April 7, 2008

On Japanese counting

Since older beginners are said to have past the threshold of native pronunciation, once past that point, native pronunciation is unattainable. This may be physiologically true but we can through practice and hard work get close enough to fake a native or two. Once our tongues have hardened or the brain function coordinated with the muscles of the tongue are stuck in our primary language, they say this usually happens around the age of 12-14, then our tongue is no longer moldable and cannot attain the shape to pronounce things.past the point where the native pronunciation line can be drawn, we can draw near unto only a good pronunciation fter learning 1 through 10 On Counting in Japanese: a study strategy

It is rare with so many romance languages being touted around in the USA, with Mexico south of the border and French Canada high on its heels behind us yet close enough to have its influence felt. It is rare to find someone who has actually learned from a friend or a Japanese teacher how to count in Japanese. Americans are starving for some variety in the choices our students our given in the public or private schools. Where in the curriculum does it provide for Japanese, or Korean, or any of the 1000's of languages the world knows.

First learn the first 10 numbers in Japanese.

1 – ichi
2 – ni
3 – san
4 – shi, yon
5 – go
6 - roku
7 –shichi, nana
8 – hachi, ha
9 – kyu, ku
10 – ju, to

At this point, I just want to say that if you feel at all uncomfortable with the numbers up to 10 then stop and just study these numbers for a couple of days before going on. Use every opportunity to use Japanese. Give yourself two hours each day that you only speak Nihongo. If someone asks you what time it is answer in both Japanese and English. Try doing any simple math that you would normally find yourself doing around the house ; any calculations you find yourself in try to remember to keep pace with your goals. The price of your Stater Bros items and even say the total in Japanese as you are waiting to pay. That is a good way to study even if you are not in Japan. Just make sure you can first say from 1 to 10 in Japanese frontwards and backwards with your eyes closed and without any help from some book, however you decide to memorize the numbers The idea behind all of this is to get the locuter speaking more in the target language giving him opportunity to

Now on to the teens. Like most languages, the numbers become compound so 11 in Japanese is actually like saying ten one, ten two, ten three, ten four &tc.
11 – ju ichi
12 – ju ni
13 – ju san
and so forth... I'll let you finish studying the rest of the tens 14-19

Now on to the twenties. Here as in the teens the numbers are compounded so that you will be saying two ten, two ten one, two ten three &tc.
20 –ni ju
21 – ni ju ichi
22 – ni ju ni
and so on...

The 30's through the 90's are also done in this fashion. Once you have recited aloud the numbers 20 to 99 review them all and go on to do the 100's after you learn the word for
30 – san ju
31 - san ju ichi
95 – kyu ju go
99 – kyu ju kyu
100 – hyaku
101 – hyaku ichi
108 – hyaku hachi
197 – hyaku kyu ju nana (shichi)
200 – ni hyaku
300 – sam byaku
400 – yon hyaku
500 –go hyaku
600 – roppyaku
700 – nanahyaku
800 – happyaku
900 – kyuhyaku
1000 – sen
1001 – sen ichi
2000 ni sen
Some of my best spent hours studying Japanese were when I recited to myself the numbers in Japanese from zero to one million, and then back to zero again. Yes it got a little tedious and after a while I would think to myself, “O.K. Enough is enough! I mean gee… to 1 million and back… that is going a little out of the way just to learn some language don’t you think?” Not to a die-hard that really wants to speak the language. I was extremely determined to master Japanese, that is why I recited the numbers from zero to one million and then back again over and over again.
Other things I did which are strategies worth considering was that I would count from 0 to 1 million by 2’s, by 3’s, by 4’s and by 5’s, 6’s, 7’s, 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s. Some numbers seemed for some reason or another harder than the others, so I would concentrate more on the hard ones. I don’t think I tried 11’s but it could produce the same results. It surely stems from basically the same idea. The more your mouth and brain coordinate their efforts in the target languages the better prepared you will be to use them in the real world. So go ahead use you try some of these out until you can say them without hesitation.

Ways to practice counting so as to get better in speaking Japanese, always practice with correct pronunciation and begin slowly and then build up speed and swiftness of speech.

1. Count from 0 to 1 million and go backwards once you arrive at a million to get to zero once again. Again if 1 million seems tough, it would be o.k. to go as far as you can, but maybe stretch yourself a little, a least 99000 or something. You want to get good don’t you?
2. Count up the odd numbers from 0 to 1 million
3. Count up the even numbers from 0 to 1 million
4. do #2 and #3 backwards from 1 million
5. count through your numbers by 3’s, 4’s 5’s etc
6. do long division by saying out loud in Japanese the problem
Here are some nice handy math words that will give you hours of word play:
To add – tasu
To divide – waru
To multiply -kakeru
To subtract – hiku

I don’t think it sinks into your being until you’ve actually recited the numbers from zero to one million (1,000,000) a couple of times through without hesitation and eventually to do it without even thinking about it. That is one of the secrets of fluency. It sprouts from one’s ability to think in the target language. If you catch yourself thinking in the target language that is a good sign; if you catch yourself dreaming in the target language you have reached bliss, SLA bliss. You are heading towards fluency. I got to a point where my dreams would be in Japanese and it didn’t matter who or what type of people were in my dreams, everybody spoke in Japanese. I remember my mom and dad who aren’t too familiar with the Japanese language, but in my dreams were conversing with me full on like natives themselves. So what is the point of all this? The point is akin to the old adage,’when in Rome do as the Romans do’.
The more one thinks in the target language the more apt they are to acquire the language. Lets face it there is no quick road to fluency except hard work, goal oriented study, persistent practice and an iron will coupled with an abundance of motivation. I hope this little lesson won’t discourage anyone about learning languages. Because there will be some that are too lazy start the training, their motivation will be sub par for their needs, and thus they will not make it to fluency. But those who persevere and but instead will inspire people to go for it, even though the road to fluency isn’t yellow nor bricked. These are things that I know of that will enable an SL learner how to speak in a foreign tongue and bring them closer to near perfect fluency.