Everything I Learned on my Continuing Japanese Journey — 21 Comments

  1. Hey everyone! For anyone that made it to the end of my section, you definitely have the willpower to make it to fluency. :P
    Thanks for taking the time to read, I really appreciate it and hope you can take something from it.

    In regards to my advice column, I put a lot of binary information in there with little to no reasoning behind it. Due to the constraints of the article (which I mostly ignored) I had to omit a lot of the how and why for my advice column. For anyone curious or sceptical (Aussie/British spelling) about any claim, method or statement that I made. I really want to offer you the opportunity to place any further queries in the comments section for further clarification, answered by yours truly.

    Lastly, as of today I am around the 6300 card mark with a lot more experience in the One Deck specifically. The reason I’m mentioning this is that I’ve now implemented a much more flexible review scoring system for myself (inspired heavily by Matt. V).

    Originally I was somewhat masochistic, adding 30 cards a day and then using the 1(again) and 3 (good) button exclusively. Retention was amazing, but the study hours were brutal. Today I’m working in a way that’s in some ways more effective short term, and what I believe results in the same outcome long term. I am now reviewing using 2(hard) as my default fail, and before my cards become mature (1-3 month area) I am failing them if necessary. This helps space out the daily workload immensely, and gives you a lot more free time for immersion.

    Please everyone, don’t do Anki at the expense of all your active immersion. You’ll end up getting frustrated and bored, immersion really is the most satisfying part of your Japanese study.
    If you’re serious about Japanese and have the opportunity, please passively immerse. It will have a stronger influence on your Japanese than you can imagine, but it needs to be done frequently and daily.

    Good luck anyone! Please throw any and all questions my way, even if they aren’t things I included in my story. I think I can answer most of your questions, there’s a lot more information in this noggin than I could spontaneously output for this story (kinda link an input based Japanese learners output :p).

    • Glad to see your story finally make it up. Thanks for sharing! (And thanks to everyone else as well. These are great to read =D)

      I’m really happy the adjustments to your review style have helped you have more time for fun. Also, you should check your Skype messages at some point =P

  2. Thanks all of you posting your stories. You all have came a long way!!!.

    BTW James can you explain Morph Man a little bit more? I’m not sure I understand what it is.

    • OK basically morphman is a program that organises your cards on an i+1 basis. What this means is that every new card you introduce will have 1 new thing, kinda like the Jalup series.

      You can get it to scan your premade J-J deck (the one deck) for both the expression and definition field and it tries to introduce one new word per deck. It pretty much eliminates the need for branching and I would call it an essential tool in going monolingual. It can be a little difficult to set up so I’ll try and find the link to one of the users here ‘Jacob H’s instructions, they are fantastic and really helped me.

      I think people might have a bit of trouble setting it up, for that reason I might offer up my config files so people don’t have edit a python script. It’s designed to scan The one deck and make it i+1. I might even send adam my version of the one deck, which uses the Jalup 4250 and a 1000 cards from the one deck that I did prior with morphman to organise it i+1.

      It will make your transition into j-j without the jalup decks a lot more convenient.

      • Could one of you guys send me your zip file of morphman ( I am getting some strange errors

        • Before that, did you see my comment below the “guide” comment about the model overrides section? It should be the note type name and not the deck name.
          If that doesn’t work, then I can just send you some of the files.

          • I fixed that. When every I get to the part where I save file to all.db file I get this error
            An error occurred in an add-on.
            Please post on the add-on forum:

            Traceback (most recent call last):
            File “C:\Users\Jman\Documents\Anki\addons\morph\”, line 87, in
            b.connect( a, SIGNAL(‘triggered()’), lambda b=b: doOnSelection( b, preF, perF, postF, progLabel ) )
            File “C:\Users\Jman\Documents\Anki\addons\morph\”, line 74, in doOnSelection
            st = perF( st, n )
            File “C:\Users\Jman\Documents\Anki\addons\morph\”, line 16, in per
            ms = getMorphemes( n[ f ], None, cfg1(‘morph_blacklist’) )
            File “C:\cygwin\home\dae\win\build\pyi.win32\anki\outPYZ1.pyz/anki.notes”, line 98, in __getitem__
            File “C:\cygwin\home\dae\win\build\pyi.win32\anki\outPYZ1.pyz/anki.notes”, line 95, in _fieldOrd
            KeyError: u’Definition’

            • I emailed my config file to the email address you gave. Let me know if there are any issues.

      • I can’t download the morph man plug in anymore. Is there anything I can do? Any help is greatly appreciated.

  3. Questions for James: What kind of sentences would you keep on hand for your speaking practice? Also, what structure for those lessons have you found proves most helpful?

    • You can make a bit of a script just going through your anki deck and keep that on hand as a kind of cheat sheet. Alternatively there are lots of cheat sheets with general phrases already made up on places like omniglot.

      Personally I just kept anki opened and searched via kanji, keywords and anything I could remember to help me find the word I was looking for. For example: if you wanted to say ‘even though’ you could just search the english in Jalup beginner. Or if you wanted to look a particular word and remembered one of its kanji you could search the keyword in RTK and find it, and then search the sentence in your Jalup 4000. You can also just search part of the target word you are looking for, for example: i want to know how to use ために properly so I search that or anything I can remember that relates to it.

      As you get more comfortable you’ll rarely need to do this, and just accept your limited vocabulary. As you get your little base of usable vocabulary set, you begin to work around those things you don’t know to say, and then you can frame it as question. Your native speaker will be able to figure out what you’re saying and correct you on the spot.
      怖いの反対語ですか?  ’怖いません’正しい話し方。 things like that and your teacher will get what your intended word is. Sometimes I even just copy and paste a kanji of the word and the pronunciation I think it is and they’ll give the word I was looking for.

      I tell my teachers strictly no English in my lessons, and make sure every single thing is Japanese. There is a work around in everyone situation, even from your first lesson. Sometimes you’ll have to think outside the box. There are so many little things I do and things I come up with all time to convey my true meaning, and then my teacher will correct me on how to say it.

      Get creative and you can communicate anything you want. Want to say lazy but don’t know the word:
      There are so many ways to get around things you want to say there’s no way to list them all. You’ll find it much more enjoyable than looking up words every two seconds. Reserve those times for when you are absolutely desperate for that word, which in my recent experience, is rarely. Use your strengths, your ability to read, your knowledge of kanji, your listening to your advantage.

      There’s a way to explain what you want to say, it won’t always be the way you would in English. Get used to roundabout tarzan ways of explaining things when necessary. As long as your sensei gets your intended meaning they can tell you the right way to say it and stop any bad habits forming.

      In terms of lesson structure, just talk to them to like you would any other regular person. And tell them to correct your mistakes when necessary, just make sure they don’t get overpedantic and keep correcting the same mistake over and over. You want to enjoy your conversations, they are so much more rewarding and motivating that way. I actually look forward to chatting in Japanese. Just free talk and let the natural japanese flow as well as it will for that point in time. Don’t worry if you suck, you will. You’ll rapidly improve over the months and your teachers will be blown away at how fast you’re improving.

      • Thanks for that response. I like the way you’re working around what you don’t know yet, or don’t remember right away, and doing it all in Japanese.

  4. These are awesome stories to read! I have been struggling with pushing to level 40 and beyond and reading these really helps with understanding and cultivating my relationship with Japanese. I really need to get more active in the JALUP community.

  5. Fantastic stories, wonderful advice.

    James, I do have one question about the following recommendation:

    – Use immersion material that you would watch in English. Make sure that material is at your level or below your level.

    I use all sorts of immersion material, but at my current level (somewhere 8-10 maybe a bit lower), there’s no real confluence of the “would watch in English” and “at your level or below your level”. There’s virtually nothing but the equivalent of “see spot run” (ok a small exaggeration but not by much) out there as far as audio content that is at or below my level. So, I tend to listen to immersion material that follows the first part of your advice: “Would watch in English”. I use Audacity to record many YouTube vids (those of JPSikaHunter aka Virtuovice and Comical Reina), and to extract movie audio files (eg: The movie タンポポ and インデペンデンス・デイ…a Khatzumoto fave, as well as my favorite anime ブリーチ). As my level increases, I’m sure I’ll be able to find more “at my level or below”, but for now, I listen to these things (after watching them with both Japanese and English Subs) obsessively. Each listening I get a BIT more out of. I know the plots so well that I do know what they are going to say (in English) and therefore know what to listen for in Japanese. I’m hoping this will be effective as my level increases. As an aside, I’d recommend the Jaybird BlueBuds (bluetooth) with third-party Conform T-500 sound isolating eartips if you want a really flexible in-ear experience. A bit pricey, but with the amount of passive/active immersion I do, really convenient and worth it.

    Thanks again for taking the time to help us all with your posts, all of you “Masters in the Making”. Much appreciated!

    • Of course at lower levels the amount of content available is limited, at this point you’d want to find content as close to your level as possible, without sacrificing enjoyment. The idea is to find content as close to your level as possible, but never at the sacrifice of your enjoyment. If you seriously cannot find any material at level 10, or all the stuff you want to watch is a bit higher. You’re always better watching your interests, even with the lesser understanding your engagement would be higher. On top of this, your active becomes your passive material, you don’t want to be using shows you’re not interested in on your passive mp3 player, you’ll probably go insane. I’ve probably listened to full metal alchemist 1-64 a stupid amount of times, but because I love the soundtrack, voice acting, and story in that show so much I can listen to it non-stop every day. That’s the kind of immersion material you want.

      You’re better off tackling material a bit out of your league than watching stuff exactly at your level that you can’t stand. There are so many positive factors in material you enjoy that make up for the slightly less amount of comprehension. Obviously as your level rises in the 20-30s the amount of material available will skyrocket so this is a problem that will disappear completely over time. In the meanwhile, I’d say you are doing the best thing right now for your Japanese. Keep watching that Japanese that’s just a bit out of reach, but don’t take on the big boys yet otherwise you’ll just be lost and your interest will dwindle (4-5 stars especially).

  6. “Read all your Anki sentences aloud”

    Do you really recommend this? wonder what Adam thinks of this? Seems like it would take too much energy.

    • There’s actually on older article about it on the site-

      I generally get all my reviews done inside of 30-45 minutes, so it works out well for me. If you have a larger review load, maybe read out only some of it (or find other places to do so, like book/game dialogue or shadowing lines in anime/movies).

      The idea is that it helps get you used to speaking, especially if you wouldn’t get much practice otherwise. It’s been very useful for me so far, at least =)

      • More for when you’re starting out in my experience. You can replace it with reading your novels out loud, manga, when you get confident enough. I still do it out of habit. If you really hate anki and just want to fly through your reviews then you can always practice elsewhere. Like handwriting your mistakes, it can help with retention. But it’s not necessary, like most things :). Do what works for you.

    • As the others have said, it depends a bit on what you are trying to accomplish. In your earlier stages it can be a great tool to both aid in memory and speaking. However, as you said, it can drain your energy fast. So setting a short period to do it works. You can even save it for only when you get a sentence wrong.

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