Tag: languages

Kanji Poster

This weekend, I started building a Python script to make a poster using the 2200 kanji included in jōyō kanji list as well as the extra kanji covered in [cached]WaniKani.

Kanji Poster

I'm still experimenting with different ways of ordering and coloring the kanji; for now I've ordered them according to how they appear in Heisig's Remembering the Kanji, and colored them by the log of their frequency in some texts I had.

You can find an example pdf in my github project.

Master one skill at a time instead of learning many at once

Every skill has both a cost to maintain and a cost to learn. Take the case of learning a language: You need to spend some time every day rehearsing vocabulary and grammar you already learned so you don't forget (maintain), then you can also study new words and grammar points (learn).

The maintenance is a fixed cost - you need to spend this time just to not forget what you already know. As you get better, this cost goes down. Either because you can integrate the skill in your normal routine - read news in foreign languages - or because it has become …

WaniKani on Anki

[cached]WaniKani has long been my favorite way of studying Kanji, but I've always disliked the need to type in every single reading and meaning. At 300 reviews a day that's a lot of typing!

Today I finally had enough. First I considered making a user script for WaniKani to make it work a bit more like Anki (where you don't type the answer at all, you simply indicate how well you knew it with one tap). But then I realized that I might as well just use Anki directly.

I quickly found [cached]wanikanitoanki.com, which is great to …

Learning Chinese

Since I'm soon going to China for vacation, I thought I should at least learn the basics before I arrive. Being familiar with Kanji helps immensely with recognizing Hanzi (the original Chinese characters) - many are identical, even have very similar readings. Only "simplified" Chinese is a bit tricky, the characters don't really resemble Japanese.

Aside from the characters, Chinese has an additional difficulty: tones. The difference between (mother) and (horse) is just the direction of your voice (flat vs fall-rise). But wait, there's more. In addition to tones, Chinese has consonants that are quite hard to distinguish for …

Reading Fluent Forever

After being tempted for a good while, I finally read Gabriel Wyner's [cached]Fluent Forever. It's a solid introduction to language learning and teaches you a lot of good techniques. While I knew most of it already in theory, I hadn't put everything into practice yet, so reading it was a good way to take a look at my own language learning and see what I could improve.

Introduction: Stab, Stab, Stab

Gabriel starts of with 3 basic keys to language learning: 1. Learn pronunciation fast 2. Don't translate 3. Use SRS

He then recommends to get a few books …

Halfway There

Just recently, I passed an important milestone for my Japanese: 1000 Kanji learned. That's half the way to the official 2000 you supposedly need to read everyday newspapers, as well as other normal texts.

And indeed I have started to read Manga, Naruto and Death Note for now. It is still quite difficult to read, often I don't know what a sentence is supposed to mean, but luckily English translations are readily available on the Internet (I mostly use mangafox).

I've also built some [cached]dynamic grammar flashcards for Anki, though I have yet to use them. Oh the akrasia …

On Learning Languages

I've made an attempt at summarizing everything I know about learning languages into one page, also adding useful resources and books. It's both a personal reference and in the hopes that it will be useful to somebody else - it will certainly be nice to have when making recommendations to friends, be able to point them at a single resource.

Feel free to message me if I left out some essential book or grammar guide, I'll be happy to include them and use them myself!

Language Learning - An Update

It's been quite a while since my last post, two and a half months to be more precise. Back then, I mentioned I was heavily relying on Spaced-Repetition Systems (SRS) for learning and retention.

In the intermediate weeks I found that with increasing competency in a language - after reaching a basic comprehension of at least 5000 words - SRS become less and less effective. At this point, I've completely stopped using Anki for Spanish; instead I'm listening to random podcasts on my way to and from work, as well as watching TV shows in Spanish. My comprehension seems to have gotten …

Our minds are slaves to our bodies

Just now, I was practicing Spanish on Memrise. I used to speak each word aloud while writing it, but I had stopped doing that over the summer to not annoy other people in my hostels. So imagine my surprise when I started doing it again and my mood completely changed within a minute - from kind of meh and relaxed to full of energy and happiness.

Why full of energy? I tend to move through words pretty fast, thus speaking at that speed is quite energetic and fast too. This looks like a promising approach to alter my own mood, to …

Japanese Again

It's been a week since I've started using [cached]TextFugu and so far, it's been awesome. I also started using it's sister service [cached]WaniKani but can't report much yet because the spaced repetition algorithm hasn't given me any kanji yet (it takes a few days to start).

I can't read proper Japanese texts yet, but I was delighted when I managed to deceiver the text on the chopsticks during my last visit to a sushi restaurant ("arigatou gozaimasu"). Not much, but it still felt awesome.

So, if you want to learn Japanese, give [cached]TextFugu a try and make …

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