Comments

Learning Japanese in your 50s — 108 Comments

  1. 頑張ってください。毎週読むつもりです。質問を持っています。
    ☻どうして四iPodがありますか。
    ☻それぞれの色に意味はありますか。

  2. イエムピさん、コメント、ありがとう。
    I’ll respond in English, if that’s OK with you.
    Glad to hear that you’ll be back and thanks for your wishes – 頑張ります。
    You’ll find out about the colors and the reason why I use four iPods next week, it will be subject of my next post – so please come back.

  3. Looking forward to following this! 頑張れココさん!

    “Four ipod shuffles in different colors” – that’s somehow amazing ^o^

  4. I am look forward to this all well. I feel that I am around this level and I don’t know what to do. I am glad I am not the only one. I would like to know where are you getting your sentences from? I KNOW that the both of us can get pass this level. I can’t wait to read your posts. 一緒に頑張ります

    ジョーダン

    • ジョーダン-san. Thanks. We’re all in this together.

      I think the source of your sentences doesn’t really matter, as long as you enjoy it. Right now I’m having fun with Jpod 101. I’m really tired of my textbooks, and I just don’t feel like starting all over again with the same material, which used to be Japanese for Busy People.

  5. I am really looking forward to your blog. I found this website not too long ago and I am really excited by what I have found. Heavens know that I have done tons of research into how to study Japanese. I am a recent convert and self assessed level 18、 頑張りましょう!

    • Hi Amy and thanks for dropping by. We’re more or less at the same level, so I’m looking forward to your comments – we can push each other to new levels!

      Good luck for your journey!

  6. >5. A hooded sweatshirt

    Glad to see you didn’t forget the most important thing!

    Jokes aside, I’m really excited to see how you do on your Japanese journey, especially with all of your lifestyle factors and challenges. Have lots of fun every step of the way!

    • Heather, thanks – the hoodie is extremely important, you’ll soon find out why! Thanks for your wishes and see you around – I wish you loads of fun, too.

  7. I’m so excited for this! 頑張ってくださいね!It inspired me to take things up a notch as well. I’m sure this will inspire a lot of people.

    The four colored ipod shuffles is sure to start a trend. Six months from now, we’ll easily be able to spot any immersion method learner, 笑.

    • Hi Saori, thanks for visiting – I’ve read many of your posts here as I was exploring this wonderful site, happy to see you here…

      Yeah – lets go wild with the shuffles, this is just the beginning 笑.

  8. お疲れ *________*v

    The iPod thing definitely makes a lot more sense now. I think I have too much material on my shuffle, so I should probably just try to update it more often.

    About your study regimen, I think the reason it’s hard to get a full 13 hours of studying in per day is that you’re still looking for what works for you. Once you get used to watching drama for relaxation, you’ll watch your way through an entire season in 1 day without problems.

    Other than that, I personally think that 13 hours a day is a lot. I think that like sleep, you need your quiet time every now and then to process things. My advice would be, don’t hesitate to take some quiet time every now and then. It shouldn’t be a problem as long as you don’t go and run back to English.

    Also, at some point you might get sick of some parts of your study regimen, much like I got sick of chicken when I was on a diet ;-) Be sure to switch it up in time to prevent a lifelong dislike of certain ways of studying ;-)

    • This is so true! One of the reasons why I disliked Pimsleur is because after a few weeks (this was before I started using the immersion method), listening to the same material, at the same pace of speaking and method of teaching, was so mind wretchedly boring I couldn’t take it anymore. Don’t let this happen to your immersion environment! Perhaps on that blue ipod, you can add daily podcasts so there is always something new to listen to. Also, maybe you could keep around some reading materials (Chi’s Sweet Home is a great manga for beginners, and there’s other manga that have all furigana so that you can read smoothly, even if you don’t understand at first) so that you don’t always have to be listening for immersion, but can read for it too. Then there’s some balance (^_^).

      • Reading material is a very good idea. I have those graded readers lying around somewhere, I might pick them up and get some change through them.

        BTW, my first language is not English, it’s German. English is my third language and Japanese my fourth, French being my second.

        • Oh hey, Japanese is my fifth language :D (native Dutch speaker, 2nd language is English, 3rd is French, 4th is German)

          • Fifth?? not bad, indeed.

            I forgot to mention Swiss German and Latin – but I guess they don’t count. I had Latin at school for 9 years and all I remember are a few “wise guy punch lines” such as “Principibus placuisse viris non ultima laus est.” What a waste of time…

    • Linniea, thanks a lot. Guess I just have to loosen up a bit. Better than burning out in no time – I have been there before…

  9. If you subtract the sleeping hours from the day, I’m pretty much aiming for the same rate of immersion you are this summer (13hrs/16hrs=~80% immersion). It’s more possible during the summer, because I don’t have school (with exception for one 2x/week summer class from May to June). I haven’t really had this intensity of immersion, so I’m excited.

    I like your ipod idea, and plan to use it myself, except it’ll be with a non-apple mp3 player (my husband’s). I’ll be watching two to three kids from around 8am to 7pm Mo through Fr, so I have to work my immersion around them. Along with using the mp3 player, I’ll be continuing to teach the kids Japanese and will show them Japanese movies, picture books and music, as well as bringing my own books to read while the kids play. I really don’t know if 80% immersion is possible for me yet (certainly not possible during the school year, since we can’t listen to an mp3 player during class), but you aiming for it encourages me.

    Immersion is certainly tiring. My mother-in-law from Japan says that the average foreign exchange student needs around a month to adjust to listening to Japanese all the time without feeling tired by the end of the day. Her exchange students would often ask to speak in English, because they were just so tired and needed some comfort. To force ourselves to do this in an environment where English is the majority is certainly a challenge. I haven’t started my 80% immersion yet because I’m finishing up my semester first. I hope my immersion efforts will prepare me before visiting Japan this summer for a couple of weeks, so that I can truly enjoy myself and not be tired by the end of the day.

    • Yeah, it can be tiring. I remember when I was on holiday in Japan, sometimes I just couldn’t stand it anymore. All that Japanese!!!

      Glad you feel the same. I think 80% immersion is very tough, indeed. I don’t know if I ever can do it: I am already listening to music all day, it’s my job. Right now I’m composing a new piece, and I just can’t get used to listening to Japanese at the same time. I don’t know if it’s possible. I’ll try…

  10. Great read. Its almost like your journey is a weekly episode and I am rooting for your to become fluent. I like the use of the iPods; there like Link’s outfits for different situations while your headphones are like weapons. Those Ultimate Ears run a pretty yen. Reading this has made me want to evolve my study habits. ガンバル

    • イエムピ, thanks for your support! The UE are very expensive, I had them already because I worked with them on stage for a few years, but then stopped using them. So mine where free :) But I’m sure there’s cheaper versions out there, I even heard that there’s a DIY version where you can mould your own in ear speakers.

  11. I’m anxious to see more posts of yours. I started my Japanese journey almost a year and a half ago, but admittedly, I’ve made little progress, and only after finding this site I decided to seriously start immersion… So, I’m on my own JALUP adventure right now and while I’m not blogging about it, reading about yours is a tremendous source of motivation ( ̄ー ̄)

    (I just gotta remember not to spend TOO much time reading JALUP, heh)

    • hi there, irmoony, thanks for reading! Looking forward to hearing about your progress, it’s good to know that others are heading for the same direction.

      OK, ’nuff said – back to immersion!

  12. I have a 3DS instead of an iPod (2GB SD card, enough room for a fair amount of material, I can still listen to it through the headphone jack even if it’s closed, and most importantly, I don’t have to use iTunes. And never will. Ever.), but I never thought about compartmentalizing my listening material. I’ll try that once I get more, since all I have right now is about 14 tracks I found via Japan-A-Radio (haven’t had time to get more since it’s a four-step process to get it from Youtube to the 3DS), so it seems like a good idea. Kind of like seperating different study areas into different Anki decks.

  13. 14 tracks is not much, indeed. I just counted my tracks and I was surprised to see that I have 23535, enough for not getting bored :) Separation is a good thing, I believe. On what equipment the stuff is stored is really irrelevant, though.

  14. 35h10m of Japanese over the whole week? Holy crap I’m slacking (relatively speaking). Let’s see, I haven’t explicitly been tracking anything, but I think what I did this week was: Anki: 1h45m (avg 15m/day), Audio (Japan-A-Radio, twitcasts, and listening to Japanese friends IRL): ~5h35m (aiming for at least 30m/day, usually a bit more), Video (so far, only a ペーパーマリオRPG実況プレイ): 30m, reading/writing practice (specifically, reading and responding to tweets in Japanese): 25m, total of 8h15m… wow, actually a bit more than I expected.

    Of course, I have a lot fewer opportunities each day to listen to or do Japanese. I can’t “leave the TV on a Japanese station all day” because I don’t have the $25/mo Comcast is demanding for TV Japan, so I have to substitute with Youtube. Listening practice while driving is right out because there’s no Japanese radio stations in the area, and it’s illegal in my state to drive with headphones on (nor do I have a CD player in my car). And my “actually doing stuff IRL” schedule is a mess this whole month… in fact, I have to go in about 15min to help with the local 子供の日祭り (at least I’ll get some listening practice :D) But I’m definitely doing better ever since I started reading Tofugu’s “30 Days of Becoming A Better Japanese Learner” ebook. Two weeks ago, I was averaging maybe only 2-3hrs a week.

    • Don’t beat yourself up – we all do what we can, we all have a challenging life, don’t we? Your immersion sounds fine to me!
      “30 Days of Becoming A Better Japanese Learner” ebook? I had to download it immediately :) I’ll read it in the coming days and let you know if and how it affects me. Thanks!

  15. ここさん、こんいちは
    My weekly source of entertainment has arrived! Well, OK, not the ONLY source of entertainment.
    I’d like to follow your example and log my progress, but I’m too much of a lazybum to bother (I’d like to get the same app you’re using, but unfortunately I don’t have even 5$ to spare right now, lol). But since I spend most of the time on the internet, I have some kind of Japanese audio playing in the background almost all the time. Currently my playlist consists of a rather… mismatched set of stuff – two eps of Steins;Gate (watched it with subs a few months ago), two eps of the new 未来日記 drama (randomly found it when browsing a drama site, got me hooked), two eps of とある魔術の禁書目録 (which I had only recently discovered) and a few Minecraft 実況プレイ episodes.
    It might not be the best idea to listen to Japanese when climbing a mountain in scorching heat – you might associate it with unpleasant experiences later on xD
    I’m also trying out a Japanese P2P program, which might be… not exactly legal, at times, but if those files are legit, then it’s going to be a real goldmine of Japanese media.
    Other than that, I decided to only watch raw anime and drama and it’s incredibly frustrating, but my stubbornness won’t let me turn the subs on.

    Well, I think we’re both going in the right direction. ここから頑張ってください!I’ll be looking forward to your next post.

    • Interesting – sounds like you’re doing just fine! It’s great to meet people who are in the same boat, even if it’s only over the internet. You folks give me great energy, glad I got the opportunity to start this blog.

      Funny thing is, everybody listens to different stuff and has different interests, yet our goal is the same and we’ll all meet at the same place somewhere in the future: “fluency”…

      BTW, the app is great – I noticed it’s really motivating me to put in more hours, maybe you can spare a few bucks when you have them.

  16. You know, it’s a bit pricy but you can order most any popular American TV series dubbed into Japanese…

    so you can watch The Sopranos over and over again, all you want, and because you’ve seen it before you’ll even have a good understanding of what’s going on.

    • I know – naturally, I thought the same thing, but the Sopranos are really, really expensive, I don’t think I want to put in that kind of money. And you’re sort of missing the cultural insight. I think I’d rather go for some native stuff. I have a whole list of dramas from adshap’s list in my amazon basket right now, and as soon as I’ve sold one of my cameras I will click the checkout button!

  17. Your speaking sounds really good man. You are being too humble. Did you record it without a script? By the way, I got the ebook 30 days Japanese … And I am on day 8. The biggest thing I got out of it so far has been the shadowing techniques and the introduction to Kanji damage <—- best way to learn Kanji!

    • thanks, you’re too kind. anyway, it’s just the start – we’ll all be awesome in no time :) yeah, shadowing is great, I’ll do that too.

  18. Don’t worry too much about your accent. Your pronunciation is pretty good. Shadowing helps a lot. Also if you are into singing along to Japanese music that also helps greatly. At least it did for me. Keep it up! またね!

  19. Hey,

    I like keeping with with your progress so far. I came across a website that follows along the genki books closely, but has new dialogues at both natural and slow pace along with quizes. It was made as part of a maters. check it out!

    http://mykikitori.com/

    Cheers

  20. Also, regarding Core2k, what I did was – at first I went through steps 1 and 2, which amounts to 400 words total, but I found step 3 hard and annoying, so I suspended all cards, but those that had words that used at least one kanji that I’d already known (so I left about 600 cards suspended). Now that I went through over 1000 Core words, I decided to unsuspend the remaining cards, but honestly, I think it wasn’t the best idea to do that. I would also suspends sentences that I found boring and tedious.

    But still, it’s fine to get the J-E sentences from another source, I guess. But since I couldn’t afford a good textbook, I went for the most often praised free source.

  21. Hi there.
    It’s kinda sad I won’t be able to look forward to your posts every Sunday now, but I also feel that it’s a good decision – in terms of language learning, not that much will change in just a week of study, I think.

    I hit a bit of a slowdown, myself. Damn Avengers, such a cool movie. And not going to be released in Japan until August (poor guys). I did manage to get the prequel, sort of, with Japanese dub, and I have a feeling I’m gonna watch the hell out of that movie now. I also started doing what I call “RTK-turbo” – using Adshap’s deck I learn as many kanji as I feel like every day and I only add stories to the ones I can’t quite recall (I actually do remember some!). Also started doing, or rather trying to do, J-J sentences. Fell back on my Core2k deck, since I didn’t feel like getting through it much. I guess I continue reviewing and maybe learning 5-10 words a day, but I’d rather focus on Tae Kim’s guide, RTK and sentences.

    I assume you’re playing Japanese audio in the background about any moment you get, correct? I too try to do that, but I find myself very tired of the background noise after a while. But I guess that’s a matter of getting used to it.

  22. irmoony, my suggestion is to continue listening to japanese podcasts and radio as much as you can. Try to find things you find interesting so it seems less like background noise, and I promise it will start to come into focus earlier than you imagine. Check out these links:

    http://www.simulradio.jp/#kyusyu
    ^^^^^^^
    Free japanese web radio. (If someone could throw this into an article on this site, I think a lot of people would appreciate it.) Lots of choices, if you can’t play in in your browser download VLC player and paste the link for the stream your interested in there.

    http://costep.hucc.hokudai.ac.jp/costep/report/index.php?storytopic=5
    ^^^^^^^
    This is the link to the homepage of my absolute favorite podcast,
    北海道大学の「かがく探検隊CoSTEP」
    とっても面白い内容な!

    Note that unlike Coco, I almost never listen to things I have read first. I just listen as much as possible, and at first it really was like background noise, but now it is much clearer. I would say on average I understand around 70% of it.
    It is an integral part of my studies.

  23. これは僕の初めて日本語でコメント・・・

    ココさん、最近は困難な時期そうですね。ココさんの家族は元気なので、うれしいです。

    相変わらず、頑張って下さい!

  24. Good to hear from you :D

    I know what you mean, I’ve been really busy the past couple of weeks and I’m starting a (full-time) summer job on Monday. I wonder how much Japanese my brains will be able to process then XD

  25. “1) go through Adshap’s RTK deck at a pace of 100 a day, 2) listen to 4 hours of Japanese every day, 3) watch 4 movies without subtitles per week, 4) work on my vocab for 20 min a day, and 5) listen to her キッチン recording once a day while reading along.”
    To be perfectly honest I don’t find this realistic. If you can do it, great for you, of course, but I think you may be severely underestimating just how much work it is to do “1)”; I did hear of some people who managed it, but it’s pretty much a full time occupation… Personally, even in my last week when I made a final push to get RTK done with, I only ever got to 50 new cards a day, and even then the reviews were skyrocketing…

    • @grapegrape I don’t agree with you. In fact doing 50 a day is probably worse than doing 100 a day. I did 100 per day for 20 days, and made it before the reviews got crazy. If you do 50 per day, the reviews will get too high, and if it were me, i’d just stop adding cards until reviews calm down. In my opinion it’s a lot better to spend 3~4 horus+ everyday and finish RTK faster so you can then concentrate on reviewing. Either way doing a final push was a good decision imo.

      • “I don’t agree with you.”

        You don’t agree with what exactly? What statement did I make that you disagree with? Do you perhaps think that everyone (or even most people) has the 3-4 daily hours (which I think is a conservative estimate) of solid concentration that would be required to go through RTK at that pace?

        “If you do 50 per day, the reviews will get too high, and if it were me, i’d just stop adding cards until reviews calm down.”

        Mathematically speaking, the reviews with 50 will always be less than half of what they are with 100 (It’s less, and not precisely half since cards need less reviews the older they are).

        “In my opinion it’s a lot better to spend 3~4 horus+ everyday and finish RTK faster so you can then concentrate on reviewing.”

        It might be better IF you can give yourself such a luxury. I, between classes and writing my thesis, certainly couldn’t at the time, and I doubt Coco can either. Though personally I can’t say I see the point of “concentrating on reviewing”, I do see the point of getting the “learning of new ones” done with as fast as possible.

        • Hi here again, as I said, I’ve already been through RTK 1 – I originally did it at a pace of 20-25 a day. This time around I need about one hour to do 100 a day.

          I do it first thing in the morning and do bits and pieces of reviews throughout the day. It really isn’t bad, and I am sure I can do it at least until 1500 after which I probably will slow down a bit.

          My goal is to have finished the deck when I post my next monthly post. Today I’m already at 600.

          • It0s 8:11 AM right now and I just went through my 100 RTK kanji of the day and it took 32 minutes.

            Reviews will pop up throughout the day, but I’m not concerned about them, as I will just do them whenever I have a minute.

    • grapegrape, I’m at 1100 of 1901 Kanji now, and it took me 54 minutes today to go through my reviews. It’s still quite manageable. I’ll do 100 a day until I reach 1500 and then probably go down to 50 a day.

      • Good to know you are managing it.
        Though once I realized you were not going to also be learning 100 a day, it sounded a lot more feasible… Learning the Kanji takes (or it did to me) the majority of the time and energy.

        Out of curiosity: how many daily reviews are you doing a day, and would you say you press “easy” a lot?

        • Hi there. Since I am re-doing RTK, I changed the algorithm. When I remember a Kanji 100% I press “easy”, which I changed to 12-21 days. When I remember the story, but got one element wrong, such as the position, I press “good” which is 3-11 days, and when I don’t remember it I press hard, which makes it reappear the next day. If I have absolutely no clue I press “soon”.

          But the next time they appear I am much harder with myself. And once I am through I will change the algorithm back to where it originally was.

          So far I have between 50-90 daily reviews plus the 100 “new” ones.

          • I’ve reached 1500 (Heisig Kanji 1706, “abolish”) and it’s getting tougher. Reviews are now around 200 a day. The last 400 of RTK did not stick well last time, so I basically have to re-learn them completely. From tomorrow I will do 50 a day for 4 days, then 25 a day until the end.

  26. Hi grapegrape and thank you for your word of caution. I forgot to mention that I already finished RTK 1, but stopped reviewing for quite a while. I didn’t do RTK 3, but RTK 1 is pretty solid until somewhere in the 1500’s. Maybe I will have to slow down after 3/4 but up to 1500 I should be fine. I will be clicking “easy” quite often and almost never “again”.

    We’ll see. I’ll meet Maiko again at the beginning of September, and if I have Adshap’s deck down when I post my next monthly post, I’ll be happy with my work. I know I can do it.

  27. “I really felt bad and down on myself, and was really depressed for the rest of the evening and the day after.”

    I’ve definitely been there before. In fact, after my last trip to Japan last winter I felt like this for quite awhile, because I realized my speaking ability was so awful, and I felt homesick in Japan when I wanted to enjoy it. But instead of giving up, I used my disappointment to invigorate myself (like you are doing now). Although I was too nervous before my trip to skype with my mother-in-law who lives in Japan, I made a commitment to do it afterward to improve my speaking and relationship with her. Also, I made a lot more CDs of the audio from anime and drama to play in my car, and listened to them constantly. Now we speak every Friday, and I can’t wait to talk with her. Every time, she’s surprised by how much I’ve improved, and I’m sure Maiko will be surprised by you too. Keep working for your goal!

    • That’s very encouraging, Rachel, thanks! It’s great to see that you’ve overcome that feeling and are enjoying yourself so much now.

      I guess it comes down to ego, and ego is rarely helpful. I want to appear better than I am and that blocks me from using the language, preferring not to speak instead of using every opportunity to speak.

  28. “To put it plainly: I was feeling lonely. No one to talk to, no one to correct me, no close person around me speaking Japanese, only a huge mountain of things I should learn.”
    Honestly, I never felt like this. Maybe that’s because i didn’t learn so i can talk with others, but rather so i can enjoy media, i can’t in english. So everytime i felt like i don’t want to study anymore, i’d go read something that i couldn’t before, and feel a lot better, ready to study again.
    Don’t let “a huge mountain of things you should learn” discourage you! Look at it from another angle. When you’ve learned all those things, a whole new world will appear before you, and you’ll never get to it if you get discouraged from that “huge mountain”. Every time you feel like that, just do another step, step by step you’ll eventually get through that mountain! You will never make it through if you just stay in place.
    Also, you’ve already been studying for 4 months now, right? If you spend your time correctly you should be able to read easier books and most manga. Look around for something interesting! When you do find something interesting, all the time you’ve spend studying will feel worthwhile. If you keep studying and never have fun with what you learned you’ll feel overwhelmed by how much is left to study and feel lonely. So go have fun! Use what you learned. If you feel like you are having too much fun and studying too little, don’t mind it. Because in the end you are having fun WHILE learning japanese.
    So mix up some fun in your studying and you’ll feel a lot better about it. Stay motivated and good luck~

    • Totally agree with this. Why are you limiting yourself to just キッチン? On top of that, your involvement with キッチン is completely for the sake of studying. Find something that you enjoy in Japanese that you don’t necessarily have to study deeply, such as a manga with furigana, drama series with no subtitles or video game, and just enjoy what you can do so far. No pressure, just having fun.

    • Good reply, and a good shake up for me, thanks! I do enjoy the movies I’m watching now a lot. I think this is a good way to relax and enjoy myself. I think the Japanese have a great movie culture and I am really looking forward to open this huge world to me.

  29. I guess that’s another cause of my lack of motivation: I have no one around me to be accountable for my Japanese progress (or lack of it). There’s a few people on twitter that I sometimes respond to things they’re talking about (plus a few dozen others that I follow for the fun of it and so my timeline isn’t full of nothing but Twitterstuck (Homestuck RP accts)), as well as the people on #ajatt, but other than that I don’t really have anyone to talk with and help me stay on track.

    And I don’t know where to look for people that I can actually communicate with (anything requiring money is out because いつもお金がない, and anything involving video or voice chat is out for reasons I’m not allowed to talk about). Back when I was taking classes, I had both my 先生 and fellow classmates for support, but after I graduated we really don’t talk that much anymore, not even on FB. Now, all I really have is a few people I randomly meet on the internet and only see a few times before losing contact (kind of a negative version of 一期一会)…

    • http://twitcasting.tv/ is a great place to converse in Japanese while maintaining privacy on your behalf. The host uses a webcam, but you communicate to them through comments. Simply write, おはようございます (or こんにちは/こんばんは, I’m just usually on in the evening, which is morning in Japan) and you’ve started. Most of the time, they will acknowledge you and say おはようございます back. Depending on how much you understand, your comments can lead to a conversation. It’s great listening practice, without the pressure to output when you’re not ready.

      Maybe there needs to be a forum. I know there are tons out there, but one specifically for Japanese learners using the immersion method. One problem about a forum is that it can be a temptation to be on the forum, rather than do something in Japanese. And if the forum were in Japanese, the majority of its users wouldn’t have natural Japanese, therefore being bad examples for each other. But it was just something that was always on my mind.

      • Rachel, I checked that out before, someone here on JALUP talked about it, I don’t remember who it was (you?).

        It was interesting, but somehow it didn’t really klick with me. I kept hiding behind the anonymity of the net. But I am sure for others it might be perfect.

        For me Maiko is ideal right now because she really makes me want to impress her. It’s the kick I need right now. And I totally dig her voice.

      • That’s an interesting website but it feels a little creepy to me. Plus seeing the legions of girls commenting on one guy’s feed is a little weird. I’ll keep looking around to see if I can find something that looks good.

      • And Rachel, while I don’t necessarily see a forum for this site due to my huge dislike of forums, I am working on some form of Japanese conversation practice based for this site (with real native speakers as a guide and zero English allowed).

        I haven’t worked out the logistics of it just yet, so if you have any ideas on the topic, feel free to e-mail me them.

    • I hear you Kimura. It can be frustrating or at least not motivating.

      Before I found Maiko, I talked to a sushi chef in our town who just arrived from London, and I asked him if we could meet once a week and teach each other our languages. He was really into it, but unfortunately left before we could hook up.

      Maybe an idea for you?

      You may look for Sushi chefs or for music students from Japan if you have a conservatory in your town. I once put up an ad in our conservatory, but it never materialized.

  30. Hello,

    I’m interested in how much time your spend learning stories for the kanji. If learning a kanji is giving you too much trouble do you skip it?

    On most days I do about 20 – 25 per day, but I spend hours trying to create good stories. I went through RTK once before and got to around 1500, but the stories I made were awful and I would forget them often. I realize that I’m building up an alphabet, so I want to take my time, but sometimes I feel like I’m spending too much time creating stories that will fade away later anyway. What is your opinion on this issue and how are you handling it?

    • Not much time. Around a minute, I guess. Sometimes more.

      I take the best story from the RTK koohii site and tweak it, making it as personal as possible. If a primitive doesn’t work for me, I radically change it to something suitable. Also, I sometimes change the keyword after consulting with Jim Breen’s dictionary, starting at “Kanji Lookup” and checking the most common compounds.

      I believe that things get hairy after 1500. Don’t give up there, keep pushing, even if it’s just 5 a day.

      I don’t skip Kanji and I don’t use the Leech function. I rather write a hint next to the keyword, this helps. I have around 25 Kanji I keep forgetting. I changed the stories to some of them and they stuck. Others I just can’t remember, but I guess they’ll stick once I’ve learned some compounds in the real world.

      Don’t beat yourself up too much over this, just make it personal (ex girlfriends, foes, family, embarrassing situations, movies) and don’t have too much respect for what’s been written by Heisig, change it, pimp it, and you should be fine.

      Anki is your best friend. Good luck!

  31. ツレがうつになりまして is one of my favorite movies! I feel closely connected to it, because someone I care about in my life is depressed (he lives in Japan) and his story is actually very similar to ツレ, caused by stress at work. And he’s not the only depressed guy I know in Japan either, so it’s very common. I saw the movie on the plane to Japan. I love Aoi Miyazaki (^_^).

    I’m rooting for you! I understand life changes can bring about a lack of motivation to study Japanese. I’ve been there (and I get there often just because of little things like getting sick and having a dentist appointment). I get stressed easily, and my mood affects my motivation. Having accountability like your readers really helps! Another thing, even if it’s just listening to a song in the car, it’s better than nothing at all. Even if it’s just three anki cards in the morning with your coffee, it’s better than nothing. That’s what I have found. Then you can work your way up from there when you’re feeling less stressed.

  32. Hey Rachel, thanks for your comment. Glad you can relate to my temporary low. It feels really good to be back on the block. “Three Anki cards in the morning with your coffee”. You’re so right.

    I know it. I know it so well, but still, I start avoiding Japanese when I’m not doing it “perfectly” – a lot of work for me, as this behavior is deeply rooted in my personality.

    I didn’t start yet, as I planned to start when this post is published, but I start my attack plan right now – I open Anki – and I see: 529 due today, which is much less than I expected :)

    OK, I start my first three, with my morning coffee: 径 – correct, 繰 – correct, 繊 – wrong.

  33. Hey man!

    From what I’ve read before, you didn’t even start so long ago with Japanese but you already reached level 15! That’s freakin amazing.

    The “real world” (work, school, university, loved ones, resposnsibilities, you name it) is something you have to balance Japanese with. It sucks, but sacrificing everything for Japanese can’t be good! So good on you that you were able to fulfill that huge job. I also really like your dedication to push forward even after that setback!

    And don’t worry about sucking. Everyone sucks at the beginning (heck, I still suck, but I know that I need to study more) Try not to be too perfectionist about it! If you avoid doing it you won’t do anything at all, but if you do just a little, 10 reps on Anki is more than 0 reps, you see?

    Anyway, good luck for you and I look forward to your next post.

    • Thanks, Susan. I’m back and I’ll keep going. It’s good to get that kind of support here, I feel privileged.

  34. Congrats on the big project and good luck taking down that Anki monster! I have really enjoyed reading your story so far.

    Getting back into things will just serve as a reminder of how you really want this and that life can get in the way all it wants because you can pick yourself up and keep plugging along anyway. :P

    • Hi Jeff, nice of you to give me support and being so positive about it! There’s many more posts to come :)

  35. Sometimes things come up. I had to set back a bit this week knowing I had midterms and 2 100 point projects already. I halved my review limits and halved adding new cards and am keeping up, but barely.

    Look at the positives of the situation, perhaps the small break gave you more energy and motivation in the long run.

    • yeah, Ninjam, we’re all struggling with realities of our lives, aren’t we? midterms, projects, families, money – you name it. let’s just move forward together! thanks for your comment.

  36. I am exactly the same as you, I put off doing things unless I can do it perfect. I have 250 RTK to go and I was smashing along. Then I got influenza which put me in hospital and I was out for a week. I haven’t done RTK since.. And that was 3 weeks ago. Instead I started my j-e 1000 that I told myself I wouldn’t start until I finished RTK, but I’m just struggling getting back into it. I’ve told myself to just keep going j-e 1000 until ankimobile 2.0 comes out, but I know that’s just my mind making excuses.

    • Nayr, so why don’t you start attacking those last 250? we’re both in it together, so let’s do it!

      get back to me when you’ve started, knowing you’re doing it will help me, too.

      • In my case I think I just burned out and then couldn’t recover. I was doing 100 new RTK cards a day and just managing to hold on. Once I got sick and couldn’t study for a week the sheer amount of reviews was just too off-putting and disheartening.

        I didn’t stop studying japanese, I just started j-e 1000, which I have been steadily chugging along with quite nicely. considering I already knew 1650 of the RTK I guess it was time to mix it up anyhow as the monotony was starting to take its toll.

        However as of yesterday I decided to hit back at RTK and kill this beast once and for all. I was actually looking for a way I could implement a digital sketch pad into anki (so I can stop chewing through hundreds of pieces of paper each week) when I discovered a system called “skritter” which allows me to draw kanji with my finger on my iphone.

        It makes reviewing the RTK surprisingly entertaining and fast. It correct me on my stroke order, uses RTK mnemonics and other really cool features. Whilst I will be sticking with anki for all of my Japanese sentence needs, I will defiantly be using skritter for my RTK.

        I recommend checking it out.

        • (so I can stop chewing through hundreds of pieces of paper each week)

          I like to write on magazines I’m done reading. The combination of a black sharpie marker and glossy magazine paper makes the writing really smooth and more “kanji-like” if that makes sense (think calligraphy). Plus you’re recycling!

  37. If it’s any help, I usually start my studies after I get home from work with a few RTK reps, regardless, and it gives me a nice warm up before I start tackling the much more difficult content in my other decks. If I don’t feel like doing anything, then I’m going to find out straight away and I can switch to something else.

    At first it was hard going, and I would avoid all the interesting stuff I had accumulated because it was too difficult, but after a few weeks it became normal and the pain transformed into joy! Joy like 至近距離射撃、銀貨 and 猟友会!

    The point I’m trying to make is that if you tweak your tactics and buff your party correctly at the start, it sets you up nicely for the latter stages of the battle. And, say, your cat jumps on the power button and annihilates all your progress, you know exactly what to do when you load up your save game again and you realise that that boss wasn’t actually that hard at all.

    Good luck in picking it up again. I’m looking forward to your next post!

    • good read, kreeb – and you’re so right with this.

      it’s all about good habits, and sometimes the smallest ones at the very beginning of your day are the ones that put you in a good mood to get going for the rest of the day. not starting is actually the worst habit of them all.

      thanks for your comment!

  38. I was feeling slow and tired today, but after reading all your comments, I’m full of energy and ready to go.

    Thanks again.

  39. This is so great! So glad to see that you’re back in action! I took a Japanese cinema class and absolutely loved it. At first, I only liked current movies. But after the class, I really grew an appreciation for older Japanese cinema.

    This comment is kind of directed to any reader out there, does anyone know a book in Japanese that is similar to RTK in that I could use in in place of RTK? I never did RTK in the beginning, and now that I’m J-J, I really don’t want to go back to J-E to learn. Coco’s journey really inspires me, seeing how he progresses with RTK, his passion for cinema and so on. I’m pretty content with my learning method for kanji, but if anyone knows of a J-J tool that’s sort of like a Japanese version of RTK (like an anthology of kanji, similar to how there are J-J books on Japanese grammar), please comment!

    • Hi Rachel and thanks again for your comment.

      I haven’t heard of such a deck, I believe it’s contrary to Japanese learning methods, so I doubt it exists. There are other E-J systems that add the pronunciation, namely Kanji Damage. JALUP’s deck has a Japanese keyword for every Kanji, maybe you can live with that? Since you’re already advanced, you can do it in one or two months, so I don’t think it would be time wasted.

      • Yeah, it really seems contrary to the Japanese method of studying kanji. Though, I have seen some Japanese children’s book to explain things such as radicals in a way that makes the kanji into a story.

        Back when I was a beginner, I used a preview for the RTK book and didn’t find it very helpful at the time so decided not to buy it. But now, when studying kanji, I’ve come to recognize certain radicals and will create methods (similar to making a story) in my head to memorize the kanji. So I suppose my method of memorizing is not that different from RTK, I just use the kanji I’ve found from my native sources and collected them into a deck. Where I differ is that I use a set of kanji from a vocab word, rather than memorizing all the sounds and possible meanings for a kanji, sort of an extensive grasp at kanji.

        At this point, I’m not quite willing to use a J-E source. But if it ever came down it it, I might spend a summer on RTK just because of the results I’ve seen from other people.

        • It might help to look at things from more of a birds-eye perspective. You’ll be spending decades in the future with Japanese; one or two months to effectively “solve the kanji problem” won’t be so bad in the long run.

          You’ll probably find that the English stories fade into instant recognition/recall more quickly since you’d be starting the book at a higher level than the average user, who tend to be nearly total beginners.

        • I tend to add Japanese keywords on my RtK flashcards when I know any. It helps to distinguish keywords such as “secrecy” and “secret” (bout parts of 秘密; adding the word with the kanji in question replaced by hiragana helps a lot here).
          Example:

          Front:
          simplicity かん単

          Back

          I often forget my stories, so this helps a lot…

          Most ideal method is to add one keyword with the kanji replaced by kana for each reading you know, for instance 電わ、はな・す、etc

  40. I recently reset my kanji deck too, and it felt as though a huge weight was off my shoulders and it’s much easier to get reviews done and actually study now that I know I can do it. Since I’ve done it before hahah
    @Rachel
    I don’t know of many books to learn kanji in Japanese, but I do know of a two part, I think, series for children:
    http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/4340510033/
    Not sure if this is what you’re looking for.
    And here’s a review I found for it by googling it:
    http://www.shiawase.co.uk/2010/01/07/japanese-childrens-kanji-book/
    Haven’t read it, but it could be useful too.
    Hope this helps!

    • I just updated to Anki 2 and it’s now set to 100 reviews max by default. Not a bad concept. Damien says it’s better than resetting, because you just never get overwhelmed. It makes sense as regular reviews are the most important factor.

  41. I’m an glad to hear that you are getting back into the groove of things. I want to start reading Japanese material(manga, gaming articles,etc). I have gotten bored with just getting sentences from text books. To tell you the truth I am afraid to move on even though I have finished genki 1 and other various books. I want to try and read gaming,anime,music,drama articles those are my interests. Any advice on this?

  42. Good luck with the restart! I restarted my RTK deck a few weeks ago and I am definatly glad that I did. You are my number one rival at the moment Coco, so I wouldnt restart too many times or I’ll leave you behind! >:)

  43. @Rachel, I was in the same boat you were a few months ago – I’ve been studying Japanese for a total of 5 years now (only the past two were at all efficient – using native material/anki – but I was decently beyond the beginner level) and the first time I read the RTK sample I thought I didn’t need it because I already knew a lot of kanji, and I had my own anki kanji system down. Fast forward a few months later and I hit a major speed bump in my learning. It shook my confidence enough for me to give RTK a try, and it has been the best thing I’ve done for my Japanese after using Anki. I know how you feel – it does seem like backtracking in your Japanese with the J-E, but just continue with your immersion environment and keep adding J-J sentences as you do it and you’ll be fine; like others have said, it only takes a few months. Also you could play around with translating the keywords, and writing your hints/stories in Japanese. The thing that is so wonderful about Heisig is how he teaches you how to use imaginative memory, and how the kanji are arranged in a way that makes it very efficient for you to remember them. It is something I have not seen in kanji books written in Japaense, and I’ve browsed through/purchased several in my quest to avoid RTK before I caved and tried it.

    Certainly, do what you feel is best, I just wanted to share my experiences. I’ve been a long-time reader and I admire all of the members of this site so much. You have all been an inspiration to me even though I discovered this site so late in my Japanese journey. Keep at it everyone! ヽ(^О^)ノ

    • Wow! Since your experience was really similar to what I’m going through now, I’m definitely convinced and want to heed your advice.

      I can’t really afford the book right now, but I’ll find a way (perhaps… as a Christmas gift, instead of that manga I was going to ask for, which I can just get cheaper in Japan anyways). I’m on a tight budget right now to save up for a trip to Japan for my independent study next semester. It’s too expensive for my budget.

      Another option is asking my friend who also uses the immersion method if she owns it, or maybe she’d like to split the price and we can go through it together. Either way, I’m determined to find a way. I want to overcome this obstacle.

      • I decided to get an older, used edition for less than a 3rd of the price. Using the older edition and the 6th edition sample, errata and kanji supplement pdfs should be enough to benefit from the RTK method without breaking the budget.

        Thanks everyone for your helpful suggestions!

        • I think that’s a good idea. Jalup’s deck is also based on the old version. I changed many keywords, BTW. Like exchanging 96 village and 221 town. Since you know lots of Kanji already, you can edit the keywords – just make sure they don’t exist yet. Which is very easy with the ReviewingTK site, because you can enter your new keyword and see if it’s already used. The important thing about RTK is the consistency with which the “big picture” was used to label the radicals and/or primitive elements of the Kanji. In that respect it’s unique. And please use the RevTK site, it’s the best thing next to RTK as long as you don’t hang out at the forum.

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