Lucking Into Amazing Study Methods

We all want our Japanese to beautifully progress in the most painless of ways possible. Since you start at 0, and you aren’t out to reinvent language learning, you research in depth method after method. You try them out, for different lengths of time. Some work, some don’t, some you are unsure of, some you alter to suit yourself.

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As you move forward, you continue this process. While “study methods” turn into “engaging in Japanese methods,” you still are in constant discovery of new ways of doing things. But sometimes things turn out a little differently. You aren’t seeking a study method. You merely luck into one.

You were doing something else, and without intention, research, or effort, you stumble upon something that works brilliantly for you. It’s not necessary original with no one ever having thought of this. It’s about you personally discovering it for the first time due to a random circumstance, and being forever changed.

This is a natural phenomenon, and the longer you are at the game, the more chances you have to get some of this luck.

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2 personal stories of luck

I always had struggled with looking up the readings for words I didn’t know when they appeared in non-digital format. I tried the radical method lookup I didn’t like, and often just resorted to asking Japanese people for help. I lucked out twice to fix this.

1. When I bought my first electronic dictionary, I just wanted to easily be able to look up words. I didn’t know what a stylus was when I bought it. When I suddenly found out I could write kanji out on the stylus to look up the reading, my mind was blown. This happened again, with the exact same issue years later. I randomly stumbled across a comment on a completely unrelated subject that said “why don’t you just use the IME pad on Windows for unknown kanji?” Second time my kanji research abilities were completely revolutionized.

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2. Most recently this happened again this past year. When I finally decided to use Kindle on the iPhone for Japanese novels, I was floored by the unexpected ability to highlight a word while reading and have it open up a mini dictionary at the bottom without leaving the page, and without requiring internet connection. It was so instant, so fluid, that I couldn’t hold back the largest of smiles (even till this day this is exciting).

How about you?

What are some methods or techniques you came across by luck? How did they change your Japanese study life?

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


Lucking Into Amazing Study Methods — 14 Comments

  1. This website.

    Google handwriting input for Android. Writing kanji out feels more natural than typing.

    Incremental Reading for Anki. It’s like an ereader, except that your highlights automatically get converted into Anki sentence cards.

  2. With me it’s something similar; on my iPad and iPhone there are several Japanese keyboards, but they only have kana and romaji input. This isn’t very helpful for looking up kanji that one doesn’t know the reading to, though. So I tried adding the traditional Chinese handwriting keyboard, which lets you write in the character on a pad. This made my life so much easier when it comes to kanji and jukugo lookup. The only drawback, really, is that it doesn’t recognize hiragana and katakana, being a Chinese keyboard, so sometimes you have to constantly switch between the Japanese and Chinese keyboards.

  3. I switched the language of my iPad to Japanese (for immersion) and discovered that I can use the build in dictionary in Safari to get a) the reading b) a definition in Japanese and c) an English translation. I simply mark up the word/kanji I don’t understand and then tap 辞書. In the English version this is called “Define”, but I never made use of it.
    Also, you can mark up whole sentences or paragraphes and have your iPad read it out loud for you. So if you just wanna get the reading without immediately seeing the translation, you can do that. Again, just mark everything and then press 読み上げ. The only problem I have is that I cannot control the speed of the voice. It is way to fast for me! There is a work-around though: When you go to Settings > General > Accesibility you can use the Voice Over function and control the speed there. Then you can toggle Voice Over on/off by quickly pressing the home button three times. A voice will read out everything you tap on.

    This might work on iPhones, too.

  4. Learning that 日本語 is also called 国語 sparked the endlessly-beneficial thought, “What terms would a natively Japanese-speaking person or the parent of a Japanese-learning child search for on the Internet?” (i.e. age level/二世, subject/科学, goal/書き方, child-appealing adjectives like わくわく/かんたん, searching in child-friendly hiragana, etc…)

    • oops, for age level, I meant 二年 (as in 二年生… # + year kanji = school year level). You might also see 上/下 in parentheses, like 二年(上) to show an age range…

      People also add 小/中/高 to designate what level of grade school (elementary, middle, high). For really young materials, 幼稚園 (preschool).

      For a good idea of what subjects might be called, check out the 教科(きょうか・subject) search toggle bar on the NHK for School site here:

  5. Just found out today that Kindle has finally included a JP –> EN dictionary, at least on the PC version. Before that it was the discovery of the EN –> JP dictionary, which is pretty good for helping with vocab. :3

  6. I’m really excited about using the kindle. But I’ve been having trouble finding good books to read. If you could recommend some books you’ve enjoyed on kindle I would appreciate it so much! Thanks!

    • I don’t know about your level, do you need beginner books? Advanced Books?
      1.気まぐれロボット by 星新 should be pretty easy for anybody.
      2.You can check the novel section on this site. Some of them are available on kindle

      • Yeah I did actually check out some of the book recommendations and found a few of them available for kindle. I think probably 3 stars is the level I’m after. I’ll check out the one you mentioned too. Thanks!

  7. About kindle, thanks to the kindlemate app you can download all the words you highlighted(along with the sentences they come from) and easily import it into anki. Now that’s game changing for me.

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