Achieving Your Japanese Goals – May 2017 — 57 Comments

  1. Finish Advanced (or get as far as possible)
    Get to 1300 RTK cards
    Enjoy my vacations (one week in Japan and one week roadtrip in the US Midwest)

    May is the last month before work gets really rough (June through August) so if I can set a routine and actually find a rhythem with Anki before then I’m pretty positive I can carry that through my busy season.

    • Oh, nice! Have fun on the vacation. Which parts of Japan are you hitting up? I’m heading over for the second time in November.

      • Tokyo, Kyoto, possibly Nara and then one night at a ryokan an hour and a half north of Kyoto in the middle of nowhere.

        Two of the people I’m going with haven’t been to Japan before so we have to go to Kyoto and Tokyo. This is my second time… I was originally planning to go alone to northern Chubu during cherry blossom season until my friends told me they wanted to go.

        Already planning a third trip! Gotta see those blossoms next year :)

        • Haha yup, the first trip to Japan is pretty much always that. At least you get to look cool, and show off your Japanese knowledge.

          I’m debating between Hokkaido, and the Kansai area for later in the year.

    • Hahaha nowhere close to finishing Advanced (got 400 cards in), but I am very happy with my progress this month.

      I’m at 1036 RTK cards as of today but should hit 1100 by June 1st (lots of plane time as my 2nd vacation ends tomorrow).

      I did Anki every day except for the one “day” that ended up being extremely short (Anki does not like 12 hour time differences, I found out). Didn’t always do every card, especially when I was in Japan, but doing SOMETHING daily really helped me.

      I also got addicted to another visual novel which is awesome, and learning good words from it. And the Advanced deck is awesome.

      As for Japan, it was really amazing and I’m now forming a plan to go there for a year. As I never talk to people back home in Japanese (there are very few native speakers), I never realized how much I liked talking in Japanese and I want to be fluent. Some time in Japan would make this a WHOLE lot easier.

  2. 1. For May I want to finish Kanji Kingdom. I have 1100 cards left. I’m going at them at 100 a day but with a peculiar strategy that only results with 30 new sentences being added a day. Basically, I’m freezing all but the last card in the series, so that after learning 100 Kanji, I am only adding about 30.

    2. I want to keep reading everyday and watching at least one episode of anime a night.

    3. I want to finish up a series of J-J sentences which are helping to prepare me for reading Harry Potter in. When I am done with the primer I want to read Harry Potter at 2 chapters a day.

    4. Get reviews down to 0.

    5. Learn 10 new J-J cards a day, unless Jalup Advanced becomes available mid-way into May, and then learn 20 more new J-J cards a day. 10 from immersion, 20 from Jalup Advanced.

    6. Keep getting up early (around 5 AM) to get Anki and Next out of the way for the day.

    • Completed 1, eliminating 3, choosing to study 日本語文型辞典 instead of 3 and read whatever Japanese materials I pick up in Japan when I visit starting May 17th.

      Also, updating 5: complete Jalup Advanced by end of month. I’m probably not going to add any more cards until I get back from Japan and I want to be finished with Advanced before settling in to WWoof/couchsurfing.

    • Here is the result of studying 100 kanji a day but only adding the last card in the series from Kanji Kingdom:

      For the most part I was able to remember the kanji, but it would take too long to remember them for the later cards. I had previously studied up to 1700 cards. After learning these cards for the second time, the new cards that followed were taking too long to review.

      What I am now doing is the same thing except instead of learning 100 kanji and then adding 30, I am learning 30 – 34 kanji and adding 10. This way the reviews don’t get overwhelming and I am still being efficient.

      I didn’t end up deciding to power level through advanced. I am instead adding 10 a day, the pace that I can go and never get burnt out on. I can probably increase it to 15 a day and be fine, but I am also going to Kanji Kingdom and I am in Japan and don’t want to spend too much time in an app instead of interacting with the people around me.

      I am having trouble being consistent with my reading but that is because I am going between different hostels and every time I travel to a different hostel it interferes a little. I’m playing video games that require a lot of reading and still working through 日本語文型辞典. Now to present more realistic goals for June!

    • Sadly, not too much luck
      1. Only added 50
      2. Only read 2.
      3. No.

      However, I’m happy that I’m able to do more passive immersion during work while using the computer. I’m getting 4-5 hours of passive immersion during work days.

  3. 1. Finish Jalup Expert. If April goes to plan, May will have 1250 cards. That’s an average of 40~ new a day. (400-450 cards in total each day, including rtk review cards)

    2. Anki, with hardware buttons! Bluetooth camera shutter/game pad thing. It makes reviewing so much smoother.

    3. Current cycle is 10 minutes of study, 10 minutes of napping/walking/eating/meditating/yoga/etc, 10 minutes of study… Repeat. The current aim is to finish anki reviews by lunch time, leaving the afternoon for more relaxing​ endeavours. That and generally after I eat lunch is the least productive part of the day. It worked today at least!

    The focus on immersion has slipped a little but whilst the motivation is here, I want to make a good dint on sentences. Immersion will come back :)

    I’m in the maybe envious position of being able to dedicate almost all of my time to Japanese. (At least for the next few months). Spend less, work less, study/play more :)

    • Well, I kept up the pace for the first week, until I realised a hole in my Japanese that, as far as I can tell, isn’t going to fix itself without a focused effort. Pitch accent (and pronunciation in general) is where my focus is for the present. Basically I realised that even though I was listening and shadowing, I wasn’t able to hear where I was going wrong, thus not able to self correct.

      It’s been a weird month with the shift in focus – not progressing on new cards felt like I had stopped progressing at all. Far from the truth though as I feel now I’ve got a lot better understanding of what I’m listening to, and whilst the speaking side of things has a long way to go, I have a solid plan (involving a little bit more pronunciation focused anki and a whole ton of immersion!)

  4. 1. 5 new J-J sentences per day.
    2. Finish Jalup Immersion stage 2 at 5 sentences per day.
    3. Continue with 2 kanji per day until I complete grade 6. Kanji hiatus until the end of the month after that (which is only a week or so :)
    4. Daily immersion. Passive listening and read manga every day.

    I will hit around 8900 sentences with these goals.

  5. 1. 10 J-J new sentence cards per day (jalup advanced)
    2. 2 NHK easy news articles
    3. New words from news articles go in Anki deck
    4. Reviews from kanji kingdom
    5. Daily attempts at conversation with 日本人 at work.

    #5 is the hardest!

  6. 1. Get back into the groove of things after being away for awhile.

    2. Finish Jalup beginner. I was about 900 into it before, but started again in Jalupnext. About 200 in now.

    3. Finish up to 1000 in RTK. I’m about 300 in now, and aiming for 400 or 500 by the end of April. I still remember a good amount of them so these first 500 should be quick.

    • Those are some nice goals!

      How to you tackle the amount of reviews you get with so many new cards? I’d love to add more new cards, but I’m scared of the accumulated reviews ._.

      • I don’t blame you. A huge review pile can be the worst! It can also lead to burn out.

        I get to work an hour early everyday, and do reviews in my car. I also have given up some time wasters on the weekdays, so I can dedicate some more time to studying at night. Since I’ve been through the material before, most of it seems like review, rather new ideas.

        Once I get to intermediate, and the Kanji past 1k I’ll slow way down, and give the reviews time to settle.

      • I’ve downloaded an Anki Plugin called “Load Balancer”, the basic objective of this plug in is to make sure that you don’t get review spikes. If you use Anki then this is an option.

        With Kanji Kingdom, the way to reduce reviews is to study each sentence as they come, but then suspend them afterwards unless the card is the last card in the series. This is what I am doing. I might write an article on it to explain the pros and cons of it when I am done. This will likely be mid-way into this month.

    • Completed my goals for the last week of April, so I’ll be in a good spot for May. Four-hundred sentences into Jalup Beginner, and 500 Kanji in RTK. For May I have the remaining 600 Jalup Beginner cards, and 400 more kanji.

    • Finished Jalup Beginner! I floundered a little on the kanji though. I got to a little under 800, and stopped from bring a little overwhelmed, but have kept up with reviews.

  7. 1.) Following the goals set in NEXT, I study 7 cards Jalup Beginner and 10 cards Kanji Kingdom each day, with the grand goal of finishing 2000 Cards in total at the end of June.
    The Beginner cards go smoothly, usually I do 10 instead of 7, but the Kanji are dragging me down as always, so I’ll have to lookout for many motivation boosts along the way. That includes counting the strokes of unknown Kanji and imagine a time when I finally see them in my reviews and being happy about every Kanji I recognize when reading stuff.

    2.) Immerse a lot. I looked up a few reading resources for Beginners, and will see if there is anything I can immerse with.
    For the listening I just go with podcasts and free audio books made by amateurs, even though I didn’t find anything suitable for beginner level. Getting used to the sound and speed is nice, too. The audio books also deliver a nice plus of getting in touch with the culture. No matter how often I read the name of Natsume Sōseki, just after seeing it in my playlist, his name would be staying in my head. :D

    • Yotsubato! Is always a good beginner book. You won’t understand all of it but you can get a good chunk just from the knowledge you’ll have from beginner. Also the beginner stories Adam sells on this site use the exact info from Jalup Beginner.

    • MidMonth-Update, because I think it is always good to review the goals every now and then.

      So I actually changed my plan, and decided to finish Beginner at the start of june, which leaves me with around 11 cards/day for that.
      This didn’t work out too well with the 10 Kanji in addition to that, so I reevaluated that, and just noticed that , for my grand goal of finishing Kanji Kingdom at the End of the year, I just need a steady 8 cards/day in that Deck.

      In total it means I make more cards now (19 instead of 17), but with less stress with the Kanji, success :D

    • The month is over, so let’s see how it turned out, shall we?

      1) Beginner worked nicely, and will be done in a few days. Studying the Kanji didn’t work out that well, I had to stop adding new Kanji-cards due to overload with reviews, and I couldn’t keep up reviewing and taking care of my life.

      While with that I don’t think I have reached my goals this month, I still feel like a winner for finishing Beginner ahead of my initial schedule. After all achievement hunting is more fun than grinding experience points.

      2) This didn’t work out well at all. I wanted to focus on reading, but had to admit that it is just too soon,especially as I dislike reading while looking up every second thing using a dictionary.
      What I pulled off though is to restrain from using subtitles in animes, which works surprisingly good. It is nice to understand 1%-10%, and being able to guess what is happening using the screenplay.

  8. *wave* I’ve lurked for a while and was interested, but my hatred of Anki kept me from using the system. Next changed that and I recently started the beginner deck even though I have a decent grasp of the very basic grammar from the first 100 cards. I liked the system enough to continue with the repetition and the reinforcing of particles that has started with this next 100 has been excellent. I look forward to reaching the point where I can enjoy the J-J cards.

    1. Continue with 10 sentence cards per day, should see a total of 500 cards by the end of May.
    2. Level 22 in WaniKani (at 18 right now) with a reduction in vocabulary lesson back log to 100 or less.
    3. Start working through the exercises in 80-20 Japanese as my initial read-through of the book should be complete by the beginning of May. At least two chapters covered in detail with comparison to outside resources (Tae Kim, Imabi, Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, etc) for reinforcement.
    4. Start hunting down resources for passive immersion and adding that to my day.
    5. Read chapters 2 and 3 of 僕らの食卓. (Before anyone Googles that, please be aware it’s BL manga–though not explicit.)
    6. Remind self that even though I’ll be turning 37 this month, it’s not too late to learn anything, even a whole new language.

    • It’s never too late! You have a good plan in place, so you’ll do great. Welcome to the comment section!

      • Thanks! I played around with the idea of learning Japanese a few years back, but it was pretty disorganized and not a big priority for me. My dad passed suddenly last year, and while I spent most of the year a human disaster, I picked myself up this year and realized that if I want to do this, I need to do it and quit messing around. I caught up on my massive review pile on WaniKani and started learning kanji again, took the J-Cat to see roughly where I stood, and then starting searching for more resources for grammar, vocabulary, and listening. My plan can still use refining, but it’s getting there!

    • Personally, I love BL stuff (especially if sweet/funny) so please feel free to share recs! Most of the media recs here are (understandably) not niche enough to include much BL.

      Where are you reading 僕らの食卓? I struggle to find manga raws in digital format, but since it’s a rec I’m less hesitant to just order a physical copy.

      PS I may have a few BL drama CDs kicking around for immersion – there’s two in particular that are easy to pick up bits of and enjoy while still in the J-E phase

      • Oh, hooray! I’m used to getting a lot of side-eye when I talk about BL, especially when I admit that it’s a lot of the reason I ever considered learning Japanese to begin with.

        As for where to read things, ebookjapan is the love of my life and the scourge of my wallet. I saw a blog post about them when trying to work out what kind of hoops I’d need to jump through to use Amazon Japan with a Kindle. This was a lot easier and so far I really love it. I’ve bought a lot more than I really need to considering my current reading level (mostly non-existent) but it will all still be there for in the future. You can get a decent preview of most titles, and they often have titles that you can either read in full for a limited time, or even download entirely for free.

        I hadn’t thought of using drama CDs! While BL ones may sometimes be a bit, hmm, distracting while I’m working, that’s an excellent idea. I work from home, so I don’t even need to worry about a coworker catching me. If you’ve got recs, I’m glad to hear them! I haven’t really listened to dramas in years so I don’t know much about what may have come out recently.

        • Ahhhh I started using ebookjapan and I love it!!! Thankyou for the rec. I picked up some samples and will buy them if I like them. There’s so much choice I almost don’t know what to buy! What I’ve got are more slice-of-life so I’m likely to be able to follow what’s going on www

          The trouble with BL manga is that they assume you don’t need furigana…so I recommend also picking up something for younger readers so there’s actually some furigana. I’m enjoying Fairy Tail right now, which has furigana everything and most of the more complicated words are repeated a lot.

          Hit me up for drama CDs if you like! silas(dot)damianf(at)gmail(dot)com

          Maybe we can set up a BL recs corner….

    • Thanks for making your first comment and welcome to the site. You’ve got a great plan prepared so I sense good things to come.

      And 37 is young. People here in their 50s and 60s have also started learning Japanese and have done exceptionally well.

    • 5. I started studying Japanese because of Perfume and AKB48, so I guess we all have our reasons.

      6. I started when I was in my mid 30s. Other than a copious amount of free time, I’m not really sure what the difference would have been if I had started earlier. In fact, I don’t think I would have gotten very far back then to be honest. I didn’t really have the disciple or foresight (or Jalup) to help me through.


      • Bearing in mind that my reading skills are still not great, I’ve been enjoying it. I skimmed through the book in full to get an idea of the story and it’s pretty sweet with some requisite backstory angst.

        I’m looking forward to the day when I can pull more nuance from the story and read it without a dictionary on hand. Until I really finish it I can’t say 100% that I like it, but what I’ve read so far and what I saw while skimming would lead me to suggest it to people who like cute, slice of life stories.

    • 1. Well, I might not quite hit 500 sentence cards by the end of the day tomorrow, but I’ll be at 490 or so if I don’t, so almost. I got sick and fell a little behind because it was the kind of sick that means the good pain drugs and studying while knocked out is hard. Still on track to be done with Beginner by the end of July though, without needing to do more than 10 cards per day, so I’m okay with this.
      2. I should hit level 22 in WaniKani on Friday if I don’t slip up any of my other Kanji reviews between now and then. My vocabulary backlog is still a nightmare, so I’ll be changing up how I approach this for next month.
      3. Ha. The first two chapters are pronunciation and very basic A は B です style stuff, so this was pretty easy.
      4. This was my most successful goal of the month. My immersion isn’t where I want it to be entirely yet, but it skyrocketed. I subscribed to JapanTV for a year so I frequently have Japanese television playing in the background while I work now. I’ve actively watched a few things (episodes of NCIS dubbed in Japanese are fun, especially the older stuff that I’ve seen before) and I really like Japanese infomercials… I also flipped my phone region to Japan for a bit and subscribed to a bunch of podcasts. I’ve only done a little with those so far, but my plan is to actively listen to a handful of episodes repeatedly for a while.
      5. I didn’t really read 僕らの食卓. It’s not that I wasn’t reading, but that I didn’t focus on reading any one thing. I signed up for and started using HelloTalk a bit, so I’ve been reading posts on there, and poking around a few other things. I think I’m going to try and find a manga with furigana for June. Trying to draw kanji I don’t know into Midori on my phone was annoying me, so I might come back to this manga later. I want to read it, but was too frustrated to really enjoy it at the moment. Or I’ll actually start taking more advantage of my Satori Reader subscription.
      6. I turned 37 and managed to keep studying. I appreciate all the kind comments here. It’s so nice to know that there are so many more adult learners beyond typical university age that are tackling Japanese. With all the stress on learning language from a young age, it can be very intimidating to approach it as an older learner.

  9. Tweaking my priorities last month made a big difference in meeting my goals, so I’m clearly on the right track!

    1) Try to relax and have fun with jalup intermediate. I know some people find it stressful so I’m gonna do my best to treat it like a game.

    2) find some more manga to read! I’m one of those people who hops around a lot, interest wise. Which is fine as long as I’m reading or watching a lot of different stuff in japanese, but to make this work I definitely need a bunch more manga. Currently I have Fairy Tail for when my brain wants plot, and Yotsubato! For when I’m tired and want to chill out and read something easy.

    3) don’t get too distracted with mandarin

    I’ve taken up some beginner spoken mandarin stuff. I did this before with korean before returning to japanese, and found it a fun and refreshing “busman’s holiday”. So I’m indulging myself a bit, but as long as I don’t get too distracted and stick temporarily to speaking/listening, I think I’ll be fine. The spoken languages are so different it’d be hard to confuse them.

    I’ve noticed that taking the odd day off from anki, and having some days where I do LOADS of japanese and some where I just do my cards or watch an episode of something and move on, is normal for me. Trying to make my process more rigid makes my brain protest, while working with it seems to produce results, so I’m going to keep going with that.

    • Well, I never actually do what I planned, but at least I do *something*

      Bought a book on kanji etymology ( and it’s really helping me learn the kanji! I’m adding some commentary about the radicals and where they come from to my kk cards. It’s taking a while but I really feel like I’m gaining a deeper understanding of the character set and construction as a whole, and that the kanji are going to stick better.

      Jalup intermediate is odd; some cards are impenetrable, others immediately obvious, which I didn’t expect. As a result I’m getting it done in fits and starts, but since it introduces so many more kanji so quickly, I’m happy to go very slowly until I have a good few more kanji under my belt.

      I haven’t got too distracted with Chinese! They’re so different that it’s not really impacting. I’m just listening to lessons and dialogues whenever I have a spare 10 mintues, and making cards at a leisurely pace as I go along. Sometimes switching my brain to Chinese mode seems to give things time to sink in in Japanese, too.

      I can’t believe it’s only the 8th, because I feel like I’ve learned so much! As long as I’m doing SOMETHING.

      • I feel you here! I was on track for my goal, until I realised a hole in my studies better patched sooner than later (pitch accent awareness). It’s not to say I was unaware of this hole, just that I didn’t realise how big it was, or know how to fix it. Anyway I’ve found the resources I need and got myself back on track. Still heading forward, just towards a different goal for the time being.

      • Well, I’ve improved a whole lot this month so I’m calling it a success!

        1) I failed at spectacularly. Struggled really hard with intermediate at the start of the month, took a week or so off and focused on kanji, then read around the site for other people’s advice and tips on tackling it. I’ve come back pretty strong, adding 7-8 cards per day, and at around 50 cards my brain finally started getting with the program.

        2) well…Actually I’ve ended up reading the first Harry Potter book instead of a manga. I don’t know, I like manga sometimes, but even in English I far prefer novels.

        If you’re looking for a novel to read I highly recommend this one! You can get it on amazon kindle UK and US, it’s pretty cheap, and the writing isn’t terribly complicated. Not everything has furigana but the more complex kanji do, so I’m finding it ideal.

        3) chinese pretty much stayed a busman’s holiday. I didn’t do much at all, but I’m actually going to try to do a little more next month because of how much my brain benefits from a switch of tracks.

  10. Japanese goals:

    1. Two Kanji per day from Kanji Kingdom on NEXT. Apparently five per day was too much last month, and my current pace of zero per day is getting me nowhere.

    2. If Advanced comes out for NEXT, five per day.

    I’ve decided to start learning Spanish along with Japanese. My reasons for learning Spanish are very different from my reasons for learning Japanese. To make a long story short, I’ve become very interested in polyglots lately and I’m interested to see how many languages I can become functional in. I’ve been studying for about 2 weeks and so far it has not interfered with my Japanese time at all.

    Spanish Goals:

    1. Complete one chapter per week of my textbook. Yes, I decided to start with a textbook. I tried using Anki, but after using NEXT it felt like a step backwards (and I couldn’t find a deck I liked).

    2. Complete duolingo Spanish lessons on Saturday and Sunday.

    • I’ve been doing terrible this month. I haven’t had the energy to do much of anything except worry about work stuff. Failed all my goals.

  11. 1. If The Hobbit comes this month, read it. At least 2 chapters a week.
    2. My Korean 101 final is May 11th. Continue to work through lessons in Korean textbook even after the class ends; 1 lesson a week.
    3. I need some new manga. Finish 不機嫌なモノノケ庵 volume 3. Order volume 4 and, if I feel like splurging, a volume of a manga I haven’t read before.
    4. Zero reviews every day.
    5. Finish the Jdrama I started last month (イケメンですね)

    It’s really crazy to think about, but I graduate high school in a month. I think I found Jalup when I was a freshman or a sophomore, and a level 10-15 at Japanese. It’s hard to believe that I’ve managed to stick around this long! My freshman self would be very surprised at how far I’ve come with Japanese—I’m between levels 40 and 50. Here’s to four more years!

    • Congrats on sticking for it so long (and on graduating high school). How many people from your school have great Japanese ability upon graduation :P You’ve done well.

    • 1. This month I did a chronological Tolkien reading thing so I ended up reading the Hobbit in English (as well as about six other books in the legendarium) but the first volume of the Japanese version DID come so I will read that in June.
      2. I’ve been using an amazing Anki deck instead of my textbook, but I have definitely been making Korean progress. I learned the Korean equivalent of て form last week and I’m super excited.
      3. I read volume three but did not order any new manga. I might order 僕らの食卓 this month lol.
      4. Failed miserably, but I managed to overcome the Anki avalanche yesterday (I got through almost 900 reviews) and will do my best to stay on top of them in the future.
      5. I didn’t touch it. Maybe I’ll find something more enjoyable later.

  12. after taking a long break from japanese,i finally came back to japanese last month and immerse a lot(like reading visual novels for 70 hours)

    but then when i open anki and see 2000+ reviews its really not fun for me.. so i think i’m gonna decrease that number by maybe doing 50 reviews/day? and hopefully after getting my reviews under control i can finally add new cards again because half a year ago i have 6200 cards and today i still have 6200 cards…

    • In case you’re not aware, you can limit the amount of reviews due shown, in deck options. Set it to a comfortable amount for each day, then just chip away at it day by day. That way, maybe you won’t be so scared by such a big number.

    • It could also be worth creating a filtered deck based off your sentence deck, with it set to show the forgotten cards in the order that they were originally added, so it’s almost like you’re doing them as new cards, but not quite.

      Create a filtered deck with the following options:

      deck:”DECKNAME” is:due rated:2

      Cards selected by:
      Order added


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