Okay, so I’ve finished the 漢字単語のドリル book. Now it’s onto bigger and badder things.
But before that, let’s just take a look back at what I did.
I didn’t keep great records of exactly when I did this, and when I started, so much of it is from memory. I think I started somewhere in the beginning of February and finished this weekend.
Why did I do this?
I know that I had been aching to improve my vocabulary for quite some time. I had been going over the extensive readers, but I wanted something more to really expand my proficiency in Japanese. My fluency is pretty smooth… until I come across something I don’t know. This is why expanding my proficiency is so important.
So what did I do? I wanted to look for more ways to increase my proficiency. That meant getting some materials for grammar and vocabulary. So I started looking for how people passed the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test).
Luckily I stumbled upon this great article about how he passed the JLPT 2kyuu using SuperMemo. It’s a good read. I got a few of the books that he used. This includes the one this blog post is about. And now I’m looking at it again for the next step (improving my grammar).
What did I do?
I added all of the vocabulary into Anki. And then I translated and added the example sentences into Anki. And everyday I would review that as well. So a lot of grinding, and translating. In fact, It took me a painstakingly long time to finish the Kanji-Vocab book.
What took me so long?
Why did it take me so long? Good question… Now thinking about it, I would say it had to do with:
- Grammar was out of reach for many sentences. Imagine trying to translate long sentences when you haven’t seen the grammar before. You have to translate somehow. And sometimes there’s not a great way to translate. You’re always losing something in the translation, or it comes off as strange and hard to read if you translate everything literally.
- There was just a lot of Japanese that I hadn’t been exposed to. It was all new for me.
- I translated each one as best I could mostly by myself, with some help from other people. (Thank the stars for my patient fiance).
- It was mentally exhausting.
- I had no set schedule or anything. I just did as much as I could until I got really tired. And then I burned out.
- My schedule didn’t revolve around my studying. It was the other way around for the most part.
- I got really behind on my reps and didn’t do them for a few weeks. Maybe three weeks? I didn’t really keep track.
- I didn’t really keep track, until the end.
- I was doing all sorts of other things. My focus and attention were in other places.
I guess you gotta be honest with yourself in your evaluation. There were times where I just got burnt out and didn’t really add any new ankicards.
I for sure wasn’t consistent. But I made sure to keep up with the reviews, except for that time where I didn’t as mentioned above.
That grammar, though. Sometimes I couldn’t understand the meaning of the sentence at all. Sometimes the example sentences had vocabulary that was not in the book (but still kind of rare to see) or the vocabulary was featured in later chapters in the book. (sometimes much later, near the end of the book!)
Maybe If I had had formal training or taken classes in Japanese at University, I might have gotten through this thing faster. Obviously my Japanese foundation is haphazardly put together. With a formally built up foundation, perhaps thing would have been different.
But it doesn’t matter. I’m just really glad I went through the book and continue to review the cards in the deck. Sometimes, I’ll just forget a word by itself, but in context It’ll be there for my brain to bring it up. Although slowly. Very slowly.
Also much of the vocabulary is very intangible. You can’t point to things like 復習 or 調整 or 次第. You can describe them well in context, but it still takes time to acquire these, and much more time and experience to really master the meaning of these words out in the wild. When do I use 復習する and when should I use 勉強する？ Are they interchangeable? I guess that will have to come with more experience, right?
What did I get out of it?
Okay, I have to say, I’m glad I stayed the course and plowed through this book. It greatly increased my understanding and my vocabulary. And I know that I still have a long way to go. There’s just so many words to learn. And there’s so many ways to use them.
I especially notice in my thinking and my listening skills. I will pick out words that I’ve learned in the book and understand them! Great! It’s working! But I still need to keep up the learning. These things must be overlearned and over practiced. You need to build stronger experiences in order for it to come to the mind quicker.
I’ve noticed that I’ve been able to read things online more easily with the vocabulary and the kanji drilling. I’ve been able to read my extensive readers more easily. Anime and songs have been easier to understand. I can actually feel a difference. I can feel my improvement. There is a payoff that is somewhat satisfying.
And again, it only leaves me wanting more. I know that I must know more. The further I go, the longer the road looks to the top. But I know that I’m stronger now.
Onward and upward.