DikkeDraak's Study Log

Hi there!

I’ve been thinking about keeping a study log for sometime now, because I think it will be a nice way to keep track of my progress as I continue learning Japanese. Here’s something more about me:

Background

I started learning Japanese in March 2022. Unlike many others in this community, learning Japanese was never a lifelong dream of mine. I started learning more or less by accident after moving to Japan for my work for 6 months and being offered private lessons twice a week.

I have been through the process of acquiring a new language before. I learned English and German at school when I was younger. While I was in college, I learned to speak Russian at a C1 level within two years. It was a very intense process and I spend multiple hours a day on it, never skipping a single day. Once I reached fluency, I told myself I would never do this again.

Now I can feel the fire burning again and I feel the same passion for Japanese as I did for Russian. However, this time I won’t have as much time at my disposal, so I don’t expect (nor wish for) the same results. I know how satisfying it is to learn a new language, so this time I want to focus on enjoying it rather than doing everything as fast as I can.

Current Japanese level

During my first 6 months studying Japanese, I worked my way through the first 10 chapters of Genki I, finished the Tango N5 deck on Anki, and reached level 10 on Wanikani. I only seriously started doing Wanikani in May or June, after first trying RTK and KKLC for some time.

Below you find my current WK progress stats:

Study Method

Wanikani is the centerpiece of my study method right now and the one thing I will do daily, no matter what. Having just finished the Tango N5 deck, I will now start doing the N4 one to broaden my vocab and reinforce some of the basic grammar points. I will also focus on finishing Genki I and work my way through Genki II once that’s done.

I love to read, so I already picked up some manga and joined the Absolute Beginners Book Club. I am still trying to find a good routine were I can balance all these different aspects. For me the most important thing is to be consistent and to change my routine depending on my needs at the time.

Goals

For 2023, I have set the following goals for myself:

  • 6000 know words on jpdb.io
  • Completed all N3 grammar points on Bunpro
  • Read 30 manga volumes
  • Read 10 series on Satori Reader
Milestones
  • Finish Tango N5 Deck (8 September 2022)
  • Reach lvl 15 on Wanikani (24 October 2022)
  • Finish first manga volume (27 October 2022)

I plan to post biweekly updates on my progress on Sundays. If you’re still here, thank you for taking the time to read this and joining me on this journey :smile:

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Entry #1 Levels 11 & 12 and moving back from Japan

Finally, it’s time for my first entry :smile:

My last two weeks have mainly revolved around leaving Japan, which meant I had less time to spend on studying Japanese than I would have liked. Still, I reached level 11 (soon after starting this thread) and after 11.5 days I reached level 12.

The past two weeks I also finished all grammar points from Genki I with my Japanese teacher. She told me I’m between N5 and N4 right now and could pass N4 if I studied for it. It was encouraging to hear this from her, even though I feel like I still need a lot of repetition and immersion to really solidify the grammar.

I am still very much figuring out which study routine works best for me. I tried various tools, including Kitsun, JPDB and Satori Reader. I think they are all great tools, but in the end I think I’ll stick with good old Anki for now. As for the reading, I brought A LOT of books with me from Japan, including loads of (beginner friendly) manga and more advanced books for when I (hopefully) reach this stage. At the moment I am reading along with 耳をすませば and am about halfway through vol 1 of よつばと!

Finally, living in Japan for 6 months has made a huge impact on my life and I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who has the opportunity to do so. I am excited to see what my Japanese level will be the next time I’m in Japan!

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Entry #2: Level 13

After spending a (negative) record of 16 days and 20 hours on level 12, I finally made it to level 13 today. Last week I went on vacation for a couple days, which meant that I only had time for reviews and not for any new lessons.

I tried to divide the little time I had the last two weeks across various study methods. I was able to keep up with my reading and watched some Japanese shows, either with Japanese subtitles or without them. I can tell that my comprehension of easier shows like Terrace House is gradually increasing, which is very motivating!

My current plan is to focus on Wanikani and to finish the Tango N4 deck on Anki within the next month or two. This morning I already did all the new available radicals and kanji, and I was very happy to see a lot of familiar kanji from the N4 deck appear in this level. Hopefully using both methods will help me hammer in the new kanji and grammar patterns!

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Entry #3: Level 14
A bit later than planned, but finally my third entry is here!

The past two weeks have showed me that my current lifestyle means I have less control over my study progress than I would like. Having to find a new apartment after moving back from Japan, all the searching, applying, paperwork, moving etc. etc. meant that next to my full-time job I had very little time to study Japanese the past two weeks.

Despite this, I still managed to at least keep up with my reviews every day, and do some new lessons once every 2-3 days. This meant that I was able to reach level 14, albeit not very fast. Unfortunetally I didn’t have time to do my reading, so I will need to catch up with that. Hopefully once I have settled down in my new place I can concentrate some more on studying Japanese and other things.

Since I am also doing Anki next to Wanikani, I have decided my progress on there as well. I think it will be fun and insightful for me to see how I’m doing on there. So here are the two main decks I’m studying right now.

Anki progress


Hopefully my next update will be sooner!

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Entry #4: Level 15 and finsihed my first manga volume!
The last two weeks I have been steadily going through my reviews and new lessons, picking up my old pace again. This is something I’m satisfied with. I reached level 15 and in about two days level 16 is waiting for me.

Something that’s very exciting to me is that I finished reading my first manga volume: よつばと! Vol 1. In the beginning I had to reread the first chapters a couple of times, but now I can read while understand basically everything that’s going on, expect for new words of course. I can really tell that you can get used to the language used by an author as you read their work more often. I already started reading Vol 2 and will continue reading Yotsuba for some time.

In the meantime, I have decided to focus more on grammer. I am now through 25% of the levels of Wanikani, but I feel like my grammar is lacking. That’s why I ordered “A Basic Dictionary of Japanese Grammar” and started using Bunpro to hammer in the new grammar points.

Anki progress

In the last two weeks, I studied 116 new N4 sentences.


For the katakana deck I focused on maturing cards before learning new ones, resulting in only 51 new cards over the last two weeks.

Till next time!

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Entry #5: Levels 16 & 17 and finished Yotsuba vol.2
After a hectic time I finally had some more time to focus on Wanikani. This resulted in me levelling up twice over the past two weeks, meaning I just reached level 17.

After my previous language journey of studying Russian, I promised myself to focus less on efficiency and more on having fun when learning Japanese. I noticed that I was trying to do too much at the same time right now: WK, Anki, Bunpro, JPDB and some Satori Reader.

I wasn’t really enjoying the daily Tango N4 sentence card grind anymore, and I had finished most of it (about 350/950 cards remaining). I had also previously finished the Tango N5 deck of about 1000 sentence cards. So I decided to call it a day with the pre-made sentence cards for now, and try focusing more on JPDB for the time being.

The way I plan on using it, is by sending cards I come across during immersion to the front of the queue, and to study a deck with the 2500 most common words across all media whenever I have nothing lined up from my immersion. I am really getting the hang of Yotsuba now, so it’s fun to read a chapter a day on my commute to work. Last week, I finished the second volume :smile:

In about a month or so, I will get a new PC. This means I can start to play some games and VN’s in Japanese. I will try the card mining method with Yomichan and Anki once I have everything set up. For now I’m just sticking to WK, JPDB and reading manga/satori.

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Entry #6: Level 18, Yotsuba vol.3 and JPDB
The last two weeks have been steady for studying Japanese. I had some more time, so when through level 17 rather quickly initially. However, I decided to slow it down on the current level and to focus on some other aspects of my studies.

I decided that my grammar skills need some work. That’s why I plan to level up till level 20 and then take a little break from studying new stuff on WK till I finish als the N5 items on Bunpro. After this my plan is to go to level 30 and finish N4, lvl 40 and N3 etc. I like the idea to take the time to review everything till level 20 to really get a good hold on it and to decrease my amount of old reviews once I pick it up again.

In the meantime I was able to finish the 3rd volume of Yotsuba. I can feel my pace picking up week by week, and I think for now one volume every two weeks is a nice goal to set. I also keep studying new vocab on JPDB. My retention isn’t as high for new words, since most of them use kanji I haven’t studied on WK yet. However, it is very satisfying once I do feel like I completely got a new word, and I’m sure it will also make life easier using WK moving forward.

Till next update!

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Entry #7: Level 19, Satori Reader and first burned items
As I’m dividing my time between WK and JPDB, my pace on WK dropped a bit over the past two weeks. I actually came to find out that this slower pace really suits me better, since I take more time to absorb the items rather than just trying to rush through it. Some days I focus just on reviews and don’t learn new items at all, which is very relaxing.

I did level up though, as I reached level 19. I also burned my first few items (33 to be precise), which was a very nice feeling! My goal is to achieve level 20 before the end of the year, and then to take a break from Wanikani for some time, maybe 1 month or more. I will use this time to focus on catching up on grammar.

On another note, I have been going through Satori reader the past few days, and I can really tell that it’s benefiting my vocabulary and reading speed. I am reading “Hole in the Wall” and went through the first 20 chapters. Maybe I will be able to finish this by the end of the year, but it’s not really a hard goal or anything.

Till next update!

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Entry #8: Level 20, 2000 know vocab on JPDB and my plans for 2023

2022 is almost coming to its end, and that means I’m also closing in on my first year of studying Japanese. That means it’s time for some reflection, to make plans on how to move forward and to determine which goals I want to achieve in 2023.

This past year, since about June, I managed to complete the first 20 levels of Wanikani. However, the more time I spend immersing, the harder it became for me to justify spending about 30 minutes to an hour each day on WK. Too often I came across words that were not useful for immersion at all. Switching over to jpdb.io has been a real game changer for me. Not only am I now able to study words based on frequency (which means I see those words pop-up all the time), adding own words to my own lists based on the material I’m consuming is super easy. I find it’s much more effective to study words that you encountered “in the wild”, then to study randomly picked words that you won’t see that often. I was able to reach 2000 know words on the site this week, which I see as a great milestone!

Since I combine studying Japanse with a fulltime job, my social life, and other time demanding hobbies, I want to make the process both fun and effective. Getting things wrong for typing “bring along” instead of “take along”, even though they really mean the same, is taxing after some time and takes away part of the fun.This has lead me to decide to take a break from Wanikani for the foreseeable future and to focus on other platforms.

However, I want to stress that completing these first 20 levels of WK has been tremendously useful for me. That’s why I can definitely see myself shooting for level 30 or 40 when the time feels right. Till then, I’ll stay on vacation mode.

My main platforms for studying the next couple of months will be jpdb.io, Bunpro, Satori Reader, anime and manga. Once I have my new computer set up, I might have a crack at sentence mining using Anki, but I’m not completely sure about that yet.

For 2023, I have set the following goals for myself:

  • 6000 know words on jpdb.io
  • Completed all N3 grammar points on Bunpro
  • Read 30 manga volumes
  • Read 10 series on Satori Reader

Keeping up study log has been a lot of fun for me, so I will definitely continue to do so throughout next year. Thanks to everyone who joins me on this journey and see you next year!

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Entry #9: Yotsubato! Vol. 4 & 5, +300 new words and started Genki II

I started the new year with a week off, which meant that I had more time to spend on Japanese. I did quite a lot of reading, and managed to finish two more volumes of Yotsubato! I can really feel that my reading speed and comprehension are increasing, which of course is great. I’m already halfway through vol. 6 and hope to keep up the pace of reading one volume of manga each week.

I also spend a lot of time studying words on jpdb.io. Over the past two weeks I was able to learn just over 300 new words. I was quite happy with that number. Currently I’m at 2350 known words and my goal at the end of the year is 6000.

Since I felt like my grammar is lacking, I also picked up Genki II. Going through the exercises made me realise I can’t actually write hiragana by heart yet, which is really holding me back. Thus, I printed out several practice sheets. My short-term goal for my next blog post is to be familiar with writing all hiragana characters and to finish the first two chapters of Genki II.

Till next update!

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Entry #10: Yotsubato! Vol. 6, progress on JPDB and started my first VN

The last two weeks have been steady in terms of reading and learning new words. I finally finished my first story on Satori Reader, so I’m happy with that. The story is called “Hole in the Wall”. In the beginning I found it a bit hard to get through, but as I learned more words, my reading speed drastically increased, which made it also more fun to read. I also completed another volume of Yotsubato!

I learned around another 250 new words on JDPB, making my total non-redundant know words 2600 now.

After waiting for almost 1.5 months I also finally got my new PC set-up, which means I could finally start using many applications that didn’t run (well) on my Macbook. I started my first Visual Novel (VN) called “Natsu no Owari”. So far it’s been very challenging but fun!

Till next update!

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Entry #11: 300 new words on JPDB, immersing in many different ways

The past two weeks I´ve been steadily learning new words and trying to immerse accross different kinds of platforms. I got halfway through vol. 7 of Yotsuba, read some Satori Reader, and spend a good amount of time watching some anime and playing Ni no Kuni all in Japanese.

I also picked up about 300 new words, making my total non redundant words 2900 now. See you in two weeks!

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Entry #12: April update

It’s been a long time since I’ve last posted here, so I figured it’s time to write something about what I’ve been doing the past two months. In general, studying has been going really well, and I can really feel that I’m still improving. Overall I took one week off from studying during a ski-trip, but other than that I’ve been steadily going on with the daily routine.

My commute to work has changed, which means I spend more time in the train on a daily basis. I use this time to read manga or study words on JPDB, or sometimes listen to a Japanese podcast. I would say it made a positive impact on my overall progress. I managed to complete 5 more volumes of Yotsubato! and 3 volumes of Teasing Master Tagaki-san.

I couldn’t quite get into the VN I was trying (Natsu no Owari), so I decided to drop it. It’s all about having fun after all! I started playing two new VN’s: Clannad and Steins;gate. I already watched Steins;gate a few years ago and I really loved the story. I know Clannad is a huge story, and I doubt I will actually finish it, but it’s right on the sweet spot of my current level of Japanese, where I can enjoy it comfortably while sometimes looking up words using Yomichan.

Another big chance that I made, is that I started studying grammar with a tutor once a week. I found a tutor on Italki, and it’s been fun getting out of my learning bubble and making it come more ‘alive’ so to speak. In the end I found that Bunpro wasn’t really for me, I think that sticking to just one SRS system is really the best for me. I’m still loving JPDB, because it allows me to study the words I encountered in context and also to study new sources I’m immersing with, which gives me a major head start.

Overall the current progress to reach my end of the year goals looks like this:
Manga volumes read: 12 / 30
Known vocab on JPDB: 3718 / 6000

Till the next update!

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