Dethlore's study log

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.

Background:

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.

Current level:

  • 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:

  1. Grammar.

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.

  1. Vocabulary

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.

  1. Listening

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.

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Congratulations on your Master’s degree! That’s a big accomplishment!

Self-study is a big change, yes. I’ve had some long periods of time where I don’t study at all because I don’t have professors assigning me homework, weekly classes, etc., but honestly the biggest improvements I have made came from self study. It’s nice to have the time to focus on the things that are most difficult or most interesting to you. Best of luck, let’s do this together!

I have the same question that you mentioned in your Vocabulary section – I’m a slow reader so I don’t want to stop and note down vocabulary since it’s even slower. I read – probably somewhere on the koohii forum – that if you write down the vocabulary for the first 3 chapters of a book, you will have learned most of the new vocabulary you need to read the rest of the book more comfortably. I have not successfully finished that, as I still prefer to read short articles, but it sounds like it could work.

Thank you! :smiley:

Maybe that’s precisely why I don’t want to stop during reading. There were always so much to do for the classes that I couldn’t spend much time reading manga and now that I can finally do it, I just want to enjoy it as much as I can, rather than learn through it. I guess it makes sense :smiley:

Actually when I encounter a word that’s completely new for me and I can’t be sure about its meaning from kanji/context, I would often save it, if I stop anyway to look it up. The most problematic are the words that are new but I can understand them and therefore feel no inclination to stop.

You could say that if I understand them, then it’s fine and there’s no need to learn such words. But on the other hand I feel that I’ll never turn them into part of my active vocabulary if I just see them occassionaly and I don’t actually go through learning them.

03.03 - 10.03

Probably my biggest success is keeping up with Anki somehow. I actually just migrated to Anki from a different SRS service almost exactly one month ago and that means quite a lot of work before everything settles down a bit. I had an avarege of ~600 reviews per day during this last month so needles to say it was pretty tiring. Currently I’m at about 250 daily reviews and it should soon get down to ~200. It’s still a lot but I’m happy I made the change, I strongly feel that Anki is superior in every aspect to what I’d been using before.

Let’s see how I did on what I wanted to focus on:

Grammar:

Not very good. I just started making Anki cards yesterday. Added 80 bunkei (7/20 lessons from my 2nd year’s textbook, it’s only copy&paste work so far so it doesn’t take that much time) but haven’t even started to review them yet. I should get to it soon.

Vocabulary:

I made 32 new cards this week, about half being words from definitions of other words I reviewed and rest of them some easy vocab I encountered while reading/watching (which I did very little of, unfortunately) and decided that they are worth remembering. The word that I was most excited to learn this entire week is 気球, which shows that nothing really interesting happened here :smiley: But on the other hand I also learned a new kanji: 竿 :smiley:

Listening:

I tried the 1st ep for 電影少女 -VIDEO GIRL AI 2018-. I’d watched the 1992 anime before and liked it very much so I was eager to give the drama a shot and the first ep turned out to be pretty cool too. I watch it with no subs and if I don’t get something then I rewind and try to listen to it once again and if I still don’t get it I watch that scene again with Japanese subs. One 25 minutes episode took me almost 50 minutes this way (including time for making a couple of Anki cards) so it’s a bit harsh but I do feel that it’s a very good way to improve my listening skills so I’m gonna keep doing it for the rest of the series.

I also tried to challenge myself with some music. I put 夢見る少女じゃいられない on repeat and tried to write down the lyrics by ear. I got about 70% right, which I think is not that bad for this particular song. It was very fun to do and I definitely want to try something like that more often.

That’s about it for this week. Hopefully I can do more next time.

11.03 - 17.03

It was a very busy week for me and I didn’t have much time to study Japanese, unfortunately. I’m about 500 reviews behind on Anki. Did almost no reading. Added only 10 new cards of which アパレル店員 gets the most interesting new word prize for this week.

I managed to watch the 2nd ep of 電影少女 -VIDEO GIRL AI 2018-. I had to rewind some phrases a lot. I blame all those phonetic simplifications for this :D:D (for my listening practice I’m trying to hear every sound rather than just get the meaning).

I did have a chance to speak to 5 different Japanese people though, so at least this week wasn’t that bad from the point of view of speaking practice (well, I guess speaking does include listening too).

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18.03 - 07.04

No separate updates for previous two weeks because I didn’t feel like saying just “busy - zero progress” :smiley: Fortunately this week was a bit better, so I can actually write something now.

Vocabulary:
+24 new cards. The most interesting new word prize goes to おませ. Actually it’s the only word among them that is at least a bit interesting, so it was an easy choice :smiley:
Currently I’m 1001 reviews behind on Anki, which isn’t very good but I’m getting around 100 new reviews daily and doing more than 300 every day recently so if I keep at this pace hopefully it will be fine by the next week’s update.

Grammar/bunkei:
I finally reviewed the 80 bunkei I added last time and made the rest of the textbook into Anki cards (+99 bunkei). I set the easy ones to show again in 15 days and the very easy ones in 30 days. Gonna treat the rest of this textbook the same way and probably go with shorter intervals when I get to the 3rd year textbook which I expect to be much more challenging for me now.

Listening:
Nothing. I did watch a bit of anime and a movie or played バンドリ but only for fun, nothing that could be considered learning.

08.04 - 14.04

Vocabulary:
I worked through all the overdue reviews in Anki, which was a bit tiring but I’m happy I managed to do it. Now I’m at below 100 new reviews daily so it shouldn’t be very demanding. I guess I could say that my migration to Anki is completed at this point :smiley:

+47 cards created this week. As usually most of them are rather simple words I could easily understand but noted down in order to improve my active vocabulary. There are some interesting ones among them too though, and the weekly prize goes to 億劫, which also contains a kanji I didn’t know yet :smiley: I’m always happy to come across new kanji I can learn and this week I had two more opportunities to do so: 灸 and 恍 (in 恍惚).

Grammar/bunkei:
Reviewed (read through) 12 bunkei from what I added the last time. Nothing interesting to note.

Listening:
I finally watched the 3rd ep of 電影少女. I felt it was somewhat easier than the previous two. Maybe because I got used to the actors’ way of speaking a bit?

I also tried to write down the lyrics by ear to another song that I listen a lot recently. This time it was Run to the Future by Cyntia. It was quite challenging but very fun. Again I got around 70% right, which I think isn’t bad for a fast-paced rock song. But I had to listen to some parts many many times :smiley:

15.04 - 21.04

Vocabulary:
Typed (and reviewed) 170 words into Anki from my old notebook. Some of them I didn’t even remember studying :smiley: Still a lot left to do. Apart from that, only 11 new cards this week.

Grammar:
Reviewed the remaining 87 bunkei. This means that I finished revising my second year textbook and need to start the third year one soon. There should be more bunkei that I actually need to revise there so I am a bit excited :smiley:

Listening:
No new ep of 電影少女 this week for me. I tried another song to write down the lyrics by ear for, this time it was あいみょん「ふたりの世界」. Great song and I like it a lot but apparently too easy for practice - I got everything right but one line and it doesn’t feel like I learned much from it.

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22.04 - 28.04

Vocabulary:
Newly typed old words: 46. Much less than the last time. Maybe I find more time to type them this week, but it’s just so tedious :D:D
And 20 new cards, not impressive but they contain two new kanji: 繍 (in 刺繍) and 碇 (in 碇 xd), which is nice :smiley:

Grammar:
Copied 5 lessons (59 bunkei) from the 3rd year textbook into Anki and reviewed half of them (29 bunkei). I set them to appear next time in 7 days so I can review them thoroughly. Adding next lessons will go slowly because I still need to manually type them from the book, as opposed to the previous ones which I already had typed way before. I will be happy if I can make one lesson per week :smiley:

Listening:
4th ep of 電影少女, it definitely feels a bit easier with every ep, at least as for the main characters’ lines. They introduced one new character, which speaks in a quite “lazy” way and was somewhat hard to get.
No new song this week.

29.04 - 05.05

Vocabulary:
Typed another 164 words from my old notebook. I’m getting really tired of it, but at the same time I want to be done with it as soon as I can (which won’t be soon anyway).
New words count this week: 0. Unfortunately I’ve done very little reading in Japanese, just a couple chapters of manga.

Grammar:
No progress. I’ve got a bit overwhelmed with reviews and I’m taking it slow.

Listening:
Nothing with the intention of studying.

Not a very good week :smiley: I haven’t really done anything beside Anki and I don’t feel good about it.

06.05 - 12.05

Vocabulary:
I made a break from typing this week. I did some fair amount of reading (mostly manga), which resulted in 26 new vocab cards containing one new kanji: 蟹. It was interesting to find out that it can also be written with a different kanji, which consists of the exactly same elements: 蠏. I’ve never came across something like that before :smiley:

Grammar:
Still going through the previous reviews.

Listening
Still haven’t seen a new episode of 電影少女. It will be my top priority next week :smiley:
I tried to write down lyrics by ear to another song, but this time I failed miserably :smiley: I could make out just a couple of words. The song was Takeoff by An Sept. - an all-female rock band from Osaka. Last time when I went with あいみょん it felt too easy so I decided to stick to rock after all, but this one just destroyed me :smiley:

Other:
I picked up a book called 日本語単語ドリル:ぎおん語・ぎたい語 to work a bit on my knowledge of onomatopoeia. I intended to do a lesson per day, but I only went through 5 this week (each consists of 5 items). I make them into Anki using the pictures from the book as questions. I like this book, the expressions are divided thematically and they come with a Japanese definition, verbs they usually accompany, example sentences and pictures that make them easy to understand and remember. I’m sure there are other books just like that though :smiley:

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Originally I intended to update this every week, but something went terribly wrong :smiley:

13.05 - 1.07

Haven’t done a lot.

20 new Anki cards - that’s like half a card per day! But at least there were 3 newly learned kanji: 旱, 魃 (旱魃) and 肋.

I’m more than 500 reviews behind.

Also, still behind on grammar reviews.

Only one episode of 電影少女 for listening practices. No songs.

Stopped on 8th lesson from the ぎおん語・ぎたい語 book.

Pretty terrible :smiley:

At least I’ve read quite a lot of manga. 16 volumes in 2 weeks of Tadoku is not bad at all. And probably 6-8 volumes in the preceding week. Most of it were: 黄昏乙女×アムネジア, ブラッドラッド, よつばと!, 機巧少女は傷つかない and, most recently, 銃夢.

I need to try to put more time into actual studying in the coming month.

1.07 - 11.08

So yeah, another terrible month with no updates to the log. I did much less studying than I would like to.

Only 46 new Anki cards, so about one per day? Not good.

+54 cards digitized from my old notebook and reviewed.

Finished reviewing grammar cards and typed 5 more bunkei (half a lesson from the textbook I used to use).

For most of this time I was up to date with Anki reviews but I stopped doing them 2 weeks ago as I was very busy and got behind on it again. On the bright side, I did a lot of speaking in Japanese during those 2 weeks.

Apart from that: read some manga, watched some anime but nothing really that can be counted as serious studying.

I need to motivate myself to write those logs regularly and to actually study more. But it’s not really that I don’t want to study, recently I just often feel too tired to focus on it.

11.08 - 25.08

Ok, I feel very stupid writing these “updates”. Another two weeks with nothing to report :frowning:

+0 Anki cards this time. Yes, zero. I’ve done very little reviews too. My backlog is so big that I’m afraid to open the app and look at it xD

The only positive thing is that I managed to get some serious speaking practice again. Also I wrote a 履歴書 and I’ll be having a 面接試験 this week. I’m a bit nervous but hopefully it will be alright :smiley:
From the language point of view I’m afraid if I manage to concentrate enough to say ている instead of てる how I do all the time. Also hopefully I can avoid refering to myself as 俺. It might be tricky :smiley:

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This is one of the reasons I choose to use 僕, but even then, since I use 俺 in my head sometimes and read it all the time, I’m still worried I’ll let it slip.

Good luck on that 面接試験!

Thank you! :slight_smile:

Funny thing that it’s not actually something you should think of in terms of something that you “choose”. It’s rather the situation you are in that makes that choice for you. But yeah, it’s a concept that’s very hard to master for people like us, who lived most of their lives believing that personal pronouns just denote a grammatical person and that’s it :smiley: Whereas in Japanese (not only of course) you could argue if it is even their primary role or not. But I guess it’s a topic for a different discussion :smiley:

Got it right xD

I did that only once (or at least I noticed it myself only once) and the interview was 40 minutes long so let’s say I got this one too :smiley:

And yes, I got the job :smiley: So I’m gonna move to Japan by the end of this year (most likely October or November). This time it’s Kyushu, I’ve never been there so I’m very excited :smiley:

26.08 - 9.09

Again not very good as learning goes. Only 2 new Anki cards and still quite big backlog to go through. It’s getting smaller with each day and I’m not afraid to open the app anymore but still xd

I should have more time for studying soon though. Since June I worked over 180 hours/month including night shifts to save some money so I can go to Japan this way or another and had some different responsibilities as well but I’m finishing the current job next week so there will be nothing to stop me from studying now :smiley:

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Congratulations dethlore!! I’m jealous!

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Thank you! :slight_smile: I hope I actually have some free time for sightseeing, there’s so many places around Kyushu where I want to go :smiley:

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It’s been quite a while since I posted something here. I’m in Japan now, the work started at the beginning of December and there’s still a lot of stuff to learn for it, which leaves me with little time for other studying. Of course I do get a lot of speaking, listening and reading (and some writing too) practice at work, so I’m probably making some substantial progress anyway. So far the work is interesting, but there’s many things I still can’t do so I imagine it will get better when I finally learn everything, which will take quite a while.

As for the life here it was really busy so far, getting my apartment set or getting a Japanese phone number took a lot of time and formalities. Actually everything needs a lot of formalities and frankly speaking about half of them doesn’t seem that much necessary lol But overall it’s fine now. The worst part is that I got a pretty bad ear inflammation and I need to visit laryngologist on my every day off (I already had two small surgeries). But it’s getting better and hopefully it doesn’t take much more time until I recover.

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