So I’ve been watching a lot of Eyeshield 21 lately, an anime about American football, and I’ve been using it to find new sentences to put in my SRS to study. I struggled with the process at first, but now I have a pretty good system for getting them down, and I’d like to share that with you.
First of all though, why use anime? Why not sample sentences from textbooks or dictionaries where they’re already translated?
Well, and I’m sorry for getting all neuroscience-y on you, but listening and translating builds neural pathways, while copying from another source does not. By the time you’re studying a sentence from an anime in your SRS, you already have a neural pathway for how it sounds and what the individual pieces mean. This provides a stronger background for the next time you hear the word, whereas with a sentence from a textbook, you’ve still yet to hear it in context and that neural pathway has yet to be established. It is still worth it to learn sentences from textbooks, in fact you can input sentences much faster, but taking in sentences from a contextual, audio source is the fastest way to incorporate them into your memory.
Now AJATT likes to recommend watching shows without subtitles, but I’m inclined to disagree, at least for the purpose of mining sentences. The key is to use the subtitle as a guide, not a translation. I’m a subtitler myself, and rather than a literal translation, the subtitle is usually an English phrase that means roughly the same thing, and fits in context. Idioms and colloquialisms are usually converted to English counterparts in the subtitle, which can be very useful for contextualizing Japanese phrases. As my high school Japanese Sensei used to say, “In America, you have ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease.’ In Japan, we have ‘the crying bird gets shot.’
Basically what I’m saying is that you should listen, and keep listening until the words you hear come out to make a sentence that means roughly the same thing as the subtitle. You do this by listening for a word, spelling it out in hiragana, and then looking it up in a dictionary. If the meaning fits as part of the subtitle, move on. Then you plug the subtitle into your SRS. This forces you to remember the whole context, the listening, and the meaning of the individual parts to remember the sentence correctly.
More on listening though, sometimes figuring out what people are saying is hard. So first of all, choose a show you know something about, so the words aren’t that strange. I chose Eyeshield 21 because, being an American, I know lots about football, so the content itself is rarely confusing and I can focus on the language. If most of the sentences are about Proton Mass Accelerators and such, you may have a hard time translating with most dictionaries.
You should also try to get a sense of what characters you can understand and which ones speak either quickly, weirdly, or with heavy dialect. I’ve found that female characters are usually the easiest to understand, but that doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to them. Try figuring out what a bike gang member is saying sometime, it’s very much fun.
I’ve only been doing this for a couple of days and I’m already seeing huge improvements, so I hope you can say the same.END AKISMET -->
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