Zahi's Study Log

Hiyo! Longtime lurker/part time studier here, finally starting to really prioritize my Japanese study again. The pandemic and some other life circumstances have given me some space to figure out what’s most important for me to focus on now and in the future, and I know that Japanese is one of those things. My hope is that putting this goal to “paper”, and really fleshing it out will help me to establish a plan that I can be flexible with and stay accountable to. I view this entire post as a living document that will change and adapt over time according to my needs. More info below!

Japanese Background

I studied Japanese for two years in college, and then proceeded to not use it for the next 7 years. I landed a teaching job in Japan in my late 20s, and moved to Hiroshima City where I lived for four years. The first two years I studied pretty regularly, but found that I wasn’t using Japanese a ton. I spoke English in school every day and living in the city where there were a lot of tourists, English was everywhere. No matter how much I tried to use Japanese, more often than not it was too easy to default to English. My skills developed, but not beyond basic easy conversations and maybe around an N4 level. Listening skills were especially atrocious. About two years in, I stopped studying for reasons I still don’t fully understand - I just lost my motivation and I was getting by just fine with what I had and my support system. I’ve been back home in the U.S. for 2.5 years now and the whole time I’ve been back I’ve had this yearning for Japanese, but didn’t prioritize it.

For the past couple of years I’ve also been studying Sogetsu Ikebana with a teacher in my area. She’s received the 1st Grade Komon teacher’s diploma from the Sogetsu school (the second highest rank possible you can receive), which takes decades of study and teaching. I’m incredibly lucky to have found her, and one of my goals is to pursue a teacher’s diploma, which I should be able to start doing sometime next year. My hope is to continue my Ikebana studies long term, and to travel (especially to Japan) with this in mind.

I’m also a huge fan of Japanese media (manga, anima, video games) having grown up in that era when it was first being introduced en masse in the U.S. It’s a huge part of my identity and what I do to enjoy my time and relax.

My hope also is to return to Japan not necessarily to live long term, but for study, leisure, and honestly because Hiroshima is like home to me. I still miss it every day!

A Bit About Me

I work as a health coach by day and earlier this year had to move down to part time. While I have not been officially diagnosed with chronic illness beyond some arthritis in my back, for the past year I’ve been struggling quite a bit with my health and exhibit a host of symptoms associated with chronic illness. I deal with a lot of exhaustion and brain fog, and as a type A high achiever this has been incredibly difficult for me to adjust to. For some time I have not been able to operate at the levels I’ve been capable of in the past. It’s frustrating and demoralizing, and for anyone who is going through the same, please know you aren’t alone.

I’m lucky to be able to live with my parents. While many might still balk at the idea of a 35 year old living with her folks the only reason I’m still here after adjusting with the move back from Japan is because my parents are actually really easy to live with. That coupled with my health issues and the fact that I’m able to save a lot of money, it’s a win win situation. We have 20 acres of property where we are building a horse farm, and in some of my other spare time I am working on planting a garden. I also study clinical herbalism and am always pursuing further education in regards to my coaching.

I’m a huge fan of the fantasy/sci-fi genre of media and have recently had the opportunity to start playing video games again after many years of focusing on school. I’ve picked up Dragon Quest 10 with some friends and while my Japanese isn’t nearly good enough to understand the majority of it, I’m looking forward to using it as a measure of improvement over time.

Log Purpose
  • To catalogue my study resources, how I use them, and how effective they are, and to experiment with new resources;
  • To establish short, mid, and long term goals for my Japanese study and connection to Japan, and to ensure the actions I take with my studying are in alignment with those goals;
  • To keep track of the specific aspects of Japanese I am learning on a daily and weekly basis;
  • To support personal accountability to my goals;
  • To reflect on successes and challenges in order to keep the momentum moving forward;
  • To practice my Japanese skills;
  • To record my growth over time for times when I feel discouraged or need to celebrate my successes.
Goals

Short term:

7/29/20-12/31/20
Read an entire book/manga (lvl appropriate) in Japanese
Reach WaniKani level 15
Stay consistent with studying through the end of the year

Mid Term:

I have a Master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, so I understand the importance of developing all language skills towards fluency. With that said, right now my priority is reading. I love to read, and I want to get to a point where engaging with native Japanese material is truly enjoyable for me to support my motivation in the long term. I will still work on the other language skills with less priority.

Long term:

Japanese fluency in all language skills. It’s hard for me to type this out because as soon as I think it, judgements come up in my head like, “Are you serious? You lived in Japan for four years and you aren’t even close to fluent. There’s no way that’s going to happen.” And I realize that’s what holds me back from fulfilling my potential. So there it is. I want to be fluent in Japanese, even if it takes me the rest of my life to get there.

Current Study Resources

WaniKani
Anki
Bunpro
WK Book Clubs

I welcome posts from others here as long as it’s not wandering off on long discussions not related to my studying. Effective language learning cannot occur in isolation so outside input/reflections are welcome!

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You sound like the kind of person I would love to get to know (TESOL, gardening, ikebana, and of course Japanese!). I would really appreciate if you could share photos of your arrangements, in a separate thread if you feel it is inappropriate here. Please also share your gardening progress over in the gardening thread.

I look forward to following your progress.

Thanks @Rowena! I was actually thinking of posting my Ikebana photos in this thread and using that as an opportunity to practice talking about it in Japanese. I typically do a few arrangements each week, so it will be good continuing practice over time. I’ll check out the gardening thread too!

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Study Log #1: Week of 7/26/20

I’ve been struggling physically quite a bit this week so have been doing the bare minimum studying. I’m proud of myself for at least keeping up with my WK reviews, though I’ll admit it was pretty hard. I figured out what has been causing the brain fog and fatigue this week though and am feeling a lot better today!

The structure of my studying still feels a bit all over the place, so that’s something I need to figure out. There are some days where I can only study for an hour and WK takes up a lot of that time. Other days I have more time available so I need to find some kind of pattern.

WK

Leveled up to 6 at the beginning of the week and have been reviewing some master items, some of which I’m remembering, and others forgetting. All in all I feel good about sticking to WK this week though, I’ve been on top of it.

Grammar
There are a few grammar points that I keep struggling with while doing reviews in Bunpro so when that happens I’m going to take some time to do some research and take notes.

が、けど

but, however

  • Used to express direct contradictions
  • Used as a general connector of two separate sentences (and) , especially with a new topic

Exists on a continuum of politeness, from more casual to more polite:

けど<けども<けれど<けれども<>が

*Politeness is typically indicated by the end of the sentence. You’ll usually see が used with 〜ます and 〜です, and けど used with the plain form.

**Politeness level w/in the sentence typically matches, but not always. Sometimes a speaker will use the more polite form when referring to someone else while using the short form referring to themselves in the same sentence.

Conjugation: けど
Verb けど
い-adjectives が、ですが けど
Noun だが、ですが だけど
な-adjectives だが、ですが だけど

The declarative だ is needed for Nouns and な-adjectives. It is not needed for Verbs and い-adjectives.

Still to research: ~てもいい, ~ている, ~て form conjugations

Reading

Finished わんわん探偵団 week 4. I discovered that putting the vocab for the week in an Anki deck and reviewing it prior to the week I read that section really helps me with understanding context, meaning, and knowing where one word ends and the next begins. I don’t retain all of the word meanings but it has a significant impact on the speed at which I complete a section and my ability to get the gist very quickly.

Listening

I really like Nihongo con Teppei for beginners. It’s short and sweet with still a ton of information to glean from it. I think from now on I’m going to write a summary for each one I listen to and also answer in Japanese any questions he poses, even if it’s just a sentence or two.

#255元気について

Q: 元気がない時は何をしますか?友達に会いますか?酒を飲みますか?ジムに行きますか?

A: 元気がない時はテレビを見ます。時々テレビゲームもします。シャワーを浴びるのが好きです。

Goals for the coming week of 8/2/20
Read わんわん探偵団 week 5
Maintain WK Review Pace
Research & take notes on a new grammar point I’m struggling with
Listen to an episode of Nihongo con Teppei, summarize, and answer ?s in Japanese.
Watch an Episode of Midnight Diner on Netflix w/out English subs

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Study Log #2: Week of 8/2/20

Things have been going well this week! I’ve had a lot of energy and have studied in some way almost every day.

WK
Kept up the pace of my reviews and leveled up from 6 to 7 in just over a week

Grammar
One of my weakest areas has always been verb conjugation, primarily because I haven’t memorized the rules. However, I’ve never been able to find the conjugations organized in a way that fits my brain. The Genki text, which I only use for reference now, has conjugations all over the place in an order that just doesn’t make sense to me. As a result, I’ve decided to start organizing the rules for verb conjugation in a way that makes sense to me and will be an easy reference.

I’m having trouble copy/pasting tables here, but for the sake of accountability, this week I organized short and long form conjugations for 現在形 in the affirmative and negative.

**EDIT
Huge thanks to @ChristopherFritz for recommending CureDolly’s videos on verb conjugation and my mind is officially blown sky high. This is a game changer. How I haven’t seen it taught this way in over a decade of formal and informal Japanese study is insane.

Reading
Finished わんわん探偵団 week 5 and got everything printed for the rest of the case. Putting the vocab for the week into Anki and studying them ahead of time continues to be incredibly helpful.

Listening
Nihongo con Teppei - I half did this, listened but didn’t write a summary. I’m OK with it, and given time constraints will probably just listen from now on.

Midnight Diner - This was pretty challenging. I watched the episode with English subs first and then without later in the week, and that did help me to recognize and pick up some things I likely otherwise would not have. This is something I definitely need to do more of, though I’m not sure how often I’ll use this series. I may use some shorter anime series’ that I’ve already watched with subs and can easily repeat over and over. Probably Rilakkuma & Kaoru, and Drifting Dragons to start.

Goals for the coming week of 8/9/20
I’m going to be out of town for the second half of the week so I want to make sure I’m being realistic about the goals I set. I know it’s likely I won’t study while I’m away beyond doing some WK reviews at my leisure.

Read わんわん探偵団 week 6
Read レンタルおにいちゃん week 1
Share an Ikebana arrangement and write up a brief caption in Japanese
Watch CureDolly videos on verb conjugation

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Have you watched CureDolly’s videos on this topic? After watching them, I thought, “Why was it never explained like this before?” I may not have all the rules memorized to the extend that I can do production (as that’s not a goal of mine), but a combination of watching those episodes of her videos and increasing the amount of manga I’m reading, I’ve gotten very comfortable with the basics.

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@ChristopherFritz ooo, I have not - I’ll check it out, thank you!!

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Well, this week is a bit of a wash. My focus has been everywhere except where it needs to be, I haven’t slept well, and I’m leaving to go out of town for four days tomorrow. I haven’t gotten any studying done beyond doing a bit of WK most days.

One goal I have through the end of the year is to study for at least an hour a day for five days a week, and I’m realizing I need to give myself a bit of leeway with that. If I can meet this goal 90% of the time, I’ll be pleased. So, that gives me room to take a bit of a break every once in a while without feeling bad about it.

I’ll continue to keep up with WK and will shift my study goals from this week to next week.

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Study Log #3: Week of 8/16/20

So I was able to get a bit more studying done this week, but still not my 1 hour/5 days a week. I think I’ve just got to suck it up and accept the fact that with chronic health issues, that’s not realistically doable for me every single week through the end of the year. Honestly I think as long as I stay connected to my studying consistently over time, that’s going to have to be the win.

Reading
I only completed one of my main study goals for this past week, specifically reading weeks 1 and 2 of レンタルおにいちゃん. I understand about 85% accurately and get the gist of about 5% more than that.

Week 1 Main Takeaways:
  • Pay attention to Kanami’s speech patterns with her real brother and her rental brother. What differences do you notice?
  • Different type faces/styles indicate different things. Larger/bolder can indicate presence or sound lvl, etc.
  • デパートとかたまにしか来れない
    • しか (more than) + ない = not more than
    • たまに - occasionally
    • たまに + しか + ない = not more than occasionally → only occasionally
    • Can only go to places liek the department store occasionally.
  • 叶美とお兄ちゃん二人でたべたら足りないくらいだよ
    • 足りない (not sufficient) + くらい (to the extent that) = to the extent that it’s not sufficient
    • If Kanami and big brother ate (the puddings) together, it would be to the extent that there isn’t enough (to eat).

Still need to review the chat and grammar for week 2.

WK
Slow going because I haven’t been as consistent each day, but still keeping up with it.

Goals for the coming week of 8/23/20
Read わんわん探偵団 week 6
Read レンタルおにいちゃん week 3
Write up an Ikebana blurb
Watch CureDolly videos on verb conjugation

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この華道は三週間前した。オレンジの花はユリだ。丸い黄色花が菊と他の黄色花はアキノキリンソウ属だ。この華道の様式は投げ入れだ。

華道 (かどう) - flower arrangement; Ikebana
ユリ - Lily
菊 (きく) - Chrysanthemum
アキノキリンソウ - Goldenrod
属 (ぞく) - genus
様式 (ようしき) - style
投げ入れ (なげいれ) - casual (in this case, Nageire is a specific style of floral arrangement)

I am unsure if the word 様式 for style is correct in this case. Also, what in the world is the Japanese word or phrase for drift wood?

Damn my Japanese production skills are incredibly rusty. Always open to feedback/corrections if anyone has any. I’ve got a lot of vocabulary to learn in the realm of Ikebana so I’m intentionally taking this at a slow pace so as not to overwhelm myself.

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