CophNia61's Study Log

When I began my Japanese learning journey, my focus was on being able to read light novels, because that was basically the only thing I was interested in, beside J-Pop/J-Rock and Idols related variety shows.

I bought a bunch of light novels and books for my Kindel Paperwhite.
I read the first 11 volumes of ゼロの使い魔, the first 3 volumes of キノの旅, the first volume of この素晴らしい世界に祝福を, キッチン, All You Need Is Kill, グラスホッパー and a bunch of vm18 light novels.

After that, as my reading speed increased, I realized that in order to keep up with my interest in Japanese books I would need a lot of money.

So I tried to put them apart and to find other interesting things to read for free.
I read a lot of news and all the like, but to be honest it became more like a chore that I needed to keep doing in order to became better at Japanese.

In other words it was something which was an end in itself.
“Consume Japanese in order to learn Japanese”, and not “learn Japanese in order to enjoy Japanese”.

As for listening, the only things I was interested in were music, which was easy enough to understand and variety shows, which where easy enough to enjoy them even if I didn’t understan 100% of them.

With my shift on reading the news, I also began listening a lot of news.
That too was boring and on the long run I got tired of this routine.

Those days what I’m doing is:

As for reading, I download books previews for my Kindle from Amazon and I read them. Until I find a job I can’t afford to buy full ebooks, but in the meantime this is good enough for me, considering it’s free.

As for listening, I’m listening mostly to YouTube videos where they talk about novels and books in general (reviews, suggestions etc…).

I’ll try to use this log to track my reading and listening activities, but I will keep it casual, I want it to be a “things that I enjoyed doing in Japanese” log, and not a stressful “study/homework” log.

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I can totally relate to this. It took me probably too long to make a shift in the amount of time I was actually spending in Anki, reading language learning forums, and overall thinking in improving my japanese than actually enjoying activities related to my actual interests, which was what led me to learn japanese in the first place !! :sweat_smile:.

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I’ve ditched Anki completely xD
I’ve noticed that what make a word click for me is when I encounter it in the wild and Anki wasn’t helping too much to justify its use.
I still use it as an e-reader because of its useful features, for example for its sync capabilities.
Whenever I want to read something, I put it inside of Anki, as if it were a database of Japanese content, ready to be consumed whenever I want.

Most of the times I break content into smaller chunks. For example if I want to read an article, instead of making a single note, I import each article’s text row as a separate note. This makes the content more manageable.
If I encounter something which I want to review later, for example a word I forgot, I mark the card and I put in bold whatever I want to review.
I decide when and how many times I’ll review it before I delete the marked card.
This is working better for me than using the SRS algorithm.
If I forget it again after months, if it’s something useful to know I’ll encounter it again sooner or later, I’ll realise that I forgot it and I’ll mark it again for review.

This is working great for me. I’m sure my retention will be far from what I would gain with the help of an SRS algorithm, but it’s the perfect balance for me between effectiveness and easiness, and it keep the thing enjoyable and fun, which after all is all I’m interested in.

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I think it makes a lot of sense… if you don’t care to actually learn the language but only want to be able to recognize it. In this case SRS is probably completely useless. But it kind of amazes me how many Japanese-learners don’t seem to care about being able to speak Japanese. I don’t think I’ve ever encounter anyone learning any other language who wanted to only be able to understand it and didn’t care about speaking, while for Japanese it maybe even seem more common than not. I’m not gonna say there’s anything bad about it, but I find it kind of curious.

(sorry it turned into a digression)

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I think it’s because Japanese is spoken only in Japan, while other languages are more widespread. I don’t know. For example languages like arab, indi, chinese. Even if you don’t plan to live on the cowntry, you’ll encounter a lot of people who speak the language in your own cowntry.
I would like to learn to speak Japanese but if I think about it, how many chances will I have to speak it? Is it worth the effort for me? Not at this time, but maybe in the future? I don’t know…
And let’s consider the language difficulty too… a lot of people learn spanish, french, german, and they became fluent in a relatively short time, but they are way easier (for an english speaker) than Japanese. So, there is this too…

As for the effectiveness of SRS in order to learn to speak Japanese, what do you think is the best way to use it?

From my experience there is a couple of things that can help a lot:

  • always do production - the most obvious one; there’s no point in doing recognition as it’s just too easy, you will be able to recognize words correctly long after you lose the ability to produce them on your own, hence the intervals will quickly get much longer than you need them to be

  • keywords in your native language - avoid using English keywords if it isn’t your native language, the connection between the concept in your head and the Japanese word will be much smoother if you study using equivalents from your language, your mind needs to do some extra unnecessary work if you channel it through English and it takes time, which is very limited when you speak

  • prompt answers - you need to recall the Japanese expression fast in order to effectively use them in communication - you just don’t have time to think about them; what I’ve been doing for quite some time now is giving myself only 1-2 second to recall the word before I fail the card (if I need 2 seconds I would probably press the “hard” button) and it works really great for me, I started to actually use the words I’m learning instead of knowing that I learnt them and not being able to recall them quick enough when I need, as it often used to be before

  • make sure you understand what you review - try to include definitions and/or examples of usage in your cards when needed, recalling the word won’t give you much if you’re not sure how to use it

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Those advices are pure gold!

I have a couple questions if you don’t mind:

What do you put on front of the card, and what you put on back?

How do you manage synonyms?
For example: 支配, what would you put as a keyword in order not to recall words with a similar meaning when translated in your native language?

Do you use it only for single words or for small collocations and grammar points?

Do you put words like 男児, or do you stick to more simple ways to say it, like “男の子” and similar expressions?

Hi, what do you think about free books (e.g. on http://syosetu.com/ )?

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I make cards for words that I want to learn, I don’t tend to have words in my decks that are too basic and I am sure I don’t need to review them, so no, no place for 男の子 there. The words I add to Anki consists of roughly two groups:

  1. new words I encounter that I don’t understand;
  2. new words I encounter that I do understand from kanji/context but want to make them into my active vocabulary;

but in case of the second group I don’t always stop to make a new card if I don’t feel like it, either because I don’t find the word useful enough to remember or because I just want to enjoy whatever I’m doing and not study at the time. So the word “男児” could find its way to my decks (it’s not there as of now though).

No 支配 in my collection either, because of the above reason (too common), so I can’t give you the real example, but let’s give it some thought :smiley: There’s actually a couple of different ways I manage synonyms.

Let’s say you want to make a distinction between 支配する and 治める/統べる/束ねる, which all can mean “to rule”. Distinguishing 支配 from them would be very easy because it’s different part of speech. So while me definition for, for example, 治める could be “to rule”, for 支配 it would be “+する: to rule” (that’s also how I separate na-adjectives from i-adjectives, like: 清い “clean” 清らか “+な: clean”).

Although my actual definition for 支配 would more likely be something like “+する: to rule; +者: ruler”, which could help distinguishing it from synonyms that are nouns too, but for example don’t go with “者”… although the only one I can think of is 統治, which does create the form 統治者 too, so in this case it doesn’t help :smiley: But we can make 支配 into “+する: to rule; to control; +者: ruler” and at this point it should already be enough to differentiate it from the other. Usually synonyms don’t have the exact same meaning.

But what about 治める and 統べる then (束ねる is different enough to omit here, although it also can mean “to rule”)? Well, their meaning is not exactly the same either, but let’s say you don’t care to focus on any different meaning of 治める, just ruling. So both words could have “to rule, to govern” as their definition, what I could do then is to just change the order. For example I would write “to rule, to govern” for 治める and “to govern, to rule” for 統べる. The kanji for 統 simply makes me think about government more than 治 does, so when I see “to govern” listed first, 統べる is more likely to come to my mind. It’s very subjective but it doesn’t matter - it works :smiley:

But when everything fails and I’m just at a loss what to do, I would simply do that: 治める “to rule (not 統べる)”. Works too. I have a separate field named “synonyms” where I put them though, I don’t include them in the translation as I did here. The field shows only when I actually put something there. But I would rather differentiate synonyms by their nuances in meaning if possible (usually it is).

edit: Also, I don’t think it is a bad thing if you recall the synonyms as well during review, if I can recall the word I was being tested on too quick enough then I don’t see a problem (of course if the other answers I recall work too),

My template for words is actually a bit complicated and I use a lot of fields :smiley:

Front:

  • definition in my language (translation)
  • synonyms (if any)
  • tags (if any); I tag for example all katakana words, so I know I’m supposed to give a katakana answer - helps with synonyms too, actually); I also tag 四字熟語 or sometimes slang expressions
  • link to weblio.jp entry for the word (only if I don’t have accent information in the card already - it just makes it easier for me to add it as I can click it before I even look at the word so weblio.jp will already be loaded when I give answer and I can quickly copy the accent from weblio)

Back:

  • word/expression in Japanese
  • reading in kana (doesn’t appear when the word is kana-only already)
  • accent (sometimes I use grpahs from OJAD instead, when weblio doesn’t have the accent information, I prefer weblio everytime it does though)
  • Japanese definition (from weblio.jp)
  • again link to weblio.jp (appears only if I don’t have the Japanese definition yet)
  • example sentences

Here are some “real-life” examples to visualize it:




I review words, collocations, idiomatic expressions etc. the same way. As for grammar, it’s something I’m not quite sure how exactly I should go about yet :smiley: I use SRS for it since very recently. I wrote about it some more here. You have already seen this post apparently, but I don’t really have much to add at this moment.

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I tried to read a couple of them but it felt too amateurish, but I’ll give it a second try!

Wow thank you dethlore! I think I’ll try that!
Yeah obviously you don’t put things like “otoko no ko”, I didn’t mean that xD
I meant that, as there is already a common expression for everyday use, which is “otoko no ko”, you don’t learn less common ways to say (almost) the same thing.
Now with your examples is all clearer to me.
Yes, I read the other thread about grammar, but only after I had already posted the question here xD
When I tried production before, when there was ambiguity, I put a possible use case as an hint.
For example an hypotetical situation where I could use the word. But I don’t know if it could work on the long run.

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I heard a lot of popular published light novels came from there originally, so the next generation of great books are hiding in there somewhere if you can find them. (Though presumably they get polished up a bit in the process of official publication.)

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Well, I could have added it, if I had been using SRS from the very beginning :smiley: But I started quite late, so I don’t have cards for words I thought I already had solid understanding of. I guess it actually also helps with synonyms, when I just know I don’t have the other similar word in my collection so Anki can’t be asking me about it :smiley:

There’s another thing I forgot to mention. Using multiple decks can help too. Often I would remember that the word was in deck A and its synonym in deck B so when I review deck A I know which answer I should give.

Actually sometimes I do something similar too. I don’t use the “hint” functionality though, because I think it would work against the rule of answering as quick as I can.
I would put it in the question field, either in Japanese, for example my question for the word 擁護 is “obrona; +する: bronić kogoś/czegoś (「人権を-する」)” - those short examples from weblio are really good for this (yeah, I like weblio a lot :smiley: );
or in my native language, like: 飼い主 - “właściciel, pan (np. psa, kota) [owner (of a dog/cat)”.
The Japanese example makes it very clear that the tested word is 擁護 and not 保護, 防御 or something else with very similar meaning. Also the other example distinguish the word form other kind of owners very easily. I think it’s a great tactic of handling synonyms as well. Yeah, there really is a lot you can do to deal with them :smiley:

Including this kind of short Japanese examples in the question has another advantage of making you understand the usage of the word better. However I would rather read the Japanese definition (which hopefully includes those kind of examples, the weblio’s one often do) after giving the answer, if I’m not sure about the usage.

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I think even Sword Art Online was published there first, I’ll try to find one of the next great books, maybe I’ll find it xD

Yeah, often it’s not the word itself the problem, but its usage and nuances.
Not to talk about all those words like nanise, nanishiro etc… there are a lot of them and it’s hard to master them ._.

Do you have any suggestion for grammar? I want to review it because it’s my weak point. My study routine has always been “reading and listening”, I did next to no formal study. What are some good books?

I am using the NihongoShark grammar by JLPT level. It’s $22/month and comes with Anki decks with audio for each sentence. It’s basically one grammar point per lesson, which keeps them short, and makes it convenient to consume.

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I like the Shinkanzen Master series of grammars. I have used the N4 and N3 books.

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Not really. Besides the very basics (up until ~N4) I haven’t really studied grammar by myself yet, so I don’t know which books could be good. I’ve mostly used 凡人社’s 初級 books (, ) and 日本語研究社’s books for 中級 and 中上級, but maybe apart from the 中上級 one I don’t think they are good for self-study, because there’s not much explanation in them. I also used 総まとめN1 grammar book a bit, but it is not much more than a list of grammar points with some examples sentences. I haven’t used 新完全 but it does not seem to differ much from 総まとめ either.

I think the best resources would be grammar dictionaries after all, but of course studying grammar in an alphabetical (or kana) order might not be a very good idea so it would probably be best to use them together with some other books and work through grammar points in the order they appear in those books. As for the dictionaries I love and would recommend くろしお出版’s 日本語文型辞典 a lot.

I don’t know anything about any internet resources for grammar though.

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Thank you all for the help!
If it wasn’t for this community I would’ve give up Japanese a long time ago.
Even the fact itself of being part of a community increases my desire to learn Japanese.

As I said in my first post, this thread won’t be a formal and thorough study log.
I will upgrade it from time to time when I feel like it, to share some of the things I find interesting among the Japanese media I consume.

Today I listened to 科学コミュニケータートーク「【実演】DNAとはなんだろう?」.
As those days I’m interested a lot in science, especially biology related stuff, I find interesting to consume the same kind of content in Japanese too.

Now I’m watching 「ちきゅうをみつめて」本編 from the same YouTube channel.
There is even an English version, “Encounter with Earth” The full story.

EDIT:

Now I’m watching トークセッション「人の匂いって、なくなってしまってもいいですか?」.

I love this YouTube channel!

EDIT2:

Watching 「みらいのかぞくプロジェクト」みんなでかぞくを考える~誰もが生きやすい社会のために~

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Today I’m watching random videos from 美女読書チャンネル and reading articles from ナショナルジオグラフィック.

I want to give a try to production cards as suggested by dethlore, so this morning I reviewed grammar from my Genki textbooks.
Even if it’s common grammar and I understand it pretty well, I find tricky to use some of those grammar points.

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