Seedtime Multilingual™

What is your language curiosity?  In other words, what interests, baffles, or gets under your skin about language learning?  Of course, if you are a heritage speaker, you already have a (non-English) first language (L1) .  I know of parent complaints about their children of Hispanic or Asian heritage, who lacks skill in their heritage language; instead, showing preference toward English, with little or no interest in their ” mother tongue.”  Or, maybe you are struggling with a second language (L2), perhaps struggling with English. In some countries where several languages are spoken, English is used as the primary language of communication, a kind of lingua franca,“a language of commerce and widely used as such.  As our program receives funding support through donations and grants, in addition to Japanese Language, our site will offer a menu of other languages, including English langauge tutoring, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. This site is also translation capable, scroll down to bottom of ‘Home Page’ and choose your language to join us in making language and culture great again!

As a healthy reminder and a means of rejuvenation, think about when you first met (began to listen, learn, speak) “the language you’re in.” Revive that feeling of never wanting to stop practicing, peeling away pages of a language dictionary, and piecing together words, stumbling over grammar, straining through audio and (and most recently, video). Did you make a complete fool of yourself, trying?  Good!  This is how language is learned, with great effort and lots of self-motivation.

My interest in Japanese language began with a chance meeting while working at a multinational chemical company in Memphis, TN.  Prior to meeting Kaoru Matsuyama and Takeshi Suzuki, I had no interest in the language nor Japanese culture.  My curious view of the world was crowded from the perspective of single-parenting, work-a-lifestyle-work-a-holic, with the usual trials and error of the day-to-day. Read More

What makes the characters so difficult to remember? Why do Japanese have two readings for Kanji? What are keys to memorization? This blog does not attempt to teach linguistics nor the elements for learning the Kanji (this can be done in your own self-study) , but in my experience (with learning Mandarin Chinese and Japanese), I have tracked a few tips: spending time looking at the characters is the first step to becoming comfortable with what we see!  That feeling of discomfort with foreign writings and sounds, letters, script is no doubt the same feelings that we get in the presence of those (characters or persons) most unlike ourselves, linguistically and culturally.

Learning Kanji or any other non-alphabetic, non-Western writing system is like making  new friends.. from a different culture.  We size them up first, their appearance, hair, features phenotypes/genotypes, speech, sound or what they portray in character.  Is this right?  I think that the more we look, listen, and pay attention, the more familiar we become with the unfamiliar.  Thus, the less uncomfortable we feel learning Kanji…. and characters!

Dare to look, breathe, read.

Kanji are Japanese characters (adopted from the Chinese writing, called Hanyu (in the early 7th century,) literally meaning Han Characters Laying to rest formal linguistic words, like orthography, logographic, let’s simply agree that as English-speakers, non-alphabetic characters seem very scary! 

Remembering The Kanji 1 Flash Cards 2 offers Kanji Cards for free download.  These are suitable for Beginners, great review for more advanced learners.  Kanji is the subject here, but also the underlying human feeling of discomfort with the unfamiliar.

Clifford Black,, a former mentor, and I refer to as,  a Super Educator par excellence, introduced me to the concept of “taking a picture” with my eyes at a time when I was struggling with Kanji. This is among the many tips and tricks for learning how to learn that he proposes to learners of various subjects.  It’s been helpful in remembering the Kanji.