ChristopherFritz's Study Log

So I also read through the article and then followed a link to a post about the minimum information principle, which made a lot of sense when you put it all together- the sentence itself shouldn’t take away from the vocabulary, so keep it as simple (and short) as possible.

I agree with this idea in theory, but I would argue for mostly low hanging with some mid-level and higher hanging “fruit” added into the mix because why do you need to keep reinforcing what you already know. We like to be comfortable and while one would hope that a language learner wouldn’t stop learning, I think that it can happen if we forget to +1 because no one likes the feeling of not understanding their target language.

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Aside from keeping it short, there’s also the +1 rule. You should already know everything in the sentence except for one thing you’re learning from the card. That should make the card easier to read and understand quickly (in theory).

One issue I’ve had with sentence-on-the-front cards in the past was having multiple things I didn’t know in the sentence meant I was taking too long per card.

I planned to take my leech training anime screenshots I posted from last month to try using for cards, but I found many of them would be like a +3 or a +7. I’m unsure whether I’ll incorporate any leeches into Anki (at least not up front), but I do know I won’t be doing so right away with those sentences I’ve already looked up.

Any cards going in would be ones I don’t know (yet!), and if they’re easy enough to learn, then they should quickly show up with less frequency. This would free up review space for adding more low hanging fruit words.

If I don’t have enough low hanging fruit, then I’ll definitely go mid level words (but still +1 sentences!) I should be able to learn words this way as well. If I don’t, then it simply becomes a leech, Anki suspends it, and I don’t waste much more time on it. I can try again if I have a need to learn the word later.

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I had wondered if you were going to pull from the work that you’ve already done, but I’m guessing that those screenshots weren’t, and won’t be, particularly useful since there were too many unknowns…

I think my follow up question is, would you consider breaking those cards down even more? You’ve already done the work and hopefully the visual aid would still reinforce the vocab.

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I think breaking them down would be more work than it’d be worth.

I do need to figure something out for my leeches, but for now it’s just reviewing of about 85 leeches day after day after day in WK for me.

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I’ve created my first +1 sentence card.

Rather than picking a word from manga I’m reading, I’m trying a different tactic.

I’m adding sentences for upcoming kanji in WaniKani.

I have 19 vocabulary lessons left for level 25. I’ll be at level 26 in the next day or two. And there will be 5 radicals before any kanji come up. If I’m doing one or two lessons per day, that gives me more than a week’s head start on kanji via sentence decks.

Sentences will come from anime I’ve seen (via subtitle lookup). This lets me include a screenshot from the scene and audio of the line.

Limitations to this method:

  1. Not all kanji will show up in subtitles.
  2. I will only do sentence cards for vocabulary not taught by WaniKani. This reduces the number of available sentences.
  3. There may not be any +1 sentences available.

Intended goals for this method:

  1. Pre-learn the kanji by visual appearance.
    • My hope is that by knowing all the other kanji in the sentence, the +1 kanji will stand out.
  2. Pre-learn the reading of the kanji.
    • I expect this to be the on-reading a majority of the time.
  3. Learn a word in the process.

My first card is for the word 予防接種. I’m not familiar with 予防, but I know both kanji and can accurately guess the word’s meaning from them. I often confuse 種 and 類, which may hurt this sentence card for me, but I’ll try and see how it goes. Worst case scenario, I can temporarily suspend the card.

Here’s my first card:

Only about 32 more kanji to seek sentences for to try and cover level 26.

Edit: After nearly five and a half hours, I’ve created cards for 16 cards of the 33 kanji. (The other 17 I couldn’t find a +1 sentence for a word not covered by WaniKani.) I don’t know if I can get a return on investment of 20 minutes per card, but I guess I’ll see…

I streamlined the process very quickly, and don’t have much room left for cutting down the time to make a card. I suppose one can say I averaged 10 minutes per card counting the kanji I spent time seeking a +1 sentence and couldn’t find one for, but there’s no return on investment for those ones.

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Daily Tasks and Consistency

My reading fell behind quite a bit the past couple of months.

The problem is I would read more on one day, and be left with nothing required to read the next day.

It’s easier to do something consistently daily than it is to do consistently every few days.

I’ve been really bad at doing WaniKani lessons, but since forcing myself to do at least one per day, I’m up to 84 days in a row that I’ve done lessons. My prior most days in a row doing lessons was something like five or 11 days.

My review consistency looks even better. I’ve done WaniKani reviews for 726 days in a row. Over at iKnow, I’ve missed three days in the past couple of years, so I’m currently sitting at having done reviews for 300 days in a row (with my prior best being 583 days).

As I’ve been reading extra to play catch-up, and to try to finish most of the volumes I’m currently reading by the month’s end, I’m asking myself, “Why not aim for reading manga every day in 2021?”

I don’t know how it’ll turn out. Will I make it several months, then miss a day due to circumstances beyond my control? Or will I start slacking one month in? I won’t know until I try, and I for certain won’t accomplish it unless I try.

Manga Reading Plans for 2021

I’ve decided to aim for one chapter per day. Depending on the manga, this can range anywhere from about 18 pages to over 45 pages. I’m sure I’ll make adjustments to my schedule along the way to account for this, but I’m not worrying over it just yet.

Following is my currently planned 2021 manga reading schedule.

Mondays

・アオハライド

If I read one chapter every Monday, that fits each of the last four volumes nicely into the book club’s pace of one volume per month, except that I’ll be starting the final volume a couple of days early.

・三ツ星カラーズ

There should be one volume coming out in 2021. If it releases by mid April, it’ll become my Monday manga. However, this series is often a mix between short chapters and very short chapters, so I may instead add it to a day that already has another series with short chapters.

Tuesdays

・アリア

アリア

This will be my every Tuesday in 2021. By the end of the year, I’ll be starting the final volume.

Wednesdays

・ポケットモンスター SPECIAL

I planned to read this one in English, but I haven’t continued it yet. May as well go with Japanese!

The main issue with the Japanese digital release is the first 13 volumes scans are smaller image size.

Chapters are fairly short, so reading one chapter per week would only get me through five volumes. I may double up and read two chapters in a day, or pair this series with another short-chapter series to read in the same day. Reading two chapters a week would almost barely get me through the small-print volumes by the end of the year!

Thursdays

・俺物語!!

俺物語!!

I finished volume 7 in English back in April. Of 2019. That’s around when I starting up reading manga in Japanese, and my English manga reading mostly dropped off.

I semi-struggled with the first two volumes in Japanese later in 2019. Since then, my grammar’s improved a lot, so I plan to continue the series in Japanese (from volume 3). I should be able to finish it by November, leaving an almost two-month opening for another series on Thursdays.

Fridays

・美少女戦士セーラームーン

美少女戦士セーラームーン

I’m down to the last two volumes. Since the book club pace is already one chapter per week, I’ll be able to fit this in as my Friday reading. And since it’s the final story arc, I don’t have to worry about a 65-page chapter like a couple of prior story arcs started out with.

・ふらいんぐうぃっち(第11巻)

The rest of the year is open for Fridays. Likely I’ll try to fit volume 11 of this series into Fridays, but it’s hard to say since I don’t know when it’ll release, and I don’t know what I’ll be reading Fridays after セーラームーン.

Saturdays

・ふらいんぐうぃっち(第10巻)

ふらいんぐうぃっち

The final volume currently available. Since the book club pace is already one chapter per week, it fits nicely into my 2021 schedule.

But the rest of my Saturdays are left open after the first week in February…

Sundays

Nothing planned out yet.

Unplanned

I have planned out 194 days out of a 365 day year. That leaves me with 171 days to fill.

・おじさまと猫

I may follow the book club pace on this one. Chapters are typically a few pages, so maybe I’ll read a chapter on my ポケモン day.

・それでも歩は寄せてくる

それでも歩は寄せてくる

This one came up in my Kobo recommendations a lot. Looks like it should be easy enough to read, and the premise seems interesting enough. It’s 5 volumes long, but ongoing. I tend to avoid ongoing series, but may give it a go, especially if toward the end of the year.

・からかい上手の高木さん

からかい上手の高木さん

Another that Kobo keeps recommending. Seems easy enough. It’s 14 volumes and seems to be ongoing. Same thing applies about preferring to avoid ongoing series, but may try it out.

・orange

orange

Yet another that Kobo recommends a lot. People here on the forums who’ve seen the anime sound positive toward it. And it seems to be complete at 6 volumes. I don’t recall if this is the series with characters that look similar to アオハライド, but if so, I’ll want to start this after finishing that. I should be able to fit both into 2021.

I might also want to start another series by the author of アオハライド (Kobo’s recommending them more and more), so I’ll have to ensure I’m not reading two series with similar looking characters.

・現代魔女の就職事情

現代魔女の就職事情

Still one volume of ふらいんぐうぃっち left, and already I’m looking for a replacement witch manga! This series seems to be complete at 5 volumes.

・ちいさな森のオオカミちゃん

ちいさな森のオオカミちゃん

I don’t recall where I happened upon this one. It looks like it may be a fairly simple one. There’s one volume which came out a year ago, so if it’s ongoing there should be another volume in the next year. If I end up with a spot for just one volume, this could be it.

・耳をすませば

耳をすませば

I’m a fan of Studio Ghibli’s animated film, so I’m interested in reading the original material. Looks like it’s only one volume long.

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Vocabulary Plans for 2021

Learning new vocabulary has been really slow for me since I started focus on WaniKani and reading. (Considering I probably forgot half of the first 2,000 words I spent two+ years learning in iKnow, maybe it’s not that bad.)

I didn’t want to take on doing another SRS system while doing WaniKani (and also doing minimal reviews in iKnow). However, I would like to learn vocabulary at a faster rate.

My current system for learning vocabulary is to do one WaniKani lesson every day. This has some deficiencies for learning vocabulary:

  • Not every lesson is a vocabulary word.
  • Many of WaniKani’s vocabulary words don’t show up in the manga I read.

As mentioned previously, I’ve made some sentence cards for upcoming WaniKani kanji. So far, I keep failing them over and over. I have zero retention of the readings/meanings, even when reviewing the card ten seconds later (with one other card in-between). This is during my early morning reviews, which is the time of day I do my best on reviews.

I think this method of sentence card, for upcoming WaniKani kanji, may not be worthwhile for me going forward.

My performance leaves me concerned about the viability of sentence mining as a method for me to learn vocabulary. I’ve long looked forward to it for when I finish WaniKani, but now I’m uncertain. My one glimmer of hope is that sentence mining words from manga I’m actively reading will have better returns than picking sentences out of things I watched maybe as much as 15 years ago.

With this hopefully-not-false hope, my vocabulary plan for 2021 is to create one vocabulary word from my manga reading each day.

Pros:

  • Potential to learn up to 365 new words. (Low number? I know my limits. I can increase it later if viable.)
  • If I’m struggling with a word, Anki will suspend it for me as a leech, and I won’t have to see it again. (I won’t be spending 85% of my review time on six-month-old leeches.)

Cons:

  • Sentence cards take more time than word cards. (This is alleviated by also including the word by itself on the front of the card.)
  • I may falsely learn a word in context of a specific sentence/scene. (I need to be as aware of this as I can be. Hopefully having the word alone as well to look at first will reduce this.)
  • For creating a card, I need to find an unknown word in a +1 sentence.
  • Takes extra time each day, finding a sentence, creating a card, and doing reviews.

I understand why sentence mining is a gold standard method for learning vocabulary. But if it turns out to not work for me, I won’t mind dropping it early on. I do want to at least create cards for the whole month of January to give it a proper chance.

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I appreciate reading your ongoing analysis of your study methods. I too found more than 1 SRS system to be too much, but miss using Kitsun for improving my non-kanji vocab, so may try to pick it up again when I restart Genki.

Screenshot 2020-12-28 124953

Love the new userpic!

Have you been able to problem solve why the cards aren’t effective? Maybe some tweaks in order to further customize the system to your learning habits.

I wonder if this is your sticking point? If you’re also trying to rely on your memory from reading/watching to understand the context of the sentence, you’re adding another layer of difficulty. And if I understand mining, it’s also about simplicity and the quality of the sentence, so just because you find the vocabulary in the manga/anime doesn’t mean the sentence is strong enough to be worth mining. Especially if the meaning isn’t coming directly just from the sentence + the visual prompt but now you’re also relying on what may or may not be a reliable memory in terms of a scene/plot point.

All of which is to say, maybe manga/anime can’t be your only sources if the sentences genuinely aren’t working. Or, to put it another way, are you working too hard to make your source material work when it should be working for you.

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I’m waiting until I try sentences sourced from manga I’m reading to see if the outcome is the same. The main reason I haven’t tried this since starting WK is because I tried similar pre-WK and much of it didn’t stick due to kanji. (I was recognizing how words are read and what they meant based on the familiarity of the sentence, not the word’s kanji.)

I know many vocabulary where when I see them, I remember the manga/anime I first learned it from, even if it was something I watched over 10 years ago. In my daily reading, I’m constantly thinking things like, “Oh, I learned this word reading GochiUsa two years ago” and “Hey, I learned this one watching Ojamajo Doremi about 12 years ago.”

The difference here is these are words I picked up during watching/reading something. My recent Anki cards are words that took place in something I’ve watched, but I didn’t learn them from watching.

I think my experience can be summed up as:

  • I’ve repeatedly found sentences from any other source to be 100% ineffective.
  • I’ve recently (as per my posting above) found sentences from anime I’ve watch to be 100% ineffective if I didn’t originally notice/learn the word while watching the anime.
  • I haven’t yet tried +1 sentences from manga I’m actively reading.

I especially want to target those words that I see in manga and think “this word feels familiar”, and words I know I keep seeing it over and over, across multiple series.

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I ended up checking Adams’ book out of the library and I have been testing out some systems that I want to follow for the next few months.

I also checked out Short Stories in Japanese, and while it is super advanced for where I am right now, I am also coming across A LOT of kanji/vocab that I know. Where I see a weakness is non- kanji vocabulary even more so than grammar (surprisingly, except for when the grammar is a part of the word, in which case :sob:). Anyway, while recognizing stuff in like a +10 book is motivating I still need to level way down for now but I think novels/short stories are where I am headed. Probably through Kindle.

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WaniKani Supplemental Vocabulary Cards

I mentioned previously my latest experiment, creating Anki cards for vocabulary not taught by Wanikani, but using kanji that I will be leaning from WaniKani soon.

Experiment 1

Objective: Familiarize myself with a kanji and its reading in advance of actually learning it from WaniKani.

Purpose: Attempt to avoid new kanji becoming leeches by associating them with vocabulary immediately. Essentially, I’m not learning the kanji on its own, but rather learning it within a word.

Result: Each time a card came up for review, I wouldn’t remember the kanji or its reading. Even if I just reviewed the card, had a different card come up, then the first one came back, I wouldn’t recognize the kanji, or remember its reading. I found three seconds was all it took for me to no longer be able to recall the reading after reviewing the card. This was consistent for every single one of the eight sentence cards I had amassed reviewing. This also meant by the end of the experiment, I was reviewing the same eight cards every single day.

Afterwards: I have reset all the cards to “new”, and have suspended all of them.

This experiment failed big time.

I purposely didn’t create any mnemonics because I wanted to see how things would go just adding sentence cards without investing time and effort into going the mnemonics route.

After all, I plan on trying to add one sentence card per day from manga I’m reading in 2021, so I needed to know what not to do as soon as possible.

Experiment 2

Objective: Unsuspend a sentence card for review immediately after learning the kanji in WaniKani.

Purpose: Learn the kanji within the context of a vocabulary word from day one. See whether this decreases the likelihood of the kanji becoming a leech.

It’s too soon for results, but today I learned the kanji 造 in WaniKani. Following, I unsuspended my sentence card that I’ve gotten wrong many times recently:

(Above the line is the front of the card.)

I reviewed this card about a minute after completing the lesson for 造 in WaniKani, and I remembered both the reading and the meaning instantly.

This may not sound like much, but previously I was consistently forgetting the reading in three to five seconds, and here I still knew it after a minute. (And I still remember it as I write this, with my mnemonic fresh in mind.)

Since I knew in advance what kanji was going to be on the card, I unintentionally didn’t even look at the kanji. (Oops.)

Once I have more cards in circulation, I expect I’ll recognize the meaning/reading based on context without looking at the kanji. (Not good.)

I need to force myself to look at the kanji on reviews. I’ve increased the font size of the word, to see if that helps any:

Screenshot_20210101_083951

(Ah, for a second, I thought this was pronounced like 告. I caught myself, but I need to be watchful for that. I think I just empathized with everyone learning English when they first learn “ph”. Coincidentally, for ゾウ sounds, I use “elephant” in my mnemonics.)

Manga Supplemental Vocabulary Cards

As for my Anki cards for manga, I had a bit of trouble finding a word to create a card for today. I found some kanji I wanted to learn, but they were either not in a +1 sentence, or were in a panel that lacked context, or they were in a panel with a lot of dialogue.

In the end, I settled on a word that has come up in Sailormoon a lot, but I never properly learned. It’s a bit unfortunate that I’m learning it when I’m so near the end of the manga, but I still have four story arcs of the anime to watch, not even counting Crystal where I’m still on the first arc. I’ll encounter the word a lot.

The word uses two kanji I already know, which is fine. I need to be on the lookout for words I think I know because I recognize the kanji, but I haven’t actually learned the meaning of. Unless they’re easy to guess the meaning from the kanji, such as nouns comprised of two kanji.

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Manga Reading

A week into 2021, and I’ve kept up my one chapter per day thus far.

Since the Pokemon Special chapters average about 15 pages each, I went with three chapters when its day came up yesterday. I think that’ll work out for me.

I’ve also read a chapter of it here and there on other days. I may start doing this with 「おじさまと猫」, since its chapters are typically only four pages long. Plus I don’t have any room for it in January schedule otherwise.

Reading the first chapter in volume three of 「俺物語!!」 today (42 pages) was a great pleasure. I’d like to say it was easy is because I’ve previously watched the anime in Japanese with English subtitles, and I’ve also previously read this volume in English. However…

Those two things were also true for the first two volumes, which I read when I started this study log a year and a half ago. I read those volumes by constantly switching between the pages in Japanese and English, something I didn’t have to do for this volume three chapter.

It’s been a long road for me to reach this point. Aside from the year and a half of grammar learning and tadoku reading, I’m sure I benefited from the two or three years of learning vocabulary with iKnow (even if I probably forgot most of it due to not reading yet back then). And there’s all the words I’ve learned from WaniKani these past two years.

Of course, it probably helps that this chapter wasn’t too heavy on dialogue, and the scenario allowed for certain words to come up again and again. I’ll see how I do on the volume’s next three chapters later in the month.

Anki and Sentence Cards

Using Refold.la’s recommended Anki settings has my cards coming up for review less frequently than I would expect. For this reason, I feel like these are the wrong settings to be using. And yet, thanks to these being +1 cards, I think I’ve maybe failed only one so far. (Or maybe I got that one right after thinking for a little?) So it seems to be working fine. I shall keep with the settings for a while and see how they do, as it’s much too soon to be critical of them.

I initially used TTS for the manga-based sentence cards, but I didn’t like the sound of them, so I dropped that idea. (Maybe if I were rich and bought a VOICEROID program, I could spend 10 minutes a day getting each new card to sound just right.)

I don’t expect I’ll make any sentence cards for ARIA, as it’d be a hassle to get a “screenshot” of the panel added in. (No digital release.) The plan was to double up on cards when reading Pokemon the following day, but in three chapters there were no +1 sentences. So today I’m getting three +1 cards out of 「俺物語!!」

I think going forward, I’ll keep an eye out for two +1 sentences in everything (digital) I read. That way I can keep doing one new card per day, rather than three in one day like today. (Although, if three in one day turns out to work, I may increase how many cards I do in a day.)

Cards added today: 野宿, 横になる, and 寝顔.

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Hey @ChristopherFritz,

this is a bit out of the blue, but I wanted to ask for your advice. We haven’t ever really had any contact here on the forums, but the few times I stumbled upon your messages gave me a rather distinct picture of you as someone who struggled with beginning to read Japanese for a long time and is now over the wall encouraging others to just start it. It was because of a message of yours that I initially joined the Rental Oniichan book club and I was really planning to go along with all of you. I bought the manga, yet at that time I hadn’t done any grammar so far. Being aware of it I started studying with BunPro, but dropped it after only a couple of days as I didn’t really understand anything. Trying to read proved to be an impossible challenge so I told myself I would start reading once I knew more Grammar.
Now a couple of months forward and here we are. I received some grammar books for Christmas and they actually make me understand the language. I’ve only done a couple of lessons so far, but I really like the learning process. After today’s lesson it suddenly urged me to pick up that manga to see if I could read anything. And then something interesting happened. I could not read it. But thanks to my rather advanced Kanji knowledge and the basic understanding of the grammar structure I now hold I could get the gist of it. I think I “read” the first 10 pages and while there where sometimes entire bubbles where I couldn’t make out a single thing I generally knew what was going on and the pictures help of course in figuring out what a word might mean or in confirming a hunch.
Now finally to my question: Should I continue this kind of “reading”? Motivation wouldn’t be the problem, but I don’t know if it’s actualy worth it. I know that when the input is too far above your niveau you can have as much of it as you want, but you won’t advance in comprehension. So what do you say? Should I hold out a bit more until I understand more grammar? Or is this the time to just have a dictionary at hand and use it in the most important cases and the rest of the time just try to get the sense of the page?

Sorry for that wall of text and thank you very much for taking your time to read it. I really appreciate it.

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what you are describing is super typical…reading is difficult… @ChristopherFritz is one of those that does a tremendous amount of reading…sure he will have some great advice…

consider the book clubs in the meantime they will help…post any and all silly questions. I have :wink:

The more you do the easier it gets…it’s just painful and slow in the beginning… if you read something that you find too difficult and is demotivating put it down and pick up something else…if you can push through just getting pieces and you’re still motivated keep it up…just do whatever works. Eventually reading gets easier…I still struggle but the more grammar I get the easier it gets. Once you get all the N4 grammar things improve then you will realize how badly you want to know the N3 grammar… (seems like the things I want to read are N3 haha… but it’s ok the bunpro search feature is also a huge help.

I’m sure you’ll get some good info from Chris…

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This is completely understandable, and actually quite predictable. I’m surprised I don’t see people talk about this more. I do see people talk about struggling with BunPro, and the response is to be sure to read the supplemental material provided (links to outside sources that teach the grammar). But if you don’t already have a certain foundation of basic grammar, it’s really hard to build up any grammar from bits and pieces.

This is normal.

The more you read, the more you’ll see the same patterns of grammar used. Over time, this will result in a pattern recognition response in your brain, and eventually you’ll find you understand the meaning of the dialogue without even thinking about it. It’s a long road to get there, though!

My recommendation (based on my own experience which may not work for everyone) is to pick at least one thing to read that will be “intensive reading” for you. I think Rental Oniichan would be a good pick for this, as you can make use of the book club discussion threads to ask questions. But learning to look up unknown grammar on your own is also a skill you will want to develop.

Intensive reading is a form of studying, and the intent is to learn. The first manga I did intensive study on, I was going through four panels a day. To repeat myself, this is a form of study.

Intensive reading is one way to advance your comprehension. (Did I mention it’s a form of study, rather than simply reading?) How much time and effort is required depends on just how much is the material is above your level.

If you decide to try the intensive reading route, remember that you’re not just looking up vocabulary, but you’re also looking up grammar along the way.

You don’t need to memorize the grammar when you first encounter it. You’ll see the grammar again later, and you may even have forgotten it. You may look it up again, and halfway through learning it realize you already learned it before. Pattern recognition builds up from doing this. As a short-cut to pattern recognition, you may opt to take the grammar you look up and learn, find it in BunPro, and add it to your cards to review.

I rewrote the above a few times as I went along, so hopefully I didn’t leave anything out. If you want me to expand on anything, just ask!

@shuly: Looks like you encountered the same thing I’ve been doing a lot recently, when I go to put someone’s name into a comment. I press tab expecting to to complete the name, and when it doesn’t – I don’t realize it put focus on the Reply button, I press Enter instead to complete the name, and it posts when I didn’t intend to! I wonder if the behavior of the auto-complete was changed recently.

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Adding on to my response for @zEUs_Japanese here:

I’ve mentioned here and there, that very first manga volume one reads, it’s the hardest thing ever. Then getting to volume two, that turns out to be the second-hardest thing ever. Each subsequent volume comes across as being hard, yet not quite as difficult as that prior one.

Then you start a more difficult new series, and you’re back to square one!

As @shuly says, I’ve been doing a lot of (manga) reading. In 2018, I read one volume of manga. In 2019, I read 33 volumes, and that was starting I think around March or May. Why was I able to increase it so much?

One factor was that I already knew a couple thousand vocabulary words to some degree. Even if I’d learned them via SRS, got to the equivalence of “burning” them, then forgot them, there’s be that tinge of recognition when I’d encounter them after I finally started reading.

Another factor was that learning grammar has a snowball effect on one’s reading ability. The more grammar you recognize, the most you’ll be able to read. And you’ll find that once you know a certain amount of the “basic” grammar (let’s say N5 and N4), that will account for probably over 80% of what you’ll read in simple manga.

The third factor was picking easy manga to read. For me, this included 「よつばと!」 (which I’d previously read in English, but had forgotten much of) and 「三ツ星カラーズ」. I would place 「レンタルおにいちゃん」 alongside those two, and say these are all good “intensive reading” manga (although I used the two mostly as “extensive reading”, where one reads a lot without looking up every little thing).

And the fourth factor was picking a manga I was very familiar with, 「怪盗セイント・テール」. I’d seen the anime (in Japanese with English subtitles), plus I’d read the manga in English. Since this was one of the first anime series I owned on DVD, and one of the few anime I’d seen at the time I bought it, the material remained strong in my memory. This means I could do “extensive reading” without worrying about looking up every unknown word and unknown grammar, because I knew what was going on already. Aside from some look-ups I did do, it was almost purely building up pattern recognition of words and grammar that I’d already learned.

I concur.

In 2020, I read through the first volumes of 「GALS!」 and 「ハヤテのごとく!」 These were way to wordy and difficult for me. I’ll continue to read other (simpler) manga in Japanese for now. I’ve read 「GALS!」 in English before, so dropping it was easy. I’d still like to read 「ハヤテのごとく!」, but since it has an English language digital release, I may pick it up that way eventually. (Not that I read much in the way of manga in English these days, outside of Detective Conan.)

The important thing is that if something is too difficult, you see something easier. But this is difficult when you’re a first-time reader, so at some point you just have to force yourself to pick something and stick with it. It’s sort of a “beggars can’t be choosers” situation. Any manga you pick up will be difficult, so you just need stick with an easy one until you build up your grammar.

Note that there are other routes aside from intensive reading a manga. There are graded readers. There’s holding off reading until you’ve learned more grammar and vocabulary. I’m speaking toward what I’ve done that’s worked for me, but it’s by no means the only method, and won’t necessarily work for everyone.

Good luck @zEUs_Japanese! Again, let me know if you have any questions or would like more details on anything I mentioned.

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A bit more than halfway into the month, and things seem to be going well.

Reading

Not much to say here, except that I’ve been able to keep on schedule for reading.

I’m considering joining the Your Name reading club, although I noticed after considering that it’s the intermediate book club. So, I decided I’ll try to at least read through the first chapter. Turns out that one’s extremely short, so my aim there will be to complete the first two chapters.

If I drop it from there, I don’t mind. I’ve seen the movie twice in Japanese and once in English. I’ve read the light novel in English. I just want to see how well I will (or will not) do.

With the first novel I tried reading, 「霧のむこうのふしぎな町」, it was all new material to me. Even after buying the English release, the difficulty level of reading in Japanese was a bit too high for something I wasn’t already familiar with.

For 「魔女の宅急便」, I’d read it in English some time ago, but there were too many unknown words for me to be comfortable reading through it. I wasn’t getting anything out of it with all the vocabulary look-ups I was having to do. I still want to go back to it and finished it, then read the rest of the series.

The advantages for 「君の名は。」 are that I’m more familiar with it (having watched and read it in recent years), it’s fairly dialogue based, and the descriptive text should be at least a bit familiar. Well, I’ll see how that goes. The club starts mid-February, and the pace of two pages per day seems like it could be reasonable for me. Well, I’ll see how it goes.

Reading Progress

If there are two or more items listed for one day, only the first item was scheduled. 「俺物語!!」 doesn’t seem to have chapter numbers that I can find, so I’ve tentatively numbered the chapter as “volume number (dot) number of chapter within volume”.

Day Date Series Volume Chapter Notes
Fri 1/1 セーラームーン 第09巻 53
Sat 1/2 ふらいんぐうぃっち 第09巻 49
Sat 1/2 ポケモン SPECIAL 第02巻 15
Sun 1/3 ひとりぼっちの○○生活 第01巻 8 Last 4 pages.
Sun 1/3 ちびまる子ちゃんのかん字じてん 第01巻 一二三
Sun 1/3 ポケモン SPECIAL 第02巻 16
Mon 1/4 アオハライド 第09巻 31
Tue 1/5 アリア 第03巻 11
Tue 1/5 ポケモン SPECIAL 第02巻 17-20
Thu 1/7 俺物語!! 第03巻 3.1
Fri 1/8 セーラームーン 第09巻 54
Sat 1/9 ふらいんぐうぃっち 第09巻 50
Sun 1/10 ひとりぼっちの○○生活 第01巻 9
Sun 1/10 ポケモン SPECIAL 第02巻 21
Mon 1/11 アオハライド 第09巻 32
Mon 1/11 ポケモン SPECIAL 第02巻 22-23
Tue 1/12 アリア 第03巻 12
Tue 1/12 ポケモン SPECIAL 第02巻 24
Wed 1/13 ポケモン SPECIAL 第02巻 25-26
Thu 1/14 俺物語!! 第03巻 3.2
Fri 1/15 セーラームーン 第09巻 55
Sat 1/16 ふらいんぐうぃっち 第09巻 51
Sun 1/17 ひとりぼっちの○○生活 第01巻 10

Vocabulary

I’m trying to add an average of one new sentence card per day to my Anki deck. I’ve been adding +1 sentences where I already know the kanji of the +1 word (thanks to WaniKani). So far, I’ve managed to create 15 cards across 17 days. From the cards I made for WaniKani kanji that I’ll be learning on my current level, I have 5 unsuspended, as I’ve done their lessons in WaniKani.

The images below represent the words I’ve added, with manga screenshots from what I’m reading, and anime screenshots for kanji I’m learning in Wanikani:

In all, that’s 20 words I wouldn’t know or be learning right now if I wasn’t making sentence cards for them.

I don’t know how common these words are, so I don’t know when I’ll encounter some of these again. I may “burn” them in my Anki reviews, then forget them, long before I encounter them in reading again.
Regardless, I’ll learn more words that I will encounter again in the upcoming months than if I wasn’t doing any sentence cards at all.

Initially, I tried out using text-to-speech (TTS) for the sample sentences on each card, but I didn’t care for how it sounded. I’m considering revisiting the idea, but only do to a TTS for the vocabulary word itself (not the whole sentence). Even though I haven’t been having much difficulty with these reviews, I think it’ll be nice to have an audio reading of the word on each card.

WaniKani

I’m still keeping up mainly one lesson per day. Leech training this past month never felt like it was getting me anywhere, so I did it less and less until now where I haven’t done it in a while. I still want to see about adding notes to help out on leeches, but I haven’t tried it out yet. I do reviews away from my computer, making it more difficult to look up which different kanji I’m confusing to work out making notes for (excuses, excuses).

I’m sitting at 77 Apprentice, 64 of which are leeches (83%). My total leech count is at 425, which is roughly where it was during my leech training months.

And thinking of TTS earlier, since I don’t do my reviews on the bus anymore since I work from home currently, I should download the WK audio in the Flaming Durtles app and make use of that as well. Now why didn’t I think of that seven months ago when I started working from home?

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ChristpherFritz, I can’t thank you enough. I think the thing I unknowingly wanted to know was if I should start intensive or extensive reading on your advice on it has been great. I guess from now on I’ll divide my days into textbook learning and deciphering mangas. Once I’ve got a basis going, I can concentrate even more on reading. This gives me hope. Maybe I’ll be able to start extensive reading with very easy material in this year already.
Again - thanks for your advice and your time.

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Intensive reading will definitely get you the base you need to start extensive reading.

You can get that base in other ways, such as lots of textbook grammar learning. That works for some people, but didn’t for me, because I needed exposure to grammar that I cared about. Textbook sample sentences just don’t resonate with me.

Once you have that base of grammar, you’ll still be looking up words often (depending on how much vocabulary you know). But by WK level 30, and with basic grammar down, you should find the number of word lookups to be very tolerable for simpler manga.

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