Japanese language (re)learning progress

2022/08/02

I finished 聲の形 volume 1 for the first time 2 weeks ago! I am attempting to reread it to reinforce vocabulary and pick up new things I missed on the first run.

I am admittedly not as diligent with rounded immersion. I keep up with RTK the best and am creating more Anki decks: one for essential Japanese (currently dates, some counters), and two for vocabulary I frequently come across in my media (one for personal, one for stuff from work readings). I also downloaded a deck that aligns with the JLPT level tags on Jisho.org – not an official leveling to JLPT, but probably close enough.

I took a break from Fluent Forever coaching for a week last week because I was traveling. I'm restarting this week, though for only one time a week instead of three.

I've discovered TokuyuuTV, a YouTube series by a Canadian expat who moved to Japan after passing the N1 after 7 years of study and getting a job with AstraZeneca Japan. He certainly doesn't sound as native as MattvsJapan, but he seems more fun, less arrogant (though certainly not shy about his achievements), isn't really promoting anything like products beyond YouTube subscriptions, and actually challenges the Mass Immersion Approach. He promotes graded reading and listening media that are suitable for your level.

As I discover more (Japanese or general) language learning channels, it is clear each person tends to promote the method that works best for them.

One thing in common they all have is believing in the power of SRS. Other than that...

  • TokuyuuTV has his own philosophy but seems to be the most open-minded to the idea of multiple ways to the same goal of fluency, e.g., "learn kanji! I did it through the Study Kanji app, but there are multiple other ways like WaniKani, RTK, etc." Maybe it helps that he isn't selling a particular product. He also promotes grammar books, especially Tae Kim's.
  • Olly Richards promotes grammar and vocabulary acquisition through graded stories. He supplements this idea with his new product that has graded stories integrated with specific grammar and vocabulary lessons so they reinforce each other. This actually sounds super awesome to me, but I hesitate to switch to it since it's another expense and it's super new. I'll keep an eye on it as it evolves...
  • MattVsJapan complements Olly Richards' story method but doesn't have the product to back it, and he actually doesn't believe in graded stories. He heavily promotes Stephen Krashen's works, who also promotes graded stories (or more generally, media that is about 80% or more comprehensible to a language learner). Matt thinks language learners should consume media made for native Japanese people since it's the most natural and real way that language is meant to be consumed. I started this out a couple of months ago, but it just seems too hard. And truth to be told, it took Matt 10 years to reach near-native fluency. He does have a product called Refold, but it's catered narrowly towards kanji acquisition rather than the entire language; I assume because a bigger product is harder to make, and also it is against his philosophy of mass immersion approach.
  • Gabe Wyner of Fluent Forever stands apart with associating images with your SRS flash cards to help stop you from translating from your native language to your target language. The additional piece to it is, when you search for images for bread in your target language, you should get specific nuanced images of what bread means in that language vs. the nuances in your native language. I thought this idea was super intriguing when I read his book, Fluent Forever, and started using his app. However, I'm not sure if the app his company created has helped a lot with my language acquisition. I think the general idea of using images is definitely helpful, and I like that the app automates the image fetching for me, but I think once I retire from the FF ecosystem I'll just carry the habit of images with me to Anki. Sucks that's a bit more work to do, though.

General stats

  • Fluent Forever: 268 words
  • Duolingo: 92-day streak, on unit 3
  • Bunpo: JLPT N5 8/10 modules

Kanji with RTK vol. 1

  • 220 kanji and primitives learned
  • on lesson 10 of 19

Reading

Watching

  • Finished 同居人はひざ、時々、頭の上 (My Roommate is a Cat)

2022/07/18

General thoughts

Picking up more vocabulary and grammar patterns is exciting as I begin to recognize them more in the media I consume – both new content and old, especially old songs I've really liked. Close to the end of my first finish of A Silent Voice, volume 1, 4 weeks in, I started rereading it from the beginning, and my speed and comprehension is so much better compared to my first run-throughs in the first week.

RTK is currently still fun. I'm bracing myself for the burnout. I've been at it for maybe 1.5 to 2 weeks (?) and so far I've skipped out on 1 or 2 days of new kanji/primitive acquisition due to poor scheduling.

I'm starting to further question the helpfulness of FF, but am sticking with it for now. As of next month I'll be reducing my coaching sessions from 3 times a week to 1 time a week, still 20 minutes.

I still am frustrated with the little amount of listening comprehension I have for fresh/new material.

Kanji with RTK

  • 98 kanji and primitives learned

Reading

  • A Silent Voice, vol. 1, on my own. Took about 4 weeks to finish!
  • Samurai Mice, a short story, at work

Watching/Listening

  • My Neighbors the Yamadas with no subtitles, 50% listening comprehension, 80% comprehension overall with visual cues
  • When Marnie was There with subtitles, relistening (no watching) with 60-80% comprehension
  • Inuyasha, seasons 1 and part of season 2 with subtitles, relistening (no watching) with 30-40% comprehension
  • My Neighbor Totoro with subtitles some of the time, 40% comprehension; relistening with 60-70% comprehension
  • My Roommate is a Cat, first few episodes with subtitles; relistening with 30-40% comprehension

Listening

  • Some episodes of Learning Japanese with Noriko, comprehension varying between 30-60% depending on the episode.

Grammar

  • Tae Kim's guide to Learning Japanese: Lesson 9
  • Bunpo: JLPT N5 7/10 modules

Recent releated post from 2022/07/09.

Beginning: 2022/03/16 (or so)

Base

Have watched anime, primarily in Japanese audio with English subtitles, since 2003 or so. Have read manga in English since around 2005.

2008-2012: majored in East Asian studies (Japanese concentration)  in college. Went through Genki I and II and a couple of other textbooks. Read a few poems and short stories in class.

2010: studied abroad in Japan for 3 months in the fall semester. Lived mostly in Kyoto but also traveled to Tokyo, Shikoku, Shiba, Nagoya, Kobe, and maybe other places. Mostly lived in Zen Buddhist temples with classmates.

Starting practices

Began 3x/week 1:1 speaking sessions ("coaching sessions") with Fluent Forever. Began familiarizing myself with their version of SRS and learning via their new mobile app. Read the Fluent Forever original book behind Gabe Wyner's (founder) language learning philosophy.

Read more in this post.

Glossary

  • FF: Fluent Forever, a language company founded by Gabe Wyner with its own language learning philosophy, program, and mobile app. Based on his book published in 2016.
  • primitives: in RTK, these are similar to kanji radicals, or common components of kanji that have their own meaning.
  • RTK: Remembering the Kanji, a 3-part textbook series by James Heisig with its own system in remembering 2,046 to 3,000 Chinese characters (kanji) used in Japanese
  • SRS: Spaced Repetition System