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Where are you now?

#1
When did you start studying the Japanese language?
What where your expectations when you started?
Did you eventually meet those expectations in time?
What level are you at now?

I started 3 years ago with rtk vanilla (keywords to kanji).
I translated all keywords from english to my L1, and I write all stories myself.
This took me 4 months.
Then I started to study from Genki I and II, and then the first 4-5 chapters of An integrated approach to intermediate Japanese.
This took me another 3 months, during which I got overwhelm of RtK reviews, so I decided to delete that deck and just review my Genki/aIAtIJ sentence deck.

Then I started to mine words from native media, and I soon realized that learning words was the hard part of studying Japanese.
I had a lot of issues with kanji and kanji compounds, I mixed up a kanji for another, but most of everything I had a hard time learning how to read those words (in particular compounds).

I tried to read my first light novel but it was a pain for me to see words with kanji which I was suppose to know, and to fail to recognize and/or read them, after all the work I put into RtK.

I entered the vicious cycle of "I know 'x' words but I still need other 20000 words".

After some time I had a huge psychological breakdown and I deleted the sentence deck too (it was the core 10000 deck, I unsuspended words as I mided them).
I remember that I wrote a lot here and many of you were really supportive and that helped me a lot. I cannot seem to find it but I still remember a user (I don't know if it's ok to write his name because he doesn't write here anymore) that was really empathetic towards me.

So I lived the following months in total deny, I hide my Kindle with that one book which I was unable to read.
I tried to avoid every contact with the Japanese language, even listening to my favorite musical group or watch anime.

Some months passed. Then CureDolly-san and other users here suggested me to try RtK in recognition mode.
I tried it and it was so effective that after some weeks I thought again to what discouraged me more about kanji: the fact that, when learning a new word, I had to learn how to read the individual kanji too. I knew that for many of you the method of "just learn the readings while studying words" works great, but it wasn't for me.

So I decided to study at least one on-yomi per kanji and it was surprisingly easy to do.
In the beginning I reviewed from "kanji" to "reading and meaning" (which I know doesn't make sense to many of you, but still ._. ) but after a while I decided to try again to read that light novel and, boosted by the fast results I was seeing with my kanji knowledge, I decided to restart a sentence deck.
After a while I knew a lot of words, so I started to review directly from "kanji" to "japanese word (with the most used onyomi, often I was able to say a word for each reading), like:

親 → しん of しんせつ

as of today I still review my deck this way and I find this was the single thing which helped me the most.

I knew some will say "then why don't just review like this?

切 → しんせつ

but one of the issues I had with learning word was that I learnt a word like 絶 (ぜったい) and then when I was to learn another word with 絶 I read it like たい. So this time I wanted to focus on a kanji at a time. I don't know if this is the best way, but it's the way that worked for me.

Also I didn't study all the RtK kanji because this too was overkill the first time, so I decided to use a sublist, and I took the "kanji damage" one (because it focus on readings too).

So, after this renewed confidence bost, I decided to give a second try to sentence mining and exactly 1 year ago I started again a sentence deck. I mined words from that light novel, and I added them to Anki with a dictionary sentence (format is word + sentence on front, word reading and definition on back).

As of today I have 3600 words and I added my last card 8 months ago.

The sentence deck was very useful to "boot strap" me, but after 3000+ words I started to see some issues:

The need to stop reading in order to save the word was killing the fun of reading books. Even with EPWINGtoAnki, the study process was still time-consuming and I felt that the gain I was seeing was not worth it.
Reading the dictionary sentence was plain boring and useless most of the time. Most of the words that "clicked", they clicked because of my extensive reading, while I kept failing the ones which I wasn't seeing at all during the extensive reading.

One thing which I felt is that the sentence deck was very useful in reinforcing my kanji knowledge, so I still keep it even if I see those words all the time used in native media and by now I know them like the back of my hand.

But what annoied me the most is that those sentences were almost useless for my listening skills.
After all I was failing to recognize most of the words that I already had inside my sentences deck while listening to native material, so obviously it wasn't a mere matter of adding more words to my recognition deck.

Most of the time I pick new words by just reading (most of them are obvious when written in kanji), so what is the meaning of adding them to Anki?

Then I decided it was the time to deal with my poor listening ability. I tried to just listen to a lot of japanese content but it wasn't of much help, unless I kept pausing and searching those words I failed to recognize.

This way I realized it was a mere matter of linking the "unfamiliar" spoken word, to the "familiar" written form.
I did this with a couple of ShowRoom videos and I started to recognize those words easily! Wow, it was working! But it was too time consuming. I tried to keep a notepad open and to write all the words to search later, without pausing the video, but it was boring.

So some users here suggested me to just take audio materials which have a written counterpart.
I did this, and I used the written material to quickly check the words I failed to recognize. It was and it is almost painless.

Now I've done this for a month and I'm at about 13-14 hours of active listening (this doesn't count the re-listening time so probably it's more).

Thank to this I went from "this drama episode is just gibberish to my hear" to "wow, I understand almost everything!".

But I still felt that I need a way to review some of those words, after all I still believe in the usefulness of SRS. So I started a cloze-deletion deck but I've already talked about this so I won't say anything here, apart from the fact that I'm finding it really effective for my listening and even production skills.

The last thing which I want to add is that, going back in time, I would have done this:

1) rtk recognition + onyomi from the beginning (maybe not in isolation, but something more like rtk2 but with only one kanji per card, like this: ぜっ → ぜったい).

2) avoid pre-made decks (this is just me, btw).

3) mine sentences from native material and not from dictionaries.

4) do active listening from the beginnin.

5) while doing recognition sentences, review with the target word in hiragana as extensive reading will take care of the kanji version of the word. I didn't mention this before but I'm trying a deck like this too, and it indeed helps a lot with listening and even with learning the word meaning (the absence of kanji force you to really recall the definition starting from the word, without relying on the kanji crutch).

6) try production mode (cloze-deletion), but not too early (you must really know those words decently in recognition mode, to be able to produce them, so this doesn't apply to beginners).

Both cloze-deletion and hiragana-recognition formats are really effective, but I feel the first is more effective, but more time consuming. So I'll try both for a couple of months before deciding if the added difficulty of cloze-deletion is worth it over the hiragana-recognition method.

The last thing is that I've tried a couple of jlpt-2 simulations and I find unexpectedly easy, both the reading and the listening sections. While my grammar knowledge is still poor. I'm not interested in the actual test, it was just to see how much I've improved in the last year. But I think I will start some grammar study, after all after the formal Genki study more than 2 years ago, I didn't study grammar at all.

I decided to write this because it's reassuring to think to that dark period I had, and see where I am now. BTW I'm not even near to "fluency" or even "half-fluency". When I started I wass all "I will be fluent in 18 months like the AJATT guy said". Twice as much time is past and there are still a lot of things that I don't understand while reading or listening, and my speaking skill is I think at N4 level ._. (I don't know for sure though).

But now I'm more confident that the time I will put from now on will pay back. I feel like the hard step is over and "study the japanese language" has become "enjoy the japanese language with the side effect of learning from it".


What about you?
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#2
(2017-03-06, 6:15 pm)cophnia61 Wrote: I knew that for many of you the method of "just learn the readings while studying words" works great, but it wasn't for me.


...one of the issues I had with learning word was that I learnt a word like 絶 (ぜったい) and then when I was to learn another word with 絶 I read it like たい.
Don't worry, both problems are quite normal. And also the frustration you had with ANKI is not your fault.

You will have heard about i+1 as ideal when doing SRS. It is used here mostly to refer to one new word in a sentence, which makes of course sense. 

But actually the ideal way to SRS is to test only one single information per card. In many cases a word can be a single information, but especially for a beginner in Japanese that is mostly not the case. If you are testing 休日 (part of Core 2k) then you are testing much more than one information. You are testing the recognition of the shape of 2 kanji. That alone is not easy, as many of the kanji are easily confused [休 and 体]. Now, do these 2 kanji ring the bell for the meaning of the word is already a 3 element you test. Do you know the Japanese Word for it? Or do you know the readings of the 2 kanji? Is 日 here にち or じつ? ...

This is clearly not testing a single information. So it makes a lot of sense that you used different ways of reducing the complexity. And therefore you are more successful now and feel better about ANKI.




But even though you might find it useful to accompany 親 on q with (a well separated)

( ... せつ)

and perhaps some other examples you know on a
親切 (しんせつ) → kind; thoughtful
両親 (りょうしん) → parents
親戚 (しんせき) → a relative
親友 (しんゆう) → close friend

Not only because usage examples can't harm, but also because this helps to differentiate between various reading possibilities (thus eliminating another source of frustration).
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#3
Good questions and I like what you wrote.

When did you start studying the Japanese language?  Several times with a long hiatus between (2003, 2004, 2008, 2013)  Really the first 3 times wasn't a real attempt and only stuck with it for a few weeks, months with inferior study methods (pimsleur, rosetta stone..)
What where your expectations when you started?  Expectations...hahahah.  I knew it would be a long process, but I expected to understand some things after only a few hours, weeks..  After a few months I should be able to pick up some things watching a drama or variety show, right?...Because that's how it was when I learned a little spanish.."  So now you know why I'm laughing about expectations, right?
Did you eventually meet those expectations in time?
I feel like I'm finally meeting (some of) those expectations now, 4 years later.  And there's a whole lot more work to be done.  I feel like I'm getting past those dark days where I did 1000 hours of work with nothing to show for it.   Now, with every day of study, it's seeming more and more like fun and less of a drag.
What level are you at now?  probably less than n3 but I have never done a test so who knows.


  • 2003 - 2013 Surfing around several different study methods (rosetta stone, pimsleur) and took a class.  Basically try something for a month or two then get discouraged and take a 3-4 year hiatus before trying again. Nothing I was really satisfied with.  Pimsleur lacked written materials, with rosetta stone I was tied to a computer & headphones and didn't feel I was learning anything, the class was ok but hard to get to and fit into my sometimes crazy work hours.

  • Feb 2013 Decided to buy the anki iOS app and downloaded the Japanese for busy people deck because I had the textbooks(from the class) and wanted to review the vocab that I already halfway knew.  Officially started anki on Feb 20 2013.  Studied every day and realized that every day I studied made it that much harder to break the chain.  Finished JFBP I vocab.  Found nukemarine's guide and realized that the resource I was designing in my head existed and it's name was core.  Started learning core vocabulary and kanji (via an rtk deck).  I suspended katakana words because I wanted to learn japanese words.  Along the way, I started adding sentences.  Realized that after several months of study I still couldn't understand anything on Japanese TV.   Decided sentences and kanji could wait and I needed as much vocab as I could handle, Unfortunately I decided that learning vocabulary rendered in kana instead of kanji was a good idea.

  • Spring 2014  I was getting impatient with my progress around core 2k and I still couldn't understand much on TV.  Realized that I needed to learn grammar and exposure to inflected verbs, so I decided to start adding sentences again.  I raced through the sentences because I already know most of the vocab, suspending cards where the vocab prevented my understanding the sentence.  After about 2 weeks of sentences I realized that my vocabulary accuracy improved dramatically.

  • Summer 2014 Core sentences are caught up with vocabulary.  Decided to start Tae Kim.  Already being vaguely familiar with some grammar made for a lot of ah-ha moments.  Finished 2/3 of Tae Kim (Basic and Essential).  Started adding vocab and sentences in parallel.  Ran sentence gloss on my sentences so I can easily look up unknown words in the sentences.

  • 2015 Finally realized that reading kanji was important, so I started RTK in earnest.  I did RTK recognition (kanji to keyword) because I had no interest in writing and writing was a significant burden to study.  In hindsight this was not ideal and if I did it again, I would probably learn the traditional radicals as an aid to learning the kanji via vocabulary.  RTK took me 8 months to finish while reviewing (kana)vocabulary.

  • 2016  RTK review hell.  Mostly because my memory sucks, but also because of inefficient study methods.  Also started studying song lyrics and japanese pod101 beginner dialogs.  Regarding jpod101 I pre-learned the vocabulary and then listened to the dialogs and read them too.  This was huge actually.  Longer texts are superior to single sentences.  I'll probably never go back to core.

  • Spring 2017  4 years later I'm still studying every day(missed 2 days I think) even if it's 5 minutes but averaging 90 minutes/day . Continuing with Jpod101.  Focusing on getting down vocabulary reviews to make room for reading and listening.  

  • future Probably get more into native material.
Edited: 2017-03-06, 10:52 pm
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#4
I wasn't really inclined to answer your questions because I didn't want to even think about it, let alone put it in written form...
But then yogert909 explained my case pretty well in her/his first three answers Big Grin, so I decided to chime in. The only things I should add or change from that first part of his/her description are:
  • "that's how it was when I learned a little English or French"
  • my first contact was around the year 2000 (if we don't include my Karate lessons as a child and a teen, where I learned its specialized vocabulary and the first few numbers, but nothing more), and
  • that my most serious attempt started with a nice grammar book I was given as a gift ("Japonés en viñetas", the Spanish version of "Japanese the manga way", from the same co-author that helped Heisig write the RTK1's Spanish version). That effort led me to pass the N4 JLPT and, as a side, mostly unrelated project, it included doing my own translations to Spanish of the English RTK3 keywords (available here at some other thread).

So right now I'm stuck with very basic grammar and vocabulary although I can write more than 3000 kanji. That's because I never found the right way for me to practice vocabulary (and 'cause I do it just as a hobbie), so to avoid abandoning Japanese completely I jumped to RTK3 after finishing RTK1 and being unmotivated to confront myself to words+sentences recognition decks. Oddly enough, it worked, so I concluded I must be a masochist Big Grin.

I've been thinking for a long time about the way I'd like to SRS vocabulary, and little by little got a more or less clear picture of what I'd like. Your posts on production through cloze delete and then my giving a try to the delvinlanguage site just confirmed my thoughts, so thanks for those, cophnia61 Wink. I also have mustered the motivation to start this new quest. What I need to find now is more time! (well, tbh better time management would help, too).
I guess I'll start a study-log type of thread and explain there my proposed method in better detail (though nothing fancy or new, really) when I really get to it.

Lastly, as you raised the topic about time machines, the method I'd like to try to study kanji from zero, if I were at that moment again, is the Movie Method (RTK-like+readings, all at once, based on a simple but insightful idea about memorization). Sadly, it'd be absurd to go that way at this point.
On the plus side, seems it won't be too much of a handicap, tho: the "pick the readings as you go" method seems to work well on me, at least based on my previous discontinued attempts at vocabulary.
Edited: 2017-03-06, 10:18 pm
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#5
(2017-03-06, 10:14 pm)faneca Wrote: So right now I'm stuck with very basic grammar and vocabulary although I can write more than 3000 kanji. That's because I never found the right way for me to practice vocabulary (and 'cause I do it just as a hobbie), so to avoid abandoning Japanese completely I jumped to RTK3 after finishing RTK1 and being unmotivated to confront myself to words+sentences recognition decks. Oddly enough, it worked, so I concluded I must be a masochist Big Grin.

I've been thinking for a long time about the way I'd like to SRS vocabulary, and little by little got a more or less clear picture of what I'd like. Your posts on production through cloze delete and then my giving a try to the delvinlanguage site just confirmed my thoughts, so thanks for those, cophnia61 Wink. I also have mustered the motivation to start this new quest. What I need to find now is more time! (well, tbh better time management would help, too).
I guess I'll start a study-log type of thread and explain there my proposed method in better detail (though nothing fancy or new, really) when I really get to it.

Wow!  3k kanji but not studying too much vocabulary - you must really like kanji and/or RTK.  Or as you noted, maybe you're a masochist.

I wonder if this idea I had would work for you.  I've started thinking of words as simply an extension of RTK.  In other words, In RTK you learn the water radical, then you learn kanji that are made up of the water radical and one or more other radicals.  But vocabulary is simply made up combinations of kanji and kana.   So wouldn't it make sense to follow the same methodology to learn vocabulary?  So for instance, you could learn 水 then you would immediately learn 水曜日, 水道, 水泳, etc.  That way, it would be very apparent that 水 is often pronounced sui except notably when it isn't in a compound.
Edited: 2017-03-06, 10:47 pm
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#6
(2017-03-06, 10:46 pm)yogert909 Wrote: (...) So for instance, you could learn 水 then you would immediately learn 水曜日, 水道, 水泳, etc.  That way, it would be very apparent that 水 is often pronounced sui except notably when it isn't in a compound.

(on a side note, I would have chosen slightly different words because you're overlooking things like 水着... but anyway I'm just being pedantic here, sorry: I totally get what you mean)

I seem to recall reading a post of yours about the idea, but I'm unsure: one part of me regards it as a very efficient method (it would definitely help with the readings) while another says it'd be confusing, in the long term, to learn a lot of similar compounds altogether (although 水 isn't probably the best example of this problem).

In any case, the ordering didn't seem to pose me problems (while it's possible this impression is biased because all the decks I tried had carefully chosen ones or because I didn't persevere long enough through any of them).
The problem appears to lie in the fact that recognition cards don't work very well on me, except as an interesting reinforcement (enhancing my recalling speed, for instance) but only when I already mastered the material at hand through production. Maybe they are a too passive effort for my brain? I don't know. My perception of Anki (perhaps influenced by the decks I used) being a little "dry", resulting into something resembling boredom in the end, didn't do me any service, either.

But I guess it wouldn't hurt much to experiment with this as well, when I finally get to the job. Thanks for the idea!
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#7
(2017-03-06, 8:22 pm)Matthias Wrote: This is clearly not testing a single information. So it makes a lot of sense that you used different ways of reducing the complexity. And therefore you are more successful now and feel better about ANKI.


But even though you might find it useful to accompany 親 on q with (a well separated)

( ... せつ)

and perhaps some other examples you know on a
親切 (しんせつ) → kind; thoughtful
両親 (りょうしん) → parents
親戚 (しんせき) → a relative
親友 (しんゆう) → close friend

Not only because usage examples can't harm, but also because this helps to differentiate between various reading possibilities (thus eliminating another source of frustration).

You're right about testing more than one thing, even with vocabulary study now that I think about it, once you already know at least the most common on-yomi, it's a matter of remembering what reading to use but it became really easy to do.

Thank for the suggestion! In fact my kanji card's format is exactly like that xD


yogert909, faneca: ahahah I feel you! Especially after all those months of writing kanji after kanji from english keywords, knowing almost nothing about the real japanese language asd
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#8
Neat question, cophnia61, thanks for starting the thread!

I don't know if I can include everything because it's been a long time but...

Fall 2003: I was up for tenure, and any academic will tell you that that is one of the most stressful years you'll ever face. Waiting nine months with little or no feedback, and absolutely nothing you can do will influence the outcome. I had always wanted to learn Japanese (I enjoyed subtitled anime and translated manga), but never got very far with it. That fall, I picked up a Japanese textbook and all my undirected stress and energy went into that. By the time I got the news I had tenure in May 2004, I was well past 4kyuu and into 3kyuu.

(I don't actually remember when I first figured out how useful the JLPT guidelines were for studying; at first I was working out of a university textbook, and I finished both volumes of that. I do vaguely remember that I once was standing in Kinokuniya, and saw the JLPT prep materials, and picked up a guide to 1kyuu because that must be the easiest, right? I put it back down again awful fast. :-) It was a while before I figured out my mistake. Anyway, at some point I found the old Meguro Language School materials online and they were a godsend.)

I bought so, so, so many books in 2004, it was crazy. It's hard for me to remember now that back then, I wasn't even aware of how many resources were available online. I used mainly paper dictionaries until I got a Canon e-dict around 2006. (Looking up kanji in a paper dictionary is the WORST.) Unicode wasn't widespread, Japanese was almost impossible on a Mac, I switched to Windows for years entirely because of that, but even on Windows for a long time you had to use specialized word processors like JWPcE. I don't know how much of it was me not knowing what technology existed, and how much was the technology simply not existing yet. Anki didn't exist; I used Stackz (also Windows only) for my SRS reviews. It was a good app, but Anki left it in the dust.

Dec 2004: Took and passed 3kyuu.

Somewhere around in here, I discovered Heisig and loved it, probably got up to about #500 in the old edition. But a few of his stories just didn't work for me AT ALL, and when he abandons you to make up your own stories, I hit a wall. I am terrible at making up stories. I gave up Heisig soon after that, and concentrated on making progress other ways. But as I gradually learned my kanji, I often went to Heisig to grab the keywords at least. I usually reviewed my kanji from kanji --> all joyo readings, so while I was trying to come up with the readings, I would say the keywords of the kanji to myself, and it often helped me to distinguish otherwise visually similar kanji, or just to jog my memory. Not the most efficient way to use Heisig, but it worked for me.

Dec 2005: Took and passed (by some miracle) 2kyuu. I worked SO hard that year. The jump from the old 3kyuu to 2kyuu (N4 to N2) was brutal, and I had a really hard time transitioning to grammar books that explained everything in Japanese. I was mainly using Unicom at that point, hadn't discovered Kanzen Master.

Dec 2006: Took 2kyuu again, and got a more respectable passing score. I was nowhere near ready for 1kyuu.

Dec 2007: skipped JLPT. I don't remember what happened this year, was I slacking or was 1kyuu just that hard? I remember trying out a practice test at registration time and realizing that there was zero hope.

It was also around this time that I discovered kanji koohii (I think it was still called RTK then), although not the forums. But even with renewed help with stories, I was too busy with other forms of studying to make much progress with Heisig in the traditional keyword --> kanji direction, so I eventually wandered off and didn't come back to koohii for many years.

Dec 2008: I made a study-or-die attempt at 1kyuu (I used to get up every morning at 5 and study for several hours). In the end I failed it but I was ok with that, I knew I had done everything I could and just needed to study a while longer.

I think it was in 2008 that I found anki, because that's how far back my anki reviews go. It took quite a while to transition all my stackz material into anki cards, but eventually I managed it. My main decks were a deck of JLPT vocabulary (Japanese word, no furigana --> word with furigana + Eng definition) and kanji (kanji --> basic meaning and all joyo readings, Heisig keywords if I could remember them). I still review those decks - and that's still how I learn kanji - but for vocabulary, I now much prefer sentences with no English translation.

Listening was always abysmal, but I spent a lot of time with JLPT prep CDs. What I did manage to pick up, I think I got mostly from that. All this time I was reading a lot of manga, but not being exposed to much native audio - I would get frustrated whenever I turned off the subtitles on my anime or dramas, and of course watching subtitled didn't help much. I think back then, it was a lot more difficult to turn subtitles off and on, too. MKV only gradually replaced burnt-in AVI as the subtitle format most people were using. Not to mention, sharing anime was harder - until torrents became widespread in the mid-2000's, I used to have to try to snag portions of rar files off alt.anime.binaries or whatever the heck it was called.

I feel old now. Get off my lawn, whippersnapper.

Dec 2009: I finally passed 1kyuu under the old system (it was the last year for that system).

I'm very proud of all the progress I made from 2003-2009, but frustrated with the feeling that I don't seem to have made much progress since. A lot of it is my own fault, not stuyding consistently enough - not having another JLPT level to work toward has been a real problem. I had to gradually develop a lot of other goals and ways of measuring progress. And partly because of that, I would go through long hiatus periods - I've twice had a period of more than a year where I let my anki cards lapse and only occasionally read or watched something in the meantime.

Dec 2014: I came out of one of my hiatuses long enough to take and pass the new N1. Realized just how far I have to go to be truly fluent, got discouraged again.

Dec 2016: After yet another hiatus, I came back to studying and I'm trying to stick with it this time. Passed N1 again, still just barely, still hoping to do better next year.

These days, my biggest source of frustration is not that I can't read, but that I can't read Japanese as well as I can read English. The slow pace, the constant not-knowing-words drives me crazy. I have to keep working through it, because of course exposure is the only cure.

I still can't understand spoken Japanese unless it is slow, but I am working like heck at exposing myself to more audio. When I learned French as a kid my ability to understand the spoken language was the last skill to develop, so I just try to relax and tell myself it'll come eventually. With French, after years of uncomprehending exposure in a bilingual school, a switch just seemed to flip when I spent a summer in France - I literally went from zero to sixty within the first few days in the country. Waiting for my switch to flip on Japanese, it'll happen someday.

I think my biggest weakness is a tendency to rely too much on test standards and not enough on pushing myself to tackle harder native material. I'm working on that, too.

It was in 2014 that I discovered these forums; I wandered away during the subsequent hiatus, but this community has been vital in getting my studies back on track since 2016. Thanks to everyone here who has shared tips and advice.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!
Edited: 2017-03-07, 10:54 am
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#9
(2017-03-06, 6:15 pm)cophnia61 Wrote: as of today I still review my deck this way and I find this was the single thing which helped me the most.

I knew some will say "then why don't just review like this?

切 → しんせつ

but one of the issues I had with learning word was that I learnt a word like 絶 (ぜったい) and then when I was to learn another word with 絶 I read it like たい. So this time I wanted to focus on a kanji at a time. I don't know if this is the best way, but it's the way that worked for me.

So much this. To this day, the kanji I confuse the most often are those few that I learned from a compound and learned both at the same time. (Is that the ai or the satsu of 挨拶? I am only finally starting to get that now that I have learned each kanji separately with its own pronunciation and keywords.)

I always found it helpful to learn readings in isolation from words, because as you have already discovered, the hardest part of Japanese is knowing what words mean. If you can see an unknown word and pronounce its kanji, it is much easier to look up. Even then, irregular or more-than-one possible readings cause trouble, but these days I almost never have trouble reading a word unless it involves choosing between two possible pronunciations. It's always the not understanding what the word means in context that gets me. If you only ever learn to recognize a kanji when it occurs in a given word, you will have a harder time learning to read unknown words - at least, that's how it worked for me.

It is astonishing how often simply knowing the keywords for the kanji does not help at all - one reason I ended up diverging from the Heisig method. But one advantage is, if you know one piece of information (like, only the pronunciation, or only the keywords for the kanji), it will still make it easier to add new information, on the principle that the brain likes to hang the newly learned onto the hooks of the already known. (I'm sure there is a more scientific way to say that?)

Really interesting to see all of the different (but clearly effective) study methods people have used.

After all these years, I am only now using Heisig to re-learn how to write kanji I already know how to read and pronounce, and it's super effective for that purpose. I have to go slow though because I find handwriting kanji challenging and slow, and having more than 25 reviews of that kind on one day is demotivating for me. Up to 750 or so, 2 new kanji a day, I should finish the joyo in another couple of years...
Edited: 2017-03-07, 12:18 pm
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#10
(2017-03-07, 12:11 pm)tanaquil Wrote: Even then, irregular or more-than-one possible readings cause trouble, but these days I almost never have trouble reading a word unless it involves choosing between two possible pronunciations. It's always the not understanding what the word means in context that gets me.

I'm finding that listening helps a lot, because you get used to recall the meaning of a word from its pronunciation.
So if you learn to recognize the meaning of "ていさい", it's a given that when you'll encounter 体裁 you will read it "ていさい" and not "たいさい".
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#11
(2017-03-08, 1:13 pm)cophnia61 Wrote:
(2017-03-07, 12:11 pm)tanaquil Wrote: Even then, irregular or more-than-one possible readings cause trouble, but these days I almost never have trouble reading a word unless it involves choosing between two possible pronunciations. It's always the not understanding what the word means in context that gets me.

I'm finding that listening helps a lot, because you get used to recall the meaning of a word from its pronunciation.
So if you learn to recognize the meaning of "ていさい", it's a given that when you'll encounter 体裁 you will read it "ていさい" and not "たいさい".

Excellent point, and a reminder of why I need to keep working on my listening skills.

I reread your original post (and will probably do so again, thanks for so many helpful tips) but I would love to hear more specifically about what you have been doing to practice listening - which dramas or podcasts you like best, how much you srs, etc. If you've posted about this elsewhere, just link me (I lose track of threads a lot). I am forever looking for new ideas - and there are plenty here on the forum I have yet to implement.

Currently, really liking both delvin_language and the Zettai Kareshi course Nukemarine linked to in another thread.
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#12
(2017-03-08, 3:49 pm)tanaquil Wrote: I reread your original post (and will probably do so again, thanks for so many helpful tips) but I would love to hear more specifically about what you have been doing to practice listening - which dramas or podcasts you like best, how much you srs, etc. If you've posted about this elsewhere, just link me (I lose track of threads a lot). I am forever looking for new ideas - and there are plenty here on the forum I have yet to implement.

I don't know if it's ok to share what I'm doing because even if I'm sure it's working for me, I'm still no expert and I don't want to share bad ideas which could damage someone instead of doing good ._.

Basically what I'm doing is a little controversial.
I've tried with drama or anime, but for me it's a pain in the axx to have to find new content every time.
Find what drama to watch, then search where to find it, search for japanese subs if they exist, it's too stressful to me.

So what I'm doing is this, as at the end of the day my main study activity is to read light-novels, and by now I've read a good amount of them, I'm using a text to speech application.
I'm aware of the risks of this, of the faults of this and so on. But still, it's the easiest thing to do to me.

I take an e-book which I've already read, I put it inside the TTS software, I listen to the resulting mp3.
As I listen to it, I've a txt of the light-novel. Each time I don't understand something, I look at the txt and I tag the word which I failed to understand.

Someone might say that those synthetized voices are unnatural, they have a wrong intonation, they often misread words (hou / kaze, just to make an example).

Basically I don't care. It's working to me. I have no problem to understand japanese pronunciation, I could transcribe what they say without any problem. But I fail to recall the meaning of some of the words they use.
Once I listen to those words with this "method", and then I begin to recognise them with this method, I start to recognise them even in real japanese.

Obviously I do like no more than 10 to 20 mins of mp3 a day. And I listen to a lot of real japanese daily outside of this.

So, I'm not suggesting this to anyone, just saying it's what I'm doing ._.


After I do this, I end up with a huge txt with a lot of words "tagged" in order to be studied someway.

Then I've done a little utility (it's still sh*t but it's relatively usable) which take this txt file, and for each tagged word it extracts the sentence (with a length specified by me), cloze the word inside that same sentence, adds furigana, retrieve the dictionary form of the word and its definition.

At the end of this I end up with a file ready to be imported inside Anki, with a lot of cards like this:

FRONT

BACK

I review them inside the AnkiDroid browser, in the added order, as if I was reading the book itself.
This way I sort of follow the logical thread and it doesn't feel at all like studying.

I suspend almost everything and I left unsuspended the "problematic" words (the one which I still fail to recognise when listening to them). I then review them, I add hints and/or images if necessary.


Hope this helps ._.

PS: I would like to use real audio-books but I'm broke Shy
Edited: 2017-03-08, 6:47 pm
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#13
Oh, that totally makes sense! I am currently using TTS on my novel sentences from Fujimi. Yeah, the voice is unnatural & I'd prefer a more native-voice style, but the accuracy is startlingly high (it seems to get a likely/correct pronunciation more often than the auto-furigana service does - I have started using the TTS service on cards where for months I have wondered if I was guessing the right pronunciation) and it definitely helps me to feel the rhythm of the sentences better.

Incidentally, I use MorphMan to present the sentences in n+1 order, so I don't get overwhelmed. I generate the TTS for each sentence as it comes up in the rotation.

I'll have to take a closer look at your card style. Thanks for sharing!
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#14
Hi all,

I decided to learn Japanese after my graduation trip in Japan in summer 2009. This trip really motivated me and made me want to come back to Japan to live. I knew that living in Japan without speaking Japanese was probably a limited experience. I learned Japanese for three reasons, first because I had interest in the culture difference, then because I felt that learning such a difficult language was quite a personal challenge which is rewarding, and finally because I thought this was anyway well invested effort as one day it could have a positive effect on my career (it did).

After I came back to France from my trip in Japan, I prepared myself to learn Japanese for 3 months. During this time, I have searched on internet about what could be the best method to learn Japanese. I didn’t want to start without beeing sure of what to do. I got really impressed by the AJATT method. What Katsumoto was saying there really made sense to me : fun and motivation should be the key of learning. Fun and motivation also means streamlining and ease of processing so SRS was the perfect tool to do this. During my planning phase, I had to define a clear objective to keep a reference for my learning pace that is also matching with what I needed to live in Japan. Planning, goal definition, achievements tracking is one of the key for keeping motivation on the long term. I decided that JLPT N2 was exactly the qualification I needed to move to Japan and find a work there. I decided to take JLPT N2 after 2 years.

My method choice was to go with : hiragana/katakana, Heisig remember the kanji's method (not learning the pronunciation nor handwritting), then learn 10 000 words/sentences from natural immersion materials as recommended by AJATT.

At the beginning of learning kanjis, I used Heisig's book stories. There were not working well for me, so I tried as the book recommends to create my own stories. It was better but it was still painful as making good stories requires time and mental effort (which is against fun and streamlining). After beeing at around approxinately 1300 kanjis I discovered this website with the shared RTK stories. It helped me a lot to reach the end of RTK (thank you so much!) and I wished I had discovered it sooner. Overall it took me something like 3 months to learn the meaning of 2000 kanjis. I was quite excited to keep going with the sentences and I thought that I would soon be able to speak Japanese…(which happened much later than I expected…)

I met several difficulties with the sentences after kanjis. First finding 10000 n+1 sentences from immersion materials like Katsumoto recommended was not easy… Mining is nice because it's fun, but still if it requires efforts it is not good. Fortunately I discovered the Core and KO2001 sentences decks. KO2001 was nice but the sentences were too long so I gave it up. Core was perfect, simple sentences almost always following the n+1 thing.

The second difficulty was what card template to use. I was not happy to not beeing able to speak. I tried several templates and finally decided that Recognition was the best for me (because easy to process). I learned the pronunciations of the kanjis like that quite easily. Soon I realized that in order to understand sentences I also needed to know grammar… I used Tae Kim 's grammar guide. It was a great ressource. Made some cards of it but I mostly read the website. As complement I used "A Dictionnary of Japanese grammar... I was learning sentences with new words at a pace of 20-30 a day for many months.

Throughout all my studies I used immersion listening to Japanese audio. I read manga and visual novels as soon as I could. Visual novels really helped me as I was really enjoying reading them and I spent a lot on it. At that time I knew a lot of grammar and words but in a very passive way (I almost never produced by myself sentenced neither did drills).

My "sub-goal" was to pass the N3 as soon as ready, it was a good preparation step for my main goal which was N2 (I skipped N4 and N5). I discovered the format of the JLPT when studying for N3. I struggled in particular with listening (listening has always been my weakness and my speaking was like… zero. But I know it is the problem of many people learning by themselves.). To prepare for N3 I spent hours at Starbucks (and hundreds of Euros in coffee…) reworking the past JLPT papers, specially focusing on listening and reading. My reading speed was too low for N3, probably due to a lack of real material reading. I increased the VN reading quantity which helped a lot. I passed the JLPT N3 with the first try in July 2011. I was happy but it was only an intermediate step. At that time it had already been 1.5 years that I was learning and as my goal was to get N2 in two years so I had not much time remaining... Just after I got N3 I increased my learning speed even more and started to cram the N2 like crazy. Fortunately, I passed the N2 also at the first try 6 months later and with a higher score than N3! My goal was achieved so I was ready. I resigned from my current job and flew to Japan after my 1 month notice period. I had been selected for 5 companies job interviews while I was still in France (with my ticket already bought). My recruitment at Nissan which was one of them was confirmed three days I arrived in Japan! They made me a 3 years work visa Smile 4 months later I could not bear the Japanese management system anymore and moved to a smaller French company in the medical software industry, which is my current job in Tokyo.

A last few comments : when I arrived in Japan I was understanding something like 40% of what Japanese people were saying and I totally could not speak so I was super frustated. Speaking finally took time to come with a lot of speaking practice… I think there are no other ways. It took me 2 more years of total frustration in Japan to be able to speak at N4 level Smile Now it's been more than 5 years I live there and I work almost only in Japanese (emails, phone calls, demonstrations in exhibitions…). I have no problems anymore with speaking. Actually I forgot a good part of the N2 kanjis & words because I have stopped to do my Anki reviews since I am in Japan (which was maybe a mistake…).
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#15
(2017-03-07, 10:43 am)tanaquil Wrote: I still can't understand spoken Japanese unless it is slow, but I am working like heck at exposing myself to more audio. When I learned French as a kid my ability to understand the spoken language was the last skill to develop, so I just try to relax and tell myself it'll come eventually. With French, after years of uncomprehending exposure in a bilingual school, a switch just seemed to flip when I spent a summer in France - I literally went from zero to sixty within the first few days in the country. Waiting for my switch to flip on Japanese, it'll happen someday.

The same switch flipping happened to me with English. I'm french and we have very low exposure to spoken english there and albeit being near-fluent in writing around 2006 and able to read classic literature around 2008 (french and latin help a ton, surprisingly, to read complex english) I was utterly unable to listen comfortably or produce a sentence native speakers would understand without grinning with efforts. 

I started twitching about living abroad and needed to start understanding spoken english and maybe one day open my mouth and speak those words rather than type them, so around 2012 I started listening to podcast every night before sleeping, and the flip switched after a few weeks: I just got English, finally. (before that my whole life was already in english for anything I had to read or type, at work or at home - so that's kinda what I plan to do for Japanese at some point)

I moved to Hong Kong in 2014 and have been learning Japanese intensely for the last 2 months (the first 2 years, more focus was put on my English pronunciation, navigating the jungle job market, adapting to the culture and marrying Big Grin) . I'm at around 700 Kanjis (RtK with Anki), that I can practice everyday in the streets and with my Chinese colleagues and it helps relieve the workload. I'm starting to be able to write "dumb cantonese" as my wife likes to say, putting the kanjis one after another like I would do if they were french words, and in Chinese it kinda works, while I work on getting the basic Japanese grammar and vocabulary with みんなの日本語.

I've always wanted to go work in Japan, and finish my life there for some reason, and the biggest disappointment of my early days was to learn that all this work I put into english was utterly useless to get to Japan. But I'm getting closer, geographically at least !! I'll go there for the first time in 3 months, we'll see if the country is as nice as the language Big Grin, if not there's always Taiwan that I highly recommend, as it's a paradise mixing Japanese architecture, Parisian lifestyle and Chinese culture.
Edited: 2017-03-12, 10:15 am
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#16
[quote pid='242816' dateline='1489330191']
I moved to Hong Kong in 2014 and have been learning Japanese intensely for the last 2 months
[/quote]
I also lived 3 years in Hong Kong before moving to Japan (I am french too Big Grin). Hong Kong is a great city, I love it.
As Hong Kong undergoes a strong influence of Japan fashion, business etc... and the chinese characters are all around, I feel it is a good environment to keep motivated with Japanese.
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