Hey all - raindrops here !
This is just a small post to talk about something that I’ve heard many language-learning / japanese-speaking content creators (Lindie Botes, KemushiChan, and Dogen to name a few) recommending: the daily audio diary!
Simply put, it’s just a diary entry like you would write into a journal but you speak it, either voice recording or filming yourself.
I’ve been studying Japanese for about 1.5 years and I’m happy with the progress I’ve made in that time regarding kanji and grammar. If you had asked me how I feel about my japanese ability 3 days ago, I’d have said I feel okay! “Audio diary? No problemo!! I know tonnes of vocab and grammar, let’s goooooo!” And then:
Reading is a completely different skill to speaking. And I think it goes beyond just the traditional input (reading/listening) and output (writing/speaking) learning binary. Because though writing is classed as output, I think even writing allows the same forgiveness in terms of the pace at which your brain can compute the language. With reading and writing, you can take your time.
With speaking, you want to convey your thoughts in a natural way and part of that is about not having that same slow-pace (e.g. not taking 3 minutes to say one sentence with huge tumbleweed gaps where your brain is trying to remember which word comes next).
I’m on day 2 of my audio diary and it’s been hugely humbling and challenging. Grammar which I thought was second nature to me has left me hesitant and fumbling. And it’s all because I’m not recalling it just in my head anymore nor in isolation but in the context of new words and new situations which I’ve never combined with the grammar point before.
A small aside to "chunking"
And yes, the fact that learning vocabulary/grammar in isolation is not how you use them ‘in the wild’ is why a lot of language-learners encourage “chunking” aka learning words in the context of phrases so that you get a sense of the syntax and grammar alongside vocabulary. But oftentimes that can just lead to set phrases that you know, as opposed to knowing how to convey what you are wanting to communicate in this moment.
With the daily audio diary, there are specific events, feellings, and thoughts that have happened in the present unique moment leaving you unable to hide behind set phrases you are used to using!
All in all, I think it’s a great challenge and an awesome way to assess what level you are at with your recall and improvisation in Japanese.
Anyway, this wasn’t very well articulated! Given that WK is a kanji-learning site, it makes sense that most of the advice in the level-up emails is focussed on beginning reading. So I guess I just also wanted to add a little reminder to begin speaking too!
Though it is a challenge now, I’m sure day by day I’ll improve and I can’t wait to see this progress in my recall and speaking ability!