Before Giving Up A Method Just Change It A Little

In the long and winding search of finding out what works for you, you may end up going through a mountain amount of materials, techniques, and methods. You try it, it doesn’t work, you move on. Repeat, until you start narrowing down where you really shine.

Just Change It A Little

This is great, and the you should enjoy the experimentation. Nothing should hold you back and you should give yourself freedom to try everything.

However there is a way to be more efficient and accurate with your search. In our efforts to find the best thing there is, you often discard things quickly. I once talked about being careful of trying too many different methods. I still believe this, but there is just as important a point to focus on.

If you find something not working for you, before throwing it out completely, and the work you’ve already spent getting to know it and get used to it, try something simple first:

Just change it a little.

Just Change It A Little 2

There are times when making one tiny adjustment that can make all the difference, and turn a near discard, to your new favorite weapon.

A major example is Anki. There are some features that completely ruin what would work amazingly because of one default feature. Some people don’t like to know their daily count. Or their time spent. Other people want to know the maximum amount of details and statistics possible. When you have something as capable as Anki, every small feature can be enabling or defeating.

This concept also carries over to every technique on this site.

For example, you hate the thought of not being able to use English subtitles. But if you watch it the first time with subtitles, and then repeat listen wihout, that may have been just what you needed. Or maybe the thought of J-J bothers you. However, giving yourself the ability to look up the word in English, but only add the Japanese may be just what you are looking for.

So before something reaches the Japanese garbage pile next time, give it a slight alteration and see what happens.

What have you given just a little change which made all the difference?

What were you ready to pass over, but after giving it a little tweak you found a new ally?

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Before Giving Up A Method Just Change It A Little — 7 Comments

  1. I was finding that I was dreading my Anki. I knew it was useful, but I was considering getting rid of it, because I disliked doing it so much. I was doing it at night, after all of my other tasks and before getting ready for bed. I also had a lot of different decks. I did it at night, because I would add things to it all day long, so it seemed best to wait until I was done adding for the day.

    I consolidated all of my decks into one, and I started doing my Anki close to the first thing I did in the morning. I still review all of the new words I add during the day at night, but that is a much, much, much smaller job with only the new words.

    I think it is taking me less time to do my Anki now, and I am getting fewer “leeches.” I imagine it is probably because I am doing it when I am fresh in the morning, rather than when I am tired at night. As an added, unintended bonus, I think that I am learning my new words better now that I am doing them separately from my regular reviews.

    Anki is still not my favorite study task, but I don’t dread it anymore. Changing the time of day that I do it has made a HUGE difference.

    • I can definitely agree with you there. I don’t think the time of day I do anki has much of an effect on how well I remember cards, but it is much more stressful doing it late at night.

      Recently I have been listening to while doing reviews. Seems to help a ton when I’m tired.

    • I get through my Anki a lot more easily in the morning too. If I leave it till after work I find myself dreading it and not having the will to do it. I still get through it but slower and less efficiently, and prob with a lower rate of getting the cards right haha.

  2. I also hated anki in the beginning and refused to use it despite my boyfriends insistance that is was the best study tool. Finally, when I started using the optimized core 10,000 I was able to use anki. I had done about half of Heisig just using the book and paper flashcards. We hadn’t come across this website yet, we were following most of what AJATT recommended.

    Having the audio with the cards and not having to make my own sentences or sort through subpar decks was key for me to start out. Even now, having done almost 5,000 of the core 10,000 I still have difficulty going through my other deck that I’m building up with J-J sentences from words I’ve found myself. Not having audio makes it much harder for me to remember things.

  3. The best thing for me was to stop being a “completionist” of dramas, manga, etc…and instead, treat my DVDs/books/etc like I used to read and watch TV as a kid — browse, watch interesting bits here and there, embrace the guilty pleasures on repeat, and skip the boring parts. I don’t hoard things just b/c they are in Japanese. I get a ton more input, and I’m not trying to force myself into the idea of “immersion” as if it were a chore.

    Also, instead of learning *about* Japanese vocab/cultural aspects of Japan, to *do*/*celebrate*/*create*/*live* them. Attaching personal experience/emotion to the vocab/info really enriches and cements my learning. When I get the chance, I try to involve my Japanese friends as teachers, too. They seem to love teaching and sharing in my discoveries, and in return, it opens up opportunities for them to approach me for similar learning exchanges in return.

    For RTK, adding some fun characters to star in some of the stories helped it be more engaging. For example, 貫 is the Little Mermaid to me (wearing a shellfish bra with piercings ^_^).

  4. I’ve known for a while that it’s usually recommended to study all the Kanji before sentences. I also knew that I tried that with Chinese and it didn’t work so well. So this time around I decided to put off Kanji until I got my feet wet with sentences. It seems to be working okay.

    For those really long Anki sessions (long for me) I sometimes put on music or watch a drama in the background. It helps fight the boredom (although I’ve seen this recommended so maybe it’s normal and not a change?).

    • I don’t recommend that here for the very reason that the failure rate is way too high and that initial failure usually spells doom for many beginners. Glad to hear the way you are doing it this time is working.

      Yes, jdrama/music is perfect for Anki sessions. It really sets the mood, and often times you can do Anki reviews in autopilot anyway.

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