*This Challenge will be held again in September, from September 6, 2014 through October 6, 2014.
In August, the HabitRPG Japanese Deep Cave Adventurers’ Guild will be sponsoring its first Challenge, which will be a Beginner’s Immersion Challenge. This Challenge is designed to assist Beginning Japanese students (and more advanced students) to start to use Japanese, rather than merely to practice Japanese. One of the steps towards going beyond practicing Japanese to communicating in Japanese is to encounter it in the wild…in its natural habitat, as it were, rather than safely in textbooks, vocabulary lists, and learning sites.
As Japanese learners, we are very fortunate to have a wide range of media readily available in the form of Anime and manga in order to assist us encountering the language in its natural habitat. Cure Dolly has written a wonderful article describing how to learn Japanese through Anime, which you can find here. I use this method myself, with a few tweaks for my own learning style and temperament. When I first started working with Anime, it took me about 6 to 10 hours to work my way through a 24 minute episode (I started VERY early in my studies). Now I can manage most 24 minute episodes in an hour or two, depending on the complexity.
So, this brings us to the first part of the challenge, which is a Todo of watching 1 episode of Anime with Japanese subtitles during the month, slowly, looking up new words and grammar points, and entering them into your Anki (or other learning tool). For this Beginner’s Challenge, getting through one episode in the month is sufficient. For true beginner’s, it might take a week or two (or more) to get through one episode. That is fine. You can do more if you wish, and count it in your own HabitRPG list; however, only one will count towards this particular challenge.
The second part of the challenge is a Daily of listening to spoken Japanese. There is a lovely learning site, Effortless Japanese, in which Tomoe-sensei reads stories aloud in Japanese and asks questions about the stories in Japanese. There is also another website which has stories that you can read along with while you listen. An example of one of the stories can be found here. Still another option for this Daily is listening to Anime. To get the most out of this Daily, it is best to study the material that you will be listening to ahead of time, and put new vocabulary into your Anki. Unlike the first leg of this challenge, it is perfectly acceptable to do this Daily while engaged in other tasks, such as housework or exercise. The minimum requirement for this Daily is one story or episode, which range from 15 – 30 minutes long.
The third leg of this challenge is designed to start one actually using Japanese. This leg is a positive habit of writing your habits, dailies, and todos on HabitRPG in Japanese. This will help you to work out how to express what you actually do in Japanese. It is also helpful in learning to use collocations, or words that go naturally together.
Here are some examples that I learned my own discipline of using Japanese for my own tasklists:
ベッドを直る （なおる）。Make the bed, in English, but is literally “fix the bed.”
アイロンを掛ける （かける）。 Do the ironing, in English, but is literally, “hang the iron.”
Now you have two tasks in Japanese for free!
For this habit, you can give yourself a + for each new Todo, Daily, or Habit that you write, so long as you write that habit in Japanese. As this is a Beginner’s Challenge, this is a positive Habit only, so you will not get any penalty for writing in English. While you should strive to write your task in correct Japanese, if you do your best, and write it in mistaken Japanese, that is ok too. It is your own list that only you can see! In my own experience, when I discover I have written a task incorrectly by later learning the correct way to say that task, I tend to really remember the correct phrase! It is all part of the fun, I think!
In the Japanese Deep Cave Adventurers’ Guild chat area, English is strictly kinshi. For this reason, the Challenge itself will be written in Japanese. For beginner’s, this is what it will look like:
日本語の字幕でアニメを１話見る (“Watch one episode of Anime, using Japanese subtitles”)
日本語を聞く (“Listen to Japanese”)
+ 日本語で新しいHabitRPGの用事を書く (“Write new HabitRPG task using Japanese”)
The winner(s) of this challenge shall receive one Gem.