Progress Report #4

It’s that time again…! Not.. that I’ve set a specific time for posting progress reports. I probably should though.

Kanji & Vocabulary

My kanji recognition is noticeably higher now than it’s ever been. I think this is because I’ve had enough time to actually accumulate a noticeably larger character bank in my memory. I am almost completely done with the Sou Matome N3 kanji workbook, which is the way that I’ve been studying for the past few months. The kanji in this workbook have been very, very common and I’ve been able to memorize them because I come across them so often. I have a kanzen master workbook to begin studying n2 kanji, but I’m almost regretting the purchase. Sou Matome doesn’t seem to be a bad series.

Along with kanji, I’ve learned vocabulary because I’ve been studying kanji in combinations only. Due to this and the fact that I’ve been reading, I am not studying a new word bank. Instead, I review the 400 words I learned over the summer once a week, using the speed review feature on memrise.

Grammar

Studying grammar has been very difficult because I’ve had a hard time motivating myself to keep up with it. Reading the explanations in my workbook can sometimes be challenging, which discourages me. However, watching Nihongo No Mori YouTube videos have made studying grammar so smooth. This website also helps me understand grammar so much. I was originally typing my grammar notes because I was taking much longer notes. Now, I am not spending as much time on notes because I found it to be ineffective. Instead, I take much simpler written notes in Japanese or English (or both), worded in my own way of understanding.

Reading

The only downfall that I’ve had with reading is finding something that I felt was “worthy” of reading about. Luckily for me, I have enjoyed keeping up with NHK news for more than 14 years now and I am always happy to read or listen what they’ve published. This still left me with one issue; NHK “news” or “news easy”? My complaint about the easy version is that it is sometimes harder to understand because rather than just using an individual complicated word, several simple words are used that would describe its meaning (in the midst of a sentence). When I try and translate complex sentences so that I can better understand them, this causes problems.

On the flip side, the regular news articles don’t have the attraction of furigana everywhere to make me want to read them. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do yet, but for now I’ll just read whichever appeals to me more in the moment.

Speaking

Once I sort out my reading strategy, I will focus on speaking. The good news is that I’m going to Japan soon, so I’ll have time to test my new theory out in real time and practice Japanese daily. So I’m looking forward to that. I did talk to a friend recently for about 1.5 hours in Japanese only. I found that my fluidity has improved, as well as my confidence. However, I wouldn’t really say I used much of the new vocabulary words I acquired because I tend to talk about the same stuff. I did, however, understand my language partner much better because I understood much more of what he spoke to me.

Overall

I can finally write a progress report that says my Japanese, as a whole, has improved! I’m pretty proud of that! I am reading much better than I was before as well as understanding what’s spoken to me. I have not practiced writing recently or speaking enough, so besides reading, I need to brush up these areas. Having an Instagram to post my progress and get inspiration has helped immensely.

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