Category Korean Textbook Reviews

Category Japanese Textbook Reviews

5 In Thai Learning Journey :)

Small milestones to celebrate

  1. I can type in Thai on the computer keyboard without reference yay (only the non-caps board lolol)
  2. I can read much better in Thai without romanisation
  3. I can recognize more words and am a lot faster in reading basic stuff
  4. I just started on my third Thai notebook!

I just started using this free online series of beginner Thai texts and I’m LOVING IT. There’s no romanisation, so it’s great practice and revision for me.

I did 3 at one go and now my brain and eyes are dying, so tired. There’s just something brain-intensive about language learning. I always feel like I can sleep very well after studying lol.

I’m also on my third Thai notebook and the paper is AMAZING. I’m terrible but I love good (expensive) paper. But it does make a difference and it makes me very happy. 🙂 Actually, I still have a couple of pages left for my previous notebook but I was in the middle of a chapter of another book there, so I thought I’ll just start on a new one for this new series of reading.

Sorry if I’m spamming too many photos of language notes, but it’s one of my small joys in life. It’s amazing to think that I’ve been posting language notebook pics for more than 10 years omg. Across a couple of languages.

It’s been a long time since I’m so motivated to study languages. So thankful to Thai lakorns.

I’m reminded of how I used to blog regularly years ago and basically just fangirl and write random things about language learning <3 Those were the days.

0 In Thai Learning Journey :)

Nothing like fangirl-ing to…

I haven’t been updating this space because in between life, commitments, language study and dramas, I barely had time. But I need to come here to talk about the drama I’ve just finished watching.

Remember You (คือเธอ)

It’s like SO GOOOD?!!

And it’s providing so much motivation for me to study Thai. I didn’t know it’s still possible that I fangirl so much, when I thought that I’ve mostly mellowed out with age lolol. Gone were the days (I thought) where I could have so much feels for a show and character.

But this is it. I’ve found my all-time favorite Thai drama now!! Something that I’ll want to rewatch again and again and again.

Remember You (2021) is actually a Thai remake of Korean drama Hello Monster (2015), but I love the Thai show soooo much that unfortunately I’m unwilling to watch the Korean source anytime soon. I’ll also like to see them as separate shows, so no comparisons please!

There are so many things absolutely adore about this show that I don’t even know where to begin. (You can begin watching the show on Netflix LOL). I’m not sure how to describe the show without spoiling it, but there are elements of procedural crime / mystery / a strong backstory / a very complex and interesting villain / compelling main and side characters.

I don’t think there’s anything I don’t love about the show.

But I’m very very very much drawn to Tanwa, our male lead. He’s absolutely my ideal type (on screen), both in terms of looks and character.

[Some spoilers (?) ahead – highlight to read]

The loveline in the story is not the focus but this makes it even more precious when we get a couple of sweet scenes. And I absolutely love how the girl is active in expressing her feelings and she takes actions hahaha.

And omg Tanwa and his half-smiles/half-smirks. My heart cannot.

I’m completely a fangirl.

[End of spoilers]

Fangirling aside, I truly loved the whole execution of the drama and every single scene was just so perfect and good. If you are looking for a Thai drama, I highly recommend this!!

And yes, I’ve been very much into the Thai language these days. But hahaha like what my friend astutely observed, I always focus on another language when I’m going to take a language test LOL.

TOPIK is in less than 2 months, so somehow my brain is steering me away from studying Korean lol.

I’m hoping to spend more time on Thai 🙂 Truly loving the language!

I’m slowly working my way through the Thai drama selection on Netflix.

Please send more recommendations!!

0 In Japanese learning journey (:/ Japanese Textbook Reviews

[Review] Japanese Made Easy

When I review textbooks for beginners, many times I think about how great it would be if I had access to these resources years ago. But it’s great that I get to share these books with people who are just starting their journey. These days, there are so many books, and the issue is finding the right book, rather than lamenting the lack of them.

Japanese Made Easy from Tuttle is a great beginner textbook, especially if you prefer your textbook to contain more English explanations and would like a book with both the romanization and Japanese.

In general, I find Tuttle books to be relatively well structured and I like how this book is focused on sentence patterns, which aims to get learners speaking right from the start. It’s very focused on application / usage, which is great.

Each chapter is made up of about 4 lessons, and right from the start, we are introduced to a list of sentence patterns covered, along with a dialogue and vocabulary notes. More vocabulary and grammar patterns are covered in subsequent chapters, along with culture notes.

I like that they presents conjugations very clearly in such tables and it just makes it so much easier.

There’s quite a bit of vocabulary introduced and I love it.

I’m not a fan of romanization and I have been vocal about it. But over the years, I am less ‘critical’ of Korean and Japanese textbooks who keep them throughout, and I acknowledge that no two learners are the same and for some, the romanization is indeed helpful in provide more guidance until they are ready to read the script. But I find it curious why Tuttle books choose to bold and prioritize the romanization, putting it before the script. I would have thought that romanization is a tool, and hence should go after/below the script. I mean, they are still side by side, but somehow, with the bolding of the romanization, you just tend to focus on it more. That’s probably one of the biggest gripes I have with their books.

I’m learning Thai right now and the script is hard, so I do appreciate having the romanisation at times. But it just distracts me when the romanization is put in bold and comes first, my eyes keep going to that instead of the Thai script )):

On a related note, I also don’t understand why the answer key (great on having one!) is entirely in romanization. I really… don’t understand.

Another thing is that the book doesn’t seem to come with MP3 files. Which is really strange for a beginner book. I had to flip through the books several times and even now, I am still doubting my conclusion that there appears to be no audio for the book. Which is such a pity.

It is a decent beginner textbook and I would have recommended it as a possible choice for the first Japanese textbook for self-study—if there is audio.

Buy it at Tuttle.

0 In Korean learning journey (:

The Hangeul Game I’ve Always Wanted

I love language games and Scrabble is one of my favorites, both as a child and now. I’ve always wanted something similar in Hangeul and I’m so stoked about Yangmalgame.

It’s actually just tiles of Korean consonants and vowels, and there are a couple of ways to play it, as explained on their site. You can also get creative and make up your own game, there’s so much flexibility.

It’s suitable for Korean learners at all levels. Even absolute beginners can use them to recognize Hangeul and as an interactive activity to make up words and learn pronunciation. Useful as a teaching tool too!

The tiles are lightweight and yet of quality, and I love how they come in a zipped pouch and it’s so easily to bring it around to play with friends.

Thanks to Austin and Yangmalgame for gifting me a set 🙂

Get yours here (양말장난)

4 In Japanese learning journey (:

A new Japanese novel for the new year

Despite having a number of half-read (or more like a few pages-read) Japanese novels lying around, I chose to start the new year with a new Japanese novel. There’s something intoxicating about a fresh start and it’s okay to indulge ourselves in small pleasures like this.

I’ve been trying to find motivation to read in Japanese again and I would very much love to go back to my peak Japanese reading period where I actually finish reading novels. I hope to increase my reading speed for Japanese, as well as for Korean.

Higashino Keigo remains to date one of my favourite Japanese authors, although I don’t read enough of his work. Decided to start on ナミヤ雑貨店の奇蹟, a 2012 novel. The English translation, The Miracles of the Namiya General Store, was released in July last year (still can’t get used to saying last year).

I’m just a few pages in but already intrigued by the premise of three delinquents holing up in an abandoned general store and getting a shock when an unaddressed letter drops through the mail slot. Opening the letter, they found an anonymous request for advice…

Doing my double-reading method because I want to learn new words, but I can kinda guess from the context and read the text without difficulty.

As you can possibly tell, I’m trying to keep up the productivity and motivation of the new year and hopefully it’ll last as long as … possible 🙂

The COVID situation has made me more of an introvert than I already am, not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. These days, I get exhausted too easily by being among humans, unless they are kindred spirits on the same wavelength.

If you are reading this, leave me a note 🙂

Till the next post.

5 In Others / General

Happy 2022

A new year, a new start. 2021 has been an interesting year, and there are many things and people that I’m thankful for 🙂 I tried to blog a little more frequently. While I’m nowhere near my heyday record of blogging almost everyday (how did I do that?!), it’s slightly better.

Blogging more also means that I’m studying more, which is a great thing.

At the end of the year, I found myself having a lot of motivation to study Thai. I have no idea why, sometimes life is just unexplainable 🙂 In any case, I’m glad to find that motivation and enthusiasm for language learning again 🙂

After many on and off attempts, I can finally type in Thai on the computer keyboard!! Or at least the more common half of the characters hahaha. It’s a huge milestone cos I’m adamant not to rely on keyboard stickers or an online image. I want to be able to type Thai no matter which computer I use. I’m still a little slow, but at least I’m comfortable enough to look up words on the dictionary without feeling like I’m taking eons.

I’m also learning more vocabulary, and there’s more that I can understand from Thai dramas! I look forward to the day in the future when I can watch Thai dramas unsubbed. 🙂

Spent the first day of the year studying, reading and cooking.

只闻花香 不谈悲喜 喝茶读书 不争朝夕。

This is how I’m going to live 2022!

2 In Others / General

I bought 6 black pens in different shades

One of the most intriguing things I bought the other day is a set of black pens.

Why do I need so many black pens, you ask. Because they are all in different shades of black.

Or rather, black with a hint of colors.

That still doesn’t explain why I need 6 black pens at one go, but it’s one of those things where you bought and asked yourself why you bought it but still you are happy that you bought it.

The pens look, feel and write gorgeous.

Posted it on Instagram the other day and got some DMs on wanting to see the colors, so here’s a video!

Love the sleek design and the smooth finish of the pens.

This is how it looks like in somewhat low lighting. The crimson black ink is the most differentiated one (in my opinion), but there’s still subtle differences. The differences are bigger in good lighting!

Happy with my purchase!

Now I need to decide how to incorporate them into my notes, because I usually have a fixed color scheme / coding.

In any case, time to study MOREEE.

To a great and productive 2022!!!

4 In Thai Learning Journey :)

The Year-End Motivation

I’m always extra motivated during the year end, maybe because it feels like I’ll be able to get a head-start on being productive in the new year LOL. There’s just something about wanting to gear up for the new year. Again, it’s all in the head, but as long as it gives me a bit of a push, I’m happy.

So here I am blogging again, after an almost 2-month hiatus.

I’m also suddenly very motivated to work harder for Thai. I haven’t been doing much language learning this year, as I’ve been spending a lot more time reading. Although I guess reading Korean novels is a form of studying 🙂

I have no idea why I’m suddenly all geared up to study Thai, since I haven’t been consuming any Thai media or entertainment. But now I hope to go back to watching Thai dramas. I stopped at episode 1 of the Thai remake of Tunnel. I enjoyed the Korean drama immensely, hopefully the Thai remake would be good.

And I think I’m *FINALLY* getting better at typing Thai on the computer. I’m still using this online keyboard as a reference, but I’m getting better at recognizing more keys (not the second keyboard toggled via caps). I’ve been forcing myself the whole morning to look up words on the computer instead of the phone, and I hope that with some consistent practice, I can finally type without relying on the online program (at least the first keyboard).

I’m also getting slightly better at recognizing and demarcating words within a Thai sentence (that has no spacing). Small wins!

Hopefully I can keep up this momentum until 2022!!

2 In Japanese learning journey (:/ Japanese Textbook Reviews

[Review] Japanese Stories for Language Learners

I love bilingual readers and Tuttle Publishing has an excellent series for that. Besides the Japanese one, I have the Korean Stories for Language Learners (review in link) and I’m eyeing the Thai Stories that will be published next year. Hopefully by then, I can be more comfortable in reading Thai 🙂

The Japanese bilingual reader is an excellent choice as a first book for reading, given that there are furigana on top of the kanji. I like that they don’t try to put everything in hiragana/katagana, cos that’s just not how Japanese is written naturally. I would much rather see the kanji with furigana on top, for those who are still very new to kanji.

The book consists of 5 short stories and I love how they take care to choose stories of different genres. There’s folktales and also representative works by Japanese authors. I particularly like the story 雪女. I came across this in another novel I was reading and didn’t realize that it was a folktale until I saw it here.

Each chapter begins with the bilingual story, with the English on the left and Japanese on the right. I love how they include translator’s notes, given that language learners may expect the English / Japanese to be as close as possible. but that’s not really realistic given the differences between both languages, making it difficult for a close translation to sound smooth. So it’s great that they have notes where the translation would differ quite a bit from the Japanese (e.g. not possible to translate mimetic words).

This is followed by vocabulary and expressions, where it’s a glossary of words.

Japanese + English + romanization + meaning + example (sometimes)

I thought it was odd to have the romanization there, given that this book is supposedly for learners who can already read Japanese. But even if there is a need for romanization to make things complete, I didn’t like that it’s in bold. That is one of the things I feel very strongly about, given that bolding something would naturally bring attention to it. Learners should wean off romanization, instead of being encouraged (visually) to look at it.

I like the exercises, where it’s to select the most appropriate item in the parentheses. Good extra reading practice and the exercises are friendly for self-study use too. Answer key available at the back. This is followed by a couple of discussion questions (in English) that are more of like prompts to think more deeply about the story and also how the reader relate to it.

Overall, I think it’s a neat book, and it would have been perfect if not for the bolding of the romanization haha. Sorry, but I feel very strongly about that point.

I’m definitely looking forward to the Thai stories!!

0 In Korean learning journey (:/ korean textbook reviews

[Review] Korean Grammar in Use Advanced

I can’t believe that it took me three years since my review of the Korean Grammar in Use: Beginner book to review the advanced book. I’m sure everyone has heard good things about this book, and likewise, I only have good things to say.

It’s not easy finding a good Korean advanced grammar resource (especially in English), and this is one of the books that I wished I had known about (or have) when I was at the stage of learning the advanced grammar points. Granted, if you are an advanced learner, there isn’t quite a need for English, but I love how in this book, the English explanations for the grammar (and the translation of the example sentences) are meant to complement the Korean, not take over it.

When I was preparing for TOPIK Advanced (or TOPIK II as it is known now), one of the difficulties was the advanced grammar and this would have been a very useful book.

I like how the grammar points are being grouped by their function, and it’s easy to refer to similar grammar points at one go.

Unlike grammar dictionaries which can get too boring, this book is very well paced and structured. The bonus is that the book comes with a CD (I think you can download the contents on their webpage), so there’s some listening practice too.

Structure

  • A dialogue (with mp3 file)
  • Explanation, with examples
  • Situations where you can use the grammar points
  • Fill in the blank exercises (with answer key)

It’s just so easy to work through the book. It’s very comprehensive and thorough, and it’s clear that the authors and team put in a lot of thought in designing the book and its contents.

Two thumbs up.

I would highly recommend getting this 🙂