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Japanese Language Study Log: gaiaslastlaugh

#76
Weekly update from the virtual hikikomori basement. 

This was a good week in which I feel like I made all of my goals without killing myself. I feel like I was reading *so* much in Tokyo, during Tadoku, and during the hangover week afterwards that I was starting to feel the effects of hunkering over a book for eight weeks straight in my back and shoulders. This week felt a lot more restrained and even. 

Reading: I vowed to step off the gas pedal this week and back down to 200-250 pages/week. I clocked in at 294.8. I don't think it's because I spent an abnormal amount of time on reading; rather, I think my reading speed is getting faster as I plow through more material. I'm able to read about 30 pages of my current book in less than two hours every am. 

By my calculations, I've read 5,862 pages so far this year, so I'm glad I finally feel like it's having a positive effect. 

I didn't finish a full book this week, which I think is the first time this has happened since Tadoku. I'm about 180+ pages into 君の膵臓を食べたい、and should finish this week. Next up is 三日間の幸福

I'd really like to feel I can get back soon to the 掟上今日子  books, but I feel I need a little more exposure to the type of book I'm reading now before 西尾維新's style starts to feel more comfortable for me.

日本語の森: Keeping up my commitment to at least one ep/day. I'm now up to lesson 22/40. At this point, I feel like I owe Hina-chan a 年賀状 or something at year's end. All example sentences are going into The World's Tiniest Anki Deck (see below) for eventual drilling. 

Writing: Well over 1,000 characters, including an Ameblo post and a steady stream of Instagram posts. I'm trying to keep up a rhythm of getting one long blog post a week posted. 

I also just discovered today that there's a Japanese-English bilingual Toastmasters club (乾杯トーストマスターズ) in my area. I plan to check it out the weekend of the 22nd, which is their next meeting.

World's Tiniest Anki Deck: As documented earlier, I have a small Anki deck with cloze sentences containing phrases or words or colocations I want to be able to use in my own speech and writing. So far I've been able to keep my use of this deck to <15 min./day. I'm reviewing past unknown vocab by going back to Kindle books I've read and reviewing sentences w/ highlighted words. Some of these sentences may eventually make their way into the deck. 

Listening: My wife and a few variety. Also got my wife into the first season of K-On!, so we've been watching that on Animelon. The summer dramas have started kicking in and are trickling in to Zhuixinfan, so I think we may take a swing tonight at watching うちの夫は仕事ができない.
Edited: 2017-07-09, 5:29 pm
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#77
Weekly update from a galaxy far, far away...

日本語の森- Eh. I missed a few days, and am at episode 28. It's gotten less interesting, as they abandoned the traditional teacher format in exchange for a cheesy green screen, and are no longer offering full example sentences that are easy to plop into Anki. I'm soldiering on in the hopes they revert format by the end.

Reading - 274.6 pages; 6,132.5 pages for the year. I finished 君の膵臓をたべたい in a huge burst this week, reading 84 pages in a single day (!). I then switched back to 不祥事 by Ikeido Jun, which I stopped reading in March, and finished the last 40% of that.

I'd definitely recommend 君の膵臓 to anyone who likes slice of life relationship stories; this is a well told one with distinct characters and deep relationships.

不祥事 is a collection of short stories focused on the character Hanasaki Mai, and formed the basis of the drama 花咲舞が黙っていない! starring An. I like Hanasaki as a character, but the short story format in this one left me feeling flat; some of the stories were somewhat loosely connected to each other, but in the end the common thread among them didn't amount to much. I liked 俺たち花のバブル組 and its protagonist, Hansawa, a lot more.

We have Ikeido Jun's latest, あきらとアキラ, in the house, but it's intimidating with its financial language (which I'm getting accustomed to) and its 800+ page run-length (dear God). While Ikeido's work is getting easier for me, I think I want to hold off on that particular challenge for a couple of months. Instead, I'm reading また、同じ夢を見ていた by Sumino Yoru, the author of 君の膵臓. I'm thinking after that I'll finally get X容疑者の献身 by Higashino Keigo out of the way.

Writing - Really weak this week (weak week - HAAAAA!).  I had a busy week at work and home, so only got out a few Instagram posts and a single Bookmeter review. I'm going to work today on a blog post for posting by EOD in order to help catch up. I also have the outline of a very short story in my head that I want to try and start writing as practice in writing fiction in Japanese. We'll see how far I get with that.

Listening - lots of listening to my 身近の先生 (my wife); less news and TV than usual. We're slated to watch a few hours of variety later today, and I'll try and getting into the swing more this week by downloading some shows from JapanIPTV.com for the work commutes.

World's Smallest Anki Deck - 185 clozed sentences; 42 not active. Still proceeding at a light pace here to keep reviews sane.

Once I get to a good point with my current reading level, I'm considering using Anki for slightly different purposes going forward as well. I think up until now the most progress I've made has been through what I call a Read-Study-Read model. To wit, I read an article or story intensively to get the major flow of it, and to find and record unknowns; I study the unknowns (using pen and paper, or Anki, or Midori, or whatever); and, finally, I re-read the original work one or two more times to help reinforce the new words in context. There are some Wikipedia articles on history and other subjects I want to tackle, and I think using Anki for this purpose would be very productive. So the work would be:
  • Intensively read an article on, e.g., 坂本龍馬, using Yomichan to look up words and add them to an Anki deck. 
  • Study the words in the Anki deck for a few days. 
  • Come back to the article and re-read it extensively. 
  • Reset the Anki deck completely, and start with another article or set of related articles. 
     
I'll try out this method for these more advanced materials when I feel like I have time/energy for intensive study. Right now, I feel like I've made the correct decision to focus on the basics. I feel like my extensive reading has started to solidify a lot of words and grammar that I knew, but only at a light, superficial, "gimme a few seconds to think about what that means" level.

That's all for now. Back to work!
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#78
(2017-07-16, 4:03 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: [*]Reset the Anki deck completely, and start with another article or set of related articles. 
 
You might want to consider re-reading the article again weeks or months later.  If the words you studied aren't very frequent, they may fall out of your long term memory after a while with no reinforcement.  Re-reading the article at a later date will help with retention and it'll take a lot less time reading the 2nd and 3rd times

I've been doing something similar with my jpod101 dialogs.  I have a separate deck with one learning step and a 14 day graduating interval and I always press "good". All told, I end up reading the same dialog about 4-5 times in a year and I really think the subsequent readings are very effective at cementing vocabulary.
Edited: 2017-07-19, 8:04 pm
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#79
(2017-07-19, 8:04 pm)yogert909 Wrote:
(2017-07-16, 4:03 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: [*]Reset the Anki deck completely, and start with another article or set of related articles. 
 
[*]
You might want to consider re-reading the article again weeks or months later.  If the words you studied aren't very frequent, they may fall out of your long term memory after a while with no reinforcement.  Re-reading the article at a later date will help with retention and it'll take a lot less time reading the 2nd and 3rd times

I've been doing something similar with my jpod101 dialogs.  I have a separate deck with one learning step and a 14 day graduating interval and I always press "good". All told, I end up reading the same dialog about 4-5 times in a year and I really think the subsequent readings are very effective at cementing vocabulary.

That's a good idea, and I plan to take advantage of it. I'm keeping such articles in LingQ so that I can capture the words I don't know and drill them on demand. I like having a platform like that where I can import an article, annotate it, and return to it again and again. The UI isn't the greatest, but it's still the only site I know of suitable for high intermediate to advanced learners.

I'm aiming to make my study something like 90% extensive exposure and 10% intensive exposure, with articles mostly providing the extensive practice.
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#80
Update from behind the 8-ball:

Reading: 210 pages; YTD total is 6,355.5 pages. While my reading dropped, it stayed within the parameter I wanted to hit (200-250 pages), which opened up more time for listening(see below).

I'm 79% into また、同じ夢を見ていた, and should finish by tomorrow or Tuesday. I'll jump into X容疑者の献身 after that.

The one thing that disappointed me this week was that my newspaper reading dropped, which means I didn't get much exposure to more challenging texts like op-eds. I'm trying to pick that back up, and spend time whenever I have it to import 天声人語 and other more complex articles (see below) into LingQ for intensive study. Per yogert909's suggestion above, this will also allow me to re-read occasionally, and review any vocab I marked from my study.

Two areas I'm focusing on for my intensive study are traditional Japanese foods and Japanese history. The latter is hard, because any given Wikipedia entry seems to be absolutely teeming with unknown vocab. I've taken to searching the Net for easier, related articles to start with. E.g., this one on Sakamoto Ryouma is downright easy compared to the more formal Wikipedia entry, which feels like it was written by someone who had something to prove about their knowledge of obscure kanji.

Listening: Very good. I started a new resolution this week to try and walk over 15,000 steps/day (as measured by Fitbit), which greatly reduced my at-desk time. So I tried to balance it out by using JapanIPTV.com to download スッキリ!, ワイドナショー, and 月曜から夜ふかし to listen to while mobile. It feels like it's *really* helping with my listening, which is good, because my listening is periodically terrible, esp. in the face of 早口. I think I watched/listened to around 10 hours this week, including the above mentioned shows as well as the dramas ハロー張りねずみ and かんなさん. The former is a remake of a classic manga/TV show, and the latter is a new comedy starring Watanabe Naomi. Both are wonderful - highly recommended.

Writing: Poor. A couple of Instagram posts and a blog article I never finished. I'll see if I can finish it up and post it today, but if I don't, it's no big deal.

World's Smallest Anki Deck: 209 active cloze sentences. Still keeping it within 15 minutes/day max.

Back to work...
Edited: 2017-07-23, 3:11 pm
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#81
Updates from The Boring Blogger (hey, I embrace it)...

Gonna make this one brief - I feel like I have a large To Do pile to conquer today.

Top-Line Update: I shot The World's Smallest Anki Deck in the head, and have been porting the content over to LingQ instead, which I've settled on as my study/review system going forward. I find being able to review words in the original context more useful than anything else I've tried to date. LingQ, for all of its faults, provides something I don't find anywhere else: a marriage between reading articles in context and reviewing unknowns in that article through a flashcard review system. I'm grouping sentences by source - e.g., all of the interesting sentences I'm finding from 容疑者Xの献身 are going in a single LingQ lesson - and then using both vocab and Cloze review on the LingQs I create. 

Reading: 203 pages; 6,544.3 pages YTD. I'm switching between 容疑者X and reading online articles. I'm steering away from Asahi Shinbun and getting more articles from Toyo Keizai, as they tend to be much longer and more interesting, like this one I'm working on now about NHK's misuse of the term "AI" in its latest special. Since most of Toyo's content is closer to opinion/expert commentary, it's also helping prepare me for the N1 (I hope). 

Grammar: Stalled out on the final 日本語の森 videos; I'm still about 7-8 away from the end. Will try and finish those up this week, though I also have a joint business/personal trip to Vegas with my kids, so I'm not banking on getting this done.

Listening: 10+ hours, due in large part to the fact that I've been downloading 情報ライブミヤネ屋 every day and listening to it while walking and commuting. The political news was especially riveting this week due to the ダブルバーガー辞任 of Renhou (whom I was sad to see go) and Inada Tomomi (whom I was not).

The wife and I also watched ハローハリネズミ and かんなさーん!, both of which I still recommend.

Writing: FINALLY published a 1,000-word post to my Ameblo; working on another this week. Also posted numerous several-hundred-word posts to Instagram. I've built up to around 921 followers on Instagram, and am hoping to cross the 1K mark this week.

That's it - short and sweet. More next weekend.
Edited: 2017-07-30, 7:19 pm
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#82
Quick "motivate myself to be better" post...

I hit a dip in study last week, due to a combination of factors. I was busy with work, and I extended a business trip to Vegas to hang out in the city with my kids over the weekend. I'm also about four-five weeks into my diet, and am still trying to find the best way to factor in study time while also biking to work and walking 15k steps/day. So, my Japanese study is down. On the plus side, so is my weight - by about 16 pounds to date. And my health and concentration are MUCH better since I've become active again.

One area I'm deciding to weave study into is mental breaks at work. I noticed I'm spending a lot of time checking US political news, which is a cesspool. This is cutting into my time reading Japanese political news - which is also a cesspool, but, hey, it's all in Japanese. I'm going to work on using some of that break time to either read my current book, drill LingQs, or read Asahi Shinbun and Toyo Keizai instead.

Reading: 176.8 pages. I'm pushing to up it back over 200 pages this week. My goal is to finish X容疑者の献身 by week's end. I'm not sure what I'm going to dig into next, as the pile is huge. It will either be ゲームウォーズ (the Japanese translation of READY PLAYER ONE, available on Kindle), or ハケンアニメ! by Tsujimura Mizuki, whose work I've come to love (see elsewhere in this thread for other recommendations).

Writing: I think I managed over 1,000 chars this week through Instagram posts. I'm continuing to work to build my followers there (1,100 as of today). I also just bought a decent camera to take better low-light pictures.

Listening: 7-10 hours, thanks to listening to Japanese on my health walks and bike rides into work. JapanIPTV.com screwed up my listening this week when its 7-day replay function went down. It came back up this weekend, and I've resumed watching みやめ屋 every day. The wife and I are catching up on the recent eps of ハローハリネズミ and かんなさーん!as well. I have about three weeks of un-watched 月曜から夜ふかし to labor through as well.

Vocab: I did LingQ a couple of times last week, but I've been neglecting it lately.

Grammar: Not a damn thing.
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#83
Just FYI - for some reason (masochism?), I've decided to make myself busy for the next few...years. I'm returning to school to get my BA in Asian Studies, something I've been considering for over a year now. Between that and the N1 coming like a freight train, I'm looking to economize time, and likely won't be checking in with the forum as much for a while. I'm going to drop this log down to a monthly update for the time being. I'll do my best to respond to any questions or comments that get posted. Good luck, everyone!
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#84
Looking back, what would you say was the best use of time, and the worst use of time?
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#85
(2017-08-10, 8:27 am)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: Just FYI - for some reason (masochism?), I've decided to make myself busy for the next few...years. I'm returning to school to get my BA in Asian Studies, something I've been considering for over a year now. Between that and the N1 coming like a freight train, I'm looking to economize time, and likely won't be checking in with the forum as much for a while. I'm going to drop this log down to a monthly update for the time being. I'll do my best to respond to any questions or comments that get posted. Good luck, everyone!

Just an undergrad degree? I think with your level of Japanese you'd be going for a graduate degree Wink

It sounds fun. Are you getting scholarships or do you have the money kicking around?  (If there's a way to get an Asian Studies BA for cheap I want one too haha)

Honestly, with your level of Japanese, a degree from an American University may not be so challenging for you as most other students do not have N1 Japanese level and have never read a full novel in Japanese.  They're learning conversational Japanese and the rest of the studying is in English. At least from what I saw of the program at the University of Arizona.
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#86
(2017-08-12, 12:10 pm)kraemder Wrote:
(2017-08-10, 8:27 am)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: Just FYI - for some reason (masochism?), I've decided to make myself busy for the next few...years. I'm returning to school to get my BA in Asian Studies, something I've been considering for over a year now. Between that and the N1 coming like a freight train, I'm looking to economize time, and likely won't be checking in with the forum as much for a while. I'm going to drop this log down to a monthly update for the time being. I'll do my best to respond to any questions or comments that get posted. Good luck, everyone!

Just an undergrad degree? I think with your level of Japanese you'd be going for a graduate degree Wink

It sounds fun. Are you getting scholarships or do you have the money kicking around?  (If there's a way to get an Asian Studies BA for cheap I want one too haha)

Honestly, with your level of Japanese, a degree from an American University may not be so challenging for you as most other students do not have N1 Japanese level and have never read a full novel in Japanese.  They're learning conversational Japanese and the rest of the studying is in English. At least from what I saw of the program at the University of Arizona.

Thanks for the compliments. Smile However, I don't have a BA in anything, so I need to get that out of the way first. I'm enrolled in the Asian Studies program at UMUC, which will allow me to get it done quickly and also get language credits for passing the JLPT. UMUC is generally affordable, so I'm paying out of pocket (thank you, tech bubble!).

Once that's done, I plan to try and enroll in an MA Japan Studies program - preferably the one at the University of Washington in Seattle, which looks amazing.

(2017-08-12, 11:09 am)ChestnutMouse Wrote: Looking back, what would you say was the best use of time, and the worst use of time?

Wow, interesting question, ChestnutMouse. Keep in mind my answer is very specific to my own studying style, so YMMV.

Best use of time: Immersion - particularly studying words and articles in context. Anki is okay, but I feel like I make the most progress - and learn words more firmly - when I take an article, learn its vocab, and re-read it a few times over a given time period. If I were to start fresh (God please no), I'd probably make extensive use of LingQ for studying articles and subtitle files, and balance this out with watching as much J-subbed material at or around my level as I could.

Worst use of time: Spending gobs of time trying to comprehend things that were clearly above my level. I remember trying to piece apart episodes of 東野圭吾ミステリー five years ago when I clearly knew nothing. It was painful and discouraging, and it wasted time I could have better spent with material that was N or N+1.

If I were to give advice here, I'd say: set aside your ego and don't hesitate to put things that are too difficult to understand off in a small (okay, large) pile on the side. You'll eventually be able to get back to it - and when you do, you'll be thrilled at how much progress you've made.
Edited: 2017-08-12, 2:56 pm
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#87
(2017-08-12, 2:48 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: Worst use of time: Spending gobs of time trying to comprehend things that were clearly above my level. I remember trying to piece apart episodes of 東野圭吾ミステリー five years ago when I clearly knew nothing. It was painful and discouraging, and it wasted time I could have better spent with material that was N or N+1.

If I were to give advice here, I'd say: set aside your ego and don't hesitate to put things that are too difficult to understand off in a small (okay, large) pile on the side. You'll eventually be able to get back to it - and when you do, you'll be thrilled at how much progress you've made.

This surprised me at first because it seemed superficially contrary to my own experience but on further thought I've always followed that as an explicit rule but simply applied on a more granular level. I read plenty of material way above my level* but mostly simply moved on when I couldn't understand a word, sentence or scene. I find inscrutable sentences usually become easy when you have an instinctive grasp of all the components and these can be efficiently practiced separately in simpler sentences.

I remember being really taken by a more experienced learner who made the analogy that learning Japanese was like walking through an orchard picking fruit. Some of the fruit is high up and hard to reach but there's always more falling down to your level than you could ever hope to eat. It doesn't make sense to waste time climbing trees to get one particular apple when you could be gathering more accessible fruit while you wait for it to drop.

*In my study thread I mentioned reading ゼロの使い魔 and having to look up every word. I probably should also have mentioned that even with look-ups my comprehension was very poor. I was motivated to persevere by the fact that I had previously worked my way through Breaking in to Japanese Literature, again with very low comprehension, but noticeably better at the end than at the beginning.
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#88
Thanks for the great feedback. It really helps when people can summarize the lessons learned from experience.
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#89
(2017-08-12, 3:44 pm)Splatted Wrote:
(2017-08-12, 2:48 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: Worst use of time: Spending gobs of time trying to comprehend things that were clearly above my level. I remember trying to piece apart episodes of 東野圭吾ミステリー five years ago when I clearly knew nothing. It was painful and discouraging, and it wasted time I could have better spent with material that was N or N+1.

If I were to give advice here, I'd say: set aside your ego and don't hesitate to put things that are too difficult to understand off in a small (okay, large) pile on the side. You'll eventually be able to get back to it - and when you do, you'll be thrilled at how much progress you've made.

This surprised me at first because it seemed superficially contrary to my own experience but on further thought I've always followed that as an explicit rule but simply applied on a more granular level. I read plenty of material way above my level* but mostly simply moved on when I couldn't understand a word, sentence or scene. I find inscrutable sentences usually become easy when you have an instinctive grasp of all the components and these can be efficiently practiced separately in simpler sentences.

That makes sense. And that's more what I do now; there are few books or articles I run into where I think, "It's waste of time/painful for me to try and figure this out at my current level." However, when I was in my first few years of study, I ran into a *lot* of material like that. It's more important, IMHO, to focus on materials that enable you to get core grammar and vocabulary down cold than it is to continue to add more and more exotic words to your Anki deck.

I think beginners/intermediate learners sometimes fall into a trap of trying to study things that are currently way too complicated for them when, as you say, there's plenty of other low-hanging fruit that could be picked up off the ground. It makes your immersion more efficient, and ensures you're getting the most value out of the time you spend studying.
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