of reviews was waiting for me after that: 3 or 4 hours of kanji reviews to catch up. And let's NOT TALK about the review times that were waiting for me on my Japanese phrases deck... *shudder*

But you know what? I'm not going to blame the method I used (at least not entirely). I think Anki is a great tool to review Kanji using Heisig's method, the Japanese kana, and even other writing systems. But be sure that nowadays, I don't like using Anki to review vocabulary, and I won't use it again to that end...

But even then, I accept that if I had been actually disciplined, if I had actually reviewed all my Anki cards (both kanji and phrases), and then input cards with new Japanese words in the program, all that without skipping a day, even if it took me about 3 hours to do all that everyday... I could've reached a pretty good level of Japanese anyways.

Ha. I also thought that listening to podcasts and music in Japanese, or watching Kiyo & Fuji's crazy Let's Plays, without looking up all those words I didn't understand, would help me improve my Japanese. Hey, my immersion environment is backing me up loooooooool NO MORON, NO.

But oh well, whatever. Nowadays I have no significant knowledge of Japanese... but if I wanted to, I could do things differently now, no? I could apply what I preach here at Inglesk to my Japanese learning, review my kanji using Anki and just read, listen and decipher content in Japanese like songs and short stories and what not. I could learn from my mistakes and keep moving forward, you know?

Not long ago I was thinking about doing precisely that... but I won't do it.

Ok, I WILL do it... just not with Japanese.

Recently I started seriously thinking about the role of Japanese in my life. I thought, "Hey, I mean... Am I going to use this language in my day to day life?.

Initially, more than 6 years ago, I wanted to learn Japanese because I was studying electronic engineering, and the masters of electronics in this world are in Japan, so it was logical for me to learn the language because I was thinking about moving there and learning about electronics from the best. I don't care about that anymore. My career is totally different now.

After getting out of university I was still thinking in that I wanted to move and live in Japan. I liked the culture, geography and many other things, and I thought like "Ohhhhhhh man yeah, so cool, living in Japan, and visiting akihabara, and even get my girlfriend there so cool woooooooooooooah". I don't care about that anymore. I would like to visit Tokyo and maybe other cities in Japan someday, but I definitely don't see myself living there.

I also thought "Ohhhh it would be so awesome to watch anime and read manga in the original Japanese! ワンピース!! ナルト!! よつばと!! キン肉マン!!" ... bah. I don't care about that anymore. I don't have the intent of spending so much goddamn time stuck in front of my computer like a Forever Alone, reading and watching fantasy worlds instead of working on improving my own real life.

And of course, I also thought "Ufff, if I learn to translate IN JAPANESE I will always be able to get a job translating documents and articles and even videogames from Japanese to English or Spanish! I'm done! I have financial security for life lol!"

I don't care about that anymore. I like translating whatever I decide to translate (like Antimoon en español and mnmlist en español), but I don't see translation as my career. Years ago I thought about becoming a "professional translator". Not anymore. As presumptuous as it may sound, I don't want to trade my time for money to earn my living.

So, after thinking about it thoroughly I realized that I no longer care about Japanese. I won't be using this language in my daily life, and thus it makes no sense to me to master it.

So, I stopped reviewing the kanji that took me so much to learn, and I no longer dedicate any time to learning this language. I will soon uninstall Anki and erase my AnkiWeb account. And the thing is that in spite of investing so little net time working on my Japanese, I still wasted TOO MANY hours (most of them being stuck in front of Anki) that I will never get back... but oh well. I accept that consequence, and well, I'm still alive which is what's most important :D

Soooo yeah... I'm no longer learning Japanese. Goodbye 日本語. Thank you for the good times, the Kiyo and Fuji Let's Plays, the anime I didn't understand, the music and so much other fun crap. さようなら.


Now, the thing is that I still have to be learning a language, and as my next candidate came to mind a language that has interested me for years, a language which sounds I really like, and it was also the language that I thought about learning once I "mastered Japanese". So, one thing led to another, and now I've taken what I think is the best decision:

Dear Inglesk reader, I decided to learn French.




Ehhh? So, why learn French?


First, I have to be learning a language anyways. You can't have a website about language learning if you are not learning a language, or if you haven't learned several languages already... unless you want to be known as a freaking hypocrite and that nobody on the Internet gives you a crumb of attention. Walk the walk, apply what you preach and all that.

Also, as Tim Ferris mentions on his book The 4-Hour Chef, someone who has been an expert at something for a long time is usually disconnected to the struggle and issues that beginners experience when just starting out in that something. I master English, but that doesn't necessarily qualifies me as someone suitable to teach how to learn it well.

So, learning a language from the beginning allows me to "walk the walk" again and experience for myself any issues I might have when applying the Inglesk method to learn this language, and that way see how to overcome those issues. That way I can give you much more complete advice and recommendations on how to learn English and other languages.

Now, even if for me learning a language is required, I won't start learning just any language just to fulfill that requirement. I wouldn't learn German or Mandarin Chinese even if I was paid for it. If I have to learn a language, then it should be one I will actually use very frequently in my day to day life, and how it sounds shouldn't bother me. (and I like a lot how French sounds :D )

When thinking about a language like that, one that I get to actually use, came to mind the biggest goal I have nowadays: Emigrate to Canada. Some years ago I was thinking about moving to Toronto once I fulfilled all the necessary requirements to emigrate there (like saving up enough money), but having in mind my requirement about learning a language made me think:

"Hmmm... let's see, if I move to Toronto I wouldn't have a real need to learn any other language because I already master English. So, if I need to be learning a language, and I really want to be using it in my daily life... hey, why not better move to a city in the region of Quebec?"

It turns out that they speak French in the Canadian province of Quebec. The French spoken in Quebec has several differences to France's French (it's kind of like Spain's Spanish compared to Mexico's Spanish, I think), but it's still the same base language. I did a bit of research (and need to do even more) about Quebec and the cities in said region, like Montreal and Quebec City. Both cities look like awesome, safe and very beautiful places to live in, and I imagine that other cities and towns in Quebec will have their charm too.

So, if I move to Montreal, or Quebec City or... I don't know, Windsor, then I will have to use my French almost every day. If I want to schedule an appointment with a dentist, or open a bank account, or buy a vehicle or house, or even speak and meet natives, then I have to master French, no way around it (English is not the dominant language in Quebec). That gives me a real necessity and a strong motivation to master French really well.

Ohhh, by the way, I have NO IDEA of anything in French. I don't know any vocabulary, or grammar or anything. I just know a few words almost all of us know because we've heard them in cartoons xD (Oui. Non. Bonjour. ¡SACRÉ BLEU! Omelette du au fromage). For the work I'm doing here at Inglesk, I think it's very useful that I'm learning French from scratch, because that way I become a beginner language learner again, and I'll be able to experience first-hand any issues other beginner language learners might experience.


How will I learn French?


Long story short, I will apply what I preach: I will follow all I've discussed (and keep discussing) here at Inglesk, but will apply it to French. I will be deciphering content in French (I will get started with music, and maybe Wikipedia) for at least 2 hours a day, and I aspire to reach a very good level of understanding in French in about 1 year and a half of doing this everyday.

In the following months I will be creating logs where I share my progress in French, ideas, realizations, and most of all problems I might run into, and how to overcome them.

One last thing... why share with you this French learning project? Don't they say that sharing our goals makes it less probable that we will complete them?

To me, that advice is contradictory, because many others will tell you (including Peter, that article's author!) that sharing your goals with the right people creates accountability, which will motivate you to work on your goals, unless you want to be seen as a liar loser. Which advice is the correct one then?

On one side, I want to develop accountability with you and other Inglesk readers, and put my word and reputation on the line. And on the other side, as I mentioned, I want to share with you all I learn in this new process, and thus being able to better help you and other readers in their language learning.

And so, here starts "Project français" ("français" means French in French huehuehuehuehue). I hope you follow me on this new mission! I will be publishing the first log soon. See you then! :D


Summary


Nowadays, 6 years after I decided to learn Japanese, I don't know anything in the language besides 3000 kanji I don't know to read and some phrases. I didn't move forward because I wasn't consistent with my learning.

I could do thing differently nowadays and "start again" with my Japanese, but I won't. I thought about it, and I realized that I won't actually be using Japanese in my day to day life, so it's pointless to master it.

I do have to be learning a language, though. Thinking about the other language I was thinking about learning once I "mastered Japanese", and my goal to move to Canada, I decided that I will learn French..

Why learn French? Because:
  • I have a website about language learning. If I'm not learning a language I would be a hypocrite.
  • Being a beginner language learner again will help me connect to any problemas other beginner learners may have.
  • I like how the language sounds.
  • And if I move to the Quebec region I must master French. English is not the dominant language there. That gives me a real motivation to master the language.

How will I learn French? Applying what I preach here at Inglesk, but applying it to French. In the coming weeks I will be publishing logs where I share my progress and other findings, ¡so stay tuned! :D


Last updated: June 17 of 2015

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