Some changes in RL has forced me to re-evaluate my Japanese studies. In other words, I have too many other things to keep up the pace I started last month. It hit me that had to come up with another plan when it was almost half way through the month and I hadn’t done anything to complete my kana studies. So, I did what any other sane person would do. I went online to find something more structured, and joined Smart.fm. I’ve head about this site for while, but my lack of progress convinced me that it might not be a bad idea to check them out. And, they’re actually not too bad. I’ve started my first goal, which is of course, Mastering Hiragana. This goal is a better way to learn the kana, because it not only takes you through the hiragana, it has audio, shows you the proper strokes for writing it, and has a typing of the romanji on the keyboard. And it doesn’t go in order, like I was doing with my memorizing. This has been really helpful in teaching me to identify characters faster. It quizzes with multiple choice and by having you type the romanji. If you mess up, it takes you back to study the kana and then throws it back into the mix, quizzing you again until you get it right. I recommend checking out this site and goal.
So what have I been doing instead? Well, you might notice some changes to the blog. This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while, and I just sat down and did it finally. I chose this theme so I could start to accommodate writing about more than just manga. Manga will always be the focus of this blog, and will always be the featured article, but I wanted to be able to write about some of my other interested too, such as TV and books. Manga updates and reviews will continue to be Mon-Wed-Fri-Wknd and and other interests will be on Tues-Thurs. I just couldn’t keep up two blogs. Right know you’ll notice a lot of Doctor Who posts. I’m catching up and will then stay up-to-date through the end of the series. I hope if you share some of my other interests, you’ll enjoy these posts too. But don’t worry, manga will stay my main focus. The pile of books next to my desk demand that it be so!
So, I’d love to hear what you think about the changes, the non-manga posts, and I’ll try to be more on the ball with the Japanese. Though, it might be more lucrative for me career-wise to start learning Mandarin Chinese.
With a long list of wish lists and license requests, and not too good a prospect on getting a lot of those titles in English for whatever reason (too long, too old, too niche, etc), it makes a manga fan seriously consider learning to read Japanese. Why go through a middleman when you can go straight to the source? And Japanese tankoban are cheaper, even with the exchange rate, to buy. But learning a new language can be intimidating, especially when the letters that look nothing like you’re used to. Fortunately the internet is filled with resources to help you buy and read your Japanese manga.
One really good resource is Rainbow Hill Language Lab which features entries about Japanese language and culture. Recently the blog has been featuring several entries about reading manga as an aid to learning Japanese. One such entry was a list of tools to help you start reading manga. This list featured both resources that could be found online as well as books and study aids, all with links. He gives resources to the basics of the alphabet, basic grammar and vocabulary and kanji.
If you’re serious about your manga, and don’t want to wait for a license that might never come, then learning to read Japanese is the way to go. And if you don’t have a lot of time to take a class, this is a good way to start. I know I’m sorely tempted to pull out the Highschool Kimengumi manga we have and try this out!
Learning Japanese from popular culture such as anime and manga is nothing new. Mangajin, a magazine from the early 90’s used manga to teach lessons. In fact, it’s exactly these things that inspire westerners to want to learn to read and speak Japanese. The Japanese have recognized this and have created a website to help learners of their language. But it’s not exactly what you’d expect.
The website, anime-manga.jp doesn’t show you manga panels with translations. No, the purpose of the site is to help teach learners about colloquial expressions that often show up in anime and manga, but not in textbooks. Languages are fluid, they are always changing. Anime and manga, which are all about popular culture reflect these changes, which often stump new readers who don’t live in the culture and see and hear these changes. On the site, you can see and hear expressions from typical characters from anime and manga such as school age boys and girls, butlers, and samurai. You can even hear an Osaka dialect from an old man!
I’ve heard people try to discourage others from using anime and manga as a resource for learning Japanese precisely because of the colloquialisms. But in order to sound like a real native speaker, you should know them, and I think it’s great that the Japanese recognize this and are reaching out to foreign learners to help them. Of course, I’m sure all the raw manga and anime these learners will buy to help their studies won’t hurt either.
This has been bugging me for a while now, and I’ve got to say something. It was spurred by an article in The Oregonian, and pointed out by Brigid Alverson of Good Comics for Kids. The gist of the Oregonian article was teachers incorporating comics into the classroom, through the Comic Book Project, a joint effort by Dark Horse Comics and Columbia University of New York. Included in the article was the following quote:
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