Sumisu's Japanese Log

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Sumisu
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Sumisu's Japanese Log

Postby Sumisu » Fri Jan 22, 2021 3:51 am

I feel I've hit a bit a rough patch with my language learning recently, and have decided to start logging my activities here in hopes that it will motivate me to continue learning. I've been studying Japanese for 2.5 years. I seem to enter the following cycle every 3-6 months: 1) suddenly realize that my goal (become a fluent reader of Japanese) is much farther off than I thought it was; 2) find a new technique or new materials that "shake things up"; 3) make progress, start enjoying the language more, don't even think about the "finish line"; 4) back to step 1: the goal is impossibly far away.

My best guess is that at the pace I'm going, I'll most likely reach my goal after 5-7 years of study, i.e. 2.5-5 years from now. However, recently that number has really been weighing on me. It's so far off! And the worse news is that as I've been losing motivation recently, I've been studying less, and because I've been studying less the goal will take even LONGER to reach, and therefore I'm even less motivated to keep throwing away my hours into a futile effort to learn this impossible language.

I need to get back on track. As a first step, I'm going to log what I've done today.

10 minutes studying Anki
No listening
No reading

A pathetic effort. But here it is for all to see. Not so long ago, I was listening and reading for 2-3 hours/day. I need to get back there if I'm to ever reach my goal. Hopefully tomorrow will bring progress.
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Sumisu
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Re: Sumisu's Japanese Log

Postby Sumisu » Sat Jan 23, 2021 3:47 am

Today was a better day. In addition to getting through my Anki decks, I watched a couple of episodes of yomikaki no tsubo, a children's educational show on the NHK for School website: https://www2.nhk.or.jp/school/movie/ban ... 0023_00000

This material probably isn't for everybody but I find it helpful for the early intermediate level that I'm at. One episode involves a description of a clock and the contestants/students are asked to draw the clock in question. The description is intentionally ambiguous so as to allow for students to arrive at different "answers" through their drawings. They then fill in the missing blanks and tell us what the clock should really look like. The material is aimed at 5th graders, and I find it just interesting enough to be fully engaged with it. Also the vocabulary is usually not too bad, although I understand some episodes much better than others.

I'd like to say I'm going to listen to Japanese podcasts while doing the dishes tonight, but unfortunately I know that's not going to happen because I need to get through some English podcasts first. I wish I could avoid English to a greater extent but my Japanese is not at a level where I can be sufficiently entertained by Japanese podcasts, and we all need some entertainment from time to time. The best I can do is try to crank through some of my favorite podcasts to free up more time to listen to Japanese.

Thank you to this forum for giving me a place to vent these thoughts and stay strong in my language learning!
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Re: Sumisu's Japanese Log

Postby AndyMeg » Sun Jan 24, 2021 1:53 am

Sumisu wrote:Today was a better day. In addition to getting through my Anki decks, I watched a couple of episodes of yomikaki no tsubo, a children's educational show on the NHK for School website: https://www2.nhk.or.jp/school/movie/ban ... 0023_00000


Thank you for sharing the link! :D I just watched the beginning of an episode with a cow in a traffic signal and it seems to be at a level that would be useful to me when I go back to focus on Japanese :)
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Sumisu
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Re: Sumisu's Japanese Log

Postby Sumisu » Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:33 am

AndyMeg wrote:Thank you for sharing the link! :D I just watched the beginning of an episode with a cow in a traffic signal and it seems to be at a level that would be useful to me when I go back to focus on Japanese :)


I think I've seen that one as well :lol:

I like that they show native speakers who are confused about the language or the topic, even if it's "pretend" confusion sometimes. There isn't a lot of material like that that I'm aware of.
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Sumisu
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Re: Sumisu's Japanese Log

Postby Sumisu » Wed Jan 27, 2021 4:45 am

Anki only works if you also do lots of reading and listening. This is the crux of my problem lately. I've been spending less time on language learning than is necessary for me to continue making progress. I haven't really missed a day of doing Anki for the last several months, which I'm proud of. However, I've now realized that doing Anki alone has not only de-motivated me, but has resulted in diminishing progress toward reaching my goals. The power of Anki is when it is combined with lots of reading, so you get to see all the words you've been learning out in the wild, in different contexts with different nuances. And then they really start to stick and it is an amazing feeling when you start to understand words in a deep way that is (mostly) unconnected to English.

I know all of this and yet, I'm just not doing enough. In addition to work and family obligations, I also get distracted by other hobbies and interests. Learning a language takes SO much time, and I didn't realize when I started out 2.5 years ago that the workload actually needs to increase in order to get to higher and higher levels. It's a strange thing because when I do Anki plus lots of reading and listening I feel that I am making so much more progress than I did when I was a beginner. I can learn more words in a shorter period of time, and have more frequent "aha" moments than as a beginner. However, I am realizing that, as an early intermediate learner, I can't "coast" my way into being at a high intermediate level. It now seems to me that going from B1 to B2 in Japanese is a task unto itself that will take me at least as long as it took me to go from A0-B1.

When I started on this journey I mistakenly thought that by now I would be at a comfortable level in Japanese and that I would then be able to move onto I don't know, Italian, Slovak, Chinese, Greek, all the many many languages I want to learn. Little did I know! So I'm going to try to reframe what I'm doing by saying that, from here, I am in fact starting a new language learning journey. It's not the same old thing I've been doing, it's the novel task of getting from B1 to B2 in Japanese. I've never done this with any other language. This is new. This is exciting. I can do this.
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Re: Sumisu's Japanese Log

Postby rdearman » Wed Jan 27, 2021 10:11 am

It is easy for anki to become a torture machine.
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Sumisu
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Re: Sumisu's Japanese Log

Postby Sumisu » Fri Jan 29, 2021 3:02 am

rdearman wrote:It is easy for anki to become a torture machine.


So true. I didn't really start using Anki until about 6 months ago. I thought I could just read and listen my way to fluency, following the advice of Steve Kaufman, who I nonetheless am still a big fan of. But I wasn't getting the results I wanted. I noticed a huge improvement in my vocabulary when I started using Anki. And so then the plan became to do BOTH Anki and extensive listening and reading. When I can pull that off, I make progress at light speed. But unfortunately life got in the way at some point and I just had less time. And then I forgot how to have fun in the language and just became a robot clicking on the gray Anki buttons over and over.

Tonight I had some fun by watching some cooking videos. I didn't understand everything, but I understood enough for it to be fun. And that should be ok. And I should do that more and stop worrying about "mastering" the language and stop worrying about the fact that I didn't understand a sentence of two.
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Re: Sumisu's Japanese Log

Postby rdearman » Fri Jan 29, 2021 9:01 am

One thing I was told a long time ago which helped me a lot, was to concentrate on the words you know, not the ones you don't. This is difficult to do, but it definitely helps with comprehension.
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Re: Sumisu's Japanese Log

Postby golyplot » Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:14 am

I've been struggling with motivation a lot too. But I definitely recommend listening to Japanese podcasts. I listen to Japanese podcasts (mainly Noriko) in the background every day while eating, cooking, brushing my teeth, etc. I'm usually not even paying attention, but I figure it can't hurt, and it's a nice way to keep me going with at least a nonzero amount of progress, no matter how little.
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Sumisu
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Re: Sumisu's Japanese Log

Postby Sumisu » Mon Feb 01, 2021 2:19 am

golyplot wrote:I've been struggling with motivation a lot too. But I definitely recommend listening to Japanese podcasts. I listen to Japanese podcasts (mainly Noriko) in the background every day while eating, cooking, brushing my teeth, etc. I'm usually not even paying attention, but I figure it can't hurt, and it's a nice way to keep me going with at least a nonzero amount of progress, no matter how little.


This is good advice. I discovered Noriko recently and binged several episodes a few weeks ago but have gotten behind since then. It's a really great podcast.

Today I had an italki session with my tutor, which I do every two weeks or so. That's not a lot of speaking practice but I'm not really trying to level up my speaking too much at the moment. Reading is my main focus. However, having that italki session on the calendar really motivates me to keep going, as I don't want to come into the lesson completely unprepared.

It's funny how the brain works. Part of our lesson involves me reading texts that I've never seen before and today, while I was able to read many more complex kanji, I accidentally read 万 ("man"=10,000) as 五 ("go"=5). I've known both of these characters literally since day one, as has any Japanese learner. But that's what I love about italki or any other interaction with a native speaker. Sometimes you produce a crazy obscure word out of nowhere and surprise yourself, and other times your mind goes blank trying to think of the very simplest thing. It's a great way to get a handle on what level you're at.
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