Ok, I feel that keeping one of those study logs might be a good way to go about organizing my further adventure with Japanese language. I’m a rather advance learner but never really did that much of self-study, so I would be glad to hear any opinions or advices on what I’m doing from all of you.
I have no idea when exactly I started learning Japanese for the first time, but it was a long time ago and I stopped pretty quick. Picked it up again later and… quit again after just learning some basics. Then I started learning for the third time probably somewhere around 2012, this time much more seriously. I got by myself to a bit above N4 level (hadn’t taken the test though) and then in 2013 went for Japanese Studies course at a university, which I finished within 5 years with MA degree.
I spent my 4th year of studies on a scholarship in Japan. During that time I deciced to try for N1 without any special preparation for the exam but still passed with a relative ease - apparently what I’d been doing at the university was more than enough for it. And I finally learned to actually speak in Japanese, because up until going to Japan I’d always done great on written tests but speaking was definitely my weakest point.
Then the 5th year was mostly writing the MA thesis and not much of actual studying so I haven’t made much progress since, at least in terms of grammar or vocabulary. I had plenty of opportunities to use Japanese though, so my speaking and listening skills went a bit up.
Now I am at a point when I believe I can say my Japanese is fairly good overall but still far from native-like fluency and I need to figure out how to get there. I love learning Japanese and I’m motivated to strive for further progress.
- grammar: covered most bunkei up to N1 but need solid reviewing; also I believe I have solid understanding of how Japanese grammar works in general (read a lot on Japanese lingustics)
- kanji: I consider it my strongest point, I feel confident with most jōyō kanji and many non-jōyō, both reading and writing
- vocabulary: in need of expansion; around 5000 custom-made cards in my anki decks and ~1500 in my notebooks that I still need to type into anki cards (none of those consits of basic words I don’t feel I’ll ever need to review though, which is a fairly large group too), passively can understand a lot more
- reading: fairly good, I can comprehend most of what I’m reading without the help of dictionaries, but I feel my reading speed is far from satisfactory (although I am a rather slow reader in my native language too)
- listening: definitely needs some more work; it’s often hard for me to distinguish long vowels in words that I don’t know, sometimes I have problems recognizing words that I’m only used to seeing written in kanji, and I have problems if the sound is unclear
- speaking: decent but I visibly lose some fluency in polite speech as I’m much more used to casual conversations with people around my age - need to work on that a bit
(Very) Long-term goals:
- native-like fluency in every aspect
- passing kanken 準１級 (I love kanji but I doubt I’ll ever think it’s a good idea to go for 1級)
What I want to focus on right now:
- review grammar and digitize my notes
- digitize my notes and expand vocabulary
- improve listening
How I plan to go about it:
It will probably be a rather long process. At my university we used a couple of different J-J textbooks for grammar. The ones we used at the first year are too basic to care about - I’m not gonna do anything with them.
The 2nd year’s textbook is 20 lessons of ~10 bunkei each, mostly just example sentences with little grammar notes. I already digitized all of it long time ago so it’s easy to review for me. I’m going to go through all of them and mark those that I feel I want to review again soon so I can focus only on them the next time. Although I expect to find most of them easy enough to just read through once or skip. I might consider making them into anki cards in some form but I’m not sure how to get about it or if it’s even worth doing.
The 3rd year’s textbook is “New Approach Japanese Pre-Advanced Course” and that’s where the fun begins. There’s 12 lessons but they are much longer and come with very useful grammar notes in Japanese. I digitized only 5 lessons before and plan to review them in details before getting on to the rest. Typing them will be a great review in itself but it’s gonna be tedious and time-consuming. So then I’m probably going to take a break before continuing with grammar.
The notes I still need to make into anki cards will surely be in need of a solid review. There’s about 1500 of them so it’s another tedious and time-consumng part involving a lot of typing. No idea how much time it takes. I plan to take it rather slowly but steady.
Meanwhile I’m going to read some manga/literature and add new words I encounter. But that’s actually a bit problematic for me. Even if I encounter a word that I haven’t studied yet, I can usually easily understand its meaning from kanji and context and if I’m reading for fun I don’t feel like stopping to make cards for them. It results in having much better passive vocubalary than active, I expect the gap for me must be pretty huge. I think I should try putting some effort into making new cards for words even if they are easy to understand, so I will be more likely to remember and use them while speaking. I expect that would also make it easier to understand them when I hear them, with no comfort of seeing the kanji.
But on the other hand it’s going to considerably slow me down, and I’m a rather slow reader anyway. Maybe it’s better to use my time to just read more and add only the vocab that seems really useful? I’m honestly not sure. I need to think about it some more.
I have yet to break the habbit of watching stuff with subs. Of course I do try to focus on audio most of the time but I still tend to follow subs to make sure that I don’t miss anything - I feel a strong need to understand literally 100% of what is being said, and it surely reflects negatively on my listening skills. I think I need to pick up an anime or drama/movie which I don’t really care about too much, so I won’t be afraid of not understanding something and just go through it. But well, obviously watching things that I don’t care about isn’t a perfect solution either.
Alternatively maybe I should watch whatever I want but rewind and analyze every sentence that I don’t fully understand? It seems like a good way but I wonder how much more time it will take to actually watch someting. No harm in trying, I guess. I could divide my watching time into watching for fun and watching for practise.
That turned out a bit longer than I expected. If you have any advice or comment, please feel free to.