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Japanese Language Study Log: tanaquil

#1
I've really been enjoying the various "what I'm studying" threads and journals, so I thought I'd have a go at creating my own. I don't want to get sucked into writing a novel, so it will probably be just small observations at first. Questions and comments always welcome.

I've been studying Japanese since the fall of 2003 (!). I reached girigiri N1 level in 2009/2010, squeaking through with a pass on 1kyuu right before the old test was phased out, but have struggled to make progress since then. Sometimes I study intensely and burn out, sometimes I read like crazy for a few months (mostly manga) while ignoring my flashcards, sometimes I go months without touching Japanese hardly at all because I'm engrossed in another hobby. I would like to find a way to create more measurable, ongoing progress, hence this journal.

I teach and the semester is about to start, always a dangerous time for my Japanese studies. I hope to keep a good routine going through the spring.

Current goals: maintaining my anki reviews now that I've finally cleared the worst of my backlog; adding new material to anki in a way that I can measure continuous progress, but not adding so much that I burn out; consuming much more native material, increasing consumption of novels, news and anime/dramas without subtitles.

The last week has been dominated by my finding and experimenting with study tools through this forum that I've never used before: JTAT, Epwing2Anki, Epwing dictionaries, MorphMan, AwesomeTTT. I know very well from experience that this is a potential trap; I love geeky tools and it is all too easy for me to spend 8 hours on a spreadsheet and 0 hours reading a novel. However, I'm also finding many of these tools useful to point in new directions. 

For a very small example, the fact that MorphMan now displays a small counter in my Anki decks window showing the number of "known" morphemes is a great motivator to keep trying to increase that number. (Current number: K 12632. Ooh, it went up 2 since this morning.)

I hope to keep updating this thread once a week or so, more often if I actually have things to say, but once a week to record what (if anything) I've been doing. It is Sunday, January 15. Novel reading: I have just started (re) reading the second half of the second Fujimi novel. Wish me luck!
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#2
(2017-01-15, 12:05 pm)tanaquil Wrote: I've really been enjoying the various "what I'm studying" threads and journals, so I thought I'd have a go at creating my own. I don't want to get sucked into writing a novel, so it will probably be just small observations at first. Questions and comments always welcome.

I've been studying Japanese since the fall of 2003 (!). I reached girigiri N1 level in 2009/2010, squeaking through with a pass on 1kyuu right before the old test was phased out, but have struggled to make progress since then. Sometimes I study intensely and burn out, sometimes I read like crazy for a few months (mostly manga) while ignoring my flashcards, sometimes I go months without touching Japanese hardly at all because I'm engrossed in another hobby. I would like to find a way to create more measurable, ongoing progress, hence this journal.

I teach and the semester is about to start, always a dangerous time for my Japanese studies. I hope to keep a good routine going through the spring.

Current goals: maintaining my anki reviews now that I've finally cleared the worst of my backlog; adding new material to anki in a way that I can measure continuous progress, but not adding so much that I burn out; consuming much more native material, increasing consumption of novels, news and anime/dramas without subtitles.

The last week has been dominated by my finding and experimenting with study tools through this forum that I've never used before: JTAT, Epwing2Anki, Epwing dictionaries, MorphMan, AwesomeTTT. I know very well from experience that this is a potential trap; I love geeky tools and it is all too easy for me to spend 8 hours on a spreadsheet and 0 hours reading a novel. However, I'm also finding many of these tools useful to point in new directions. 

For a very small example, the fact that MorphMan now displays a small counter in my Anki decks window showing the number of "known" morphemes is a great motivator to keep trying to increase that number. (Current number: K 12632. Ooh, it went up 2 since this morning.)

I hope to keep updating this thread once a week or so, more often if I actually have things to say, but once a week to record what (if anything) I've been doing. It is Sunday, January 15. Novel reading: I have just started (re) reading the second half of the second Fujimi novel. Wish me luck!

Good luck with this. I'd like to know which tools you find most useful.
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#3
I will be posting an update this weekend! I have especially been loving MorphMan, though it is not for the faint of heart, as it has been through several iterations and none are fully documented. But more of that later.
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#4
I promised I would try to update once a week.

The semester is underway, but I've managed to both keep current with anki and find some time in the evenings for reading, so that is great. Hope I can keep it up as things get even busier.

ayu_modoki asked about my favorite new tools. At the moment I am working the most with MorphMan, which I love.

[Long rambling about MorphMan follows, skip to the end if you want to see just the update on what I've added this week.]

MorphMan is discussed extensively in this thread:

http://forum.koohii.com/thread-7486.html

But, beware, the thread is extremely long, very technical (I kept losing it somewhere between the python programming jargon and the discussion of mathematical statistical modeling), and reflects the fact that the tool has been through no less than four major versions, so the description of what it was doing at the beginning isn't very much like the current tool at all.

After a lot of hard work and excellent development, the original anki add-on seems to have been abandoned by its creator, and ChangSpivey has picked up the torch and is working on a fork with much better gui support.

Old version of the wiki is here:

http://rtkwiki.koohii.com/wiki/Morph_Man

But at this point it's better to grab it from the new fork, here:

https://github.com/ChangSpivey/MorphMan

(Scroll down to the read me for relevant links and an explanation of how to install, I don't think it's currently available from anki's shared plug ins page.)

The simplest way is to follow the instructions to install the plug in, then use the gui manager inside anki to edit the preferences pane to tell it which card models you want it to manage. I have learned that it is best to start slow: let it index one or two of your most-used decks, and see what behavior that produces before trying to add more. I am currently letting it monitor and modify my vocabulary and most of my sentence decks, but excluding my kanji decks. You need to add the field "MorphMan_FocusMorph" to a card model if you want it to re-order new cards in that model.

The goal of the plug-in is to monitor how many morphemes (sense-units) you know and, when viewing new material, always show you n+1 cards - cards that have exactly one unknown or recently-learned word. That way, you pick up new vocabulary much more quickly by seeing how it is used in the context of a sentence you already understand.

It is absolutely revolutionizing how I learn vocabulary. I was getting so hung up on sentences that had half a dozen unfamiliar words all at once, and it was so demotivating. Now I get a steady stream of manageable new cards that are continually reinforcing what I've just learned. Plus, it adds a little counter at the top of the deck window that shows your current "known" morpheme count (this includes all words you've seen long enough for them to pass through the initial learning stage).

Last Sunday, my count was 12632 when I was just starting to play with it. Over the week, however, I realized that I had initially made the mistake of feeding it too much material, so it thought I knew more than I did and was trying to give me words that felt too difficult. I had reached a count of 12859 (+227) before I decided to reset the database and start over. Now I'm at 10212, and I think the add-on is tracking my knowledge more accurately. I love watching the number slowly creep up.

There is a handy feature that lets you hit "k" whenever you see a new card that contains entirely of words you already know; this tags the card as already-known and skips to the next new card. A lot of those initial +227 morphemes consisted of me telling MorphMan I already know the word for e.g. "Hawaii", but at least 10-20 a day were entirely new words. Pretty cool.

Hint for anyone who's trying to decide what to feed it: if you feed it all your known kanji, it may try to give you more new words spelled with kanji you don't know, and since I know all the joyo, this was resulting in a lot of crazy kanji words showing up. Also, if you let it analyze decks which are long overdue (I have several in my "deferred" pile, mostly stuff I stopped reviewing but plan to get back to at some point), it will count words from those decks as mature even if the cards are suspended and haven't been reviewed for years. Don't let it see those decks.

If you download the latest dev version (click on "clone or download" instead of following the link to the latest stable version), it has the ability to check off whether you would like it to skip over new cards related to words you've just learned, or show them. I prefer to show them because it helps reinforce learning for me. If you click skip, you'll get more new words and fewer repeats, so that can be good if you need the challenge.

Anyway!! Highly recommended.

It is Sunday, January 22. MorphMan count: 10212. Kanji in current rotation: 2215 (currently adding about 1/day). Novel pages read in last week.... about 350, I think? I'm just finishing the third Fujimi novel.
Edited: 2017-01-22, 10:19 am
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#5
I never could get Morphman to work for me so I just gave up on it. Maybe I'll try again today and see how it works Smile
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#6
(2017-01-15, 12:05 pm)tanaquil Wrote: Sometimes I study intensely and burn out, sometimes I read like crazy for a few months (mostly manga) while ignoring my flashcards, sometimes I go months without touching Japanese hardly at all because I'm engrossed in another hobby. I would like to find a way to create more measurable, ongoing progress, hence this journal.

He, that sounds very familiar! It's motivating to see that you made it to N1 and beyond even with lots of on and off learning, mixing crazy study periods with off times and dropping your SRS reviews and then picking them back up and stuff. I think I'm in the same boat, but I still got some more miles to sail Wink But it's cool to see that not all hope is lost! I'm definitely going to follow this thread, and I wish you the best of luck with your goals!

I didn't know morphman could do so many things. I've heard of beginner decks ordered by morphman (so when you are starting from zero with 0 morphemes known) but didn't really know that you could use it to analyze existing decks and work from there. Pretty cool! Though I'm currently not really touching anki (doing other srs stuff tho) but maybe some time in the future I'll get back to it. Your post was definitely an interesting read Smile
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#7
well for the anime/drama without subtitles you could compromise in various ways like make the english sub lag 1 second, watch with Japanese subs ( if you can't read fast enough then i wouldn't bother with it.... once you read enough, you will read fast enough), watch with English subs but then go through lines in a specific episode or scene so you can learn from the anime or drama (or write down specific words or parts that you want to go over while you watch the show), run the ep through sub2srs and then join the audio into 1 file by using MakeitOne MP3 Album Maker so you can listen to the ep over several times efficiently.  I
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#8
Just a quick update this week.

I posted my results in another thread, but to make it easier for me to find this info again later, my JLPT N1 results:

Language 43/60
Reading 44/60
Listening 33/60
Total 120

Vocab A, Grammar B

I need to think about when I'm going to take the JCAT to establish the optimal number of test intervals. In early April, maybe?

Continuing to work on both Anki and extensive reading.

Kanji: 2222 (+7)
Vocab: 10,653 (+441)
novel pages: not as many last week, about 200 maybe? Now half way through fourth Fujimi novel.

I struggle to balance the temptation to add lots of new words, and the need to keep reviews from being overwhelming.
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#9
(2017-01-29, 1:17 pm)tanaquil Wrote: I struggle to balance the temptation to add lots of new words, and the need to keep reviews from being overwhelming.

Same. I'm adding 20/week again, and waiting to see when Anki Exasperation™ sinks in.
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#10
Super short weekly update:

Kanji - 2229 (consistently adding 1/day, following the order of "kanji in Heisig that are not in the joyo")
Vocab - 10854 (+201)

Finished up Tadoku month just over 1000 pages, which I'm happy with. Not quite as much reading this week (a lot of late nights at work); currently more than half way through the fifth Fujimi novel.

gaiaslastlaugh mentioned setting up a spreadsheet to track pages read a la Tadoku, and I'd like to do something similar. Tracking was definitely motivational for me.

Anki reviews are verging upwards of two hours a day, which is really too much, but I'm enjoying adding new vocabulary so much that it is hard to cut back. Will continue to walk the razor's edge.

(Incidentally, I am adding new sentences, ordered by Morphman n+1, in equal measure from the text of the first Fujimi novel, and the Core10K. There doesn't seem to be much vocab overlap between the two at the learning stage I'm at, but both are useful.)
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#11
Super brief update today!

Work has been brutal, but I've been keeping up with minimum Anki at least, and doing a little reading in the evenings, when I can stay awake long enough.

Kanji: 2236 (+7)
Vocab: 10954 (+100)... 11K so close

Reading: Sixth Fujimi novel (Accident in Blue), p. 57, only about 1/4 of the way through. So, not quite a whole novel's worth this week, but hanging in there.

I just discovered a Japanese movie ticket from 2010 being used as a bookmark in my (paper) copy [lately I've been reading on Kindle more]... let's hope I can get past 2010 next week.
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#12
(2017-01-29, 2:10 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote:
(2017-01-29, 1:17 pm)tanaquil Wrote: I struggle to balance the temptation to add lots of new words, and the need to keep reviews from being overwhelming.

Same. I'm adding 20/week again, and waiting to see when Anki Exasperation™ sinks in.

No such thing exists! Something something mental fortitude.
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#13
(2017-02-12, 8:02 pm)Flamerokz Wrote:
(2017-01-29, 2:10 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote:
(2017-01-29, 1:17 pm)tanaquil Wrote: I struggle to balance the temptation to add lots of new words, and the need to keep reviews from being overwhelming.

Same. I'm adding 20/week again, and waiting to see when Anki Exasperation™ sinks in.

No such thing exists! Something something mental fortitude.

Something something self-discipline!


@tanaquil
I don't remember if you said already, but where are you sourcing your words? Purely from reading? Maybe it's because I have strict standards for what I add to Anki, but I'm not even managing to come up with 20 words a week, let alone 20 per day.
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#14
I mentioned it in the last post, but I didn't talk about it much. Originally, I was working from a deck of single words taken from the old 1kyuu list, but now the only ones I have to review are the stubborn, stubborn leeches. Really hate the leeches, but I'm too stubborn to suspend them.

For new material, I have two decks I'm working through. One is the Core 10K, the other is a deck of sentences I made myself by taking a text from the first Fujimi novel and breaking it up into sentences, one per card. I'm working through both using MorphMan to give me N+1 sentences (so that I don't waste a ton of time on sentences I already know). I have it set to give me five new sentences from each automatically every day; if I have time, I try to do more, especially on the Core10K (because I have to do more tweaking with the Fujimi cards to make them work, but the Core10K are premade). But I have to be careful about overloading myself with new cards, it's something I have done too often.

I thought I was all caught up on my grammar deck, but I just discovered I had a bunch of "easier" cards suspended, ugh. (Of course I've forgotten a bunch of them now.) So, five reviews a day from that deck on top of whatever is due.

The process is never ending!
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#15
how come you're so stubborn about suspending them? for me having the optin to suspend instead of delete is comforting enough for me to suspend away cards that i don't want for whatever reason including being a leech. I would think especially since it's a deck you didn't even make, it'd be that much easier. it's just time that could be put to better use.

(2017-02-12, 9:07 pm)sholum Wrote:
(2017-02-12, 8:02 pm)Flamerokz Wrote:
(2017-01-29, 2:10 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote:
(2017-01-29, 1:17 pm)tanaquil Wrote: I struggle to balance the temptation to add lots of new words, and the need to keep reviews from being overwhelming.

Same. I'm adding 20/week again, and waiting to see when Anki Exasperation™ sinks in.

No such thing exists! Something something mental fortitude.

Something something self-discipline!


@tanaquil
I don't remember if you said already, but where are you sourcing your words? Purely from reading? Maybe it's because I have strict standards for what I add to Anki, but I'm not even managing to come up with 20 words a week, let alone 20 per day.

I have no problem with 20 words a week from mining words from a book I read and tv shows and internet reading. Like you I'm picky so I don't add everything. It's just easier nowadays to make cards with rikaisama and capture2text and the txt import function in anki. I save so much time
Edited: 2017-02-13, 12:14 am
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#16
I used to let Anki suspend them, but this is a deck I've been rotating through since 2009, and I am just fed up with some words refusing to get learned. I'm too stubborn.

I was kind of surprised when I did a search recently and discovered that most of the words from that deck I review regularly are leeches (or former leeches, at least). It is certainly true that a small number of cards can suck too much of your time, but at this point I guess I'm willing to devote the time. I like that anki lets you make the choice for yourself.

ETA: something interesting I've discovered lately about the leeches is that I have more success stopping them from leeching if I look up the word I confused it for, and add that to the notes on the card ("not *blank*"). It has made it very obvious why I keep confusing some of them, and hence helps me to make better distinctions.
Edited: 2017-02-13, 2:13 pm
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#17
(2017-02-13, 2:10 pm)tanaquil Wrote: ETA: something interesting I've discovered lately about the leeches is that I have more success stopping them from leeching if I look up the word I confused it for, and add that to the notes on the card ("not *blank*"). It has made it very obvious why I keep confusing some of them, and hence helps me to make better distinctions.

I didn't do that (sounds like a good idea though), but a couple of cards that kept leeching when I was working through Core were ふだ and さつ. Since they didn't show up right next to each other, it took me forever to realize that they were both 札.
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#18
Work is getting worse and the updates are getting shorter. ^_^;;

Kanji: 2243 (+7)
Vocab: 11055 (+101; I will now be in the 11k range for weeks...)

Reading: I barely made any progress at all. Still on p. 72 of Accident in Blue. Most nights this week I fell asleep before I even finished anki reviews, forget having time to read. A very good illustration of why I need to cut back on the anki so it doesn't take all my study time.

For this week, my one accomplishment was not falling behind on anki.

Well, maybe I might get in a bit more reading tonight. Until next week!
Edited: 2017-02-19, 4:48 pm
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#19
Ugh, my reporting lately has been the worst!

Work is awful, will probably be continuing to kick my butt for another month or so. Hanging on to minimal anki reviews is all I can do for now; if I manage to get in some novel reading in the evenings, that's a bonus.

In that vein, reporting now for the first time in a month...

Kanji: 2271 (+28)
Vocab: 11379 (+324; yep, still hanging out in the 11k range, looks like I'll be here for another two months)

Listening: trying to listen to NHK news in the car whenever I commute. Still don't understand much, but it's something.

Reading: I just finished the second story in Fujimi novel *Violin of Gold, Violin of Wood* last night, which puts me... I'll count the pages later. About two novels (maybe 500 pages) ahead of where I was a month ago? I still have to read the extra story in this volume before I can go on to the next one. Not much, but still, that puts me well ahead of where I was when I stopped reading the series in 2010 or so, so, go me. Only 30+ more novels to go.

BTW anki reviews are still too high at 70-90 mins per day (and that's just in-app review time, I think actual review time is longer), but it's down from almost two hours a month ago, so that's good. I'd like to get it down below 60 mins a day for maintenance. Right now it's definitely taking too much time and energy.
Edited: 2017-03-19, 9:33 pm
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#20
My job is all-consuming lately. Looks likely to continue until April 15 at least, and that's the optimistic outlook.

Barely-hanging-in-there-progress (two week report):

Kanji: 2282 (+11)
Vocab: 11475 (+96)

Listening: still listening to NHK news when I can't sleep or while commuting in the car. Basic comprehension if I'm lucky. (I kind of envy the stability of a society that can obsess for a full week on end about about 8 people who died in an avalanche - not that I don't feel for their families, but, you know.)

Reading: managed to get through 160 pages during the Tadoku mini-round, not as much as I planned (I had hoped for 250), but it's better than nothing. Finally finished Violin of Gold etc, now about 25 pages into Fujimi novel Sunset, Sunrise.

Anki reviews now closer to 70 mins than 90. Still working on getting them under 60. Actually, still working on finishing Anki reviews daily at all, the next two weeks are not going to be good.
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#21
There are no words for how awful work has been the last two weeks. For the first time in months, I have simply not been finishing my daily flashcards; I don't have time. If I get ten minutes in a day, I try to do some of the hardest ones.

The good news is that (maybe!) the workload may let up soon. If my fellow editors get their work in on time (will they or will they not? tune in tomorrow!), I may be able to get the current manuscript off my desk tomorrow night. Then I just have to meet with the current job search committee and pay my taxes. Check in with me in two weeks or so. Of course, finals week is coming up fast. *cries*

Back to reporting the bad news (two weeks' worth, to boot):

Kanji: 2292 (+10, that is so sad)
Vocab: 11528 (+53, also sad, but better than nothing I guess?)

Reading: hahahahaha, nope

Listening: I listen to NHK News when I can't sleep, which is a lot, and sometimes while commuting, so that's a good thing, maybe?

Pretty much, this is just a placeholder. I hope to be back in the land of the living (and the Japanese-studying) soon.
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#22
I'm down to every two weeks' update, it seems.

Not much to update at the moment since the last two weeks hit maximum work interference, as expected. I've fallen seriously behind on anki reviews, and I'm still trying to catch up (using all the usual strategies, e.g. "due" and "overdue" versions of my most heavily used decks).

No new statistics at all, since I turned off adding new cards to my decks until I catch up again.

Soon, though, soon! The semester will be over, I'll have a week or so of downtime at the beach, and then I will be traveling in Japan. This time, I will be the primary interpreter (usually I travel with friends who are more fluent than I am, this time I will be the fluent one, god help us all). It should be fun.

The thing I've had the most time for is listening to NHK news podcasts (nothing kills insomnia faster than news in a language you can't understand). I feel like I can understand a little bit more all the time... then again, I had to go on English news to figure out why they were talking about the Tokyo metro during a story on North Korea (turns out they had to stop the trains for 10 minutes when North Korea fired off a missile that didn't go anywhere, wow). Little bit by little bit.
Edited: 2017-04-30, 6:15 pm
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#23
(2017-04-30, 6:15 pm)tanaquil Wrote: The thing I've had the most time for is listening to NHK news podcasts (nothing kills insomnia faster than news in a language you can't understand). I feel like I can understand a little bit more all the time...

When I was listening to the NHK news podcasts, I found it was a huge help to read the headlines for all the top stories as well as reading any stories I had time for. (Often that meant skimming the headlines and reading half an article on the lastest earthquake or typhoon before rushing off for work)

Having just read some of the key terms and names makes it a lot easier to keep track of what's going on. The written news is often word for word the same as the radio (and podcast) news, so it can end up being just an audio review of what you've read that day, but then, for many stories there will continue to be developments and updates using the same terms for days or weeks to come so you'll get plenty more practice. (The afternoon version of the story also is often substantially updated from the morning version for any but the slowest kinds of news.)
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#24
My poor journal has been much neglected lately, but I just got back from two weeks in Japan and have been reading manga & watching Japanese TV like mad. My poor flashcards are a complete mess though, I almost completely stopped using them for a month while I was traveling. (The Japan trip was tacked on at the end of other family travel plans.)

Things I've been consuming in Japanese lately:
The whole Gyakuten Saiban series from the beginning (I got a new Nintendo 3DS in Japan, finally!)
various manga series (I am pretty sure no one here follows BL authors)
Odoru Daisousasen (I absolutely never get tired of this comedy police drama series, and as my level improves I get more out of it)
Terrace House (as much of the original as I can get on Netflix Japan)
Samurai Gourmet (recced by a friend)
I want to catch up on Attack on Titan soon, but I find the Japanese really hard (even with JP subs) and I don't want to watch with Eng subs if I can help it.
I still listen to NHK news when I can't sleep.

I will probably have more updates soon but I came here to refresh my memory on the subtitle aligner program and figured I might as well do a micro-update while I was here.
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#25
OK, time to resume regular updates, although I might not have much to report for a while.

Looking back over my journal, I was already behind on anki reviews due to work stress before I hit finals week and travel time. I tried to keep up at least minimal anki reviews for a while, but eventually even that failed, what with Japan trip prep and Japan travel time. Since Japan, I have been able to resume regular "due" reviews in my two most important decks ("vocab" and "kanji"), but catching up on the backlog in both will take a month or two, and I haven't even been touching my newer decks.

I probably won't report vocab and kanji progress again until I get caught up. Oh, and also my Mac laptop died less than a week before I was scheduled to leave for Japan, fun. I still haven't been able to afford to replace it, so I am using my ancient Windows laptop to meet basic functions. Doing most of my anki reviews on the iphone. So, what with one thing and another, anki is on the back burner for now.

N1 prep:

Nothing official for now. I have boatloads of study guides, but am focusing more on general consumption right now.

Reading:

Because I was planning to buy a Japanese 3DS while in Japan (which I in fact did), I decided that the beach would be a good time to replay all the Gyakuten Saiban games in Japanese. I had forgotten how SLOW playing the games in Japanese is. (OK, I probably make it worse for myself by forcing myself to mentally pronounce every line, even when it's something stupid like "Defendant Waiting Room #3.") I mean, playing these games is shockingly slow as it is - I have done replays in English before and generally burned out before finishing, just because getting through cases can take so long even when I'm enjoying them - but playing them in Japanese is a new level of slow. I played almost non-stop all day every day for a week and still hadn't finished the first game, jeez.

Back from Japan, I am now half way through Game 2, Case 2. At this rate, I should finish all 10-odd games by 2020 or so.

On the upside, I think I understand a lot more than I do the last time I did a serious run through the games in Japanese. Back when I originally was playing stuff in Japanese, I had to switch to English every sub-chapter and replay to figure out what I was missing. Now, I understand pretty much everything, it just takes FOREVER.

In other reading, I've been picking up Meitantei Conan again. (Volume 8 of 91! God help me. I own up through 72, and scattered volumes since then, including a bunch I picked up in Japan. I had previously reached Volume 13 but then forgot everything, so at some point during the spring I started over.) These two complement each other well, since they both use a lot of detective-mystery-crime vocabulary.

I should get back to the Fujimi novel series, but I'm kind of in detective story mode right now.

Listening:

NHK podcasts continue to be a challenge, but I listen to them almost every night.

I've been making more of an effort to watch anime/TV without subtitles, or with Japanese subtitles. Right now, I am watching Phoenix Wright on Crunchyroll with the subtitles turned off (since I know the basic plot anyway, it's easier to get past the rough patches where the vocabulary gets technical and I lose the thread). Up to episode 11, but I kind of want to stay ahead of the anime in the game, so progress through the anime will probably be slow until I get further into playing Game 2.

Terrace House: after returning from Japan, I discovered a way to sneak into Japanese Netflix (which I expect will be cut off any day now, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts). [For the curious, it involves subscribing to ExpressVPN and paying for a subscription through the Netflix app downloaded from iTunes Japan. I came back from Japan with a lot of iTunes cards.] So, I have been watching episodes 14+ of "Boys and Girls Next Door." The Japanese subtitles are a godsend, as I find the slurred speech of Tokyo youth culture almost impossible to follow otherwise, but with the subtitles, I think I get just about everything that's going on.

NigeHaji: a friend recced this (in full, 逃げるは恥だが役に立つ), so I found a torrent of this recent jdrama and have been watching it without subtitles. I'm pleased to find that I get most of the gist, though I am sure I am missing a lot of the finer detail. I want to read the manga as well when I get a chance, it is available through ebookjapan. Recommended!
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