The German Challenge
I am currently in my 2nd year at University and for my sandwich year we get to do a work placement or study abroad, so I will be studying in Germany. Our University has a few connections in Europe but unfortunately none in Japan :(. Well, long-story short I applied and got accepted into a German University to study Computer Science related subjects (I haven’t decided what yet). This study year starts around October this year and will continue up until around July. It is a great opportunity to experience life in a new country while also learning about new topic areas. I am very excited.
There is just one catch.
The entire course is taught in German.
This isn’t a problem though. I know how to learn languages and I expect German to come slightly quicker than Japanese did. If I apply everything I know now, I think I can get to a good level of understanding before I arrive in the country. One great thing about the study year is that although the entire course is taught in German, the exams can be answered in English (the questions are still written in German though…). So all I need to do is get to a good understanding of the German language and I will be perfectly fine. Also, my grades don’t actually count for this study year (phew!).
I have already started the immersion process, although it has been a bit slow. I’m worried about how lack of Japanese contact will affect my Japanese ability. Due to this I am researching what other polyglots or bilingual language learners do to maintain their languages. So far I’ve come up with the plan of at least an hour of contact a day and up to a maximum of 4 hours. This will consist of at least 30 minutes reading, 30 minutes listening, my Anki reviews and talking with a friend. I am seriously considering living in Japan after University so I can’t lose my Japanese ability. This means that German isn’t going to have as much immersion time compared to Japanese.
My plan is to read books straight away while listening to kids shows. I am currently watching Die Mumins on Youtube and am reading Die Verwandlung by Franz Kafka. At this stage I understand about 0.5%. Literally just a couple of words and phrases. There are some things that sound very close to English and there are a lot of words I can infer meaning from when reading. This just goes to show how similar European languages can be :D. I remember really struggling with Japanese at the beginning stages but German doesn’t feel like it is going to be as bad. I plan on not even looking at grammar as I know how much people complain about “Cases” and such. Instead I am just going to absorb the language like a native would. That means lots of TV and lots of reading. I will also sprinkle in some SRS in there too speed up the process as well, of course 😉
Anyway, this was just a quick update letting you guys know that I am know studying German. To any native speakers that are reading this, if you know of any good websites that you use for TV, books, music etc then please post them in the comments below! 🙂
See you in the next one!
Here are some of my favorite tools and sites for learning Japanese
Thank you for reading this blog post, which I hope you found useful for learning Japanese. Here are some of the most useful websites that I’ve found for finding Japanese content to use for immersion as well as some really useful learning tools to help you through your Japanese studies. Some of these are affiliate links which just means that if you decide to use these sites by clicking the following links, then I will earn a commission. But honestly speaking, these are the sites that I use and recommend language learners, even my friends, to use anyway.
Anki Tools: To get started, I really like Migaku for Anki. By itself, Anki is already a super useful tool for language learners but Migaku allows for integration with websites like YouTube and Netflix, allowing it’s users to create flashcards from the shows and videos that they are watching, as they are watching them. If you use my link you can get an extra month for free.
Speaking Practice: For this I absolutely love iTalki. There are thousands of Japanese teachers on the platform that are available at all times of the day to have conversations with you, in Japanese. Some teachers take a more traditional approach while others are just there to chat, these are the ones I would recommend if you are looking to improve your conversational Japanese. Lessons start from just $5 and there’s no long term commitment, I highly recommend them.
Immersion: I’ve used a lot of different earphones / headphones over the years but by far the one that has come out on top is the NENRENT S570. This is a singular in-ear earphone that matches your skin tone to keep it discrete, meaning you can listen to the language you are learning while at work, or school. For a full list of tools and gadgets I recommend for maximizing your immersion time, check out this blog post.