HOME |
For Kids | Fiction | Non-fiction | Movie & TV Reading | Audio Books

Eigo wa zettai, benkyou suru na! 英語は絶対、勉強するな! Absolutely Don't Study English.
By Chung Changyong, チョン・チャンヨン, 1999. Sunmark, サンマーク出版。ISBN4-7631-9338-4. 1,300 yen.

Advanced level. Non-fiction. (Submitted by RW, 2002)

Judging from bookstore displays and train ads, Chung Changyong's Eigo wa zettai, benkyou suru na! was very popular with the Japanese public, at least in the Tokyo area. Chung's book, translated from the Korean, details his language learning method, one that seems particularly suited to very diligent Korean and Japanese learners.

What Chung is saying to these learners is: Absolutely do not study English the way you have been up to now. The traditional methods do not work. Follow my method and you will be a fluent speaker of English in 6 months to a year. After reading Chung's book, I was inspired to give his method a try with my JSL study.

The Steps
(1)The first step of Stage 1 involves listening to a target language audio tape twice a day (one day off a week) until you can distinguish all the sounds. Comprehension is not important at this point, catching all the sounds is the goal. I used a 30-minute segment of Akage no An. Chung's instructions are to find a tape at a level that is easy for you. Akage no An was not that easy, but it was interesting enough for me to endure listening to over and over again, a very important consideration.
(2) The second step is taking dictation of the whole passage. Sentence by sentence dictation is the aim, although I usually resorted to phrase by phrase.
(3) Reading the complete text aloud, (朗読、recitation), is the next step. As you read, you try to sound as much like the original as possible.
(4) Then comes the dictionary work, for which I used a Japanese elementary school dictionary* with a lot of example sentences. Because of the limitations of the children's dictionary, sometimes I ended up checking a bilingual dictionary, although Chung says not to do that. You look up all the words you don't know or are not sure of. You write down the definitions and the example sentences, and if there are any words you do not understand in that entry, you look them up and write them down too. You also read the definitions and example sentences aloud, as in step 3.

It took me about 2 months to finish the four steps of Stage 1. Stage 2 consists of following the same steps as the previous stage, but this time you use movies or TV programs, preferably dramas that have lots of ordinary conversation in them. (You do not want to end up speaking like a news commentator or a gangster.) After a long summer break, I started Stage 2 with a 30-minute edited segment of the TV program Wataru seken wa oni bakari. However, after a week or two, I had to admit that I was not listening carefully. Although I was not ready, instead of just spacing out while I was supposed to be listening, I decided to start the dictation step. They were speaking too fast; taking dictation was too hard. I was discouraged, but soon rallied and instead found a new program, a daytime drama called Rabu ando faito, Love & Fight.

As of now, one and a half years after starting with Akage no An, I have completed 2 segments of Rabu ando faito and a segment of an evening TV drama called Yume no kariforunia, California Dreaming. Even so, I cannot claim to have finished Stage 2 since I am still not able to understand TV dramas completely . Nevertheless, at this point I have switched to an audio CD of Super Listening affirmations, using a modified version of Chung's method.

When I get tired of the affirmations, I may find another TV drama and go back to Chung's video stage. I seriously doubt that I will ever want to do his Stage 3, which consists of going through an entire issue of a target language newspaper. (1) Read an article aloud (repeatedly). (2) Without looking, tell someone (or pretend to be telling someone) about what you have read. (3) Do dictionary work as needed.

Although Chung strongly warns against deviating from his precise instructions or combining his method with any other study programs, I have done just that. For one thing, I have not followed his system with the intensity required. The model student in the book was absorbed in English two or more hours a day, I was doing well to put in one hour, and now I am down to only 30 minutes. I have also taken long breaks, not studying at all for extended periods. I may never achieve the results he promises, but I am satisfied studying materials that interest me using Chung's clearly defined steps. In conclusion, I can recommend his method (with modifications) for independent study of Japanese.

*Dictionary: 例解小学国語辞典。(Reikai shougaku kokugo jiten.) 三省堂 (Sanseidou), 1997. 2,000 yen. ISBN4-385-13799-4.