Saturday, 6 April 2013

How to get more passive knowledge? / How to keep training your passive understanding of a language?

Another post about learning a language which I focus mainly on Japanese but can of course be applied to other languages. This is the third post, in the first post I talked about goals, passive knowledge and learning types, in the second post I talked about some of the different methods out there which can help with certain goals when learning Japanese.

Same disclaimer as always:
I'm not a teacher, I compile each of these posts by going by my own knowledge and they only reflect my own opinion. You should at all times think for yourself and not take any of what is said as the pure truth, I am after all human so I make mistakes too.

How to get more passive knowledge? / How to keep training your passive understanding of a language?

This post is two-fold. It can both help you create passive knowledge and also make sure you keep practising. For Japanese I think there is a third hurdle and that is being scared of the written language, some of these tips are also handy to get over that fear.

What is passive knowledge? 

Passive knowledge is often being able to read or hear a language and knowing what it is about, but not being able to write or speak at that same level. As I've said before, large parts of learning a language is about creating handles so you can click into your passive knowledge and make it active.

Hearing the language

This one is easier than it seems. Hearing as a passive skill is the least scary one in Japanese. There are three ways to gather and train this skill, music, anime and TV programs/movies.


Music is a good way to be able to hear the language even if it isn't always made up out of actual sentences. This isn't too bad, the best thing is that you get comfortable with the language on a level where you don't have to pay attention to it. You'll start to recognise words and sentence pieces through multiple bands and songs. This is the most passive of all the passive hearing skills.
I'm a huge Visual Kei fan and that is what I mostly listen to in my free time. Some examples of this I've gathered in one of my video collections "Mindfuck". Less eclectic male artists are Gackt, Hyde and Miyavi(also great to listen to if you just really like great guitarists). Sorry, I don't know any boybands.
If you're more into female music I've got a few artists too, though I know less of these and Japanese culture has a different way of portraying female artists then in the Western world. So, here are a few: C-ute, Berryz, Tommy Heavenly/Tommy February6, Exist Trace, Perfume (my personal favourite), akb48 and not to forget Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
Hmm, that was fun to put together, now, onto other things.


I personally get my anime fix at Crunchyroll these days, they have a lot of subbed anime. Just as a sidenote, the difference between subbed and dubbed anime is that subbed has subtitles are dubbed are voiced over in a different language. If you want the full anime experience with the intended language go for the subbed anime.
Some people complain that people who copy their language from anime all sound like 16 year old girls, which is weird in a way since there are anime for all intended age groups and both genders.
You have fighting robots (Mecha), magical girls, slice of life, and even adult genres like hentai, yaoi and yuri (do not let under 18 search those 3 things).
If you think you don't like anime, maybe look around a bit more, there are so many different genres and unlike most Western cartoons anime is not exclusively for kids (as I've proven above).
I recently finished two fantasy anime, Gosick (a shounen anime about Sherlock Holmes but he is a girl who looks like she is 10 and she lives in a made-up european country just before World War 1, there are a lot of Victorian dresses and the ending is intense) and 07 Ghost (a shoujo anime about a guy that is hunted by the government because he has special magical powers, lots of bishi's and fighting). For now I'll leave you with that shounen is anime focused for guys and shoujo is anime focused on girls. I will probably do a special post about anime at another time because there is a lot to say about genres and focus groups.

TV programs/movies

There are some places where you can also watch tv shows. Crunchyroll has a couple of them. Other than that, I'd say check youtube, I've watched quite a few Japanese movies through youtube and if I'm correct Netflix also does some Japanese movies.
I'm more into music and anime so this is not something I know a lot about.

Reading the language

I'm a member of Ameba, a Japanese blogging/twitter/game website. I use it in Chrome and I can choose to have a page translated for me or not, I've been there a few months now and I'm translating regular pages less and less and mostly only translate if I want to see someone's blog post or nao (bit like twitter). I've become a lot more comfortable around the language, I try to sometimes read the hiragana and the katakana I come across and I love it when I recognise a kanji here and there.
I'm trying to think of other ways where you would just run across Japanese written language without it being difficult to read or too scary. I don't know any, do you?

So, what other ways do you have to acquire passive knowledge? Share them below!
Okay, that is it for now! See you next time!