Category Archives: Uncategorized

Study Plan 2018 1H

After the holidays and returning from Japan is as good of a time as any to reformulate my study plan.  I need to catch back up, but once I do, I plan to:

  1. gradually phase out RTK in preference of words
  2. continue survival japanese
  3. restart jpod 101 dialogs
  4. restart jpod101 vocabulary
  5. start useful knowledge deck

1.  For the past several months I have been making zero progress on my RTK deck.  My workload is the same as several months ago and my number of mature cards has actually gone down.  I could just keep plugging away or change my anki settings, but I think improvement will be marginal.  So I’ve decided to suspend kanji, starting with the most difficult and replace them with words containing the suspended kanji.  Ideally, I will replace each suspended kanji with 3 commonly used words when available.

2.  I’m about 100 into a deck of around 500 survival phrases, place names, menu items and other things useful for operating in Japan.  I’d like them to be fully internalized next time I go to Japan, so I might as well keep studying them now.

3.  I think studying the dialogs have made the largest improvement in my Japanese ablity, so I’d like to continue studying them.  I think I have about 6 months left if I add 2 per day.

4.  Knowing more vocabulary simply improves the efficacy of the dialogs and the dialogs reinforce the vocabulary.  so why not do them in tandem..?

5.  This isnt Japanese related, but I’m putting it here because it’s an anki deck I’m starting.  It’s just a deck of things I’d like to know.  A lot of them are things I don’t necessarily need to memorize, but want to read again periodically – like quotes or lifeProTips.  I’ll put these on long intervals and press good every time because I only need an occasional reminder.  I might eventually add some Japanese geography and history stuff in this deck or one like it.

Progress report from Japan

I’m writing this from Hanada airport in the departure lobby having just spent 8 days in Japan. This is the first time I can actually say that I understood more than a token word or phrase here or there.

This time, I could get the gist of menus, informational placards, and signs if I read them very slowly and carefully. Announcements are still mostly too fast, but roughly half the time I could get the gist of what they were trying to convey if I put a lot of effort decoding everything they were saying.

As last time, characters and words caught my eye everywhere and I would know them or at least know that they were familiar. I couldn’t even turn the recognition switch off and go back to the days when Japanese text was simply meaningless texture. Japanese text is looking more and more familiar to me now. I’d say it looks vaguely as familiar as looking at French where I may not understand but the characters don’t look foreign anymore. And as with French, I can look at Japanese text and decode much of it if I go slow and concentrate.

I feel like next time I come, I will be able to interact much more confidently and easily.

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.