3 In Others / General

#2 Learning the Russian Alphabet

I’m not sure what I’m planning to do with this series of posts, but I hope to share more details about my journey to learn Russian and hopefully this might be helpful to those who’s also picking up a new language. 🙂

The first thing I like to do when learning a language with a different script is to learn it. I cannot (and will not) rely on romanisation as I don’t want to rely on it. And it’s bad to write the target language in your native script because it tends to encourage matching of sounds of the target language into your native tongue when the sounds are not exactly the same!

I’m using a Japanese textbook which comes with a CD 🙂 One of the best feelings of knowing a foreign language is that it opens up even more resources to learn a new foreign language. It also helps to kill two birds with one stone cos you are practicing two languages at one time 😀 (I’m weird like this).

Things to note when learning a new script

1. listen instead of read
2. no need to memorise – write and practice
3. don’t obsess with the details (e.g. pronunciation rules)

Listen instead of read

Many textbooks like to use explanations like [a], same as [a] in [tar]. Or linguistics terms like “fricative” “palatal sound”. Or open your mouth 45 degrees, have your tongue touch the roof of your mouth (ok I made the last one up but you get what I mean).

Ignore these instructions. I can’t stress this more. I don’t know about you, but instead of helping me, I feel like such explanations make it sooo much harder to learn the new sounds.

Just listen, listen and listen

No need to memorise

Haven’t you done enough of that in school? I’m not asking you to have a photographic memory, but rather, avoid rote memorisation where you are just staring at a piece of paper and forcing yourself to remember everything. Practice and let your mind / hand / ears get used to things. The more you do, the faster it will become part of you.

Don’t obsess over details

Many books like to introduce the pronunciation rules all at one go at the start of the book. For people like me who like to read page by page (without skipping), it’s really stressful trying to make yourself understand alllll those pronunciation rules before progressing. It’s like you feel compelled to do so, or you can’t flip that page and progress. (and you get stuck there forever). Pronunciation rules are NOT meant to be internalised and understood in a sitting, and definitely not at the start of your learning journey.

Read through them, try to get a sense of them, and move on.

I like to learn new words through listening, and when you do so, the pronunciation rules don’t matter so much. If you come across a word later on and feel like its not pronounced the way it’s written, then go back to the rules page and see if you can identify something that can explain the changes. This way, you learn faster.

Eg. Это – the unaccented [o] is pronounced as a [a] and I realised it when listening to the audio.

Spent a night revising the alphabet and I think I’ve more or less gotten the hang of it! 🙂 I learnt the Russian Alphabet 1.5 years ago, so it was easier for me to pick it up again even though I couldn’t remember it prior to the revision. Some things just stay 🙂

Till the next post!

4 In Russian

#1 Starting Russian (again)

In March 2018, I wrote about my excitement of starting Russian and how I took up a 12-hour (6 lessons) pre-beginner class. Unfortunately, it was again a case of work/adulting > hobbies and I couldn’t keep up with the language. I left it aside with the intention of coming back to it again at some point in time, and didn’t manage to do so until… now 🙂

Something sparked that desire in me to pick up the language again. I love to associate language learning with going into a relationship. You never know when things will work out or not. It’s all about the fate.

And so what sparked that interest again? It’s actually a Chinese drama that I’m watching – 《独家记忆》(Somewhere only we know) on Netflix. As an aside, I’m very new to Netflix I feel like a noob 🙂 I still can’t decide if it’s worth my money cos I don’t watch much Hollywood/English shows. It’s one of those slice-of-life about growing up/ friendships / love and depicts the relationship between a third-year English major university student and a PhD Physics student who took up the role as a substitute teacher for a Russian elective. LOOOOL. Sorry I know this sounds dubious but hahaha please give it a watch. I really love it. I loved how the drama really incorporated quite a fair bit of Russian-related elements (such as the Russian classes) – if I’m a university student now I’m totally going to sign up for Russian classes next semester LOL. The male lead also put in quite a bit of effort in his role and he sounded so natural in speaking Russian (to my untrained ears). ♡♡♡ Totally fangirling over the show.

And that’s the reason why I am soooo excited over learning Russian again. You may think it’s quite a lame reason, but I feel that it’s such silly reasons that can carry us through the journey 🙂 I call it fate.

I hope to blog about this journey in more detail, cos it’s not everyday that I would start on a new language. I’m not trying to be a polyglot and at this point, I don’t have that much interest to learn many different languages. I hope that I’ll really be good in the ones I’ve picked and chosen 🙂

Through sharing more details of my study, I hope to help those who are brand new to the language (and not just Russian) to also start in their own journey and find the method that’s most suitable for themselves! ^^

Till the next post.

0 In Others / General

[Hangukdrama x Tuttle] Instagram Giveaway

Excited to be partnering Tuttle Publishing to giveaway a copy each of three Tuttle language books! It’s funny how I’ve always associated Tuttle with language learning resources, even though their catalogue goes beyond that. So I’m doubly excited that they are opening a new Instagram account dedicated to language learners.

If you are interested to join the giveaway, check out my Instagram feed 🙂

Korean Stories for Language Learners

Intermediate Japanese

Korean for Beginners

To be reviewed
0 In Korean learning journey (:

A break and a milestone

I love the Korean word and concept 힐링. While it comes from the English word “healing”, it takes on a different meaning – to take a break mentally / physically. It can be used in phrases such as 힝링이 된다 to describe how something / someone gave you comfort / is a form of relaxation.

That’s how I feel about this weekend. Had a staycation with a good friend and I felt that the 24 hour break gave me so much comfort and “healing”. It gave me some alone time (with my thoughts) and allowed me to really focus on the present and myself. A change of environment always does me some good cos it feels like I can “restart” myself.

Brought a Korean novel with me and I was surprised by how well I could concentrate on reading. It’s been really a long while since I have enough time and energy to really sit down and read a foreign language novel.

Read about 90 pages and yay I finally finished another Korean novel!!

I’m reading 해리 by 공지영. Bought this two-volume novel a couple of months back. Those who know me would know that I LOVED the novel (and movie) 우리들의 행복한 시간, by the same author. 우행시 was the first Korean novel I knew about – cos the Yonsei Reading 6 series featured it. And it was probably one of the earliest (or perhaps even first?) novel that I owned. I bought 해리 without even knowing what the novel was about (lol I’m totally the type that “follows” authors).

Well, I’m glad I bought them. I’ve only finished Book 1 thus far and woah it has been a gripping read. If you are interested, you can Google and find out more about the book and the synopsis.

The last Korean novel I read was probably a few years ago ahhahahah (I’m terrible), so this is really a big personal milestone for me. It’s strange how I tend to read a lot more non-fiction and news articles in Korean. But I’m still glad to say that all the accumulated effort over the past few years (not much compared to my earlier years of learning Korean) has still paid off. I am highlighting fewer new vocabulary and even though there were some words I didn’t know, I am still able to follow the narrative with ease.

Ok, time to read book 2 🙂

I will be back again.

2 In Korean learning journey (:/ korean textbook reviews

[REVIEW] Korean Made Easy (Starter)

When it comes to language learning textbooks, I tend to judge a book by its title rather than cover. In general I hate books with titles such as “XX Days to Master XX”, “Speak XX Fluently in XX Hours”, you get the drift. But a good cover do wonders in creating that first good impression.

I must say that when I first came across the Korean Made Easy series, it didn’t seem like a book that I would reach out to immediately.

But now it turned out to be one of my most favourite textbook series. In fact, I have been telling my friends to buy it, especially those who love a more colourful and well illustrated textbook.

Buy. Just buy.

Pro tip: This book is really very suitable for younger learners. Some language textbooks tend to be very dry or use very technical terms, which can be very daunting to someone new to language learning. I majored in linguistics, but even I thought that describing sounds as “fricative”, “palatal”, “voiced” etc is not going to very intuitive.

Ok, let’s get into the review proper.

The starter book is very focused on Hangeul and aims to give the learn a very thorough and good foundation in the Korean writing system. There’s minimal grammar introduced, and beside the writing system, the book introduces basic vocabulary and common phrases used.

Good for the self learner who needs a bit of help.

Introduction to Hangeul

This has got to be one of the best and most easy to understand introduction to Hangeul. It tells you the things that are actually useful, along with characteristics of Korean vowels/consonants and Korean sentences.

Count me impressed.


The remaining chapters revolve around several groups of Korean consonants / vowels.

Each chapter is divided into 4 steps:

Step 1: Let’s Warm Up!

It’s interesting how the book starts with a couple of audio-based exercises to warm up first, instead of going straight to the topic. I feel that these exercises will be very useful in a classroom setting to get the student to listen first and really focus on learning the sounds. Self learners would also find it helpful to focus on listening first.

I like this method – to hear before anything else. I feel like a lot of time, we are too focused on trying to learn a language by reading lengthy explanations in our native language, instead of trying to focus on how the target language sounds like.

Step 2: Let’s Study!

The “actual” lesson is also very audio-focused, but I love how their explanations are also peppered with visual cues and explanations.

Step 3: Reading Activity!

This book has one of the best set of exercises I’ve come across. Exercises that people would actually do. It feels like a kids textbook at times, but I think that’s precisely what makes it good. That’s how we learn languages in schools.

Step 4: Writing Activity!

YASSSS. Ample practice to listen and write. Thumbs up.

There’s really nothing bad I can say about this book. It’s just so fun and interactive to work through.

A major plus point is how they have flash cards / expression cards for the common expressions at the back. It’s good quality cards that you can tear out along the perforated lines. HOW COOL IS THAT.

Why I like this book:

  • Explanations are well thought out, and use “lay man” terms
  • Love the graphics
  • Fun to work through
  • Well thought out content, designed to help you learn Korean efficiently


Ok, please buy the book now.

You can find it on TwoChois

1 In Japanese learning journey (:/ N2 Journey

2019 JLPT N2 Results

Yay I passed my JLPT N2 again! 🙂 I am very grateful that the language has not left me, despite not having enough time to practice or use it often over the past three years. When I was still studying, I thought that as long as one is disciplined enough, “no time” shouldn’t be an excuse. But as I entered the working world, I think I must take back my words. I’m not sure if I am just not disciplined enough, or that indeed it’s tough to balance amongst all the different commitments of an adult.

In any case, this year, I made sommmmme some steps progress to incorporate Japanese back into my life. Baby steps, but I’m getting there.

Happy to see that I’ve not lost the language.

2019 JLPT Results

hahaha look at the abysmal vocab/grammar scores lolol. This has always been a weak area for me. But I’m quite proud of my reading scores.

2016 JLPT Results

It’s quite funny how much scores remained quite consistent. Not that I have anything to complain about, I’m grateful that I can even maintain the same standard. But thought it was funny how reading has been consistently my best section 🙂

Promised myself (and few others) that I would take N1 in December should I pass N2. I did, so I signed up!! Hahaha I love taking language tests and I’m very motivated now.

Psychoed a few others to join me to take the test hahaha. Reminds me of how I managed to get WX and Nicholas to join me for HSK 2 years ago.