Made it to level 7!
Took me about fifteen and a half days to get here, but I made it!
I came across a few discussions on the forums concerning 里心 and its relative rarity in everyday use. I got curious, so I looked up the word to see what it meant, and then it showed up in my lessons the very next day! I understand why some people would rather spend their time learning more practical words, but words like this make my heart sing. I love how I can look at it and feel an instant connection to its meaning. I feel like I’ve felt 里心 far more times in my life than I’ve felt “homesick.” This is what we miss out on in English by not having a writing system based in logograms!
Another favorite of mine is 毛虫, which made me laugh out loud in delight when I learned it (when I type it into a Japanese keyboard, it always brings up this emoji as the number two suggestion, and it always makes me smile ). I’m here first and foremost to learn Japanese for practical usage, but I don’t mind occasionally getting caught up in the beauty of it, too.
Changes in my daily routine:
I finished up the level 5 vocabulary at my typical rate of ten lessons a day, but when I started on the level 6 kanji, I tried using the self-study script after every lesson, and I found that my ability to retain the lessons went up by a lot! So, I now make a habit to drill the new kanji a couple times with that script immediately after my lesson.
I also realized that my number of daily reviews was dropping, and I had time/energy to do a little more, so I went up to 15 new lessons a day if I’m just learning vocab. We’ll see if I can continue this pace in the future, but for now, it doesn’t seem too bad! I’m not going to go above 10 lessons a day for kanji, though. I started also doing a self-study script quiz after every vocab lesson, and I can’t believe how much it helps!
Fun encounters with Japanese outside of WaniKani:
I saw a post criticizing WaniKani’s choice to introduce 里 at level 5, saying that it’s relatively uncommon, but I was actually really excited to learn this one, because it’s in the name of two wrestlers that I really like! It’s in Riho’s name (里歩) as well as Syuri’s (朱里). Which just goes to show that “common” and “uncommon” are entirely subjective and depend on what you happen to be exposed to in your daily life. I actually learned the reading that WK teaches with the kanji because machine translation occasionally mistranslates the first kanji in 里歩 as “sato.” After level 6, I can now read all the kanji in Riho’s name!
I was very amused when I learned the word 金玉, because suddenly a joke from a NJPW storyline last year made a lot more sense, haha! In the summer of 2020, Dangerous Tekkers (the tag team of Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr.) feuded with Golden Ace (the tag team of Kota Ibushi and Hiroshi Tanahashi), and Taichi liked to call them “Golden Balls” instead (he says “Golden Balls” in English, not “金玉”). The joke still comes across in English, but it’s way funnier knowing that it’s specifically a play on 金玉.
An episode of Japanese Ammo with Misa offhandedly mentioned that the command form ろ is very rude to use, and I realized I’ve heard wrestlers use it loads of times, and laughed. I don’t know how much practice my textbook is going to give me in being rude, but it’s certainly a lot of the speech I hear and see in the Japanese I’m exposed to on a daily basis! I’ve also noticed things like wrestling commentators using the ます form. My vocabulary is still too low for me to understand many words when listening to unsubtitled spoken Japanese, so I’ve been trying to pay attention to how polite the speech is instead. I was proud of myself for noticing when one wrestler briefly used the ます form sarcastically in order to provoke another wrestler.
I did learn a new word from watching NJPW recently, though! It’s 世界, which is a level 9 WaniKani word that means “the world.” NJPW recently unified their top two championship titles into one belt (this was not an uncontroversial decision), which is now named the IWGP世界ヘビー級王座 (IWGP World Heavyweight Championship). I recognized 世, then learned the reading of 界 just by hearing the word mentioned many times during shows. Before I looked it up, I wasn’t sure of the distinction between 世 and 世界 in meaning, but I suppose it makes sense that the IWGP title holder is the champion of THE world and not just any world!
I learned the level 6 word 全て in WaniKani, and I realized that I already knew this word thanks to the NJPW wrestler Evil! “Everything is evil” is a frequent phrase in his promos.
Reading in Spanish:
I’m 130 pages into El Alquimista now (out of 190 total)! I’m very proud of myself for making it this far, and for not losing a single day of reading.
A few months ago, I backed a comic called La Mano del Destino on kickstarter. I haven’t read it yet, but from the description of the project, the story incorporates themes from mesoamerican mythology, silver age comics storytelling, 1960s lucha libre, and Mexican culture. It is also formatted as a bilingual flipbook, with half of the book telling the story in Spanish, and the other half telling it in English. I only have the PDF copy, so I can’t physically flip it over, but it’s still very cool! I’m excited to read it because the story looks like a lot of fun, and it’ll also probably teach me a lot of wrestling terms in Spanish, which I’m very eager to learn.
I’m thinking I might try to read this book after I finish El Alquimista. It should go quicker than that text because I have the advantage of being able to glance over at the translation instead of having to look up words individually, but I’ll have to be careful not to use that as a crutch. I think maybe for this text, I’ll attempt to read through the whole story in Spanish (or perhaps just work through it one issue at a time), then go back through it afterward and reference the translation to double-check parts that I was unsure about.
I also have a young adult book in Spanish that I’ve owned for over ten years, but have never read! I bought it when I was taking classes in the language, thinking that I would try to read it, then never managed to work up the motivation to try. It should also go a lot faster than El Alquimista, I think. The text is much shorter and the sentences seem uncomplicated, though there’s a fair amount of new vocabulary for me, since it’s a fantasy novel.
I’ve tentatively committed to reading these additional books in Spanish before dedicating that time to studying Japanese instead. I feel like if I don’t do it now, I’ll never actually read them. And my confidence with reading in Spanish has increased a lot over the past month or so that I’ve been working on it every day.
I’m actually really grateful to the WaniKani community for being so enthusiastic and encouraging about reading materials in the language that you’re trying to learn, because I feel like I never would have tried that with Spanish, and it absolutely has improved my comprehension of the language by a lot!
I discovered Satori Reader, which is another tool for reading and listening practice. It has a free version and a paid version. I’m not exactly sure what the different versions entail, and am not yet at a point where I can really get much use out of either, but it’s something to potentially try in the future.
NJPW launched a new podcast titled 新日本プロレス presents プロレス聴こうぜ！Chris Charlton, who does translation work for NJPW, recommended the podcast, saying: “Great for Japanese listening students. 30 mins is digestible, @baron_yamazaki is clear & at a good pace. And there’s a quiz to test comprehension at the end.” My Japanese is nowhere near good enough to give this a try yet, but it looks to be potentially an amazing resource for practicing listening comprehension if you’re a fan of wrestling.
I installed Yomichan in my browser, which is an awesome tool that displays a popup when you mouse over Japanese text, containing definitions and information from multiple dictionaries for each word, including some information on frequencies. The “Innocent Corpus” dictionary number indicates how many times the words occurred in the set of books, so the higher the number, the more common the term is. It even gives you audio pronunciation!
You can also use Yomichan to instantly create Anki flashcards from words you find in the wild, complete with attached audio. I’ve been using this feature to manually add audio to my Minna no Nihongo vocabulary deck, which is a little tedious, but not too much work.
- Self-Study Quiz — This script lets you quiz yourself on WaniKani items outside of the review schedule without affecting your SRS times. I installed it for just one reason, which is to get a little more practice on new items immediately after doing the lessons. It’s especially helpful for kanji, because I often struggle to remember their readings upon initially learning them. It’s difficult to remember them all when I’m learning them in batches of 10! The script is also handy for learning vocabulary, because it does more to test your listening recognition and recall than WaniKani does on its own.
- WaniKani Lesson Filter — This script lets you specify the number and type of lessons you want to do. It also allows you to reorder your lessons so that you can study radicals or kanji before completing the previous level’s vocabulary. Like all reorder scripts, it’s a dangerous tool, and must be used very carefully. I only used it because I started to get worried that I would run out of lessons before I could guru the new kanji and unlock more, so I used this script to do my radicals and then the first set of kanji two days earlier than I was on pace to do them. In the future, I might use it to intersperse kanji lessons with some vocabulary lessons so that I’m not learning the kanji in huge batches (with a corresponding huge batch of new vocab lessons when I guru them).
I’m so eager to start Minna no Nihongo, I almost can’t believe it. I’ve never felt this excited to start working through a literal textbook before! Someone in the forums linked this article about studying and motivation. According to the article: “By telling yourself and making yourself not do something, it becomes more desirable, and you’ll want to do it even more.” This is absolutely where I’m at with Minna no Nihongo. I’m sure the actual process of working through the book is going to be rather dry and dull, but as a carrot being dangled in front of me, I can’t wait to try it!
Now that I’ve prepared my Anki deck for the first chapter vocabulary, I actually did decide to start Minna no Nihongo before reaching level 10, but I’m starting with learning the vocab before I actually sit down and try to read through the chapter. Thankfully, some of it I already know! As I went through the flashcards, I deleted the furigana on the kanji I have already learned. I’m going to familiarize myself with the vocab while I’m level 7 in WaniKani, then probably start with the textbook when I reach level 8. My hope is that if I get a couple weeks head start, I’ll be able to read the sentences in the chapter without needing to reference the translation text.
Onward to level 8!