Satogaeru's New Study Log

I know gaiaslastlaugh left instructions on how we can port our koohii study logs, but looking through my old log, I realized I don’t want to port it. I just want to summarize some of the key bits from it and from other old threads on koohii, and then keep moving forward. Here’s the first bit of that summary.

Background: I started my study log in late 2017. I had spent a few months prior to that working with Japanese Specialist Shuji on pitch accent, and I focused on that for the next few months. Shuji-san goes through Genki for his lessons. After establishing some pitch accent terminology (an Anglicized version of the actual Japanese terminology), he sends worksheets in advance of each Genki section, introducing the pitches for the vocabulary in the section. He uses do-re-mi (from music) to describe the relation of the pitches to each other.

Besides Japanese specialist Shuji, the resources I used were

  • Dogen’s Patreon lessons at $10/month. For as far as I went in his lessons, Dogen explains the concepts clearly and helpfully.
  • The pitch accent designations on weblio.jp, although the markings do sometimes seem to be off a bit.
  • The speaker pronunciations on https://forvo.com/, which are usually of great quality.

As I am sure you can surmise by the fact that I’m bothering to post them, I was happy with all of these resources. I continue to use the latter two.

Last but not least, here is a chart showing the possible pitch accent patterns in Japanese. The white circle is the particle.
oEjxhWU

At that time I was also trying to engage more with writing the language. I was not very persistent or successful with that.

This lasted a few months. When I got my passing result on JLPT N2 I started focusing more on studying for N1. That is what I have been focusing on ever since.

3 Likes

This entry is to continue the summary of things I want to keep from my old log or from other koohii threads. Today’s focus is reading.

I lived in Japan for a year as an English conversation teacher. When I returned I brought back maybe a dozen books in Japanese, even though I was basically illiterate. They ranged from children’s board books to a copy of the Little Prince to a history of the Ainu people. I figured a year or two and I’d be able to decipher them. Well, fast forward nearly two decades (!) to when I finally picked the language up again. One by one I’ve been reading these books, but they haven’t been the best learning materials. The board books, for example, are baby talk. Nothing in my studies has prepared me to understand baby talk.

I found the best learning materials for me were the Japanese Graded Readers. They are pricey but very well-designed for the adult learner. I highly recommend these for anyone up to N3 or even low N2 level.

I also liked the なぜ?どうして? books. Of course, those were a lot harder because they assumed I had grade school level grammar and vocabulary, which I did not.

After spending some time with that type of book, I tried to read 精霊の守り人, which is the first in a fantasy series by 上橋 菜穂子. I picked this book because I had enjoyed the anime, and because I figured if it was a series, I could lean on familiarity with the writing style to compensate for my still-abysmal vocabulary and grammar. So far I’ve read three books of the series, and I picked up the next few when we got to visit Japan last year.

Currently I’m reading 果つる底なき by 池井戸潤. It’s an office drama; I picked it because I thought I could learn some good practical vocabulary from it. Oh, and because it’s supposed to be a good book.

You can probably tell that I’m a sucker for trying to read books that really are way beyond my abilities but that I have some other interest in. This is a slow and inefficient way to develop one’s reading. I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way. And one day I’ll read the rest of the books I brought back from Japan so long ago.

This entry is about listening and how difficult I find it to practice.

I live in a place with essentially no Japanese speakers. For a while I was conversing with italki teachers for practice. That was great, and I want to do that again soon, but for the last year or so it’s been difficult to scrape the time together consistently. So right now nearly all my listening practice happens via recorded media.

I am not a huge fan of visual media with storylines (I tend to get restless, I guess) so I mostly don’t care for things like anime or J-drama. But last year I managed to watch the entire series of Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City - maybe because the storyline is not very strong? Anyway, I think it did wonders for my listening skills. The members repeat themselves and each other over and over and talk about really banal things. That really helped my comprehension.

Podcasts are right up my alley because they require no scheduling and I can listen to them while doing something else. I liked ひいきびいき while it was still going. These days I listen to NHKニュース and バイリンガルニュース, both of which I enjoy, but both of which are limited to only certain topics. I need to find a new podcast to add to my rotation.

My goal is N1 in July, so to keep familiar with the format and questionable audio quality of the test, I’m working my way through the old listening sections of previous N1s using an app you can search for on the App Store as “N1Listening”. The logo is a cat inside a set of headphones.

I score my results using the セッタイ合格 scoring system. Each question in sections 1-3 is worth 2 points. Section 4 questions are each 1 point. Section 5 questions are each 3 points. Then I convert the scores to be out of 60.

Using that method, here are my N1 listening results to date.
7/2010 44
12/2010 40
7/2011 41
12/2011 34
12/2012 33
As you can see, I’m getting worse as I move to more recent tests, which is unfortunate though not unexpected. Listening will never be what carries me through one of these tests. I just want to keep it from sinking me.

I like the TBS Radio podcasts for this when there’s no more NJKジャーナル to listen to. My favorites are たまむすび and Session-22 (because I’m a news geeks). The only bummer is you have to use the TBS app to hear the episodes, and the app is somewhat shitty.

EDIT: Wow, I can swear here! I wonder if I should fix that…

1 Like

Thanks for the recommendations! There used to be a podcast thread on koohii. I need to get my act together and peruse it. Soon!

I … guess you should fix the swearing? I don’t personally care, and I swear around my kids, but it’s easy enough not to swear here in public. It seems like forums where swearing is allowed can
run fine but can also quickly hit a tipping point, causing headaches for moderation.

Let’s do some formatting this time, shall we?

Grammar
I have taken N2 twice, failing the first time and then passing. The first time I failed the grammar/vocab section (I think I got a 17) and the second time I got a 47. I used Shinkanzen Master N2 both times and in my opinion it covers what you need to know. The first time through, many of the points were new to me, and I didn’t budget enough time for review. I found that I was still learning stuff going through it the second time. So for me it seems it was a matter of encountering the points and then coming through again and studying them.

The thing that really helped me was tadoku. Seeing the grammar points in the wild really made them click.

For my second attempt I also picked up a copy of ドリルとドリル on amazon.jp. I didn’t make it all the way through this, and I definitely think it is secondary to tadoku. But having a bank of questions to work on was helpful.

I did not find an effective way to do flashcards of the grammar points but I think if I had, that would have helped too.

For my N1 attempt, I started the same way - Shinkanzen Master N1, supplemented by reading and also by the Soumatome study guide, which I purchased on the recommendation of loonytik. I find the N1 grammar to be easier to understand - I think this is simply because I have a more stable framework to place it in. But it is by no means trivial and I was worried I was losing the grammar almost as as easily as I learned it.

When I realized that sitting for N1 in December 2018 would be futile for me, it was on the basis of my reading and grammar scores on J-CAT. I think the answer to both of these problems is more extensive reading, so that is my focus going forward. I also picked up the N1 ドリルとドリル, again for practice with the format and to gauge my speed on the questions. In slowly working my way through ドリルとドリル I find that my speed is okay. I am passing about 3/4 of the sections (the book says 60% is a pass), but I’m far from crushing it. My scores range from 50% to 80%.

Vocabulary

I have a flashcard deck I use. I hate it. I am having better luck studying vocabulary out of my reading materials. I’m still trying to keep the flashcard deck up and running, sort of. Okay, fine, I’m not trying very hard at all.

Past Practice Statistics

Just putting these here in case I ever want them for future reference.

J-CAT

           3/2016   9/2016   8/2017   8/2018
Listening      54        ?       71       68
Vocabulary     47        ?       50       58
Grammar        34        ?       59       59
Reading        52        ?       55       57
Total         187      203      235      242

ゼッタイ合格N1 (taken March 2018 through June 2018)

           言語知識     読解     聴解     合計
第1回          31       30       37       98
第2回          26       30       31       87
第3回          30       29       41      100
1 Like

From here on out it’s going to be just normal journal entries. Hooray!

First thing is, this week registration opened for the JLPT in Leiden. I had a little trouble registering because my credit card company flagged the transaction as fraud. So if I ever use paylogic.nl again, probably best to call the credit card company first and let them know what I’m up to. Anyhow, it’s real now!

I hesitate to say that work has calmed down - last time I said that, I got absolutely slammed. And I’m still putting in a little extra time on weekends. But at least for now it’s better than it was. My study plan is a total shambles but there’s nothing to do but report on how little I’ve done and try to do better going forward.

Listening
Just podcasts and the 12/2012 N1 listening section I posted a few entries ago. There is nothing noteworthy to report on the podcasts, but the N1 listening results were actually kind of interesting. I did decently well on the first three sections of listening but got completely slaughtered on the short response questions. Only two of fourteen correct. That has never happened before. I hope it doesn’t happen again! I pretty much always get 50% on the fifth section and 12/2012 was no different.

Grammar
Working the ドリルとドリル sections as described above. I find I’m not encountering new points but I still need work on points I should already know. I had a plan for how many of these I was going to do per week and I am a couple weeks behind. No big deal, I think.

Reading
I’m about to start chapter 9 of 果つる底なき. Looking back, I began reading this book in mid-January and have read a whopping 60 pages of it since then. Yikes. I remember with 永遠のゼロ my pace was super slow at first, but eventually it picked up. Hopefully this is the same sort of situation. At any rate, I am enjoying this book much more than 永遠のゼロ so far.

Flashcards
I’m way, way behind on flashcards - backlog is 2,300. I usually pull my deck up at bedtime and run through my reviews, but for the last few weeks I’ve been falling asleep during reviews. I have actually dropped the phone on my face a couple of times in the act of falling asleep. :grinning: I never had high hopes of getting the deck totally under control so I’m not too upset about this, but more control than a 2,300 card backlog would be good.

I don’t intend to update this frequently going forward but today is a special occasion. I ran out of notebook paper in my Japanese study notebook, so I wanted to grab my listening score and post it before starting up a new study notebook.

Listening

7/2010    44
12/2010   40
7/2011    41
12/2011   34
12/2012   33
7/2013    35

Once again, I got obliterated on the short answer section. Unfortunate. I’m not sure what to do about this, or how to study for it.

Grammar

I am caught up on ドリルとドリル文法. It’s still good review. The only new “grammar point” I’ve run across is 拍車をかける. And really, that’s more vocabulary than a grammar point.

Reading

No progress on 果つる底なき. I realized I hadn’t done the chapter 8 reread, so I’m in the middle of that. I’m picking up a ton of nuance that I hadn’t picked up the first time.

I did do a little online reading - namely, about half of this article about “Sinofuturism” with the lede “人権も民主主義も、もう要らない?”. I learned the new vocabulary phrase オルタナ右翼 and then went on a merry chase across the English-language Internet for more information. (All I have to report back is, it’s a big wide world out there, folks. Respect each other and use your turn signals please.)

Flashcards

Unsurprisingly, as it’s been only five days since I last posted, I’m still at a backlog of 2,300.

1 Like

15 weeks until JLPT! My study plan is smoking wreckage. I have been training for a half marathon which is this weekend. I’m a very slow runner so training eats up all my study time.

Listening

I took the 12/2013 listening test.

7/2010    44
12/2010   40
7/2011    41
12/2011   34
12/2012   33
7/2013    35
12/2013   31

Walked right into a couple of dumb traps. Like, I saw the traps and went with them anyway. What the heck?! Hopefully I can get that out of my system by July.

I started back up with Terrace House: Aloha State - by which I mean, I’ve watched episode 2.

Grammar

No grammar.

Reading

I read chapter 9 of 果つる底なき and am beginning the reread. I also read a smattering of online articles. I started one last night called 日本人はどんどん貧困になっている…「平成の消費」から見えたこと The author seems to be arguing that Japan’s “post consumer” designation is flawed, that the decrease in Japanese consumer spending is exaggerated, etc. However I’m not sure I follow / agree with the way the author is using his data to support his argument. I guess I’ll have to finish the article to make a judgment.

Flashcards

Looks like I’ve been studying these about five minutes a day, which is not enough minutes to keep even. I’m at a 2400 card backlog.

I did marginally better with studying. My half marathon was last weekend. I’ve had the whole week off from running and it’s been great. I’ll start up again Monday, but it’s getting warm out so I won’t be putting in so many miles.

Anywho, on with the Japanese!

Listening
Other than the usual podcasts, I took the 7/2014 listening test. I did okay.

7/2010    44
12/2010   40
7/2011    41
12/2011   34
12/2012   33
7/2013    35
12/2013   31
7/2014    37

It’s funny to be looking at a 37/60 and calling it “okay”. But the fact is, I don’t think I’ll do as well on the real test as I am doing from the comfort of my own home on these practice tests. And I think I should be doing better on these questions. On one of the 7/2014 questions, I simply spaced out. That won’t do. I’ll need all the points I can get to make up for whatever craziness happens in the other sections. If I could be cracking 40 on these next few practice tests that’d be great.

Grammar
I managed to get nearly caught up on grammar review this week. I should be wrapping up with ドリルとドリル文法 around mid to late May. I’m still mostly scoring in the 50%-80% correct range, but starting to see the occasional 100% on the jigsaw puzzle questions. My time per question is also improving. Which brings us to…

Reading
Both times I took N2, I ran out of time on reading. And this time I’m running out of time to study reading. :slightly_frowning_face: I need to start adding in some JLPT-specific study. I’d planned to start that after my grammar redux, but I don’t know if it’s enough time. I might need to start sooner.

I am still reading 果つる底なき but still quite slowly - about to start my reread of chapter 11. I’m enjoying it and it is a vocabulary gold mine for common everyday language as well as for financial terms. (I work in a financial sort of field.)

Flashcards
I spent ten minutes a day on flashcards and that was enough to hold me steady at a 2400 card backlog. That’s all I have to say about that.

This was a good couple of study weeks.

Listening
Actually not as much listening as usual, because I’ve barely been home these last few weeks. No cooking dinner = fewer podcasts. I did take the 12/2014 test and got a 33/60. (I’m on my phone and too lazy to figure out how to format and update my chart. Next time.) Actually I took it on the plane and they kept coming onto the intercom to tell us the flight was turbulent - totally unnecessary because it never stopped being turbulent the whole time. Oh well, if I can pass the section in these conditions, maybe it’s going to be okay.

Grammar
I actually encountered two new grammar points in ドリルとドリル. Those are added to the flashcard deck for review. Can I just say I hate the long grammar-in-context style questions? Everything else I feel pretty comfortable with but that section is still really challenging for me. I get about 50% on those problems.

Reading
I cracked the 新完全マスター読解 manual and, to my dismay, found that I’d only completed two sections of it last time I cracked it. That left seventeen sections to cover in thirteen weeks - and we all know I’m not going to be studying the last week because I’ll be playing tourist. I don’t even want to pack manuals for the flight if I can get away with it. On the bright side, I’m finally ready for this manual. I don’t understand all the vocabulary in a given excerpt but I can nearly always get the gist. Anyway, I’ve made it through six sections and am getting about 3/4 of the review problems correct. Of course I’m not sure how these problems and excerpts compare in difficulty to the actual exam, but still, it’s encouraging. Last time I was in this manual I was really struggling.

I also read more of 果つる底なき - three more chapters, and rereads of chapters 11, 12, and 13. 13 was the last chapter of part one, so my remaining reread is chapter 1 of part two. Still enjoying this book, even if I’m slow. And it’s very lightweight so no problem to pack.

Flashcards
The backlog is at 2,200 cards. That’s progress I suppose.

Next week and the week after I have more travel coming up so hopefully I can make good progress again between now and my next update.

There are nine weeks until the July JLPT, they have mailed out the test vouchers. I’m starting to get excited! I’ve had another good couple of study weeks as well, though not quite as good as I’d hoped for.

Listening
I took the 7/2015 listening test in the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport and got a 36/60. The airport was much louder and more difficult to do a listening in than I thought it would be, so I’m pretty happy with this score. Here’s my little table.

Date Score
7/2010 44
12/2010 40
7/2011 41
12/2011 34
12/2012 33
7/2013 35
12/2013 31
7/2014 37
12/2014 33
7/2015 36

(Hmm, not sure why it formatted like that this time, and a different way the previous times. Oh well, it’s legible and that’s really all I want.) I have one more listening test available, the 12/2015 one. I’ll do that in two or three weeks. I don’t plan to do any other JLPT-specific review after that is done; I’ll just keep listening to podcasts.

Grammar
I have seven units left of ドリルとドリル. I don’t plan to do any other review after wrapping that up, either. I’m not sure what I’d do that would be useful anyway.

Reading
I did four more sections of 新完全マスター読解. I love this manual! It lays out clear strategies for the different question types that are way more efficient than what I’ve been doing (aka the no-strategy method). I think it is really going to help me with my running-out-of-time problem. I have seven sections left.

I didn’t read much of 果つる底なき - just did the reread of part two chapter 1.

Flashcards
The backlog is at 2,000 cards.

Other than flashcards, I haven’t done anything specific to study for the kanji/vocabulary section. I don’t know that catching up on this deck will actually help much. And realistically, I’m not about to embark on a vocabulary cramming mission. I will try to keep up with reading and listening and hopefully this will be enough.

1 Like

Been very busy with work and home, and between the two there unfortunately hasn’t been much room for studying. I think work is going to get more busy before all is said and done. On the home front, we have company coming this weekend and a flurry of home projects to complete in preparation. After that things should slow down moderately for the rest of the time before JLPT.

Listening
Just the usual smattering of podcasts. I’m hoping to take the 12/2015 listening test early this week. I found the listening sections for at least two subsequent sittings on YouTube but not sure I’ll bother with them.

Grammar
I completed only one section of ドリルとドリル, which is pretty pathetic. To my surprise, the section included one new grammar point. Into the flashcard deck it went.

Reading
Zero reading from my book. Two sections from the 新完全マスター読解 manual. Nothing noteworthy here.

Flashcards
My backlog is still about 2,000 cards. I need to put in 20-25 minutes a day to make headway with the backlog, but the last two weeks I’ve been more in the range of 10-15 minutes a day.

Exercise
This is the other thing that is about to start taking up more time. I think I mentioned on koohii that I have taken up jogging more seriously. I’m not a good runner. Quite the opposite. But I need to lose a little weight, and staying in good aerobic condition helps my breathing (I’m asthmatic). Anyway, I’ve been taking it pretty easy since the half marathon a few months ago, but I signed up for a fall marathon - my first - and I need to start ramping up the mileage. It got super hot this week, and let me tell you, running in the heat is absolutely horrid. I probably spent half my Saturday run being mad about the stupid fall marathon. But the truth is, it’s turning out to be a good thing I signed up for it and have a goal. Otherwise there is no way I’d be out there.

Memorial Day company has come and gone. I have about four weeks left to do actual studying - it’s unlikely I’ll study much once I arrive in Europe.

For fun I am posting what I think my score will be (using the ゼッタイ合格 rubric on my drill questions). I look forward to seeing how far off I end up from my estimate.

Listening

I took the final listening test last week as planned and I’m just taking the average of all the scores, which is 36.

Date Score
7/2010 44
12/2010 40
7/2011 41
12/2011 34
12/2012 33
7/2013 35
12/2013 31
7/2014 37
12/2014 33
7/2015 36
12/2015 36

Grammar and Vocab

I think I’m in pretty good shape on grammar - I get about 75% of my grammar drill questions. But I did zero vocab drilling this round - just the flashcards. And anyway, I gather that the vocab score you get is often lower than the ゼッタイ合格 rubric indicates, due to the N1 having a different distribution of test takers than the other levels. If I take my current grammar scores and my old ゼッタイ合格 vocab scores I would expect a 36 on this section. Lowering that, let’s call it a 32.

Reading
There is a 模擬試験 in the 新完全マスター読解 manual, but I haven’t taken it yet. I’m aiming to do that in the next couple of weeks. Based on my current drill scores I am getting 80% of the answers (would be a 48), but in untimed conditions. Let’s call it a 40, then.

Total expected score: 108

A short update.

Listening - nothing beyond podcasts.

Grammar - I have two sections left of ドリルとドリル. Sadly, I’m still hitting new grammar points. I guess it’s better to see them now than on exam day, right?

Reading - I haven’t read much at all, just a couple of online articles. I found one that talked about the new warning level system for rain events. They used this system for a rain event in Japan last week and from the news I was listening to, it sounds like not everyone understands the levels yet. Anyway, what else? I haven’t taken the 模擬試験 from 新完全マスター読解 yet. I dug around in ゼッタイ合格 for timing information and made myself a little chart, and then never actually took the test. Expert level procrastination, that.

Flashcards - I lost ground again, the backlog is at 2,200 cards.

1 Like

Last pre-JLPT update - the exam is in two weeks.

I took the 模擬試験 from 新完全マスター読解. I had wanted to take it under timed conditions but realized I didn’t have a clear idea of how much time to allot. The N1 written section is 110 minutes long, but of course it includes vocabulary, grammar, and reading. Last week I mentioned that I’d looked through the ゼッタイ合格 完全模試 book, which includes timing information for each question, and made myself a little timing chart. Here’s the chart.

Vocabulary
問題 Description Question count Time (minutes)
1 choose the right reading for the kanji 6 1
2 fill in the blank 7 2
3 choose the synonym 6 2
4 choose the correct usage for the word or phrase 6 3
Grammar
問題 Description Question count Time (minutes)
5 fill in the blank 10 5
6 star puzzles 5 4
7 grammar in an excerpt 5 6
Reading
問題 Description Question count Time (minutes)
8 short passages 4 12
9 medium passages 9 18
10 long passage 4 14
11 compare the passages 2 or 3 10
12 opinion piece 4 14
13 information retrieval 2 7

The total time allotted is 98 minutes. I guess if you could go that fast, it would give you twelve minutes to check your work. I know I can’t go that fast, but at least it gives me something to shoot for. Anyhow, for the reading section, the time allotted is 75 minutes, so that’s what I set my timer for for the 模擬試験. I had only three questions left when I ran out of time so that is better than I expected. Overall I scored myself a 43 out of 60 on the 模擬試験. This is good.

Whether I pass or fail, I have to say 新完全マスター読解 was worth every penny, and so was the ゼッタイ合格 完全模試 book.

Other than JLPT preparations - it’s tadoku time! I am so grateful to nandemonai for running this round of tadoku! But I have encountered an unexpected problem - my book got scary! Scary for me anyway. I am a great big chicken. So I’ve been stalling a little. It’s still a good book though.

5 Likes

Be careful. I went to the official 模擬試験 before passing N1 and completed everything 10 minutes before the time limit scoring over 90% for reading and then during the real test I run out of time with 3 texts left to read even though I went at it at the same pace. I don’t know about the 模擬試験 form 新完全マスター but I wouldn’t trust those 模擬試験 too much :smiley:

Anyway, good luck on the exam :smiley:

IMO, 新完全マスター does a good job of mimicking the difficulty of the actual test - much better than 総まとめ and some others, where the questions are much less difficult than what you encounter in the wild.

1 Like

I have heard that about the official 模擬試験. Someone on koohii also told me the ゼッタイ合格 模試 were slightly easier than the 本番, and I would not be surprised if it were also true of the 新完全模試. They are the only things I have, though. They are better than nothing, I think. :slight_smile:

Anyhow, there’s not much more studying I can do now anyway, so the main benefit of taking the reading test was to simulate performance under time pressure. Based on the outcome, I’ll probably divide my time similarly to how I divided it on N2: I’ll start with reading for 60 minutes, then spend 25 minutes on grammar and vocabulary, then take the last 25 minutes to finish whatever else I can in the reading, knowing that I will likely run out of time.

Actually the best thing I can do until 7 July is surely tadoku, to build up that reading endurance as much as possible.

1 Like

The other common advice if you think you’ll run out of time for the reading is to do the long-reading questions first as they are worth more points per question than the short ones, so the penalty for having had to put a random answer down when you run out of time is greater. You do then have to be a bit careful not to get out of sync with which row you’re filling in on the answer sheet though…

I also recommend guessing ‘4’ if you don’t know the answer :slight_smile:

1 Like