Turning Japanese, Day 4 – 5

January 24th, 2009  | By: Daichi  | Categories: Learning  | Tags:

So right now, I’m trying to brush up on my Japanese. I am using Glowing Face Man’s “The French Revolution” as one of my main sources of inspiration. I’m not really thinking of this as a 30 day Challenge, since I certainly want to go beyond 30 days. But both Glowing Face Man and Khatzumoto talks about timeboxing, which is a way of imposing artificial limits to make yourself psychologically more efficient. So at the very least, I should at least aim to rate myself somehow when day 30 comes around. Which will make this a nice 30 day macro scale timebox, like what Glowing Face Man has been doing with learning French. Just don’t expect me to post everyday like he did. I don’t think I have the dedicate to write everything as I go.

Day 4 (Thursday)

I worked on my reviewing my Kanji vocab cards in my Anki deck. I’m beginning to realize, doing cards like this, isn’t really working for me. I’m only using this so I can drill Kanji strokes into my head. A few are sticking, but for a lot of them, I’m only remembering maybe half the Kanji. They don’t seem to stick in my long term memory very well. Maybe I should start using Anki’s cram feature on just my Kanji. I didn’t do a lot of Mining today, just a few sentences from “Total Japanese Conversation 1″.

I haven’t talked too much specifically about Anki or my flash card deck. Anki’s deck is made up of “facts”, and a single fact can produce multiple cards. And SRS is great for memorizing anything, more then just language. For example: If you wanted to memorize anime Seiyuu voices for some reason. For one Seiyuu fact, you could have several different fields with different audio clips. You can have Anki generate a separate card for each clip, and you just need to produce the Seiyuu name for the answer. Anki is nice and smart, it will keep cards of the same fact from showing up right next to each other. Since they are related, it would be kind of silly.

Going through my sentence cards today, I begriming to wonder how I’m supposed to rate them. How much do I need to comprehend before I flag it something other then failure. My Japanese Literature book has a running dictionary at the bottom, how much should I be paying attention to it? I certainly can comprehend more if I take the time to read that.

I noted today that my deck is a little depressing in size, most of it is Kanji cards. In four days I have a total of 64 sentences mined. I know I’m going to need more exposure then that. Glowing Face Man had days where he mined over 100 sentences, that more then I have mined in since I started. But Glowing Face Man has been doing this longer, I’m just going to stick to my own pace, but I do want to speed things up for tomorrow. I’ll try timeboxing myself and aim to get around double my sentences by the end of tomorrow.

I’m now up to Day 11 of The French Revolution.

Day 5 (Friday)

The first thing I did today was load up Winamp, I don’t know why I’ve gone so many days without music. This is a perfect way to get more exposure to Japanese, what is great is I don’t need to be directly conscious of it to get benefit. My subconscious can do a lot of the work. Check out what Khazumoto says about, what is basically 100% exposure. Later I’ll have to go dig out the Japanese audio dramas I have laying around, and add those to my queue.

I said I was going to get a lot of sentence mining done today, so I grabbed my Breaking Into Japanese Literature book and mined away. Within about two hours, I mined paragraphs 5 to 15 today, which totals 56 sentences, that’s pretty darn good. It’s not exactly double, but that’s around where I was aiming. This takes a long time to mine sentences from, most of the time is taken up strictly from transcribing the text into my word processor. Then, when I have a bunch of lines done, I toss my sentences into Aegisub so I can break my audio up. After this, I start placing each sentence into Anki. I paste in what I transcribed, then drag my audio file in. I then make sure my reading field is correct. Only now do I look at the English translation and try to match it up with my Japanese sentence. This isn’t too bad, I have to look at a lot of the Kanji on the running dictionary at the bottom of the page to figure out how to transcribe it properly. So I already have a good idea what is going on. My subconscious should working at piecing things together during all this. It sure beats the mostly brainless copying and pasting like I was doing with Tsukihime, and I don’t get audio files with that game.

I did more reading today from Khatzumoto’s All Japanese All The Time site. His site is a pseudo book on how he learned Japanese, and how he did it. I think he has some interesting phases for learning. To summarize his phases, in order: Belief, Kanji, Kana, and Sentences. Yes, Kanji before Kana. He recommends, Remembering the Kanji I which focuses on the meaning of Kanji, so you won’t learn any readings from it. I actually have this book around the house, I wanted to start using it when I started this intense training, but it was lost in my brothers room until just an or so hour ago. Oh hey, we also found Soul Calibur 4, which we promptly lost right after buying it. I’m pretty stoked about finding that one.

While I don’t think I can recommend learning your Kana after you learn 2042 Kanji, if you do. You will pick up your Kana in probably a day or two at most. Obviously this order only works if you don’t know your Kana already. Khatzumoto’s methods are a bit writing intense, it’s to prevent illiteracy. The speaking part is considerably easier, the writing is going to take more time, Get the hardest stuff out of the way first.

I already have two years of High School Japanese on my back, plus I’m a big import gamer, which kept my Kana skills and some key “Gaming” Kanji intact over the years. So I’m going to keep mostly at my current methods, mining sentences from my books, and reviewing Kanji that is being used in my sentence mining. Now, on the side, I’m going to start drilling through RTK in a separate Anki Deck to reinforce Kanji meaning into my head. I’m not sure how fast I want to learn 2042 Kanji, if I wanted to learn it all in one month, that’s 68 cards a day, I think that’s a bit too many for me if I’m doing sentence mining also.

One of Kazumoto’s posts made me change how my Kanji cards are setup. My question side of my cards now give me a single reading and now also a meaning. The cards still ask me to write down the Kanji. This should make it easier for me to produce the Kanji out of my head, the challenge isn’t to remember what the Kanji means. I’m not sure why Reading -> Kanji made sense to begin with. Meaning -> Kanji is apparently more important and more practical for where I’m at. I’m also going to delete my Kanji -> Meaning cards. If I can write a Kanji, I can certainly read it.

Currently my sentence cards only give me the audio clip on the answer side. To mix things up a bit I added a new card type with just the audio clip on the question side. And I need to try to comprehend just that. Anki has a repeat button but it will only play the full clip so it’s sometimes hard to pick out a few words in the middle.So far, I think It’s actually easier to understand my cards that are just reading, since I can pick out the pieces easier, so hopefully this alternative improves my listening comprehension.

On a side note, if you want to learn your Kana, I learned to read all of mine through Japanese typing games. I’m not kidding. Everyone knows you learn better while your having fun. You still need to learn how to write them, all of them, I suggest you do that first. You could easily use Anki to help drill you on how to write them, you might want to check out the font called KanjiStrokeOrder. As for typing games, for something free and simple you got the Tsunami Channel. For more complex games, check out the Japanese typing games from Gainax. (I’ll add a picture of one of these games later.) They have Evangelion Typing E plan & C plan, Gunbuster Typing, and Mahoromatic Typing. It gets progressively harder in that order. So you have been warned. What’s great about these Gainax games, with the exception of the first few lessons of Evangelion Typing E plan, it’s all in Kana, no romaji. A lot of other Japanese typing games I’ve seen don’t do this and toss English letters at you with the Kana, if they have it. These Gainax games have a lot of the mini games, they focus on stuff like speed and accuracy, so your sure to get a ton of practice.

I’ve read up to day 14 on Glowing Face Man’s “The French Revolution. On day 14 he timeboxes everything he does, he seems to think it’s an effective way to make yourself more efficient. I haven’t really tried timeboxing on a very small scale, I probably should.

  1. January 24th, 2009 at 06:02
    Reply | Quote | #1

    I cannot but feel little. Your efforts are quite amazing, specially if you’re going all the way self-thought… heck, maybe after 30 days you’ll start translating! (nah’ noone can actually wait for that much) but hey, you’ve shown that one can push one-self to the limits in order to learn and progress, kudos to you my friend.