I’ve started using my new computer completely in Japanese. This is a pretty big departure from before as my old computer was all in English with an English keyboard. Simply having a Japanese keyboard is a big boost because I don’t have to keep clicking on the IME button to switch between English and Japanese, and to have the entire OS in another language is a complete change.
It is pretty challenging sometimes to puzzle out what the computer is asking and it can slow you down a bit if you aren’t familiar with how windows works. This is my first time using Windows 7, so at first I was a bit lost, but I’m starting to get a handle on it now. I would only recommend it if you are about N2 or above though.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress, in the meantime, let’s get to the feature segment.
Japanese Grammar Who Needs it?
There is an argument put forth by a few language learning gurus that learning grammar is a waste of time. Or, I should say studying grammar specifically in a grammar textbook is a waste of time. The argument goes something like, babies don’t have to learn grammar so why do you?
Instead of studying a grammar book, you should be able to get your grammar from native materials. You can just absorb the grammar from the materials and eventually, over time, you’ll begin to learn what sounds right in the language automagically.
Although I’m personally a bit skeptical of this method, I thought I would take the time to present both sides of the argument. I’ll be playing the role of devil’s advocate if you will. Next week in episode 43, I’ll present the pro-grammar argument, but for this episode let’s just pretend I’m completely against studying grammar.
Studying Japanese Grammar Wastes Time
Time is precious. Everyone has something to do these days it seems, maybe you have work, family obligations, or maybe you raise prize-winning chinchillas in your free time. Whatever the case my be, chances are you probably don’t have a whole lot of time on your hands. So, you always want to make the most out of your studying time.
Studying grammar rules and doing drills is pretty inefficient way to spend your studying time because you aren’t using the language in a realistic way. What good does it do you to form sentences out of a book and write them out or say them out loud in class if you are never going to use them in real life. Those words in the textbook are not your ideas, they are the textbook writer’s ideas, so why are you just parroting what he says?
Those grammar books are stuffed full of proper out-dated uses of the language, too. Real Japanese is full of mistakes and shortcuts, blurring of sounds, dialectal differences, and slang. So what is the point of spending all that time studying the grammar when the native speakers don’t even us it properly themselves?
Not to mention the fact that grammar textbooks are typically bland tasteless pieces of literature anyway. Most them just have tons of text and a few pictures. It can be incredibly demotivating to try to hammer your way through chapter after chapter of grammar that you aren’t using and may never use.
You can Pick Up Japanese Grammar from Immersion
By immersing yourself in Japanese movies and dramas, you’ll be able to extract tons of vocabulary and grammar. For things you have trouble figuring out, you can ask a native speaker friend to help explain them to you. In this way, you’ll be learning and using grammar and vocabulary that is important to you not just important to the textbook writer.
With total immersion in the language, you’ll be hearing and using tons of examples of how the language is really used, and get a good feeling for what the language is like. In this way, you’ll be able to use the language a lot more fluently because you won’t be bogged down thinking about grammar rules when you are making sentences.
If you have the opportunity to speak to native speakers, you’ll be able to get instant feedback on whether you are using the language correctly or not. If they don’t understand something you said, you can try again using another phrase or word, or you can simply ask how to say it if your native speaking friend knows your language.
The point of learning a language is to use it and use it to communicate with someone else. As long as you are getting your point across, who cares whether it’s in correct grammar or not? You achieved your goal didn’t you?
Besides grammar reminds me too much of high school and memorizing those large charts of conjugations and genders for Spanish class. I don’t want to stick my nose in a book, I want to use the language already!
Stand Up and Be Heard
What do you think of grammar? Is it time to throw your grammar textbook out the window? Let your voice be heard in the comments.
P.S. If you are a secret grammar lover, and need some support, join my newsletter and get a free guide, discounts and tips.
P.S.S. Are you fed up with grammar? Great, go tell iTunes about it. Or if you have comments or suggestions for the podcast, by all means let me know in the comments below or contact me and let me know what I can do to improve the show. Thanks!
Music by Kevin MacLeod