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A surge of joy

For a while now I've been thinking about learning Japanese. I've been sort of ambivalent about the idea for years now. There are many reasons to give it a try including the fact that I have barrels of time which I seldom to put to good use as well as the fact that it would dovetail nicely with my reignited interest in anime and Japanese culture in general.

The downside is the fact that I'm pretty god awful with languages. Part of this is because, like most of my scholastic pursuits, I have a difficult time convincing myself to put in consistent effort. Learning a language is sort of like building a vocabulary or playing a musical instrument. It's something that slowly builds over a lot of time and at least somewhat consistent effort. With most of my academic subjects, I was always able to bull through on general intelligence. What's the point of actually studying or reading the textbook during the semester when you know you can simply read the entire text the night before the exam, glance at some notes (for which you attended around half the classes) and still pull out a good grade in most cases? Some of it may also have to do with having a 'knack' for the subject and I've never felt I meshed very well with the language classes I've taken.

Another downside is how to go about learning a language. I thought about perhaps enrolling in a course or two, but I just can't see spending the money on something so essentially frivolous, not to mention I wouldn't even be able to guarentee I would actually make full use of the opportunity. The other option was to find a do-it-yourself sort of language study program like Rosetta Stone. With the latter I could go at my own pace but I've never been able to escape the suspicion that as with most do-it-yourself projects, the vast majority of people never reach any real level of competence. One way to make Rosetta Stone more palatable is if I could find a pirated copy somewhere online. Then it would be like a risk-free investment. The problem there is I really really don't like to download pirated applications. Sadly, I no longer have the computer know-how to really keep up with all the viruses and trojans and spyware and other malicious programs people stick into some files. In the past, I've had to reformat two computers due to tempting fate and getting burned.

That being the case, I thought about being a good consumer and actually....paying retail. Just the idea burns like holy water. I went to the Rosetta Stone site, figuring the Japanese package might set me back a hundred dollars or so but it would be worth the peace of mind. I about swallowed my tongue when I found that they wanted over $500 for it. Fuck that. Even just the most basic level by itself cost over $200. Talk about pricing yourself out of the market. There was no way in hell I was going to pay a price anywhere near that and so it was back to my old risky standby, bittorrent.

I'm happy to report that after some days of effort, I actually managed to install a cracked version and it's working perfectly. I haven't felt such a surge of happiness in...hell, I don't even know how long. Probably Maine or even back to gencon. I haven't had my first lesson yet but I'm really looking forward to it. I'm going to see if I can break some bad habits and actually stick with the program, hoping for the best. On another positive, Connie is also interested in picking up a couple of language packs so now that I've worked through the process, I can install it for her too. She wants to learn French (God knows why) and she wants her husband Jeff to get the Chinese lessons. Not a bad idea all around considering how precocious Maddie has been lately in spouting Chinese. Maybe it'll help him learn a bit and stop asking which word means candy and which word means bugs.

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