Taking a page from everyone else, I’m going to summarize the important parts from my old log instead of posting two years worth of old stuff (I’ve saved that for myself though, I do reread it every now and then).
Up 'til now:
BSL (Before Study Log)
As best as I can remember, I started trying to learn Japanese in 2010, but didn’t start making much of any progress until later (I guess late 2011; around when I joined Koohii). My initial motivations were something along the lines of “I want to learn another language” and “it’d be cool if I could watch anime and read manga raw”; not exactly the noble reasons that people are told they need to learn a language. Most of my knowledge and appreciation of Japanese culture and whatnot came after I started studying. I’ll be completely honest, my primary interaction with Japanese is still webnovels, manga, games, and other ‘frivolous’ things like that, though I do have Japanese friends that I talk to now.
I started out learning the kana as normal, but struggled with ‘seeing’ kanji (I’d confuse kanji that looked even vaguely similar), and so struggled with vocabulary acquisition initially. I bought RTK and did a recognition only deck of it (called Lazy Kanji Mod or something like that). That gave me the boost I needed to start on vocab, and I moved on to the Core decks. I don’t know that I’d recommend that approach to kanji anymore, but it worked for me, just left me unable to write them (and without some more intimate kanji knowledge that gets drilled in when you practice writing).
Reading started with easy stuff like NHK EASY, JOI teachers’ blogs, and some manga with furigana. From there I moved to more manga, then VNs and games, then some regular news, then webnovels and other articles.
My initial listening (other than learner material) was mostly music from bands I looked up about the time I started learning the kana. I still listen to several of those bands, since I picked them based on musical taste as much as for them being Japanese; I’m a fan of 陰陽座 (no matter how cheesy some of their songs are), which is probably the only Japanese band I listen to that actually uses only Japanese lyrics (thematic reasons).
Anyway, sometime late 2016 I started watching anime with Japanese subs, which really helped improve my listening, which had been lagging severely behind my reading. About the same time, I started watching some Japanese YouTube channels.
According to my old study log (see, these things are useful), I started working with my tutor in 2015 to prepare for the JLPT. I wanted to get N1 and had no use for anything lower, so I went straight for it.
Working with a tutor in person has been a big deal for me; she can point out the things that I don’t notice and is a good conversation partner. She’s also become a friend.
I had a big focus on JLPT prep in this year. I had already failed the N1 in 2015 and 2016. My main targets to improve were the grammar section, reading speed, and listening comprehension. I used multiple practice books and an Anki deck based off of 新完全マスター to tackle the grammar section. I did a crap ton of reading (almost won Tadoku one time…) for reading speed; I also did practice books. I watched a crap ton of YouTube and anime for listening comprehension; I also did practice books. I took the J-CAT when I could, and took multiple mock exams. Finally passed N1 in December of 2017.
I also started working on kanji production in this year. I got up to 1006 cards in 2017.
Continuing on kanji production for the first part of the year; I got up to 1141 cards (probably over 1250 I could actually produce, since I didn’t add the ones I knew well already). Bigger things this year were graduating from my electrical engineering program and going to Japan. After three weeks in Japan, I didn’t exactly keep up with my kanji deck, so that got screwed up.
Because of my planned trip to Japan, which ended up being mostly a homestay (had a great time), I focused a lot on speaking with my tutor. After I got back, I still felt the difficulty I had with speaking, so I continued focusing on that. Can’t say it’s much better than it was when I got back from Japan, but that’s entirely on me, because I keep procrastinating so that I don’t have to talk to people I don’t know…
- Mostly focusing on production; particularly speaking, but writing also
- Trying to get myself back to Anki; probably need to restart my kanji deck from the beginning
- Reading and listening are mostly fun activities now, rather than study; they still have study quality, but it doesn’t feel like studying anymore
I don’t think my update format will really change, because at least half of my updates has always been “what I’ve read and watched lately”. Most of the rest has been complaining about how much I suck at production.
Oh, and I recently started playing about with studying Spanish. I’ll probably mention that in my Anki stats, but since it’s off-topic, I’ll keep it to a minimum.