ロウェナの学習ログ・(Rowena's Study Log)

Updated: 2020.10.19

Japanese learning background

  • 1985-7 - Our family hosted a pair of Japanese high school girls for a fortnight during each of my last 3 summers at home - this got me interested in Japanese culture and language.

  • 1995-7 - Studied Japanese at uni for the last two years of my degree in Applied Linguistics.

  • 1998 - moved to Japan and worked for an English language academy in the Fujigoko area for 3 1/2 years. The expectation that I speak English all the time at work, along with the fact that local Japanese classes were at the same time as my work hours stunted my learning :disappointed: Passed the JPLT N4 in 2001, back when there were only 4 levels.

  • 2002 - Started working at a local Buddhist high school, where I was required to speak Japanese at all times except in the classroom :smiley:

  • 2003 - Left Japan and slowly began to forget a lot of what I’d learned :disappointed:

  • 2017 - Discovered Wanikani :smiley:! Had a bumpy, stop-start thing going for the first 20 months (I had anxiety issues), including a reset from lvl 17 to 2 (don’t reset!) , but now seem to be settled into a sustainable pace finally.

Current Tools

:crabigator: Wanikani
[Public Service Announcement: “New Wanikiani users - please, please read the WK guide”]

I am enhancing my WK user experience greatly by using the following 3rd party sites/scripts:

WK Stats Page:

  • an excellent configurable website by rfindley that lets you see your accuracy, progress, and all the study items at their various SRS stages. Access it here.

Userscripts:
This is what my dashboard currently looks like:

…and these are the scripts I am using:

To supplement/augment lessons and reviews:

To help me visualise my progress and workload:

This script also celebrates other milestones regarding numbers of burned or enlightened items.

To deal with leeches:


This isn’t actually a script, but a great little webpage to give extra practice on new items and older items that haven’t yet stuck i.e. leeches.

I am also sometimes using the BishBashBosh+ script which adds a couple of useful extra features to the original page, but can be a bit buggy.

:desktop_computer: Other online resources

:books: Textbooks
Yeah, I’m old, I still do most of my studies with those rectangular, layered, dead-tree things…
On a more serious note, studies show that the physicality of putting pen to paper is a better aide to memory than typing.

Basic Kanji Book II
A writing practice book for learning strokes, readings and usage.

Shin Nihongo no Kiso II
This text is unlike many language texts in that it is aimed at overseas workers in Japan, so deals with business situations and is focused on polite adult Japanese grammar.

image

:open_book: Additional book resources

Etymological Dictionary
I use Henshall’s A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters which is both an etymological dictionary and a mnemonics guide, though I use it largely for the former.

I find I often better remember the meaning of a radical or kanji when I can understand how it came to be.

Grammar Dictionary
I use A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar and sometimes Intermediate which the Tofugu team highly recommends - detailed review, including photos, here.

:closed_book: Graded Readers
I joined the Graded Readers and Parallel Texts “Book Club” and have been making my way through level 1 books when I’m not reading with the わんにゃん探偵団 Bookclub.

All available Graded Readers
2019-09-08%20200556%20tadoku
There are 5 different publishers of the graded readers, which can make things a little confusing, but the Tadoku Supporters website has a page of cover images for all books with audio, in order of level here - all have links to sample pages.

There is also a list of free Tadoku books here with links

:green_book:Native Reading Material

わんにゃん探偵団 Bookclub

Currently reading:
N/A - next book to start in 2021/01

Previous books
image image

:notebook: OneNote
I use OneNote to keep most of my electronic resources (PDFs, MP3s, links, e-notes) in one place; the most used pages are my weekly and quarterly study plans.

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I levelled up in Wanikani to lvl 13 and read the last of the currently available lvl 0 graded readers yesterday evening.

Here’s my study plan for next week, starting tomorrow morning:

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I just love your description! And I have to agree, I love having physical, tangible books with pen and ink over most any digital media! (only exception being WaniKani <3 )

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1 like doesn’t seem enough - have another :heart:

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Oh wow, this is very detailed. Looks like you are on a good path!

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Great to see another log!
Welcome to the club. :hugs::hugs:
You will find that the log will serve others for sure and then yourself too. I have looked back my first entries whenever I got that routine stagnation feeling to remind myself about the progress I had made so far; it also has bring back to attention material that was too much for me to chew at the moment, but then was able to go with it later on.

Your notes seems so tidy and neat…. Mine’s are tending to be more and more like rumbles and mumbles made into notes . :sweat_smile:

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It is an effort to override the rumbles and mumbles in my mind :laughing:

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What I like best about these different study logs is seeing the different methods and resource used to study different things. =D

Depending on your schedule/availability to spend time on it, these could be the perfect opportunity to push yourself into getting your Japanese where it needs to be. This won’t work for everyone, but looking up everything you don’t understand can result in learning a lot. (Although it also risks leading to a quick burnout, so it depends on the reader’s learning style.)

Regarding Yotsuba, if you only tried volume one, I can definitely relate. I failed to make any progress with volume one back when I first tried reading it. After upping my grammar and vocabulary a bit, I came back to it, and…still found volume one to be above my level. But volume two, I found much easier than volume one. Volumes three and four as well. Some chapters are very difficult (those oriented around the adults having a conversation), and others are extremely easy.

If you liked the premise/characters to Yotsuba, definitely don’t hesitate to give it another chance when you feel you’ve made progress through other methods. But if the story didn’t interest you, there’s no harm in shelving it indefinitely and finding other material.

As for the absolute beginner book club, it can be hit or miss on the material that comes up. The subject matter of the current book, 「結婚しても恋してる」 feels higher level than prior comics in the club to me, but I actually find it easier than the puns in 「しろくまカフェ」 and baby talk in 「チーズスイートホーム」 were. Be sure not to be discouraged!

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It was actually Vol. 2 that I had a go at - some chapters were ok (the one where they go to buy cake - familiar vocab for me, mostly), but others were really tough.

As a whole, the series does appeal to me, and I have bought several volumes, but thought I would get through at least all of the lvl 1 graded readers before having a second go.

I have seen how much reading you’ve done, and look forward to checking back for reviews and recommendations when I’m ready.

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That definitely sounds like a good plan. We’re on a marathon, not a sprint, after all =D

I feel the three things that got me where I am on reading are:

  1. Increasing my vocabulary. (Reaching 1,500 common words meant no longer looking up every. single. word. I read.)

  2. Solidifying N5 grammar. (I’m still working on N4.)

  3. Forcing myself to read. (Results in improved reading speed and more exposure to encounter vocabulary, kanji, and grammar I know.)

I’m still very much in beginner territory on reading. (I’ll “power through” anything I’ve previously read in English, with minimal lookups.) I’m always glancing at the latest free previews of random manga to see how readable random things are (more miss than hit right now).

Back to the marathon.

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I decided to join the second にゃんにゃん book club last week, so have added that to my lesson plans. We don’t officially start reading for another 5 weeks, but I’ve had such trouble in the past keeping up with the added workload that I am starting now, in earnest.

I am switching from Shin Nihongo no Kiso to Genki for a week - here’s hoping my Genki-vocab-studying with Kitsun smooths the way!

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While the book club ‘homework’ is going so much better than with either of my previous attempts, I have had to admit over the weekend that the total workload is not sustainable, so have reluctantly dropped the graded readers until にゃんにゃん is finished. I especially didn’t want to lose the challenge of listening to the audio on first run without reading to see how much I could pick up, but it is just for a few months and this is an endeavour of years…

I did manage to finish the first volume of lvl 1 in the Ask series at the end of last week :tada:, so I can check that off in the GR group before ghosting them for a while.

This week’s revised schedule:

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I’d say setting aside graded readers to prep for a book isn’t the worst thing you can do :wink:

What are you doing for prep? Are you reading over a page without worrying about meaning, and looking for words you don’t know to learn? (That’s what I’m getting from your lesson plan screenshot.) Are you making a deck in Kitsun to review them, or just letting your encounter-and-lookup suffice?

My first book will be with the BBC in December, so I figure I’ll start my own prep by the end of October. Since I’ll be going the e-book route, I expect I’ll extract the text and run it through a parser to get the words, then do a word count to see which words show up the most and see what I don’t know from that.

By the way, for your lesson plan screenshots, if you save them as PNG from the start (don’t save them as JPG at all along the way), you should get much smaller file sizes that will load much more quickly for people viewing them. This is because the screenshots use few colors, which PNG is better at compressing than JPG.

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First, thank you for the tip about how to save my screenshots - I didn’t know until I explored just now that it was even possible to change it from saving as JPEG to anything else. I believe I have now set the default to PNG (which always makes me initially think ‘Papua New Guinea’ each time I see it…)

Second, my prep is: to scan the book pages for the week, picking up context clues from the pictures, then read over to see how much I understand and if I can guess some of the bits I don’t know; then type up the unknown words/phrases and look them up, largely in jisho. A finished ‘page’ looks like this:

(I made this a PNG file, but the orginal scan was JPEG, sorry - will look to see what I can do about that today)

Since I’m doing all this work myself, and not relying on a vocab sheet made partially or wholly by others, I find the new items are sticking better, and some of the vocab is coming up again in subsequent pages, so flashcards and the like are not a consideration right now.

EDIT: Would it be a different matter for scanning/saving some of the full-colour pictures in the book? Should I still save those as JPEG?

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My scanner lets me save as either a PDF or JPEG - if I use the PDF option, I don’t seem to be able to crop the item afterwards, so it looks like it’s going to have to be JPEG all the way for my book club contributions :slightly_frowning_face:. Here’s hoping they are useful enough to some of the members that they don’t mind the extra time it takes to load them.

JPEG is better for full color photographs and scans.

For a scan of a black and white page from a book, JPG may be better, unless the PNG image has colors reduced to a low count (say, 16K). But that involves extra work, so no need to worry about it.

What it comes down to is, if there are large areas of the exact same color (like the background color on a web page), then PNG it is. If there are large areas of different color, go with JPG. If you were to open a scan of a black and white page in an image editor and zoom in, you’ll find hundreds of different shades of white (not all the exact same color), so a scan works better as JPG (generally).

Scanner = JPG = fine.

Screenshot of OneNote (assuming no color images included, or only small thumbnails) = PNG is the way to go

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At the risk of making your study log look like a scene from a book club thread, I did want to comment on this line:

Are you familiar with the common sentence ending ね? It has the nuance of seeking agreement, like “don’t you think?” in English. The speaker seeks agreement on a point they feel they will receive agreement upon.

The sentence ending さ, on the other hand, has the nuance that it conveys assertion, similar to “you know” in English. The speaker may feel the listener very well knows it, but needs to be told so.

I read this line as “Well, I’m involved in a weird case and am busy, you know.” Or, in more natural English, “Well, I’m busy with this weird case I got involved in, you know.”

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I will edit that before posting to the book club, thank you :smiley:

I just had the vocab item もちろん which I learned from にゃんにゃん show up in my textbook studies just now, and I am noticing this more and more as I consistantly read, study texts, and do WK (no need for me to look up 宝石 at my WK level, which crops up in にゃんにゃん a lot)!

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After reading of Pimsleur in a few threads here I decided to ask at my local library, and they were able to dig up the first 8 lessons on CD for me, so I’ll be fitting that into my study plans over the next 3 weeks.

Here’s hoping I can somehow download it onto my (ancient, hand-me-down) phone so that I can use it while doing other stuff instead of being parked in front of the computer.

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You can use free software like Audacity to convert the audio CD tracks into MP3, I think.