BigEm's Study Log 2.0

I just completely stopped updating it over a year ago, so my previous log locked due to inactivity :sweat_smile: So here it is, BigEm’s Study Log 2.0, this time with more emojis, more chaos, and hopefully more studying! Once again, in theory this log will help hold me a bit more accountable for my studies. :crossed_fingers:

A brief introduction of me - I’m an ALT in northern Hokkaido, and I’ve been in this cold, beautiful land full of bears and foxes for over 3 years now. I’ve been at this Japanese language thing for a long time now, although I’m still not fluent - my reading and writing skills are atrocious, honestly. I like hiking, photography, animals, bright colors, and getting waaay too obsessed with video games.

All right, enough of that, let’s get to the study stuff now.

2021 Goals + Assessment

Quantifiable Goals
Take and pass the N3 JLPT
I did it! I passed! Granted, I did just squeak by in the different categories, but a certificate is a certificate!

Reach level 60 in WaniKani
Really dropped off, tried to restart a few times, got overwhelmed by review counts, and gave up again. Hopefully I can get back in a few months, taking it slow.

Read 10 different manga
Nope. Although I do have a lot of manga (curse you cheap BookOffs!) so the reading material is there.

Read (at least) a chapter of 風が強く吹いている (the novel) and understand it
Nope. I don’t know if this is ever going to happen, honestly. Maybe, I suppose.

Non-quantifiable Goals
Have in-depth conversations with coworkers in Japanese
I did have several conversations with the school secretary about politics and how foreigners living in Japan are affected by currency exchange rates (he’s really interested in economics), so I’ll count that as a win. :grin:

:zap::medal_sports: Goals for 2022 :medal_sports::zap:
I’m starting this a bit late in the year, so they’ll be a bit sparse. Also to be updated as the months progress.

My general goal-theme for this year is to improve my reading and writing skills. This will, hopefully, also give me more practice in grammar forms.

Quantifiable Goals
Read 3 different Japanese manga
Get through my review backlog and finish level 52 on WaniKani
Learn the lyrics to two Japanese songs perfectly for karaoke

Non-quantifiable Goals
Navigate a more complex conversation about paperwork at the 役場 without having to use my dictionary to look up words

:bookmark: Traditional Studying Resources :bookmark:

:crabigator: WaniKani

  • Current level: 51
  • Start date: 9 August 2019
  • Review backlog: none! :tada:

:green_book: Genki II (used as part reference, part vague study material)

:blue_book: Kumon Correspondance Course Not currently doing, but considering for next year

:leaves: Everything Else :leaves:

Anime Series (for studying, not just enjoyment)

One Piece

I’m trying to watch the episodes first in Japanese without subtitles and then with subtitles. The nice thing is the recent episodes have mainly been filler so I’m not getting hit by complex geopolitical terms like I was a while back (the one silver lining of filler?)



Still sort of reading this one - I have several volumes, so that’s a nice non-limiting factor to using this series to practice reading.

One Piece

Recently (probably because they reached a significant chapter number milestone recently) there’s been compilation volumes being sold at conbinis here. I’ve bought the first several, so it’s been fun to sort of flip through and read what I can of a story I remember well. Also, the amount of katakana words is hilarious to me for some reason.

Music that I’m still learning to impress people at karaoke

  • Ado
  • Bump of Chicken
  • 水曜日のカンパネラ
  • 米津玄師
  • frederic
  • Sakanaction
  • にしな

Let’s get to studying! がんばります!:muscle:


:tea: Getting my thoughts settled :tea:

I’ve been pretty busy these past few weeks, and it looks like September is going to be even busier, so my goal with my study plan is to make it as inobtrusive as possible for ease of doing. I’m also battling some pretty strong antipathy on my end to doing anything productive, so I want to build in some flexibility in my schedule for when I just can’t drag myself to my study area.

So, I made the study periods on this log be 2 weeks instead of 1, and we’ll see how that goes I suppose.

:spiral_calendar: Study period: August 22 through September 4 :spiral_calendar:

Get WK review count down
I have 1780 reviews in the queue at the moment, with 193 apprentice items and 634 guru items. My aim is to do about 100-200 reviews a day, keeping that apprentice item level below 200. I have some scripts running to doing the lowest-level reviews first.
Assess Kumon Correspondence Course - suitability, price, ability to skip months in case of travel
Make study plan for September and (maybe) October

:owl: Non-Japanese goals :owl:
Go on a run
Finally sort my plastic bottle trash collection :sweat_smile:


:tea: Review of last study period :tea:

This period went well! Work has been rather chaotic (early September to the end of October is always busy busy busy) but I’ve been able to work some pretty solid WK review and general Japanese study time in.
WK review count - slowly but surely getting there! It’s a slog, but I think I’ll get back to a more manageable level by the end of the month :crossed_fingers:
Kumon course - still looking at it, but might take the plunge sometime soon! It seems there is a way to put your subscription on hold for a few months, so it could work…
Study plan - at the moment, just doing WK and passively watching Japanese game shows on TV during dinner. Might add more once I have WK a bit more under control, and if I start the Kumon course.

:spiral_calendar: Study period: September 5 through September 19 :spiral_calendar:

Get WK review count down
In queue at time of writing: 1265 reviews (202 apprentice, 717 guru)
Further assess correspondence course
Write kanji well enough in calligraphy to get a hanamaru on my whole paper

:owl: Non-Japanese goals :owl:
Go on a run
Catch up on laundry


:tea: Review of last study period :tea:

A bit late on the updating as it’s Silver Week here so I didn’t work on Monday, and then I forgot to update yesterday. Oops.

WK review count - We’re under 1000, people! It’s surprising how most items are either “oh yup immediately remember” or “I have no memory of this place” with very little in between. Human memory is weird. Thank goodness for the new (to me) recent mistakes section - it’s really helping me not rage quit.
Kumon course - Meh. Might start in October. Putting it on the backburner for the moment.
Calligraphy - No full hanamarus yet, but I did get close!

My close attempt (ignore the sloppy blocking of my name kanji...)

:spiral_calendar: Study period: September 19 through October 3 :spiral_calendar:

Get WK review count down
In queue at time of writing: 830 reviews (164 apprentice, 624 guru)
Once again, work on my calligraphy

:owl: Non-Japanese goals :owl:

Go on a run
Clean outside doorway area + prep for eventual light-hanging


There’s been a few times where I’ve had a ridiculous amount of reviews build up, and it’s horrible. Just keep at it.


:tea: Review of last study period :tea:

Better late than never, right?.. These last few weeks have been busy - cultural festivals, school festivals, prep time, everything getting rescheduled due to Covid closures, all that fun stuff. But I finally remembered to update here! And I’ve been doing my reviews nearly every day, I promise!

WK review count - UNDER 100! :tada: So very close! But it’s the most disheartening stage, honestly - there’s all these enlightened-level items to be burnt that I don’t remember so they just steadily drop down to apprentice. Ugh. But at least they’re all level 49 things. So close!
calligraphy - My teacher says I’m getting better. I know that she’s somewhat lying when she says I’m good (I can see the other students’ work) but I appreciate the support. Only thing to do is practice, right?

:spiral_calendar: Study period: October 24 through November 7 :spiral_calendar:

Get WK review count down to zero for at least seven days
In queue at time of writing: 80 reviews (113 apprentice, 651 guru)
Fully read (not just skim) the monthly town newspaper

:owl: Non-Japanese goals :owl:
Go on a run
Winterize house


:tea: Review of last study period :tea:

I HAVE DONE IT! THE REVIEW PILE HAS BEEN MASTERED AND MAINTAINED FOR A WEEK! :tada::tada::tada: I’m finally at a place that I feel comfortable starting lessons and adding new items to the pile (albeit much slower than I usually do, at least at the beginning). Level 51, here I come (again)!

WK Current Stats - 77 apprentice, 530 guru; 52 in lesson queue (35 kanji, 17 vocab)

Calligraphy - Sadly, haven’t made it to class the last few weeks, between Covid close-contact stuff and just being drained from school festival prep. But I’m determined to go for the next weeks!

Newspaper - Most of the paper was about elderly living assistance which I will admit I skimmed once I determined it didn’t apply to me, but I did realize there’s a weekly recipe section and some really interesting local articles! Also pictures of new town babies!

:spiral_calendar: Study period: November 8 through November 20 :spiral_calendar:

Have done all level 50 lessons (put them into review cycle)
→ Stretch goal: Reach level 51!
Read the town newspaper again

:owl: Non-Japanese goals :owl:
Clean out side room


:tea: Review of last study period :tea:

I HAVE DONE IT! After over 250 days, I’ve not only caught back up to my review pile comfortably, but I’ve also leveled up to 51! I’m planning on taking it slower than I did before (no more one-week level ups I think) but that’s progress! The weather is teetering on the edge of true Hokkaido winter (no snow yet, but very very cold) so I’m spending more time indoors. I’m trying to figure out a good way to work in more reading practice as a result - I’ve purchased a few Japanese story books to that effect. Hopefully I can hash out a good habit!

WK Current Stats - 93 apprentice, 579 guru; 42 in lesson queue (level 51: 35 kanji, 7 vocab)

Calligraphy - New month, new kanji! I’m finding that I’m really enjoying the more old-fancy style, which is basically old cursive. Maybe it’s because I don’t do normal kanji-style slow enough (my teacher keeps mildly scolding me to not do each stroke so fast) and that works with this style, but I’m not certain. Either way, it’s fun!

Recent attempt + teacher's corrections

Newspaper - Yup, still reading, still the same small town. :blush:

:spiral_calendar: Study period: November 21 through December 4 :spiral_calendar:

Get lesson and review queues to zero 5 times
→ Stretch goal: Reach level 52

:owl: Non-Japanese goals :owl:
Test out new bread recipes
Put up window plastic


Good to see you’re still fighting on. I’ve got my own fun review pile to work on and hopefully will level up sometime before the year ends, just so busy with school and work :upside_down_face:


@AngelicRuin You can do it! I’m cheering for you! :mega: You’ve got this :+1:

:tea: Review of last study period :tea:

Woooo level 52 here I am! I’m taking a day, maybe two, to get the remaining vocab from level 51 further into the system (I don’t have many because I prioritized them over new kanji last level, which made everything much much more manageable). Speed still isn’t a priority, I’m just chugging along at a comfy speed. As to real-world usage, I had an “a-ha!” moment the other day because I heard one of my kids say, “蹴らないで!” and I thought, “Oh hey, I just studied that, that means kick!” And then it sunk in that yes, it means don’t kick me. Sigh. Never a dull moment in that class, I swear. (Everyone was fine, no one was actually kicked, they were joking around, don’t worry.)

WK Current Stats - 89 apprentice, 539 guru; 32 in lesson queue (level 52: 32 kanji)

Calligraphy - Wrapped up November kanji. I don’t know what it was this month, but I was having a rough time wrapping my head around how to form them despite all my practice. I think it was a mix of lack of sleep and my accompanying inability to focus… Only two practice sessions this month as I’m heading back home for winter break soon :tada: but I’ll do my best as usual!

:spiral_calendar: Study period: December 5 through December 18 :spiral_calendar:

Get lesson and review queues to zero 5 times
→ Stretch goal: Reach level 53
Read at least one chapter in any manga (like Haikyuu, FMA, One Piece)

:owl: Non-Japanese goals :owl:
Put up window plastic
Make more bread


Been a while, you still doing okay? I imagine real life keeps you plenty busy, and that there are a lot of opportunities to practice Japanese even without WaniKani.

Hope things aren’t too stressfull. :tada:

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