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Japanese Language Study Log: gaiaslastlaugh

#51
Update

I'm in Sydney for the week, and really need to get some work-work done as well as study-work done. So, naturally, I'm here updating my diary instead. #時間を潰す

Nothing confirmed yet, but it looks like I may be going to Japan one or two additional times this year for work. One of the managers in the Tokyo office resigned, and I've been asked to drop in and pinch-hit a few times until they find a replacement. I'm both excited and terrified. Confused   It's definitely motivating me to keep up with my studies. And I'm hoping the experience leads me to a job more intimately related to the Japanese side of our business down the road.

On to the stats...

Vocab: Up to 2,147 active cards in my deck, with about 14 left in today's Unseen queue. I did a big spate of reading of 天声人語 this week, leading to a mini-spike in new cards, but reviews are still incredibly balanced at around 100-140/day. 

I added the sentence for my cards to the front of the card last week. I find it comes in really useful when I don't necessarily know a word off of the top of my head, but know it well enough to recall it from context. If I do know a word off the top of my head, I skip reading the sentence; otherwise, it will take double/triple the time it usually takes to complete my deck. 

Reading: 277 pages. Not a record, but a good showing nonetheless! I read (and finished) 150 pages of 嫌われる勇気 on the plane ride back from Haneda, and tore through three volumes of 東京タラレバ娘, plus a bunch of 天声人語 and 社説 as well. Hoping I can keep up the pace during my down time in AU.

Listening: Took a little bit of a dip this week as the winter TV season came to an end. I'm trying to practice ub-subbed listening a little more atm. My listening diet is mostly the hour-long daily news broadcast on TV Japan, episodes of スッキリ! when I have the time to tune in, and the most recent episodes of 月曜から夜ふかし on DailyMotion.

Production: I had an AWESOME week of production while in Japan, including business conversations, discussions with my wife's family, and an almost 2 hour long convo with the waiter at a horse meat sake bar in Ebisu (definitely my most interesting experience while in Tokyo).

This week, I managed to post two new reviews to Bookmeter (https://bookmeter.com/users/388077). (As a small point of pride, my best-rated review currently is my review of ラブゴンドラ by 東野圭吾, which has received 28 likes.) I only did a few Facebook updates; however, I also managed to write about 600 characters of an essay that I'm hoping to finish up and give to my wife for proofreading this week. I'm eventually hoping to produce something good enough that I feel confident in submitting it to Storys.jp or a similar site.

Also, because I'll be called on to use my conversational skills a little more this year, I've also decided to add in some iTalki sessions again, this time with a community tutor. Community tutor lessons are cheap, and it gives me an hour of dedicated discussion on the topics of my choice. I'm hoping I can spend the time discussing op eds and current events, which my wife (Kannon-sama bless her) has little interest in.
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#52
A really quick update, just so people don't think I've died/giving up Japanese/been pressed into Witness Relocation, etc.

I've had a busy two weeks. My Sydney trip was great, but was largely work + hanging with my team. I made the most progress on the plane rides to and from Australia.

On the plus side, I had to change my plans to go to Japan for to weeks in May. I.e., I'm now going for THREE weeks! The manger of our Japanese training team quit, and as the only Japanese-speaking US technical person, I was asked to go over and assist with a major product launch. So I'll be arriving in Tokyo May 13th, working a week, taking a week of vacation as discussed in a previous thread, and then working a major technical conference in Tokyo the week after that. I'll be back stateside June 4th.

Given this, I've made a shift in my studies: I've decided to drop down my weekly reading goal to around 150 pages, and increase my listening time to about 10 hours/week. I feel like my listening has not kept stride with my reading, and I want to ensure I can process everything that's going on around me, especially in a fast paced business environment.

So, with that recalibration, a short summary:

Vocab: Up t,o 2,263 words in my deck. I'm throwing in a lot from the history book that I picked up at the Gotanda Book-Off (早わかり日本史), as well as a ton of proper and place names, which are still my reading Achilles' Heel. I've added about 120 cards or so in two weeks. I'm fine with that.

Reading: Still knocked off 186 pages last week despite my shift to listening. I slammed through all eight volumes of 東京タラレバ娘. I'm dedicating myself to reading 10-12 pages of 朝日新聞 daily, including four articles, 天声人語, and a 社説. I'm not sure how busy I'll be in the next few weeks, but hoping I can get through at least one more of the books on my stack before month's end.

Listening: Ramping this up with daily NHK News recorded off of TV Japan, which I can watch on my Xfinity app on the shuttle ride to and from work. The spring TV season has started, and I've dived into a few shows:

人は見た目が100% - I really don't understand the appeal of ブルゾンちえみ's comedy, but I like her and the rest of the cast here, even though 桐谷美玲 is playing the same mousy character she always plays in these things. Wait...WHY do I like this again? Eh...it has some funny moments, and it's 50 minutes of immersion.
僕、運命の人です - This one's actually good. Story about a character who's told by God that he's destined to marry the woman who works in the next door office, and who then proceeds to hit on her in the creepiest way possible.
母になる and リバース - Haven't really started on these yet.
真昼の悪魔 - From last season; wrapping this up now. It's *weird*, man. If you're into sometimes creepy and predictable Japanese soft-core TV horror, this might be for you. I can't decide if it's actually good, or if I'm just fascinated with the main character and the campiness of it all.

I've also been inspired by America's disastrous remake to spend some study time on the original 攻殻機動隊. Not very far into this yet, but hope to make some headway on a day off this week.

Production: Lesson once a week with my iTalki teacher. Usual discussions with the wife, including some heavy family stuff that's forcing me to stretch my speaking skills. A few random posts on FB, but not enough IMO.

That's all. Like I said, lightning-quick. More next time.
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#53
The obligatory "so no one thinks I'm dead" update. I have a lot going on, so I'll likely be streamlining down to an update every two weeks. I might do more later in May, as I'll be in Japan for over three weeks and will likely have a lot to share. The wife and I are planning to score a pair of Japan Rail Passes during my week off, and we plan to travel around to Hakone, Kanazawa, Kyouto and Ousaka, at a minimum. 

Vocab: Over 2,400 cards. I've found that reading names is now getting a LOT easier because I've entered so many name and place cards into my deck. 

Reading: Staying around the 150 page mark, including subs from Zhuixinfan., I'm reading almost exclusively news and blogs at the moment in order to keep up with news and trends in Japanese culture. I imagine this will serve me very well when it comes time to take the JLPT, but I'm mainly doing it because I enjoy it. 

I've managed to reduce my extracurricular English reading to almost nothing; it's almost all Japanese outside of work (and even some Japanese *inside* of work when it's relevant to my job). Sadly, my "extracurricular English reading" also includes this forum. I hope to get back to participating more regularly in the future, but for now I'm devoting myself to leveling up prior to December's N1. 

Listening: The spring TV season is in full swing, and I have a large backlog of shows I want to watch. I watched around 6-7 hours of TV last week, plus watched the hour-long NHK news segment every day. I'm loading some of the more interesting dramas onto my iPhone for repeated listening practice. I'm WAY behind on 月曜から夜ふかし, and am aiming to watch some this weekend.

For those who are interested, I'm posting mini-reviews of good dramas to my Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/jptranslated), but the ones we're watching regularly atm are: 

緊急取調室
人は見た目が100%
小さな巨人
ボク、運命の人です
女囚7

I also enjoyed the two-part movie 女の勲章, a fashion-oriented drama based in the post-war period. I still have to watch LEADERS, but the little I've seen so far is intriguing.

Ones I've passed on as too depressing or dumb were 母になる, あなたのこと、それほど (depressing), and 貴族探偵 (dumb). I still have yet to see リバース and 犯罪症候群.

Production: I tried iTalki again, but I'm getting really bored of teacher/student sessions, and I'm not really interested in language exchange. (I'm a selfish bastard, I guess - I'd rather be speaking to people with minimal English skills.) Instead I'm trying to talk more with my wife and friends. I've also re-activated my Twitter account, and created a separate Japanese-only account that I'm aiming to write a little to every day. I've found just replying to people who I already follow, or engaging some of the people they follow in conversation, has resulted in some really cool exchanges.
Edited: 2017-05-03, 11:56 pm
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#54
Did you just make your own names/places Anki deck? I'm struggling to improve my recognition in that area when reading.
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#55
(2017-04-30, 7:09 pm)TheVinster Wrote: Did you just make your own names/places Anki deck? I'm struggling to improve my recognition in that area when reading.

Yes - I just add it to my primary deck so it becomes part of my normal study. Yomichan can pick up place names and many famous and semi-famous people's names, so it's been rare I've had to create a card completely by hand. When I first study the card, I add key details to it (a picture of the person or the place location on a map, plus the first line of its wikipedia entry) to aid in memorization.
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#56
Update

I just landed in Japan for a three-week stint - two weeks of work and an interspersed week of vacation and fun. This will be the last update I do until I'm stateside again. 

I'm taking this trip to reset a few things. I've been fooling around with some other projects, which has distracted me from my stated purpose when I started this thread - i.e., to write stories in Japanese. Reflecting on it, I think I shirked from the immensity of this task, and started focusing on things I thought might be easier. I hope to take some time next week and this week during evenings to do a little writing. I'm also going to put my focus back on reading books, using dramas and movies to help with my listening. I saw an ad in the paper this morning for a book that looks really intriguing (かがみの孤城 by 辻村深月); I'm going to pick it up as soon as the bookstore at the Meguro Atre opens and see how it goes.

The other thing I'm resetting is my health. I've been doing well lately with meditation, but I've completely let my health go - too much eating and drinking, and too little exercise. I'm aiming for a long walk every day that I'm here, and am going to stick to a nice, healthy Japanese diet. (I'll be damned if I'm limiting my consumption of 日本酒, however; those calories will just have to be compensated for somewhere else.)

Vocab - Up to 2,673 words in my deck. This is almost 300 more than I reported two weeks ago. I'm adding a little more than usual as I've been diving into harder material, such as Wikipedia articles on Japanese history. I also took some time on the trip here to dive into a history book I bought on my last trip (早わかり日本史), which devotes a few pages toward each era, and have been intensive reading it in order to mine names and historic terms that have so far been a mystery to me.

Unfortunately, it seems like I'm also marked Missed lately on a lot more mature cards. My recall rate yesterday on mature words was 67%. Ouch. As a result, my # of pending reviews is creeping up hard. I may be forcd to suspend adding new cards soon until things settle back down.

Reading - I decided a few weeks ago to drop down to about 150 pages/week. I may ramp back up to 200, given my stated goals above; it depends how much time I have to balance writing with reading this week.

JLPT - I'm on a grammar kick recently, revisiting some things I studied over a year ago. I'm doing a little grammar practice - particularly, I'm reviewing some grammar questions in the Shinkanzen Master and Drill & Drill books, and using it to reference points I may have forgotten. Beyond that, I'm honestly not directly studying for the thing. I'm instead focusing on total immersion, and letting that take care of the rest.

Listening - Going well, though I'm still looking to make some sort of dramatic leap in my listening abilities. I'm watching four or five shows with J-subs thanks to the absolute gods who run Zhuixinfan. (I posted a review of some of the shows I'm watching on a separate thread.) As I watch a show, when I find an interesting one with "hard" spots that I want to listen to again, I load it onto OPlayer on my phone. OPlayer has the ability to set A/B stops for repeat listening, and then save the clip you've created in a playlist. So I have this growing playlist of dialogue with J-subs that I can listen to again and again. I find this a little more engaging than something like Subs2SRS, as it keeps more context of what I'm watching. It's also a lot faster to create clips, and it doesn't require hard subs (hard subs and soft subs both work equally well with this method).

Writing - I've been doing at least a little every day on Instagram and Facebook. As noted above, I hope to get some writing in next week while on vacation. That may seem like a waste of a trip to Japan, but honestly, having a week with just my wife and no other outside distractions is a perfect time to focus on this.

Welp, that's enough English for three weeks. Peace out, 諸君!
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#57
Okay, I'm a liar - want to post a short update due to changes in my routine.

I've decided for at least the next month to abandon my Anki deck and focus more on comprehensible input. I feel it's sucking up too much time now, and I'd rather work on reinforcing what I know. I'm still keeping track of unknowns using Midori, and am using Midori's flashcard function to run through a few words once or twice a day when I'm bored or in transit to somewhere. That feels less...penalizing? demoralizing? than using Anki can feel on some days.

The last time I tried this I felt like my Japanese didn't progress as much as it could have. However, I also wasn't tracking my reading at the time, so I want to take another shot at it now that I have a reading log.

Last week was pretty amazing. I spent a lot of time at work both reading and producing Japanese, helping our US and Japan teams deal together with issues that arose in one of our new products. A lot of my free time was spent eating out with Japanese friends, or overcoming my fear of the unknown and going by myself to some of the izakaya around Meguro-eki. (Ping me if you need recs; I feel like I've eaten at about every izakaya here by this point.)

Reading was 288 pages. And I think that's conservative, as I didn't count work reading. I returned to novels and ripped through 220 pages of かがみの孤城, which I bought on impulse after seeing an ad in 読売新聞. It's an interesting middle school tale about kids who don't go to school who are offered a gateway into a magic castle. The story's less about fantasy and more about how the characters' own internal struggles, which is my cup of team. I also bought the latest 東野圭吾 novels, as well as the original novel of リバース.

I'll post an update next Sunday if time permits.
Edited: 2017-05-20, 5:46 pm
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#58
(2017-05-20, 5:45 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: A lot of my free time was spent eating out with Japanese friends, or overcoming my fear of the unknown and going by myself to some of the izakaya around Meguro-eki. (Ping me if you need recs; I feel like I've eaten at about every izakaya here by this point.)
I suppose you go alone to izakayas to meet people and have conversations? If so, is there any places you find are better for this than others? I`m not terribly confident about going out alone and moreover don`t find Tokyo to be the easiest place to get to talk to strangers - but I would like to meet a lot of different people and get out and use my Japanese more!
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#59
(2017-05-21, 7:31 pm)Hinsudesu Wrote:
(2017-05-20, 5:45 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: A lot of my free time was spent eating out with Japanese friends, or overcoming my fear of the unknown and going by myself to some of the izakaya around Meguro-eki. (Ping me if you need recs; I feel like I've eaten at about every izakaya here by this point.)
I suppose you go alone to izakayas to meet people and have conversations? If so, is there any places you find are better for this than others? I`m not terribly confident about going out alone and moreover don`t find Tokyo to be the easiest place to get to talk to strangers - but I would like to meet a lot of different people and get out and use my Japanese more!

Partly for that and partly just because I love Nihonshu :Smile Between existing friends, work, and my wife, I'm not starved for good convo. 

It took me a while to get it of my own head and overcome that fear of diving into an unknown environment. While I do talk to other customers occasionally, I find myself more often talking to the employees. There's almost always someone working the counter who's intrigued that a Japanese speaking american has shown up, and that leads to a lot of interesting convos.

I've also been considering attending other semi social events such a short meditation circles, book clubs, etc. Haven't talked tried that yet though.
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#60
Update - mainly because, after two weeks here, I feel the need to write in English for a change...

It's been a great trip, but "Japanese fatigue" definitely set in at some points. I had moments where I thought, "Hey, I'm really getting better at this" that were immediately followed by moments of "I still don't understand ANYTHING". I didn't really take any breaks, but I did take a few moments to think about what I really wanted to get out of studying the language, and what I really want to focus on going forward.

One thing I realized is that, while my listening could still use some work - particularly in large conversational settings - I'm fine with limping along at my current level. I'm also doing a LOT of listening, so I feel like this will naturally improve over time. My larger concerns are writing and reading, which is where my true passion lies.

So the main changes I've made are:
  • I'm boning up my Kanji knowledge. I feel like I have noticeable gaps, particularly with regards to the Jinmeiyou kanji as well as kunyomi readings. I also have very, very limited ability to write/produce Kanji, which has come to bother me more and more. I downloaded the All in One Kanji Deck (grade school ordering) for Anki. I love this deck, as it has other detailed information on each Kanji that I can see at a glance - on/kun readings, radical, classification, etc. I'm aiming to get all recognition and production cards from at least the Jouyou into circulation by end of year. That's a stretch, but I think I can make it if I push. 
  • I've returned to extensive reading. I feel like this helps my Japanese knowledge more than anything else I do. I'm aiming for a steady goal of at least 300 pages/week, with up to 400 during Tadoku sessions. 
  • I'm practicing writing by hand. While reading novels, I'm copying down sentences I might want to use in my own writing - useful co-locations, neat turns of phrase, etc. Whenever I meet my reading goals for the week, I grab my Surface Book and practice writing out these sentences (as well as writing out my own) in OneNote with grid display turned on. Beyond being useful to help me understand how to write kanji, it's just a very calming exercise. 
  • I'm trying to write at least a little every day. My main platform for this is my Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/jaysan_de_ii/), which I've someone managed to get up to 300 or so followers. I'm also writing down ideas for stories, and trying to write at least fragments of stories whenever I have time.
That's it for now. Back to immersion...
Edited: 2017-05-28, 9:01 pm
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#61
Update

First, a general note: If you write a Language Log on here, I'm reading and enjoying it! Everyone else's experiences and study habits are interesting and helpful. Please don't think that if no one is commenting that that means that no one is reading! 

I'm in Delta Sky Lounge in Narita on my way back from my three week stint in Tokyo. It was a wonderful trip, during which I made several new business contacts in the country, as well as a couple of additional friends. 

Anki (Kanji Review Project): Still in early stages of All in One Kanji - 6,405 Total Cards, 332 Young, 129 Buried (too easy), 5,944 Unseen. 

I was adding 40-50/day for a while, but have dropped back down to 20 due to Tadoku. I'm hoping I can resume greedy reviews next month, and get a good chunk of the way through the Jouyou before N1 in December. We'll see how that goes, though. I can already see the benefits from the Production cards in terms of crystallizing my knowledge of some kanji, and making them easier to write. 

Reading: 288 pages read last week, for a running total this year of 4,085 pages. I bought (and finished) かがみの孤城 while in Tokyo. It was a good fantasy that did much to help heal my inner middle schooler. I plan to finish the latest 東野圭吾 joint, 素敵な日本人, on the plane ride home. Up next are Higashino-san's newest full length novel, 虚ろの十字架, and then a 星野源 book of essays (働く人).

Listening: Lots - TV, meetings, dinners, etc. 

Production: Lots of talking this past three weeks. I have also been updating my Instragram 1x/2x a day while in Japan and writing solely in Japanese.

I wrote an essay on 日本酒 - basically just 700 characters on the concept of 特定名称酒, as well as a definition of 精米歩合。 I plan to have my wife proof-read so she can correct my egregious errors, and then maybe I'll throw it up on a blog.

This week (hopefully starting on the plane ride), I want to start taking some notes for stories I have in my head. Next week, I at least want to write a little bit more of a short story as practice. As noted last time, I've been keeping a Google Doc of interesting turns of phrases and useful words in context, so that I can turn around and use the patterns in my own writing. An example would be as follows (from 素敵な日本人 by 東野圭吾):

「ねえ、そろそろ若い子と付き合いたいとか思い始めたんじゃないの?」ことあるごとに弥生はこんな風に訊いてきた。

For me, the interesting part of this sentence is ことあるごとに; it's a word I've encountered before (and used to be part of my old custom anki vocab deck), but which I'd likely be hard pressed to use in a sentence. I'm studying this sentence bank and creating my own sentences based on the patterns in an attempt to expand the range of complex thoughts that I can communicate in writing. I plan to spend some more time with this exercise in June to see if it actually helps make my written communication richer and more expressive.
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#62
I didn't really know they had a language log section on this site. I agree, I really like reading other people's language logs. I'm subscribing to yours so you have another follower. We're both studying for the N1 but I have to say that your ability to blaze through Japanese books is a bit intimidating. It also makes me wonder that you're also doing a review of the All in One Kanji deck on anki. If your reading ability is that high do you really find it beneficial to study kanji RTK style? Although I sort of get that you want to improve your ability to write kanji from memory. This is something I've experienced but usually doesn't last more than a few weeks before fading (maybe the desire is there but not enough to do the Anki reps). I feel like reading a lot should also help my ability to recall kanji but that's just speculation.

I totally feel you on the lang-8 being a double edged sword. About a year ago - I'm not really sure when exactly - I got some corrections or whatever and it just really hit me so that I did a post explaining how I wasn't going to be posting any more. More than the corrections, what gets me more than anything is that they use English to explain their corrections and the comments. Clearly, my Japanese is past the beginner level. And it's just really discouraging to me to sit down, try my hardest to communicate in a foreign language, and then have them ignore that and use English. I think it hurts all the more because I am currently living in Japan, trying my best to learn Japanese, and yet they speak English to me. But not to my friends from India or other parts of Asia. Just me. So I thought that it would be better to have a different forum to post where people wouldn't use English with me but really I couldn't think of anywhere like that. Then recently, I needed to write something in Japanese and it was really hard for me. It showed me that I can't just ignore writing and expect reading a lot to compensate. Maybe it will eventually but I think the rate of improvement is like a trickle and I could really use some competency a lot sooner. So I'm back on lang-8, with I hope a thicker skin, less sensitive to criticism and the dreaded English comments (I never write in Japanese on other people's English learning Journals). A few nights ago I got someone I didn't know correcting stuff and explaining things that didn't need explaining in English and I almost had the same melt down. I told myself to just sleep on it. Luckily, the next day I looked at it and it didn't bother me at all. Maybe part of that is that I am now telling myself I really really need this feedback and I need to write a lot and I can't let it hold me back. You know you see other people posting stuff in their journals almost every day and some of the corrections have to be a bit disheartening to them but they don't let it stop them. I keep that in mind too.

I do have a language journal in English if you're curious. I don't update it as much as I used to - I used to be a junkie. But feel free to take a peek.

https://forum.language-learners.org/view...861#p73861
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#63
@kraemder
The language logs just started popping up, there's not a dedicated subforum for them or anything; gaiaslastlaugh got the idea okay'ed by Fabrice, and we've just been putting them in the Group Study subforum.

I've also been studying kanji, though I never learned to write more than a handful of them before. It's been helping with reading and vocab a lot more than I expected (I was mainly learning to write because I'll be going to Japan in a year or so, hopefully for graduate school). It's been going a lot easier than when I was going through Lazy RTK (recognition only).

I've certainly felt that way about corrections (not on lang8; never actually used it), but I learned a long time ago not to let stuff get to me (far less important things got far bigger reactions than that). It's certainly a bummer to make mistakes that you think you shouldn't have made, and get treated like you know nothing because of them. I'll be updating my log tonight with a paper I had corrected by my tutor this week; most of the mistakes were really simple things (using から for two clauses in a row, instead of using し on the first one; screwing up some basic particles; that kind of thing). While I didn't feel like I was being treated like an idiot while getting corrections from my tutor, I hated the fact that I messed up such simple things (that I've messed up before, even); I actually felt better about the couple of sentences that had to be almost completely rewritten than the simple mistakes, since I wasn't confident in those to begin with.


@gaiaslastlaugh
I'm also reading everyone's logs, so keep them coming! I don't know if it's just that there's little to comment on, or if people feel like it would be a bother.

That sounds like a good way to improve your writing, to me. I remember actively trying to mimic the writing style of my favorite authors and documentary narrations when I was younger, so it makes sense to do it now too.

I need to start writing by hand more (I've been doing it on the computer for editing and correcting convenience)... Have you tried writing quick, short narratives (or journals, etc)? Taking anywhere from thirty minutes to a couple of hours to write something? I think it would help with both story composition and Japanese ability, but I haven't tried it yet (I just remember doing things like that in English classes in school, and even one class in college).
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#64
I'm enjoying the study logs too! That's why I decided to write one. Like other people I don't necessarily have anything to add but I'm reading them as they're posted and even going through the back catalogue.

@Kraemder: It strikes me that some of your frustrations with lang-8 may be to do with how you view the site vs how other users view it. You talk about the Japanese users as "teachers", and view their use of English as a vote of no confidence, but the truth is they're fellow students who have come to the site specifically to practice their English. I've actually seen users accrue a great deal of compliments for their ability to explain things in their target language, and while it's not unreasonable to believe they would switch to English if they thought it necessary, it seems a pretty vast leap to me to assume that is always why they do it with you.

A similar thing can probably be said of the excessive explanations. They're not teachers and can't accurately assess your level or the amount of explanation required. They perhaps don't even know what is advanced/basic in their own language so they just cover the bases and explain the corrections. This is especially true if they're not people you correspond with regularly as they have only those mistakes to go on.

(2017-06-04, 9:30 am)kraemder Wrote:  We're both studying for the N1 but I have to say that your ability to blaze through Japanese books is a bit intimidating.

So True
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#65
@kraemder, @Splatted - Hey, I see the numbers some others are putting up in Tadoku and I'm also jealous! I think I've only gotten as far as I have because I've made reading a priority. I started trying to read books intensively very early on - basically using them as study materials to pick up vocab and grammar in context. It took about four years of that to get to where I can read a lot of materials naturally.

Even now, though, more advanced novels throw me for a loop. I remember having a tough time last year around this time with 新世界より due to all of the unknowns. I also had to work hard to get through 小さいおうち with all of its Showa-era vocabulary. I'm hoping that if I continue to dump time into reading stuff more at the N or N+1 level, I'll be able to continue moving up to more complicated materials.

Re: kanji - writing's a big part of it. I think my kanji recognition is sometimes spotty as well because my structural knowledge and my knowledge of individual kanji are weak, due to having learned them mainly in the context of other words. So when I do encounter an unknown word, it's sometimes hard for me to take a stab at the potential meaning. I'm hoping a deeper knowledge of kanji makes it easier to write them, but also helps strengthen my comprehension of written materials overall.

Of course, I started this right during Tadoku, which may not have been the wisest move. :-| I'm considering setting new cards to 0 during Tadoku to ensure I only add new cards when I know I've met my personal reading quota for the day, at least until the top of July.

@sholum - I'm trying to do a little bit of that every week from now on, either writing a part of a story or writing a blog-style post.

Re: Lang-8 - I think Splatted's take is correct. For me, the issue is more that I find it psychologically depressing to receive eight separate sets of corrections on a single submission. I'd rather work with a single person (a teacher, my wife) to get some input on corrections I should or could make.
Edited: 2017-06-04, 11:00 pm
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#66
Weekly update from the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous...

Vocab/Kanji: Man, drilling the All in One Kanji deck got real old, real fast. It started taking up a progressively larger chunk of time, and was detracting from extensive reading, so I've ditched SRS and am pursuing an "immersion only" strategy. I'm going back to loosely drilling flash cards in Midori, along with practicing both writing words in my vocab list as well as writing out intriguing sentences I've plucked from books. For me, this is sufficient to help drill aspects of kanji/words that I still feel shaky on. Beyond that, I want to focus on seeing words in context, so I actually understand how they're used in everyday language.

JLPT N1 Prep: Watched a couple of 日本語の森 videos (first three); otherwise, no explicit prep. Want to watch at least three of these videos a week; I'm going to start doing that on the bus ride in to work during the week.

Reading: I've been working to make extensive reading my primary form of study/practice. This is primarily novels, with a little reading of news/op eds through the week, primarily via 朝日新聞, 東洋経済, and まぐまぐニュース. I had my second biggest reading week of the year this week, clocking in a total of 428 pages, for a YTD total of 4,533 pages of Japanese content. I'm secretly hoping I can amp up my reading a bit the last week of the month and get to 2,000 pages for Tadoku before the month closes out.

Writing: Not much, as my focus is reading during Tadoku Month. I did a little bit of drilling re-writing of the sentences I've plucked from novels, and will work on that again later today once I top my daily reading goals.

Listening: I subscribed to JapanTV on Windows so I could keep up with the shows we like to watch. It has 7-day recording, so we usually watch a show the day after it airs. I got in about 4 hours of news podcasts this week as well as around 5-6 hours of TV. I watched most of my dramas this week without subtitles, which was both encouraging and disconcerting. Encouraging, because my listening has obviously improved, and disconcerting, because I still have a ways to go until I feel totally comfortable with processing listening at native speeds.

That's my boring update for the week. Back to the salt mines!
Edited: 2017-06-11, 12:57 pm
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#67
Father's Day (a.k.a. the "Honor Me, For It Is I Who Have Bestowed Life Unto Thee") update...

Studies progress swimmingly. This is my second week of relying primarily on extensive reading (so-called "natural SRS") instead of SRS programs, and I'm finding it very beneficial. It's a lot easier to stay engaged with my studies. On top of that, I've believed for a while that it's not enough just to learn a word; there's a certain subset of words you need to learn backwards and forwards, down to an intuitive level, if you really want to become fluent. I'm at the stage with my knowledge of Japanese where that kind of extensive exposure is now possible. I think it's more important at this point to learn the various nuances and contexts of words I'll need to use and understand in everyday settings than it is to have an SRS deck full of words like 中屋敷. 

JLPT Prep: Directly, next to nothing. I still need to make watching 日本語の森 a habit; I'm falling short on that front. 

Reading: 388 pages this week, bringing this year's total to date up to 4,914 pages. I finished two books:

虚ろの十字架 by Higashino Keigo. Honestly one of my favorite Higashino-san books to date, on par for me with 百夜行。Higashino-san weaves the tragedies of two different families together in a way that keeps surprising you right up until the last page. Recommended.

夜行 by Morimi Tomihiko. This one was...weird. It's about a group of former English school friends who reunite to discuss the disappearance of a close friend, which is somehow intricately tied to a series of bronze plates called 夜行 made by an artist who died years ago. The book was originally a set of short stories in STORY BOX, and thus reads like a series of discrete stories revolving around the same theme. The last story ties up everything together in a sensible, but I haven't spent enough time thinking about whether it ties all those stories together *enough* (if that makes sense). But well written, and pretty creepy in spots. 

I made good on my threat to buy more books and, on the strength of her かがみの孤城, I'm now reading Tsujimura Mitsugi's ツナグ on Kindle. The language is a bit more challenging than かがみ, where the protagonist was a middle school student; here, the protagonist is in her 20s, and the story centers around her hiring an intermediary to the spirit world to help her contact a famous actress who recently died. It's good so far, and it's left me even more impressed with the range of Tsujimura-san's writing.

I also got a notice from Amazon JP today that a new 掟上今日子 book has dropped, which makes me want to renew my interest in that series. Too many good books!! (Edit: Irony of ironies - I gave in to my impulse control issues and tried to buy 掟上今日子の推薦文...only to be gently informed by Amazon JP that I already bought it on impulse months ago. Sooooo looks like that's the next one I'll grab from the pile.)

Full reading log available here

Listening: Less than usual. I had a busy week with a lot of distractions, plus I'm focused on reading for Tadoku. Some news, and about four hours of Japanese TV all told. Going to try and amp that back up this week. 

Production: A number of emails for work, plus talking with the wife and some Facebook-ing. I've been posting less to Instragram, but I did write some journal entries, and have been writing the first part of a short story. I feel like my production actually took a leap this month. I don't know if it was the trip to Japan with three weeks of almost total immersion, or just the constant exposure to natural language via extensive reading, but I feel my speaking is less hesitant and more fluid, and that common sentence patterns are coming to me a lot more easily. 

I'm thinking of tweeting more. I'm always on the fence about this, as I find the work involved in doing social media well to be exhausting. But I might just start tweeting and keep tweeting, and not worry so much about who's following me. After all, it's about being able to get my thoughts out, not about how many followers I can scrape together.

This week's goals

- Try to hit 400 pages read for Tadoku. STRETCH GOAL: Read 600, and bring my Tadoku total up to 1,500 pages for the month. 
- Watch at least four 日本語の森 vids. 
- Write at least another 800-1000 characters.
Edited: 2017-06-19, 1:40 am
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#68
(2017-06-18, 10:41 am)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: Father's Day (a.k.a. the "Honor Me, For It Is I Who Have Bestowed Life Unto Thee") update...

Studies progress swimmingly. This is my second week of relying primarily on extensive reading (so-called "natural SRS") instead of SRS programs, and I'm finding it very beneficial. It's a lot easier to stay engaged with my studies. On top of that, I've believed for a while that it's not enough just to learn a word; there's a certain subset of words you need to learn backwards and forwards, down to an intuitive level, if you really want to become fluent. I'm at the stage with my knowledge of Japanese where that kind of extensive exposure is now possible. I think it's more important at this point to learn the various nuances and contexts of words I'll need to use and understand in everyday settings than it is to have an SRS deck full of words like 中屋敷. 

JLPT Prep: Directly, next to nothing. I still need to make watching 日本語の森 a habit; I'm falling short on that front. 

Reading: 388 pages this week, bringing this year's total to date up to 4,914 pages. I finished two books:

虚ろの十字架 by Higashino Keigo. Honestly one of my favorite Higashino-san books to date, on par for me with 百夜行。Higashino-san weaves the tragedies of two different families together in a way that keeps surprising you right up until the last page. Recommended.

夜行 by Morimi Tomihiko. This one was...weird. It's about a group of former English school friends who reunite to discuss the disappearance of a close friend, which is somehow intricately tied to a series of bronze plates called 夜行 made by an artist who died years ago. The book was originally a set of short stories in STORY BOX, and thus reads like a series of discrete stories revolving around the same theme. The last story ties up everything together in a sensible, but I haven't spent enough time thinking about whether it ties all those stories together *enough* (if that makes sense). But well written, and pretty creepy in spots. 

I made good on my threat to buy more books and, on the strength of her かがみの孤城, I'm now reading Tsujimura Mitsugi's ツナグ on Kindle. The language is a bit more challenging than かがみ, where the protagonist was a middle school student; here, the protagonist is in her 20s, and the story centers around her hiring an intermediary to the spirit world to help her contact a famous actress who recently died. It's good so far, and it's left me even more impressed with the range of Tsujimura-san's writing.

I also got a notice from Amazon JP today that a new 掟上今日子 book has dropped, which makes me want to renew my interest in that series. Too many good books!! (Edit: Irony of ironies - I gave in to my impulse control issues and tried to buy 掟上今日子の推薦文...only to be gently informed by Amazon JP that I already bought it on impulse months ago. Sooooo looks like that's the next one I'll grab from the pile.)

Full reading log available here

Listening: Less than usual. I had a busy week with a lot of distractions, plus I'm focused on reading for Tadoku. Some news, and about four hours of Japanese TV all told. Going to try and amp that back up this week. 

Production: A number of emails for work, plus talking with the wife and some Facebook-ing. I've been posting less to Instragram, but I did write some journal entries, and have been writing the first part of a short story. I feel like my production actually took a leap this month. I don't know if it was the trip to Japan with three weeks of almost total immersion, or just the constant exposure to natural language via extensive reading, but I feel my speaking is less hesitant and more fluid, and that common sentence patterns are coming to me a lot more easily. 

I'm thinking of tweeting more. I'm always on the fence about this, as I find the work involved in doing social media well to be exhausting. But I might just start tweeting and keep tweeting, and not worry so much about who's following me. After all, it's about being able to get my thoughts out, not about how many followers I can scrape together.

This week's goals

- Try to hit 400 pages read for Tadoku. STRETCH GOAL: Read 600, and bring my Tadoku total up to 1,500 pages for the month. 
- Watch at least four 日本語の森 vids. 
- Write at least another 800-1000 characters.

Dang, that's a lot of reading!
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#69
I can't even read 100 pages in English in one week (though I haven't bothered to read a novel for years).
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#70
Re: Reading speed - I really don't feel like I read all that fast; I just spend a *lot* of time reading. It's the majority of my study now. I look at the people who are smoking me (some by sizable margins) in Tadoku, worry that I could still do more. Some of these folks have SCARY foreign language chops. I also suspect they may not ever leave their houses. (That's not a criticism - it's ENVY.)

It's also taken about five years of daily study to get to the point where I felt comfortable enough with reading to make it my primary form of exposure. Definitely not an overnight process. I don't feel I'm particularly special or have super awesome methods or anything; I'm just stubborn and put in a lot of hours. 


ANYHOO! Time for THE WEEKLY UPDATE (blaring of horns, tossing of confetti)

Review of this week's goals: 

- 400 pages read - FAIL. I ended the week with 323 pages read. Part of this was busy-ness, but the other was I was plagued by a lack of concentration earlier in the week that made concentrating on reading difficult. I was also thrown a bit because I'm reading ツナグ by 辻村深月, and it's a touch more difficult than her latest book, かがみの孤城. Given that the latter book is completely told from the POV of a middle schooler, this is probably to be expected. But it's made ツナグ a slightly slower read for me. I'm hoping to finish up the remaining 15% today while en route from Seattle to Cupertino for business.

- Write 800-1000 words. SUCCESS. I wrote a couple lengthy Instagram posts, a few emails, a review on Bookmeter, and part of a short story I'm working on. I also started a little bit on a by post for my up-until-now dead Ameblo blog; it started as an Instragram post, but I wanted to rant a little about American bars charging an arm and a leg for Japanese style highballs, soooooo...a post it is. Being active on Instagram has really helped me start meeting some of my writing goals. I also feel like expressing my thoughts, at least in basic Japanese, is becoming steadily easier, which is leading me to increase my writing output as I get more comfortable with the language.

- Watch 4 日本語の森 vids - SUCCESS. I downloaded the first 20 vids in the series and have them on my phone in OPlayer, so I can watch them anywhere. I just finished lesson 5 on そばから vs. なり, which are actually grammar points I didn't know very well. I'm going to try making watching at least one of these every am a daily habit this week.

I didn't have an explicit listening goal, but I did wrap up the last of my TV series, listened to both news and podcasts every day, and watched several episodes of 月曜から夜更かし, いってQ, ワイドナショー, and ぶらぶらサタデー. For podcasts, I'm a news hound, and have really gotten lately into 荻上チキ・Session 22 on TBS Radio Cloud. It's somewhat reminiscent of the depth we used to get from Dig!, the long-departed news analysis program hosted by TBS.

This Week's Goals
  • Read 400 pages (no, really!!)
  • Another 1,000 characters written, including a blog post on Ameblo and at least three Instagram posts 
  • Daily watching of 日本語の森 vids
Edited: 2017-06-25, 2:08 pm
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#71
Just one of your reading, writing or listening sections seems like more than the entirety of my study. It's hugely motivating so keep it up. Smile

Re reading speed: I think Gaiaslastlaugh is right that it's more about time spent than speed. I remember reading that amongst college student native speakers the fastest readers are only about twice as fast as the slowest, which is a significant advantage, but falls way short of explaining the vast differences in how much reading people get done. I think it's also important to think of time spent reading as the literal time spent reading, not just time spent sitting with a book.
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#72
Agreed that a lot of it is just about putting in the hours reading. I can read about 20 to 25 pages an hour, give or take (probably a third of my speed in English). I'm reading more than I did last year purely because I've set myself a target and am putting in more hours.

My Tadoku score is really just because having the daily score posted encourages me to read rather than doing something else (like browsing web forums ;-)) -- it's definitely more than I do in non-Tadoku months. 50 pages a day is my usual target, and I can do that fairly easily if I read over breakfast, and during lunch hour, and then a little in the evening and an hour or so in bed before I go to sleep. I do have to mentally push myself a bit to do that, because for me reading in Japanese is a bit exhausting -- sometimes I read 50 pages in a run because I want to see how the book ends, but more often I have to say to myself "keep going, don't let yourself stop til you've at least read another 10 pages" and just push through it.
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#73
Thanks, Splatted. And damn, pm215 - that's one hell of a reading speed, even for Japanese!! I think I can *maybe* muster 15-20 pages if I really get into a flow. Like Splatted, I often have to guard against "actually reading" vs. "staring at a book for a while".
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#74
Minor mid-week update: 

I'm running an experiment with a small Anki deck where I've imported the intriguing sentences I've been capturing from novels, and am drilling them casually every day. These are sentences that either have vocab I've seen but don't know how to use, vocab that keeps cropping up and I want to understand in context, a useful co-location, or simply a form of expression that I think would be useful in my own Japanese fiction and non-fiction writing. 

The goal here is not to do what I've done with Anki decks before and load them up with thousands of cards full of exotic words and War and Peace-length paragraphs, but to create a short, digestable database of practical Japanese sentences. The focus is on things I think I'll use. I will probably cap input into this deck at 40-50 elements a week so that it doesn't consume my every waking moment. 

Like I said, it's an experiment. Whether it remains a part of daily study or goes the way of the All in One Kanji deck remains to be seen, but I think if I keep strong limits around it, I can create a useful resource for myself that doesn't take more than 15 minutes/day to drill.
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#75
Weekly Update - starting with goals: 

Reading - I didn't hit last week's reading goal. I'm going to make this week's goal a lot less stringent. I think aiming for 200-250 pages/week is a good, steady, sustainable goal that will also leave time for listening and production, so I'm going to aim to hit around 30 pages/day, and take down my current pace just a notch. 

Production - Hit my goal being Facebook, Instagram, and resuscitating my Ameblo. Still need to finish an essay I've been rolling around in my head, and I'm still behind on book reviews for Bookmeter. Will do what I can to catch up over this four-day weekend. 

日本語の森 - I actually hit this goal!! I watched at least one episode/day this week (often more), and am up to Lesson 16/40. Will keep building on this.

Other areas: 

Anki: So, yes, it should be obvious to all readers at this point that I have a real Sam-and-Diane Relationship with Anki. My latest foray, as I noted above, is using Anki for short sentences that could aid me in production. I've been capturing such sentences already inside of a Google Docs document, but without something that prompts me to review them on a regular basis - e.g., an SRS flash card system - I've largely been ignoring them. Putting them in Anki is a way to force me to review at least a few of them as a daily habit. So, I'm using Anki here because it seems like the right tool for the job. 

Along these same lines, I've also started experimenting with making some Cloze cards out of these sentences. I'm only adding about six new sentences a day, in a bid to keep my use of Anki light, as I still want my focus to be on natural consumption and production. I think where I've gone astray in the past is adding tons of cards with unknown words out of context, which gets to be painful after a few months. Unknowns pile up, I start failing words heavily, the time spent on Anki keeps growing, and the whole thing just becomes drudgery. 

It's been less than a week, but so far, so good. I have around 100 cards, and I'm highlighting candidate sentences in 暗いところで待ち合わせ for input later this week. (Unfortunately, this particular book on Kindle forbids copying, so typing them in is gonna be a pain in the ass.) I haven't hit the Cloze cards yet, so I'll have no idea how these are going to work/feel until later in the week. I'm experimenting with structuring cards with a cloze on an interesting bit of grammar or a word I want to be able to use, and occluding the phrase with a hint in Japanese - either a grammar explanation or a Japanese definition. So the format is very simple:

以前{{c1::にもまして::~よりもさらに;~以上に}}会社で働く女性の割合が増えている。

Since I'm also reviewing N1 grammar with 日本語の森, I'm putting example sentences from them in here as well as Cloze structures. 

Reading: Continues to be my strong point. I muscled through 336 pages this week. I'll finish 暗いところで待ち合わせ today (FABULOUS book), and will next dive into 掟上今日子の推薦文. EDIT: Two pages of the author's long, rambling sentences was too much for me, at least at this stage. I decided to switch instead to 君の膵臓を食べたい

I'm also continuing to follow the election drama, the sad death of 小林麻央さん, and other hot topics via Japanese news. 

Listening: Decent. Lots of NHK News Podcast. I watched the same episode of 月曜から夜ふかし three times this week (twice by myself, once with my wife), which helped me get a lot more out of it. (This week's episode was damn funny.) I also watched several episodes of スッキリ! on 日テレ. I'm mainly immersing in variety and news until the summer drama season gets fully under way.

EDIT: Crap, totally forgot!! I also pulled a late-nighter Friday and watched through the first six episodes of 僕だけがいない町 (Erased) on Animelon w/ JP subs enabled. I've seen the live action, and am also really enjoying the anime. The language isn't that difficult - I'd recommend this one even for intermediate learners. The only things that might throw people are the 北海道弁, but that mostly manifests in a few sentence endings and the stock phrase したっけ.
Edited: 2017-07-03, 11:31 am
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