My JLPT Vocabulary Study

Okay, so I am planning to take the JLPT pretty soon.

Since I haven’t had any formal study of Japanese, it will be difficult for me to fill in the gaps of vocabulary that I have. I didn’t learn vocabulary that they teach in Japanese classes. I did use a few textbooks while studying on my own, but the vocabulary I acquired from them isn’t enough. So where did my half-baked Japanese come from?

I learned from:

A: Reading beginner textbooks
B: Reading tourist conversation books
C: Speaking with Japanese friends in person
D: Chatting with Japanese friends on Skype.
E: Manga
F: Movies and TV Shows
G: Funny youtube videos
H: Translating phrases and putting them on computer flashcards (SRS)
I: Vocabulary through associations (Ah ha!)
J: Translating song lyrics
K: Going to Japanese events (earthquake fundraiser, ohanami, etc.)
L: Making syntactical errors and getting corrected.
M: Practicing a monologue and recording it.
N: Conversational tutoring
O: Observation of Japanese body langauge
P: Translating pages of books
R: Reviewing dry vocabulary with flashcards
S: Practicing reading the translated pages of books with a tutor
T: Extensive reading of picture books
U: Intensive reading of books
V: Where Are Your Keys? (WAYK)
W: Watching Anime with English subs with friends.
X: Taking a break and not stressing about it all.
Y: Going to Tokyo and holding a real conversation with a friend for 2 hours over Shabu Shabu.
Z: Falling asleep while listening to anime and music.
AA: Pimsleur Audio CD’s

sushi yummy!As you can see, I’ve been multi-modal. Perhaps, unconventional? I have never taken a formal class. Much of the vocabulary I have acquired is not classroom formal, or JLPT formal.

And honestly, in order for these learning activities to work, I need to strongly comprehend the input. Some of these activities are slower and less effective than others.

The most effective activities for vocabulary acquisition for me in order are:

A: Extensive reading
B: Vocabulary through association
C: Translating song lyrics
D: Practicing reading the translated pages of books with a tutor (Intensive reading, but practicing with a tutor afterwards)

So now what do I do?

Since I need specific vocabulary, translating native material will not help as much as I would like. I’ll have to study from vocabulary lists.

I can do this easily with word association. However, I’ll need to keep up with my reading (It’s been a few weeks since I’ve picked up a Japanese book.)

How do word associations work?

It’s just like Heisig’s Remembering The Kanji. You make a strange and vivid story to help you remember. Here’s an example:

氷 (こおり) Koori = Ice.

The story is: When I saw my friend Cory in a block of ice, I yelled his name “KOORI!” so loud it shattered the ice.

Japanese is a langauge that you can do associations easily with. Japanese is very easy to pronounce. English has all of the sounds that are in Japanese.

As for Korean, I had a hard time coming up with word associations because the pronunciation is so different from English. In Korean, there are many different sounds that English doesn’t have.

Here’s another example:

歯 (は) ha = tooth. Haaaaaa stop drilling my haaaaaa tooth. It haaaaaaa hurts!

医者 (いしゃ) isha = Doctor. The wealthiest doctor in the world is a big fat old lady named Isha. Infact, she’s so fat she isha hospital.

Since we now know these two words, the word for Dentist is pretty easy.

歯医者 (はいしゃ) haisha = Dentist. “Ha” is tooth, and “isha” is used for doctor. Put them together and boom! You get dentist. The tooth doctor.

歯科衛生士 (しかえいせいし) shikaeiseishi = Dental hygienist. OMG, how do I come up with an association for this?!?

Now it’s time to get creative. When I say “Shikaeiseishi” what do I think of? I think of the phrase “This guy say she…” So in a very numbed up mouth sort of way I say “Shikaeiseishi a dentist, but I know she just a hygensist.”

Incidentally, the other word for Dentist is 歯科衛 (しかい) Shikai. This guy dentist. Again because of the novocaine “Shikai dentist.”

What do I do with the associations I just made?

So now It’s time to go through some JLPT vocab lists I can find on the net and then delete the words I’m very familiar with. With the words I’m not very familiar with, I will make a word association and put them into my computer flashcard system. (Spaced Repetition System)

My Chinese tutor also suggested I record the vocabulary and put it on my ipod. I will do this with the associations. Then I can put them into a playlist and hit shuffle.

And in order to get a bigger grasp on the vocab and how it’s used, I will create stories with my Japanese tutor a la TPRS.

Wow, so much writing today. But I needed to get my thoughts out to organize them properly.

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