Longtime Japanese Learner and Multilingual Mama begins WK for 1st time (Study Log)



Things are going well! Passing the 1000 item mark felt good. The pace is still slightly too slow for someone with so much prior kanji and vocab knowledge but I feel like I’m getting there.

Tobira textbook study

Working through Chapter 3. Still feeling it is slow but it is too hard to skip just one grammar point a day so I still think it is the right pace to be doing this review as I have yet to miss a day.

Kanji N2 Study

Working through chapter 3 of the Tobira Kanji book. I’ll be finished in a few days and move on to Chapter 4 despite not being there yet for the grammar. I remember nearly every kanji I’m encountering. Writing them is a struggle, but that won’t be tested anyway so I do feel I have more time to work on full production in the coming years and I’m trying not to get too down on myself for not being able to produce the written kanji from thin air.

Final OPI Prep

I’ve done an additional 3 half-hour italki prep classes and I have two more scheduled between now and the test on Wednesday AM… I’m getting very nervous about the actual test. Hopefully it will go well…

Extensive Reading

I honestly don’t remember reading in Japanese this past week. I’ve set the goal for myself to reread all of the Harry Potter series in French before I give birth so my silent reading time has largely been spent on doing a chapter a day there. And since this past week was French week in my household I guess it has slipped my mind to be working through my Japanese books instead of focusing just on OPI. Next week my goals are to finish the Magic Treehouse book I started reading aloud last week and to read the next chapter in Kiki.

Congrats! Thanks for posting! Good to see you here and sorry it took a minute to get back to you. I, too, have studied 8 languages and if I had a couple weeks to dust off the rust I’d say I’m also conversational in a good 5 of those (including Japanese and French of course). How exciting you’ll be passing on Japanese and Mandarin together! I totally agree with the idea that kids will pick up the community language. My kids have never been in school or daycare and have had far less English exposure during Corona than I would have ever thought possible, and yet my eldest is extremely fluent in English… he has excellent skills for a 3.5 year old. It is something you’ll have to (as we do) fight against at a certain point so yes, concentrate on the minority languages in your home first and foremost and the English will come with zero effort on your part.

Thanks for the well wishes for the test! Yes I don’t think it’s all that commonly taken but I find spoken evaluation so valuable since my goal when I learn a language is always to be able to actually speak. I’ll be sure to check back with what I thought of the test… just a few days yet.

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Plugging along. Nothing to report.

Tobira textbook study

On the tail end of Chapter 3 now. I realized that at the current pace I won’t quite finish Tobira by my duedate for this pregnancy, so I think I just need to slightly speed up and go at a 2 week per chapter pace (14 days instead of 16 days, so doing one extra grammar point every week). I’m going to start doing that… I know that was the pace at which we worked through it during university so it shouldn’t be too bad, I just feel like I’ve had such luck at the slow-and-steady one-grammar-point-per-day up to now I’m a smidge nervous to change anything about the routine. But I’d like to be able to come back from my “maternity leave” from study and move onto N2-focused materials for late October until the test, so I’d like to be completely through Tobira before my addition (provided I don’t pop more than a week or two early).

Kanji N2 Study

I’ve moved on to Chapter 4 study ahead of myself in the textbook, and so far so good. One exercise per day feels great. If the gap between the textbook and the kanji workbook were to pose a problem… it definitely won’t be so early in the process… more like when I get up to the material of Tobira that I’ve never done before (chapter 11 onward). Still… I’ll just keep going like this and then maybe when I get to the higher Tobira levels I’ll pause with the kanji workbook to go back to 例文で学ぶ漢字と言葉N2. Either way… for now this is working well…

OPI Exam + Results

YAY!!! I not only completed my first OPI this week, but I got the results back within 24 hours!

I had pegged myself as an Intermediate-High candidate so I did most of my preparation working on really excelling at “Intermediate-level” questions, but I realized just after the test that the tester had asked me almost entirely Advanced-level questions… and that the highest ‘level-check’ type question had been one for the “Superior” level. Related to our previous discussion of a news item related to screentime, he asked me something along the lines of “Do you think that governments and associations of doctors should make recommendations on the amount of screentime parents allow their children to consume considering that the policies are so seldom followed and, as you said, may not even have a strong link to the scientific literature? Why is it important?” I didn’t do so well answering that one as it was a bit beyond my grasp, which was the point, after all (to check that the tester had me correctly pegged by going up to the level at which I couldn’t sustain performance). But all the other questions I felt like I was able to answer naturally and with a CERTAIN level of ease, although I still had to really reach for the words I wanted to use. All the other questions, that is, EXCEPT the role play, which was a disaster. I hadn’t spent much time working with “advanced” level role plays. The distinction between an intermediate role play and an advanced one being that the intermediate asks you to address a straightforward situation while the advanced prompt asks you to address a complication in the same type of situation. So my role play prompt was something like “You are living in Japan and have contracted a moving company to move and assemble your furniture and belongings. When you arrive at your new apartment, however, you realize that the furniture is still in boxes. Address the issue with the manager to ensure that your contract is honored and that you get the value of the package you paid for.” I basically had no idea what to say and I just sort of fumbled and talked about not having the tools I needed to assemble the furniture myself… basically relying on the Japanese sense of duty to fill in the dots behind each それはちょっと。。。I’m sure it pulled down my scores.

Anyhow… like I said the result came in super fast (they gave up to 20 days as the general guideline), at just under 24 hours after my test. I received the “Advanced-Low” designation and I’m really, really pleased with that! I so wish I had taken it a couple years ago as I KNOW I wouldn’t have achieved that and it would have been nice to see a good jump from something like Intermediate-Mid to Advanced-Low. But here I am! So glad I took it now, and it will be a great yardstick for my future progress and study endeavors. I’m looking to take it again next year and will be aiming for no lower than Advanced-Mid, which from what I can see for comparisons between the ACTFL and CEFR ratings… is the jump from a high B2 to a low C1. That will definitely take significant effort but I do feel like this year/next year will be the moment at which I finally break the intermediate plateau (which I already feel I’m on the road to doing but there’s a lot of work yet… WK as part of that journey, too).

I’m honestly just really proud of myself. This really makes me feel a high degree of competence and more than that, just general self-efficacy about life. That the things I’m studying are actually getting me where I want to be going. I think it is impressive that I’ve gotten to this point having only ever spent 4 months in Japan, nearly a decade ago, and then only after one year of study prior. So in the interim, while not living or working or even visiting Japan to practice, I’ve been able to augment my speaking abilities to such an extent that I can be considered an “Advanced” speaker of the language by an impartial observer…

Alright, that’s enough tooting my own horn until I do something else!

Extensive Reading

I didn’t get any real extensive reading in during the days leading up to the OPI because that’s what I was working toward, and then Thursdays are always super busy. So I read all of chapter 7 of 魔女の宅急便 over the past 24 hours in preparation for our mini-book club discussion tomorrow. But the chapter went really smoothly and it was an enjoyable read that felt entirely comprehensible. A pleasure to read. On to more reading time per week, though… my OPI excuse is now gone.


CONGRATS!!! That’s amazing. And to get a score higher than you were expecting, hee.

Also I’m really impressed with your speaking ability. Those questions seem very advanced to me. And now I’m more motivated to practice my speaking, so I can also take the OPI later this year (once I feel somewhat ready).

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Ooh that’s impressive!! Would be very interesting if you introduce another language to your kids later on down the line!

I like the zero effort for English part you mentioned :joy: I honestly don’t remember how I learned my first languages like most people… so a bit nervous to “teach” my first baby… but I guess that wasn’t my parents/families focus (language acquisition) and it still happened naturally and effortlessly for me, so I’ll try to just muddle through it. :dizzy_face:

After covid is over (ugh whenever that is…) I may try to hire a native Japanese speaking person as a part time household helper/cleaner etc, which would hopefully help in language exposure… Do you find that having your kids hear native accent/conversations (through iTalki) to be a big/significant game changer? My friends kid (not Japanese) has had a Japanese nanny, since birth, and she’s completely fluent in Japanese as a result. But seeing as her nanny is full time and live-in, that’s no surprise… just curious if it would be worth the investment for live-out help… or if iTalki could serve as a similar alternative? Hmm

Aww that’s amazing! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: Congrats on your test results!! Time to celebrate :tada:

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Just wanted to share my own experience.
I’m from India, and quite a lot of Indians grow up being bilingual or trilingual - (with each state having it’s own language)

  1. Native language (Telugu in my case)
  2. English (for obvious reasons)
  3. Hindi (my second language in school)

My parents were fluent only in Telugu, and any exposure I got to the other two languages is purely through school / telivision.
I can confidently say my Telugu is a whole lot better than many others, I’m fluent in English/Hindi but may be not as much as a native speaker. Also, have to mention that I haven’t taken any special classes or training for the 2 non-native languages.
Although I must say, my hindi got better only after I moved to the Hindi speaking states for work, I barely ever spoke the language outside of the class during school.

I’ve also met many people who could speak 5+ languages with ease because they lived in different states during different stages of their childhood.

To conclude, what I want to convey is, although the kids might find it difficult to think of the correct word in a specific language, I’m very confident in saying that they’d face no problem with getting by in their daily lives.


Yes. The main components of raising multilingual children are exposure and need. They could get ALL the Japanese exposure from one source (from one speaker), and in the beginning, that would be passable, as infants have a NEED to communicate with their primary caregivers. They are invested in using the language to communicate with you. But as they grow, your children will inevitably realize that their community operates in English. They have a need to learn and use English. And that diminishes the “need” to speak/use Japanese or Mandarin. You can provide all the exposure, but you cannot continually provide all the “need” to speak. That’s how a lot of passive bilingualism develops, when the parents think “As long as I speak to them 100% in the target language, they’ll be fine” because that’s plenty of “exposure.” But the children eventually develop preference for the community language and then it seeps into the child’s speech more and more because it is easier for them to access those words as they become reinforced. And then eventually they realize that they can still understand everything you say to them, but can respond in their preferred language, because they know you speak both, and the target language(s) seem far less functional for maintaining that relationship. So the more different avenues you can take to convince your kids that your target languages are necessary, useful, fun, functional, and open doors to them, the better. We don’t live in a community with a lot of access to Japanese, but my child’s hairdresser is Japanese… the piano tuner is Japanese, and I always take them to a specific cafe where a lot of Japanese expats hang out… just to hear more people speak Japanese and realize that it’s not JUST English in our society. Also the only babysitter we have ever hired is Japanese and that was my NUMBER 1 criteria in hiring. All the little exposures to other people and other uses for the language add up, so every single interaction you can have that isn’t just in English is a win. Italki is totally ESSENTIAL for us right now as we haven’t been able to have ANY Japanese playdates since covid (so a year ago now was the last time he saw any of our Japanese-speaking friends or the babysitter). Since our Italki teachers sometimes read them picture books or show them toys or things like that, they are more invested in speaking to the tutors in our target languages. That helps create more “need” to use the languages.

@VinayG, thanks for responding with your experience. We in English-centric societies, and in the US in particular, tend to completely forget or not realize that multilingualism (and not even JUST bilingualism) is the norm for most of the citizens of this world…

Definitely take it! I think I fell into that trap of thinking “I’ll just do a little more study to prepare” and then before I knew it 3 years had passed since I first learned about OPI and thought, “I want to do that!” It’s pricy so there’s that (about $150) but you can take it up to every 6 weeks I think (useful if you actually need the score for something… unlike something like the JLPT where you have MAX 2 chances per year, and for most of us that’s once a year). I’d like to take OPI once a year from now until I can hit Superior (I’d like to achieve that within 7-8 years from now), but the cost should be the only barrier to taking it as you could be a total beginner and still find function in taking it if you can look back and see how much you’ve improved!


First of all, thank you for taking the time to reply to me in detail! It is VERY much appreciated! Secondly… you bring up such a great point!! Giving them lots of points of exposure will be critical for them to maintain/improve fluency/need to communicate… I guess thinking back that makes sense, my two other languages (mandarin/Cantonese) both were used by my extended family some of which (grandparents) spoke absolutely no English so it was a “need” to communicate with them… I also lived with them for a fair bit (part time) of my childhood so that must’ve helped… and I live in a very big city, with lots and lots of every culture… from Chinese, Japanese, to Korean, Portuguese, etc etc there are literally so many communities so I guess it’s time to join some community center activities… and play date groups at the Japanese community center etc once covid is over!!

I suppose bringing them yearly/every other year to Japan for a short 3-6week stay would be really helpful too… guess I’ll have to convince my husband it’s purely for “educational purposes” hahaha :rofl:

Btw, so so jelly of your plan to stay a whole year in the future!! Truly wish we could do the same… :dizzy_face: but unfortunately can’t due to my husband’s business/work :pleading_face: you go girl!! Live that dream though! Would love to hear all about it hahaha




Yay! I got another new-to-me kanji this week (“Temporary” 仮). I believe that when I looked ahead to the levels when I first started, I saw that from here on out I’ll be getting at least one new kanji per level, often much more obviously, the higher I go. I’m getting plenty of new or forgotten vocab words and I’m seeing a small impact when I’m reading my textbooks that things are just swifter to recall and I can read more fluently. Wanikani is starting to do the job I’d hoped it would for me.

I’m halfway through my speedrun to the end of April. This level took a few hours longer than expected because I fumbled some timings and mistakenly didn’t do the kanji lessons right away after radicals. I wanted to continue doing under 7 day leveling so I can work backwards from the evening level-ups to morning.

I very nearly got some radical names wrong on one of my reviews, but remembered before faultering… But… I’m gonna install the typo userscript. I’m PLANNING on abusing it for radicals… I’m not here to memorize arbitrary names for radicals (if they were the actual linguistic names for them, maybe I would care more). I still remember what the radicals are when I see them for the mnemonics, so I feel like yeah… I’m never getting a radical wrong from here on out EVEN if I don’t remember the name because yeah… what’s the point? I’m hoping not to abuse it for kanji or vocab though, though at least so far my accuracy has been so high that there isn’t much to cheat… but I am concerned I’ll start going much faster and just be more reckless with it installed.

Tobira textbook study

Solidly in Chapter 4 now! Plugging along. For whatever reason this chapter has a lot more grammar points that I haven’t internalized to the same degree as those from the first chapters. Like I’d still recognize all of them in writing, but I don’t USE them to the same extent in my own speaking so I’m looking forward to working to integrate them more because they’re pretty useful honestly…

Kanji N2 Study

Nearly through Chapter 4 now in the Tobira workbook, and I also started doing a page a day from the Kanji in Context Workbook Vol. 1. I’m doing that because I’ve realized that I really want to be through all of Tobira, the kanji workbook, the grammar workbook, and the majority of Kanji in Context by the time I give birth (likely July). That’s so that when I come back from my fourth trimester break in late October and start studying again… I want to just be focusing on JLPT N2 focused materials and practice tests before taking the N2 that first weekend in December. So with that in mind, I’ve gotta do a bit more study on this end. But the good news is that I’m now over my morning sickness and have a lot more energy than I did a few weeks ago, so I’m pretty raring to go with the kanji study, too!


Uh. I did exactly zero speaking this week (French week at my house so no Italki in Japanese) following the OPI last week. I’d like to start doing simple audio diaries (aka voice memos) and shadowing on a regular basis in the evenings. I’ll make a plan for that this week and get started.

Extensive Reading

Happy Lunar New Year everyone! We celebrated with delicious Chinese food that my husband made and we don’t do presents for Christmas or other mainstream US holidays or in between, but rather we give our kids gifts on Chinese New Year and birthdays only. Since we were unable to travel to Japan in November 2020 as we had been planning for four years, we had some extra book money saved up for some Japanese books. Our last Japanese book haul was from BOOKOFF in California in spring 2018 at which time we bought mostly baby and young toddler books. We were able to get probably three times the books at that point because they were used and in the continental US. This was our first time ordering books (new) from Japan, so the sticker shock was a smidge staggering, but we got an amazing haul and our kiddos have been obsessing over them! Mostly for the 4+ crowd but our little baby doesn’t mind.

So I haven’t been doing much reading of the novels I have slated for my own reading list, but I have been decoding a whole new set of books!

I’ll share a little about a few of these books:

We got three books of poetry. The two you can tell are from the same series (しゃべる詩、あそぶ詩、きこえる詩 and おどる詩、あそぶ詩、きこえる詩) are delightful. We had another kids’ poetry volume and the poems are beautiful but they are very nature-based and rather esoteric for kids’ poems. These are more playful like Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky. Tons of wordplay and fun topics. The third poetry book (こどものしっぽ) is poetry written BY children (from three years old to sixth grade) and so they’re written with very easy-to-understand vocabulary but they are just delightful. Maybe I’ll share one or two next week.

The カタツムリ小笠原へ is a really beautiful picture book written as a manga/comic centering a pair of common garden snails from Tokyo who float on a log to Ogasawara island and their ensuing adventures.

セミ神さまのお告げ is an Ainu folktale about a cicada god who unites two divided villages. Each picture is hand embroidered, clearly by someone who took painstaking effort to create the most beautiful and texturally-rich story experience. The result is absolutely breathtaking.

ノラネコの研究 is a super cute documentary story of following a stray cat, Naosuke, around for a day. When my partner and I went to Iceland in 2015 we would curl up at night and watch Icelandic TV and we happened upon this documentary that followed housecats on their exploits around a village and this reminds me so much of that. There’s a lot of scientific information about cats and their roaming patterns and daily habits sprinkled throughout the book but in a totally digestible format.

月へ行きたい is a clever book about dreaming up different ways to get to the moon and then explaining the way we humans actually did it. There’s obviously a lot of space-travel related vocab and kanji (with furigana) in it, so I look forward to studying it more closely and then rewatching 宇宙兄弟 (Space Brothers), which I really enjoyed a few years ago.

Similarly, I’ve been watching 昭和元禄落語心中 (Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu) with my husband on our COVID “date nights.” We had really wanted to go see a Rakugo performance on our trip to Osaka that didn’t happen, but I bought 落語少年サダキチ based on that inspiration and wanting to learn more Rakugo terminology. It’s a middle-grade novel (clearly currently beyond my level of reading comprehension, particularly given the specialized subject-matter) about a young boy who gets really into Rakugo after his chance encounter with a drunken Rakugo master. I really look forward to working on it.

So yay for books! Yay for reading! Most of these books have a fair bit of kanji in them (albeit with furigana) as opposed to our last haul for the younger set so I’m looking forward to mastering more kanji and reinforcing what I’m working on with WK.

Lol… my husband is in the same spot. If he is in the same job he has now (which he wants to be), he won’t be joining us… He will visit us 3 times during the schoolyear for a couple weeks a piece, but it will be my solo adventure with the kids. I plan on teaching English and the kids will be in school, and when papa shows up we will go do touristy things and travel together.


Living in Los Angeles I know more bilingual people than not and I’ve always been slightly envious of the children who grow up in these households and understand, if not actually speak, for the reasons you so eloquently state above, both languages.

I’m just in awe of your energy and determination. I’ll wave to you as you pass by my level in a few weeks.

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I think it’s really cool that you’re willing to bring your children on an incredible language-learning journey, but I have to let you know that once they hit school age and make friends… that’s usually when you say goodbye to second/third/fourth language learning.

I’ve taken classes (at the university-level) on the psychology of language learning, and one thing that will really get in your way is their socialization with other English-speaking kids at school. English will come much faster to them, and all their ‘meaningful’ interactions (for their age) will be in English, at school and with their friends.

Also, studies have shown that without both parents speaking the non-English language, the children’s ability to retain it becomes very low. ESPECIALLY if English is the “majority language.”

I definitely find it admirable of you to make this push, but I also wanted to warn you of what’s to come. Obviously moving to France or Japan so that your children can hold onto the languages isn’t the easiest solution, but if you can somehow get them to socialize with other French-speaking or Japanese-speaking children while they’re growing up, it would be helpful. I’m not sure if there are any language schools around you in your area (they usually run on Saturdays for a few hours) but that might also be helpful.

Good luck!

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This is another post where I just have to sigh and take the time to respond that I have thoroughly thought this through. I can appreciate your coursework. I’ve also taken language acquisition classes before as well at the university level. But also know that I am SOO invested in this that I spend a lot of time as a parent thinking through solutions to the problems we encounter now and the problems we will likely face in the future. I believe that what I am doing is POSSIBLE. Without that hope and conviction, I wouldn’t be doing it.

We currently plan to homeschool longterm (apart from the schoolyear in Japan in 8 years), but if we don’t, there are schooling options for both languages in our area. There is one public K-8 school we have access to that does a full dual-immersion (switching between languages day-by-day for all subjects between Japanese and English) and others that do partial immersion for French and Japanese. Obviously the culture between the majority of those students in those schools is English, which is one of many reasons why we don’t think going down that route will be right for us, but that could change. We still have access to the schools for their cultural festivals and community engagement (運動会, anyone?). There is also a Japanese Saturday school in our area, but (for some reasons I’ve stated above), we aren’t sure that that will be the best route for our family, either. But we have options. Our eldest DOES have French- and Japanese- speaking friends already who live in non-English majority homes… they just haven’t been able to see them in-person for a year now. We plan to continue this type of socialization for their whole lives in our household, and also to give them every opportunity we can to interact with other Japanese- and French-speaking children along the way, including through travel although we aren’t wealthy or high-earners by any stretch so that is not particularly practicable (every 4 years we will travel to a French-speaking country or to Japan for several weeks).

Believe me that I know what the pull of English is. I worked for 6 summers at a French immersion camp and the peer pressure is real and a slippery-slope to far less language-use. But so is my relationship with my kids. I’ve mentioned that when screentime starts in our family, that will be in the target languages. I’ve mentioned that I read aloud a TON… that won’t stop before they’re teenagers… and I’d like to continue until they leave. We don’t plan on doing a ton of extracurriculars like I was shuttled between as a kid, so between that and homeschooling our family will have more face-to-face interaction than many. The internet has SERIOUSLY opened things up. As far our model for homeschooling/unschooling we plan on making good use of tutors in Japan and French-speaking countries that one can hire pretty easily through the internet to teach all sorts of things. So anything that our kids are genuinely interested in, I know that it’s pretty likely to be something they could learn about THROUGH our target languages, thereby reinforcing their personal commitment and buy-in to the languages.

Of course our plan is not to totally shelter our kids into hermitical weirdos… but I believe there are lots of ways to reinforce the value of the languages we aim to make a part of our family culture alongside English and relationships with people in our immediate English-speaking community and our families. I believe that in the many ways we are willing to structure our lives to make this likely to happen, it will happen. It is likely to. And if it doesn’t… if they don’t get to my goal of full functional multilingualism. Well, they will have this background. They will still have this foundation that they can choose to pick up on later. If I don’t try… they won’t have that.


Well, WOW! Just WOW! You are the super-mom of the century! I have just been studying Wanikani for a month. However, I used Duolingo for an entire year during Covid, so this is really working well for me to speed up my learning in Duo. I envy your time in Japan, and know that you must be really close to fluent. Surely your plan will have hiccups, but I believe if you follow it as best you can, and make adjustments as you find necessary, your kiddos will be fluent and so will you at the end of a school year. Plus, they will have experienced another culture by living in it- the BEST way to learn about a culture and language.

You GO! And keep after it! 私はあなたに敬意を表します

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Ah, this is so wonderful! I’m glad you have access to all those resources in your area, and that the kids have some other-language speaking friends already! The socialization part is definitely not something parents consider often (experience with immigrant parents and friends with immigrant parents) but they did not have the goal of us being necessarily multilingual with a purpose. It’s always about learning the majority language so you can get a job…

But you have some very serious goals for your kids, and it sounds like you’ve made all the necessary preparations a parent could make for now. Best of luck with the teaching, and best of luck with giving birth, and the new little one that will come to be. Many blessings!

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+1 on this. My mom used to speak Hungarian (Native) with me and my dad German but she stopped when I started pre-school as the teacher said that my German will suffer (at that time, I was perfectly fluent in German and didn’t have any issues, also had only German friends). My mom believed it and I lost all my Hungarian (I even knew how to read it but well, all gone).
I wish they would have ignored the teachers but well, if you don’t know better …
I found it just ironic cause they both lived in Romania in an area where it was normal to speak 2-3 languages. There were Germans, Hungarians and Romanian and Romanian was the lingua franca (as the official language). At home, the people used either German or Hungarian, depending on their ancestry.
Hence, my dad is perfectly billingual in German and Romanian, my mom in Hungarian and Romanian (and very fluent in German, she learnt it only in her mid-20s) though both never spoke any Romanian at home but to communicate with others who don’t speak the other language.

So, I could have gotten 3 languages with less effort but well, I can’t time-travel. (They both never wanted me to learn Romanian since they associate it with communism)

Not all relatives thought that way. I have cousins who learnt all 3 and some only 2 of those and none of them had problems at school due to misunderstanding of the language.
So from personal experience/experience from relatives, no, it doesn’t harm the language ability at all. Not surprised that this is backed up by science.


Congrats on getting to chapter 10! Whoohoo, moving on up. And you’re moving so quickly, too!

Haha, yes the typo script. I just started using it last month, after a long time of saying “No, I don’t need it.” Turns out, I do. Typos happen, as well as putting in a word that means the same thing, but WK doesn’t recognize it. I think general understanding >>> getting it exactly right. Also yes, agree, the WK radicals don’t actually fit the standard definition, so what’s the point in getting them exact?

Also - I just realized we may be taking the JLPT N2 at the same time this December. Hopefully they offer it this year. But yay, that’ll be great motivation to study.

Those books are BEAUTIFUL. What a haul, they look really fun and engaging. The カタツムリ小笠原へ has such a lovely cover, too. I wish those snails good luck on their adventure!




I revamped my study plans this week in order to really solidify my hopes to pass the N2 at the end of this year. You’ll notice some differences in my study log and also I’ve included my full study plans below with my 3 month maternity hiatus (from now on to be referred to exclusively as “THE INTERREGNUM”) included. Babe #3 should be about 4 months old at the time of the test so it took some fudging to fit everything I want to do in while assuming I’m really gonna be losing it during the transition from 2-3.

Plugging along. Getting all these enlightened reviews is great. Onward to burn reviews in a few months (during THE INTERREGNUM…)

Tobira textbook study

Just starting Chapter 5. I’ve had to speed up… I’m largely worried that my motivation will crash as I was doing so well with the one grammar point a day thing, but in order to finish Tobira before THE INTERREGNUM, I really need to do one chapter a week and then just do review while it lasts if I have a full 40 weeks or longer.

Kanji N2 Study

Most of the way through Chapter 5 in Tobira Kanji workbook. And solidly into Chapter 1 (of 3 chapters) of Kanji in Context Workbook Vol. 1.


4 Italki lessons this week. Nothing to report but just getting back into my usual routine post-OPI.

Extensive Reading

Read Chapter 8 of 魔女の宅急便, worked through several of last week’s picture books for the first time (see my previous post), and also started on Olive’s Ocean (オリブの海) by Kevin Henkes on the side. That was one of those books I was recently gifted by one of my Japanese mom friends. I tried to parse the list out by the lexile level in English (I talked about that here) to somewhat stratify my book list so I can move progressively upward in overall difficulty level. This one was definitely on the lower end of the spectrum (680L) so I’m using it to start. I’ve never read the book in English (unlike the majority of the books I was gifted), but I’m excited about it. There seems to be a bit of a mystery at the heart of it (I’m about 10% through), and the kanji and vocab level definitely seems right where I am. In fact I’ve only encountered like 3 words I didn’t know up to this point. I can read it really fluently with ease. I’m breezing through it and really enjoying the story. That also gives me a bit more insight into my level.

Full N2 Study Plan Details

By third trimester (end of April)

  • Tobira one chapter per week from here through the end of Chapter 10 April 26 (I have studied through Chapter 10 previously so this is ultimately review and I need to go faster if I want to be able to take more time on the newer content)
  • Tobira Kanji workbook through chapter 10 by April 17. Pause there with this book and focus much more heavily on working through Kanji in Context workbook through May 16
  • Kanji in Context workbook Volume 1, work through Chapter 1 (all review, 250 kanji) by March 6; Chapter 2 (all review, 350 kanji running total) by April 17
  • WK speedrun through level 20, then tapering speeds

By July

  • Tobira one chapter every two weeks (chapter 11-15) finishing up by July 5 (new material), then review as able until I give birth
  • During pause from Tobira Kanji workbook, ramp up speed with Kanji in Context workbook during break from Tobira Kanji workbook through May 16 (get through Exercise 59 in Chapter 3, 813 kanji running total); then slow back down upon restart to Tobira Kanji workbook to finish Exercise 76 in Chapter 3 (1003 kanji running total) by July 5, then pause Kanji in Context workbook completely
  • Restart Tobira Kanji workbook on May 16 and keep up with same pace as before to finish Chapter 15 July 5
  • WK taper speed through level 27 level up, complete level 26 vocab but don’t start on level 27 content. Reviews only until late October.

July to October (THE INTERREGNUM)

  • WK review only (no new lessons)

Late October to early December

  • Restart WK at about 10 day leveling. Aim for level 32 before December 5 (80%+ for N2 kanji content)
  • The Preparatory Course for N2 読む (I used this book for N3 and really liked it). It has just enough content to really be valuable but not too many exercises that it overloads. Since this is reading comprehension practice, I’ll do each section timed as if I were taking the exam (as in, approximately 2 minutes per mid-length reading comprehension question so the practice will go swiftly and the whole book should take just a few hours to complete in total, but I’ll be spreading it out a reading exercise per day plus review of my mistakes.
  • The Preparatory Course for N2 聞く. I haven’t used this before so don’t know to recommend it, but I’ll do an exercise a day and it’ll just be a couple hours of study in total so I’m thinking it’ll be doable even with other review. Plus I’m not too concerned about the listening portion as it has always been my highest score. It’s just faster speech for N2 basically. Once I’ve completed the book, I’ll put the CD in my car and just listen to it whenever I’m running errands or something (super awkward at red lights…)
  • New Kanzen Master N2 読解. I’ve never used the Kanzen Master series but obviously it is very popular. I’ll do one exercise/page a day, rotating between the sections and when I’m about halfway through all that, I’ll do the mock test that is included (at least two weeks before the official test below). That’ll obviously mean timing around feedings of the baby and setting aside a full afternoon for me to do it. When I do mock tests, I adhere to all the exam timings, including breaks, to give my brain a chance to recharge and drink water and sharpen my pencils as if I were in the test. Plus I want to review my answers immediately after the test, so it will mean setting aside like 5 hours probably (with a feed in between when I finish the test and when I correct my answers, probably).
  • I have not figured out what resource I’ll use for this but I intend to figure out what to do to review the usual onomatopoeia that might show up on the test (you’ll notice I’m focusing on kanji for the kanji and vocab section of the test… I’m not using any other N2 prep materials for the vocab section as kanji has always been my weakpoint. I’m assuming my vocabulary is already likely sufficient to pass N2 at this point). I intend to spend a couple hours doing a bigger review of onomatopoeia and then SRSing the ones I’m not sure I know by heart.
  • November 24 I’ll complete the OFFICIAL JLPT N2 Practice Test. Another 5 hour chunk to schedule. I did the Official practice test for the N3 similarly about 2 weeks before the test and I think it helped me a lot. Come test time I wasn’t worried about my timings or the format of the test whatsoever. After that day I’ll similarly put the CD in my car (this one has the exact same scripts and dinging sound as the real test so it’s kind of a desensitization/bomb-proofing exercise to listen to it in the background so I won’t be so spooked during the test). And for the next 8 days I’ll review every answer on the test (going through multiple times), even the ones I got right. To be sure I know why I must eliminate every other answer on the test.

So there we have it. Everything I need to do between now and the test. Daunting but exhilarating. I’m excited to finally take it…


I was thinking you should call it the InterrPREGnum but then I realized…that that doesn’t make any sense haha.

Congrats on leveling up! And even more congrats to your study plan. It sounds well thought out and thorough. I have no doubt you’ll be prepared for the N2 this winter. It’s actually a bit of a kick in the butt to my own study plans which were just to go through grammar books and consume a lot of Japanese media…Watching TV is studying right? Well, I’ll add in some N2 prep work too this summer. Also - there are onomatopoeia vocab sections for it?

So - I went into a bit of rabbit hole after clicking on your link on the topic about estimating difficulty levels of books. I too want to just slowly step upwards and not push myself too hard. I posted these links to that topic, but here are the tools that you can use to analyze text difficulty. You can find a snippet online or use the summary on the back of the Japanese book cover. I posted some example results below, too.

Olive Ocean Results

I took the plot summary of Olive’s Ocean from the Amazon.co.jp page and analyzed it. Not sure if the summary is equal to the book’s writing itself, but it’s a good start. Both tools say that the book summary is Lower Intermediate, or difficulty level 4 and likely for 中学2年. I posted all the results below, which I still haven’t quite figured out how to parse completely. For example, the Jreadability score goes down as it gets harder, so not sure what the metric means.

JReadability’s results:


NagoyaObi’s results:

Kiki Results

So okay, let’s compare it with Kiki now. I used two paragraphs of the summary found on the author’s website for the book. It matches the summary on the back of my own book. Ironically, they both have strong, but differing opinions here. JReadability website has a bit of trouble and classifies it as Upper Intermediate (perhaps because of the flowery and specialized language). And on the opposite end, Nagoya Obi classifies it as Lower Beginner (really??) and recommends it for 小学6年. So if I average these two wildly different results, I’m guessing Kiki has a difficulty level of 3.5. That sits between upper beginner and lower intermediate, which feels a bit more right.


Cool, huh?


haha, I’ve been there!

This has been really useful, and the first I have heard of the book “Kanji in context”. Added to my wishlist!