Friday, January 14, 2011

Motivation Ideas: Song Puzzle

So going along with similar ideas from my last post about motivation, I came up with a new activity to help with motivation. This time, the method itself deals directly in helping learn Japanese. With the previous method, I created a jigsaw puzzle from a drawing. This time, instead of a picture, I did it with a Japanese song.

It’s pretty simple: find the lyrics to a song you like (in Japanese, of course, hopefully with as much kanji as possible). Print them out with a decently sized font and then cut out the lyrics so that each piece is an individual word. Set up tasks for yourself and whenever you complete a task, award yourself a word at random. Then try to piece together the song! This way, you’ll be exposed to kanji you may not know well, pay closer attention to grammar and vocab, understand when to use which particles, etc. And you’ll also have an easier time learning the song by heart if you’re continuously exposed to it.

I used a song that I was already familiar with: Tsubasa wo Kudasai. It’s a pretty and fairly short children’s song that has rather simple lyrics. While I already knew how to sing it, I had never paid much attention to the mechanics of the sentences, the kanji, or even the meaning of some parts. I separated the song into different sections, first verse, second verse, chorus, etc., and then pieced the song together one section at a time before moving on to the next section. With this simple song and separation method, I didn’t have way too many pieces to have to put together at once, so it was much more fun and doable.

The task that I used this method for were my SRS kanji reviews. While I finished going through Heisig’s Remember the Kanji by the beginning of my school semester, it was hard keeping up with it during the semester, especially since I had only briefly seen many of those kanji at the end and didn’t know them very concretely. By the end my winter vacation started I had over 800 kanji in backlog… So I decided to create a little motivation for myself with this puzzle song. The song I picked had just over 80 words in it so it worked out very well – for every 10 kanji I would get through in my backlog, I would give myself a word. By the time I finished going through my entire SRS, I would have completed the song.

After trying this method out, as an experiment, there are things that worked, and other things that I would change. For one, I didn’t give myself word pieces as I went, that was just too much trouble to constantly have to pay attention every time I finished ten more kanji. Generally, I would wait until the end of the day, count up the kanji I went through that day, and give myself the according number of words. Also, all the bits of paper were kind of a hassle. Originally I had paper clipped each section of the song together, and would take off the paper clip one section at a time so I could draw a word from each verse in order. I kept all of these papers in a small ziploc bag, which was nice to travel with, but it was nevertheless a ton of little pieces that were hard to put together and easy to lose. So what I ended up doing was gluing them down to some thin cardboard after I finished a section so I could keep track of them more easily.

As to whether this method is effective… It was for me! It motivated me to get through my kanji, and I know the kanji in the song better than I used to. But, I was already very familiar with the song beforehand, and I think it would have been virtually impossible to piece it together otherwise. I liked the jigsaw puzzle better, I must say, with a picture instead of a song. The visual aspect is more exciting, albeit less educational. Overall, I plan to do this again and think it’s worth trying out, but it miiight be more trouble than it’s worth?

Anyway, just throwing another idea out there! Good luck with your studies~ :D
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