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Lesson Plan H1 2017

It’s a new year so I thought it would be a good idea to write up a new lesson plan.  I’m not sure what I want to work on after I finish Japanese Pod 101 Beginner Season 1.  I’ll probably continue with Season 2, but I’m adding a few other things that I’m thinking of to the list.  My main priority is not too much vocabulary to the exclusion of reading and listening.

Exercise Cards* Cards/day* Finish by*
jpod 101 Beginner S01dialogs 44 1.5 mar 5
jpod 101 Beginner S02 vocab TBD
jpod 101 Beginner S02 dialogs TBD
NHK Easy Vocabulary TBD
Easy Vocabulary™ TBD
Restaurant Vocab TBD
Restaurant Dialogs TBD
Switch to Lingq? TBD

just a note

This is just a note to myself.  Since I’m getting close to finishing japanese pod101 beginner season 1 I’m wondering if I should continue with the beginner seasons.  From a quick look, there are 3535 vocabulary words for the remaining beginner seasons (including lower and upper beginner, but not absolute beginner).  From scrolling through the list, a rough guess would be that I know about half of those words. So if I want to finish the jpod101 beginner series, I’d need to study very roughly 1769 vocabulary words.  Or roughly the rest of the year studying Jpod 101 beginner.

On the good side, I believe finishing the beginner series will give me a very good basis for understanding a lot of things.  For instance easier manga

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

I’ve always had in the back of my head a vague idea of what I’ve wanted to do with Japanese, but today I’m going to write explicitly what I am most interested in doing with Japanese.  I think this exercise will help me prioritize my study into the future.  Also, since I’m getting close to be able to read and follow along with real Japanese, it would be nice to start crossing things off the list saying “Finished.  I can do that now.  Woo-hoo”.

I’ll actually create two lists, each with the same items, only the ordering will be different.  The first list will be prioritized by which is most important to me – the stuff I want to be able to do most.  However the things I want to be able to do most might not necessarily be the easiest to achieve, so I am want to pick some of the low hanging fruit sooner than the tastiest.  So the 2nd list will be sorted more in the order that I plan to take these projects on.

Skills by importance:

  1. Hold conversations entirely in Japanese
  2. Exchange pleasantries in Japanese (eg how are you doing?, have you been here before? what was your favorite food?)
  3. Watch Japanese movies + TV (with Japanese subs, or raw)
  4. Read a Japanese menu and order food in Japanese
  5. Shop confidently.  (be able to ask for longer pants, organic milk, paper or plastic and understand answers from salespeople)
  6. Read Japanese non-fiction
  7. Read Regular NHK, Asahi Shimbun, etc
  8. Read NHK Easy
  9. Read Manga

Skills by order of study

  1. Read NHK Easy
  2. Read a Japanese menu and order food in Japanese
  3. Exchange pleasantries in Japanese (eg how are you doing?, have you been here before? what was your favorite food?)
  4. Shop confidently.  (be able to ask for longer pants, organic milk, paper or plastic and understand answers from salespeople)
  5. Read Manga
  6. Watch Japanese movies + TV (with Japanese subs, or raw)
  7. Read Regular NHK, Asahi Shimbun, etc
  8. Read Japanese non-fiction
  9. Hold conversations entirely in Japanese

The lists are somewhat an inverted version of each other since the things which matter most to me are also the most difficult.  For instance, If I’m able to hold a conversation entirely in Japanese on virtually any topic, it’s likely that I can do pretty much anything else on the list.  However there are some notable exceptions such as manga, which I’m not so interested in itself, but will help me with some of the conversation stuff so it’s closer to the middle of my priority list.

So we’ll see.  This list may evolve and I’ll likely work on several skills at the same time.  But I thought it would be helpful to explicitly prioritize certain things over others to guide my study.

Phonetic Radicals: How to guess a kanji’s reading

I was reading something today which mentioned phonetic radicals.  What’s that?

“The right side is usually what’s known as the “phonetic compound.” This portion has a specific reading attached to it. If you see this phonetic compound, you can sometimes guess the reading of the kanji. Sometimes by learning one phonetic compound’s reading you can know how to read six or seven other kanji that contain it.”

Apparently 67% of kanji have phonetic radicals, so it would be very useful to learn them.

Why are you learning Japanese?

People have different reasons for learning a language.  Some people just want to be more worldly and others like the way Japanese sounds.  Others want to move to Japan or at least travel there.  Personally I am married to a person from Japan and want to fully enjoy Japanese things with her and I want to be more independent when I am there.  I want to understand things as she understands things and not have to have them explained to me.

I’d love to hear your reasons for learning Japanese.  Please let me know in the comments.

Sapir–Whorf and Linguistic Relativity

Linguistic Relativity

The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects the ways in which its respective speakers conceptualize their world, i.e. their world view, or otherwise influences their cognitive processes. Popularly known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, the principle is often defined to include two versions. The strong version says that language determines thought, and that linguistic categories limit and determine cognitive categories, while the weak version says only that linguistic categories and usage influence thought and certain kinds of non-linguistic behaviour.

Tae Kim: Learn all the kanji readings – Waste of time

Tae Kim over at has some interesting things to say about learning kanji.  It’s well worth reading the whole post, if not his entire blog.  Here is what he says about memorizing on and kun readings for every kanji

To put it bluntly, learning all the readings of a Kanji is a complete waste of time. Yes, as a general rule of thumb, Kanji compounds use the on-reading while single characters use the kun-reading. However, this rule is nowhere consistent enough to make it more than a good guess (this is particularly true for 大 which we can’t seem to decide to read as おお or だい).

In addition, many Kanji have multiple readings kun or on-readings such as 怪力(かいりき or かいりょく?), 外道(げどう or がいどう?), or 家路(いえじ、うちじ、やじ?). Even if you guessed the correct reading, it might be voiced or shortened such as 活発 and 発展. Also, Kanji such as 生 have so many readings, it’s completely pointless to memorize them because you won’t know which one will be used in a word such as 芝生、生ビール、生粋、and 生涯. Not to mention the various words that only use the Kanji for the meaning while completely ignoring the reading. These words such as 仲人、素人、and お土産 are literally impossible to guess the readings for. At the end of the day, if you see a new word, you always want to look up the reading to make sure you learn the correct combination. In addition, the readings will be easier to remember in context of real words that you can actually use. Essentially, memorizing the readings by themselves is a complete waste of time.

His suggestion (as mine) is to learn kanji meanings, stroke order and to learn lots and lots of vocabulary.