1 Delphine s Case Study: If you only do one thing to learn English a day... what should it be? (Including my 10~15 a day Japanese study plan) Julian: Hi, Delphine! How s it going? Delphine: Nice to meet you. Julian: Nice to meet you, too. How is it going? Delphine: It s OK, yeah, but I m very nervous! Julian: Ah, that s OK, don t be nervous! It s great to be able to put a face to the name, as it were. Obviously, I know everybody s name in Doing English+ but it s very rare that I get to see their faces, unless we have a conversation like this. So I always feel very happy to see what the person looks like, as well. Delphine: I always use my cat s photo, yeah, to be the avatar. Julian: It s a very cute cat, too, so it s a very good avatar. Can I just check, Delphine, is that the correct pronunciation? Delphine: I think so. My French teachers say till now this way. Julian: Right. Oh, yes of course, your French teacher gave you this name. Delphine: Mmmm Julian: Did you learn French at school, or where did you learn French?
2 Delphine: Before, like, when I was in the university uh, freshman. But I almost forgot all of it, yeah. Julian: Yeah, I know the feeling. Actually, I have French family. One side of my family lives in France. So I should, should really have learned the language, but they all speak English, so I never had any reason to learn French. And then I studied French at secondary school, but I don t remember anything. Well, I didn t study that much at school anyway, but Delphine: Maybe I think you should get a little most of it, yeah, get a little use of that. Julian: Yeah, maybe one day I ll learn French, but for now I can say, Je m appelle Julian. And that s it Delphine: Je m appelle Delphine. Julian: So basically now we ve had the best conversation in French that I could ever have. So you have some questions to ask me. Delphine: Yes. Julian: OK, so how many questions do you have? Delphine: Because I review your videos for Nina, so I cut down my questions to one. Because some of it you answered, yeah, so I think maybe I shouldn t bother you repeat those answers so many times. Julian: Oh, well that s OK. Well, let s talk about your first question. Then, if more questions come up from that, then ask away. So what is your question? Delphine: First, the first of it is because I don t have any chance to use English on a daily basis. And second, because I want to get a better degree to benefit the advantage to my career. And so I want to combine all this together. I want to get a master s degree, um, apply English. And that s a kind of in-service program. And I passed the entrance exam this March, and I have to enroll in June. And I m a little bit, uh, I have some doubt of myself, because I didn t major in English in university. So I have no confidence to graduate from that program. But after I review your video with Nina, you said, Be part
3 of it, then worry about it. So I think I will enroll that program. But I still want to know your comment. Is it a right choice? Is it a smart goal? Julian: Yeah, I would say it s definitely the right choice, and I will say the same thing to you as I said to Nina. Yeah, just start, just start, just do it. Be a part of it and then worry about whether you can do it or not. Because, you know, there s so many things that could make a difference, it s impossible to know at this stage whether you could or you couldn t. But I think, once you start, you will find it probably much easier than you thought it would be. And it ll go from there, and it ll just flow. And it s the fear of starting something, is always the hardest part. The fear of starting is almost always much, much worse, much harder, than actually doing it. To give you an example: this is exactly the same for me. I think you ve read my series, but I studied oil painting at university. I didn t go to the normal kind of high school the system is different in England, anyway. I went to an art college, and I studied art for two years, and then three years at university. And then I kind of I don t want to say lied my way into a master s in applied linguistics. Because I didn t lie, I told them all I haven t got the right qualifications. But they said, Well, do you think you can do it? And I said, Yeah, of course I can do it! Of course I can do a master s in applied linguistics! All the while thinking, I don t know how to do a master s in applied linguistics! They said, Can you do it? and I just, Yeah, no problem, no problem. So they said, OK, well, we ll take you on, even though you don t have the qualifications you need for this course, we ll take you on. And it was quite hard in the beginning. It was very hard for me, because I didn t have the custom of studying in that kind of way: reading books, and writing essays, and using academic articles and referencing journal papers and things like that. So it was very difficult, because I d never studied in that kind of way. You know, art college: we don t write essays in art college. And when people do write essays, it s ten minutes before it s going to be handed in. People just don t care, because they re there to paint. So when I did my master s in applied linguistics, I didn t know how to do any of that. And I was really, really worried about it. Because I was like, How am I going to do all this stuff? I don t know how to do it. But I just said, Yes, I can do it! Yeah, of course I can do it. And then worked it out as I went, and found actually that it was much, much easier than I thought it would be. Again, it was starting that was the hardest part.
4 And actually, I procrastinated for quite a while, as well. I think I talked to my wife about the possibility of doing a master s, and it was almost a whole year before I actually started it. And I regret that now, because if I had started when I first said I want to get a master s, I would be basically finished with my Ph.D. now. But because I procrastinated for a year, I put myself a year behind. That s my very long-winded way of saying: It probably doesn t matter. It s probably much easier than you think. And you ll have to do a lot of reading in English, and you ll have to do a lot of stuff in English, but that s a good thing. Because your English you ll have a lot of chance to practise your English and get more English. So: win, win. Delphine: How did you manage your time? Julian: How do I manage my time? Do you have children? Delphine: No. Julian: No. I don t manage my time; my children manage my time. Delphine: [laughs] So you get up so early! Julian: Yeah, that s why I started getting up so early, because when I was doing my master s, I really needed that quiet time. I only had one I only had my first son at that time. I really needed that quiet time when I could just sit down, read, concentrate, write. And the only time I could guarantee that I would get that time is if I got up at 5 o clock in the morning, knowing that nobody would be up until at least six-thirty or seven o clock. So I had a good hour or two every morning. I did probably ninety percent of my master s in that time. And I still now get up very early, and I do a lot of my thinking work in that time. But managing your time is I think something where habit is the key. It s all about building habits. I talked to Nina about this as well. You might remember from watching the recording of that conversation. For me, getting up at 5 o clock and spending an hour reading is such a strong habit now, that I just do it automatically. I don t need to manage my time, because it s already decided. Five o clock in the morning, I get up, I make a cup of coffee, I get whatever book that I m currently reading, which is not on my desk though I thought it was doesn t matter and I read for thirty minutes. And then I ll
5 switch on my computer and maybe write for thirty minutes, or maybe I ll just read for a whole hour. Try and find a time: this is not always possible, sometmes it s just not possible. But if you can, though, try and find a time in the day when you can sit down to do: it could be English, it could be your master s, doesn t matter, whatever. At the same time every day. For example, it might be that you get up at 5 o clock in the morning and you do an hour in the morning. It might be that you arrive home and then you spend an hour then. If you can find the same time everyday, then it becomes routine, it becomes habit. You no longer have to think, Oh, I have to get some studying done! I have to manage my time. I have to work this out. It just becomes automatic. Then time management becomes irrelevant, I think. It s the same for the Doing English daily newsletter: I write it at exactly the same time every single day. That s because it s a habit for me now. It s at 4 o clock here in Japan, I say, Oh, it s time for me to write my , and then just sit down and just write it. Does that kind of answer your question? Delphine: Yeah. And speaking of , I didn t get the 47 about Julian: Did you not get that series? Delphine: No. Julian: No. I finished it recently. It could have been that you joined just as I was setting it up and you missed it. What I will do is: I will go into the system and I think I can add you to that, and it will start sending that automatically. If you haven t received them, it should work. I ll work that out later. Delphine: I want to read that. Julian: Yeah, please do! It s basically just a very, very long rant from me, where I basically just talk about my story from the time I was a secondary school student up to present day, and all of the stupid things I did, and some of the crazy jobs I had. Delphine: That makes you have so much stories to say. I think that s fine. Julian: I think so. I think everybody has stories to tell, though.
6 Delphine: I think my life is so ordinary. Julian: Yeah, everybody thinks that. But I bet, if you sit down every day, like, Today I m going to write a story about my life. In the beginning it s difficult, but then suddenly you remember all these things, all these interesting things that you do. So you have more stories than you think, I m sure. Try it. Delphine: And I have one question, another question: because there are so many skills to improve my English, but I have a full-time job, and so I only have one thing to do about English daily. Which part of it you recommend to do every day? Julian: Anything that you want to do at that particular time. Um that s not a good answer, I think. I would say, well, I think you know my sort of attitude towards English. I see English, learning language, as a holistic process. I disagree with the thinking that, Oh, I want to get good at speaking, so I have to speak! I want to get good at listening, so I have to listen! Or, I want to get reading, so I have to read. I hear lots of people say in Japan, Oh, we only did reading at school, so I m very good at reading English, but I can t speak. But actually, the truth is there not very good at reading, either. Or they are good at reading, but they speak much better than they think they do. It doesn t really work like that. I think it s easy for people to think of English as being these separate skills; and yes, we do have exercise to help us build fluency, and we do have exercises that will help with our speaking. But everything we do in English is adding to our experience of English. And it s this experience that causes learning. Does that make sense? Delphine: I understand it, and I also agree that it s a holistic Julian: kind of process. Delphine: Yeah. But I just wonder when you study Japanese, which kind of thing you would do daily? Julian: I would say: do something daily. The best thing to do is always going to be the thing that you enjoy the most. So, for me, with Japanese, I talk Japanese every day because I live in Japan and my wife s Japanese and things like that. Although, actually, the conversations that I do have in Japanese are the same conversations every single day. So they don t actually do much for
7 me learning or getting to higher-level stuff. But I try to watch the news every single day; I try to understand the news. I watch the internet kind of news. Today s News in Japan it s like 15 minutes. I try to watch that every single day, just to get an idea of what s going on, and I look up the words, and things like that. When I m not busy, I also try to find one, for example, blog article, or YouTube video, or something related to what I am currently interested in. So, for example, did you see today in the Doing English+ community area I posted a link to photographs of the Martian sunset? I mean, it s amazing: I find that sort of thing absolutely Wow! mind-blowing. Look at these photographs: they re beautiful. And it s not on this planet. So today that has been my topic. I actually haven t done this today, because I was doing other things. But if I had ve done it, I would have gone on YouTube and try to find a video, preferably about that kind of project that they re doing, landing the satellite or the rover or whatever it is, on Mars. Or at least about Mars in general, about landing robots on planets in general, or I might have gone off and found a news article about that. Or a blog article, like the same as I linked in the community: the same kind of article, but in Japanese. And then read that. Any words or phrases that I think, Oh, that s useful, I would quickly write into my notebook. Later I might put them into Anki. Lately, I don t use Anki as much as I used to. Mostly I use a notebook now, and then just put the important stuff into Anki. And then I would try and explain that topic. And the way I would do that is literally with a recorder, this is an IC recorder. Although recently, most of the time I use my iphone and make a video. I just do a very quick, daily diary kind of thing, where I would say: Today I read this article about the robot that was landed on Mars, which took these beautiful sunset pictures. And I d talk about what I saw in the video or what I read in the article. And then anything that I felt I couldn t say very well, I would write that down very quickly, just to look up later, or just ask my wife, if I m feeling lazy Delphine: You are so lucky! Julian: Yeah, but actually, I don t ask my wife that many things. Generally I look them up myself, because I find in the process of looking things up, I find other things that are interesting as well. And lots of the time, my wife just
8 says, I don t know how would we say that? Or she says, I m busy, I m making dinner, leave me alone! That sound like quite a lot, but really talking for 10 or 15 minutes a day is all I do on Japanese these days. When I wanted to take when I was studying to become a translator You haven t read my series, so you probably don t know about that. I was a translator for a very short amount of time. But the story is basically that I studied like crazy to pass the JLPT test, and then I became a translator, realized I hated it and quit. But, you ll read it in the s. At that time, I was doing several hours a day, and I went really crazy with it. But these days, I m just taking it easy with Japanese. So that would be my basic, daily process, I think. Think of a topic that I m interested in, find a video or an article, something like that: could be in the newspaper, could be in a magazine, read it, quickly note down any phrases that I think are useful, then just record myself on my iphone, very, very quickly, one minute or two minutes. Today I saw this video, and I found it very interesting because, I wish could go to Mars! Something like that simple stuff. Write down the bits, the holes in my language: I wanted to say this and this and this, but I didn t know how to say that. Go and look it up. That s it: that would be my 15 minutes a day. And in there, I m getting: if it s a YouTube video, I m getting listening practice; I m getting reading practice, I m getting speaking practice, I m building fluency, I m building accuracy, because I m noticing the bits I don t know. It s like the whole Two Step Speaking process is condensed down into 15 minutes. Does that make sense? Delphine: Yeah, yes. It makes sense. I just need more practice, yeah. Julian: Right. I think it s more practice, more exposure to the language, more just doing something in the language. And you re going to be studying, your master s is going to be in English, I guess? Delphine: I guess so. Julian: Right, so you re going to have lots of practice reading and getting stuff in English. So my recommendation would be: when you re doing your master s and you re going to be reading stuff in English, you re going to have all this information that you have to process. And you re probably going to be writing essays and things as well. What you can do there is, again: use a
9 recorder, use a video camera, and just give a two-minute overview of what you just read. For example, say you ve got an academic article that you ve just read, and you just say, This is an article about phrasal processing in Japanese speakers, or whatever. It was about this, this and this. The researchers found this, this and this. Something like that. Does that make sense? Delphine: Yes, thank you. It s very useful. Julian: OK, great. Delphine: Thank you very much! Julian: No problem! And you also mentioned at the beginning that you don t have much chance to actually use English. So I think we ve kind of talked about that as well, or haven t we? Delphine: Yes. Julian: OK. Well, in that case, thank you for taking the time to come on and talk to me. Delphine: I have to thank you! Julian: No, like I said, it s really great to put a face to the name, as it were. So I always hear you talking in the community and writing messages and things, so it s great to think, Ah, I know what she looks like now! I ll have this recording up in the members area at some point. I ll try and get that sooner rather than later so that you can watch back and review what we ve talked about. And if you have any questions, just leave me a message in the Doing English+ community, and I ll get back to you. So enjoy the rest of your evening, and I ll speak to you soon. Delphine: Thank you. Julian: Good-bye.