Future of Jalup – Part 4
Every once in a while I take a moment to stop and ask all of you what you’d like to see as part of the future of Jalup. Many of the best ideas over the years here have come directly from you guys, your input and your suggestions. While I can’t make everything become a reality (I’ve tried and failed with quite a few things in the past), it’s this type of group thinking that moves things forward to benefit everyone learning Japanese, and makes this site worth being a part of (both for me, and hopefully for you).
What’s currently in the works:
1. Jalup – The Book
I’m about 80% finished with the Japanese Level Up book. I haven’t talked about this at all besides mentioning it a few months ago on the Jalup updates post, so I thought I would use this post to provide a few more details.
The book takes the entire Jalup site and organizes it into one easy to understand video game analogy. The major ideas and posts found here are completely reordered, combined, rearranged, and reinvented to create one thorough and flowing video game progression that will read like an RPG strategy guide. It will be filled with many never told before personal language stories and experiences to bring life to the content, make it memorable, and give you a further peek into my own Japanese journey.
The book is targeted at all foreign language learners. While my stories are about my experience with Japanese, the book is written to appeal to anyone who is studying a language, as the advice helps you turn yourself into the “hero of your own language quest.”
Some more details:
- Estimated Fall 2016 release date
- It will be released in the Amazon Kindle store
- It may be released in print form on Amazon (I’m looking into the logistics of it now).
- The book’s core is drawn from the Jalup site. If you have thoroughly read through this site, you will recognize a lot in this book. However due to all the changes, and new additional content, there should still be plenty of value to even the most hardcore readers here.
- This isn’t a textbook. It doesn’t teach Japanese, or provide Japanese resources. It fleshes out how to approach a language like a video game to achieve victory.
2. Japanese Language Battle Tournament
I have a few ideas of what I want to do, I just need to work out all the details and timing.
3. Jalup Stories Intermediate
More stories are on the way in the future.
4. Translator Series
I have a few more posts to go with this, which should cover everything I have left to say.
5. Continued new posts
Some people might be worried that I’m running out of things to say. Not even close. The great thing about learning Japanese is that it is a continually evolving process. There are always new methods, new resources, new mindsets. Plenty of useful info is on its way!
6. Jalup Line Group is alive and well
The Jalup Line group has been around for a few months now. It is a small group, but everyone has a great time. We share resources and methods, joke around, talk in Japanese, and just have a general good time. New members are always welcome.
7. Variety show streaming site for Japanese learners
This next point is more of just a dream, but something I’ve been thinking about recently.
Variety shows are such an incredible tool to learning Japanese, and are enjoyable in general. However, they are so difficult to get legally if you don’t live in Japan. Most variety shows don’t release DVDs. Streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. rarely have any variety shows, and if they do, it’s one or two episodes at most.
It’s an mystery as to why this happens. Most variety shows just fade away into existence, and are locked away in some vault by a TV studio, never to be seen or heard of again. Maybe the rights owners don’t find it profitable enough, it’s too expensive, or there isn’t enough demand to try to stream older shows.
So I thought: what if there was a membership video streaming service where you could watch Japanese variety shows online. Not only watch them, but share vocabulary, sentences, Anki decks, and any other learning resources involved with the specific episodes right on the page where the episode is.
I would love to create that site.
I’m not naive, and understand the massive undertaking that it would be, and there is a good chance it’s not even possible. It involves a lot of funding, license negotiations, website creation, and a long list of other things.
But, in my imagination, I could see starting things small. Run a crowd-funding campaign like Kickstarter, build a small site and slowly scale up, negotiate for the licenses to older variety shows that aren’t valued as high (but still are highly entertaining), etc. With the language learning angle included, it might be easier to sell the idea to Japanese networks (which I have a few direct connections from when I was on TV). “People want to use Japanese variety shows to learn Japanese!” That’s a nice story.
Anyway, just something I’ve been thinking about, whether it is realistic or not. The appeal is there for me because I love Japanese variety shows, and there is no good way to get them. Any thoughts on this?
Request for Reviews
People have been using the Jalup Anki deck series for a while now. I would love to get some fresh reviews from people who have recently used them to success. If you could leave any thoughts in the comments sections of these posts, it would be greatly appreciated!
Jalup Stories: Beginner
But most importantly, I want to hear your ideas and what you want to see!
These can include:
– Anything you can possibly imagine
Not only do I appreciate every idea, but I take them all seriously, read them thoroughly, and play around with the possibility of making them a reality.
Thank you as always. よろしくお願いします！
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
One thing that I thought would be a way to bring in more purchases to the site would be if someone recommends the Jalup decks to someone and they make a purchase because of that then the person who recommended it could get either some of the money or maybe a discount in the store. There’s probably been 4-5 people that have bought a Jalup product because of my recommendation and it would be great to get something for that. Also the organization that I came to Japan with may want to use Jalup as their main resource for new people coming to Japan which would mean dozens of sales over time.
Hmm, interesting. I hadn’t really thought about this before, though in the past, one or 2 people have mentioned something along these lines. I of course highly appreciate when people recommend the product to others, as it allows me to do more of what I love here.
The vendor I use to host all the products has affiliate functionality. I’d be interested in at least giving this a try, as I would be happy to repay all those who have helped spread Jalup to others. Let me do a little research into how this can be set up.
If any others are interested in this, please comment here as well.
I am a bit worried that referral fees will attract marketers. The fees should be low or capped. Make sure that they’re disclosed, too. Maybe even restrict referrals like entry to the Line group.
Maybe give store credits instead? That way you’d only get people who were actively studying, not creepy marketers?
Why would it be bad to attract marketers? They would spread the word and make Jalup more and more popular, while getting a small percentage of the income for their services, which would be fine because Adam would be selling a lot more decks because of them. I think it would hurt the referral system more to restrict who can refer and get money back. People would be mad because they got a friend to buy the decks to learn Japanese and thought they’d get a small percentage of the purchase, when in reality they were not qualified to get that money because they weren’t “trusted”.
Can’t wait for a solid book on langauge acquisition, it will make it much easier to tackle korean once I finish Japanese.
Definitely purchasing jalup intermediate stories, not that I need them, it’s just that I lovedon’t jalup beginner stories (so entertaining) that a sequel would be amazing. You should make ones for advanced and expert just because I love your writing.
Commenting this before forgetting, talking with Matt on the line chat I came up with a good challenge idea for the next group challenge. Read wikipedia articles!
Thanks for the idea!
Thanks Suliman! If people like my writing I’d be happy to continue into Advanced and Expert as well.
Would kickstart “Variety show streaming site”! (!!)
Me too. Seriously one of the biggest reasons I started studying Japanese was so I could read manga legally. I would watch variety shows if I could get them legally!!!
I definitely would too!!
I have been thinking about what to suggest here, and really want to share some great ideas… except I feel like I have outleveled most of the content here. I have figured out my Kanji, have completed Jalup 5000 and most of the ideas of this site that have helped me make my studying efficient have now been absorbed. I’m really happy about that, but I wish there was more that could guide me where I am at.
So personally I would like to see more high level content – as well as more of the usual high quality reflective articles that I love.
I would be happy to look into creating more advanced level content.
Do you have any specific ideas about something that you would think would help you (and others at your level) get to where you want to be?
No, it’s tricky. I am at the point where I have a method and it works, so there are no obvious ways to improve my learning process. I mainly put this post up, because there were few responses at the time, and I wanted to show my support.
The main gap I am trying to fill at the moment is Kanji. I let my RTK lapse, but obviously I still need Kanji. I tried Kanji Kingdom for a while, but found that at my level I need a J-J solution. I am working on a J-J Kanji deck myself that I am quite happy with, but it is very time consuming to make, so if you offered such a deck it would be very helpful. I do not expect this, however, as I understand that this would be a niche product.
First of all, I appreciate how you don’t need your audience’s approval. Unlike YouTube stars, you don’t demand that we comment or share. Unlike megalomaniacs, you don’t demand that we agree with you. Unlike some other language sites, you have your feet on the ground. You freely admit that your advice won’t work for everyone, that you can’t promise fluency in X years, and that language learning will be hard, even with these improvements. I deeply respect that. Keep it up.
With that out of the way, please note that I am one voice among many. The views expressed in this comment are mine and mine alone. What I want, what others want, and what is good for JALUP are completely separate things. I will be focusing on the first category, not the third.
The freemium pricing model you have here is agreeable. The concepts, methods, and ideas are free, but if you want more focused content (Kanji Kingdom, The One Deck) it’s paid. I haven’t checked AJATT in forever, but last I checked, AJATT was monetized far more heavily. I would prefer if you didn’t go down that road.
Things I find helpful/Things I would like to see more of:
-Level-related content. It’s the name of the site, after all. As RPGs and Anki review counts show, small, quantifiable goals are addicting.
-The ‘Test Your Japanese Might’ series and the difficulty-tiered media guide are amazing level-related content. Provides a good gauge of progress.
-I would love it if ‘Test Your Japanese Might’ were upgraded to include listening, writing, and speaking like the Level 1-20 version. This is questionably good for JALUP. Being able to gauge your progress is a leveling system’s biggest motivator, but I do not have any idea how feasable this is. Unlike the 1-20 blocks that were taken from JALUP Beginner, you would have to find/create new media from scratch.
-The translator articles. A side of Japanese that most of us have never seen.
-More Japanese social network articles. I know that you are not the most qualified to talk about this. We only have to build a Japanese social network from scratch once, and social media changes frighteningly quickly. But I am struggling wth this, and the advice on the website is a bit dated. How do you find friends with Line? How do you use Twitter most effectively?
-Random little study methods and insight posts. Things like the ‘Walking with Anki,’ ‘Listen With Your Eyes Closed,’ and ‘Block Japanese Distractions’ posts. Might work, might not, but worth a shot.
-Debates. The JLPT Or Not article was very interesting.
-In fact, one way to do this would be like newspaper and ballot initiative debates: call in a person from each side of the debate, have them write an article, then publish them side by side. Not sure if there is enough interest for this.
-Manga quizzes. Short, random, somewhat pointless fun. I am not sure that they are good for JALUP, though. How hard are they to make? Is the motivation boost from competing and the practice in reading context worth it?
-More editing on the Japanese Media Guide. Many of the entries have poor or no English translations, and the entries are sorted by date added, which is becoming hard to navigate.
-If people want to see the latest entries only (the main benefit to sorting by date added), they can still do it with the monthly recommendations.
-Perhaps the entries could be sorted by the fifty sounds a-ka-sa order within a category? This would require looking up the kana, however.
-Maybe create a Japanese only Line group?
Things I don’t find helpful/Things I would like to see less of (to free up resources for the above section):
-Motivational posts. I don’t find articles like ‘Storms vs. Calm Seas’ and ‘Give Immersion a Little More Time’ helpful.
-The JALUP newspaper. I do not use it, and it seems like a significant time investment.
-Articles on the walkthrough. The walkthrough is getting pretty cluttered. The JALUP caption contest and Mixi articles are still up, despite being fairly defunct.
-Perhaps the walkthrough could be split into a ‘light’ and a ‘complete’ version.
-The group challenge and monthly goal threads. I don’t use them. I do understand that they are easy to make and have a great response, making them very good for JALUP.
If you have gotten thus far, thank you for reading this more thorough than expected post. And remember, this focuses on what I want, not what is good for JALUP. Though I make guesses, I do not know what is good for JALUP.
Thanks very much for the detailed thoughts you have on the site as a whole. I will take some time to look over and digest some of your ideas.
Question to you and others: would you prefer (use it) if the Jalup Weekly Potion was J-J only? I know that English turns off most intermediate learners (as it should). I do the English stuff for the beginners, and those new to Jalup and J-J mentality.
I think the same value could be provided minus the English translations, and with the time it takes to do translations, I could include more relevant Japanese websites, useful words, videos, etc.
Anyone with any thoughts? What do you like about the Jalup Potion? What would you like to see?
What if you had the option to subscribe to either a J-E Jalup potion or a J-J Jalup Potion? The content could be exactly the same but parts like the phrases at the end translated for the J-E potion, or it could be the same theme but different content depending on which one the user subscribes to. That could potentially be pretty time consuming, though.
The problem is the time. Doing the newsletter by itself takes a long time to complete, and doing it in both would add a lot to that. It’s not out of the question, but will have to think if it’s possible or decide whether J-J or J-E brings more value to everyone.
Everyone who follows jalup will have to switch to j-j sometime in the future. The potion can be a secret club avaliable for people who conquered j-j but that could reduce the audience quite a bit.
From a ‘good for me’ perspective, ditching the English translations would be okay. For me, the useful features are new posts, video/links, phrases, in that order. I would be fine ditching the J-E. I’d even be fine ditching the phrases entirely to free up time for other things.
From a ‘good for JALUP’ perspective, J-E is probably better than J-J. New learners in the J-E stage probably need the weekly reminder/media/fun phrases more than J-J learners.
Well not just “good for you,” but I understand good for anyone purely in J-J.
Just a thought. What if I separated the Japanese and English sections. Put all the English definitions at the very bottom of the page in an area called “English definitions.” This would make it easier for the J-J learner to ignore the English (as opposed to the way it is now), but allows the J-E learner to make use of it (with only a slight inconvenience).
I think that’s an effective compromise without increasing the workload for you too much.
I think that this may be a good idea. The problem with English translations and English content, is that I think that one needs to be pretty far along with Japanese for the English not to overpower the Japanese when it is there. When there are English translations, my eyes automatically gravitate towards the English, even when I am perfectly capable of understanding the Japanese, and even though I like Japanese much better!
Visually moving the English to a less prominent place would really help with that, I think. Readers who need it will be able to find it, no matter where it is, but will be less of a distraction for those who do not really need it, but are not far along enough for it not to be overpowering, if that makes sense.
Yeah, I fully agree with you. From the next issue, the English will be at the bottom.
Oh…I just got the new newsletter. Much, much, much better! The English on the bottom was perfect. I did not even see it until after I had read the newsletter and watched the kawaii video! When I did get to the bottom, I looked to see if there was anything new, but it was “just the English,” and it was much easier to ignore.
This made it easier to enjoy the newsletter without it becoming an English distraction.
Thank you so much.
Glad to hear you liked the new format!
Good luck on the book. I’m looking forward to buying a copy and am interested in learning more about your experience learning Japanese and what opportunities being fluent in Japanese has brought you.
I can’t wait for the book. I will definitely support a kickstarter for a site to watch variety shows.
I think it would be good to expand the site in other ways. Maybe move to a more sophisticated user interface, home page etc. Obviously redoing all the websites graphics, plain text, and redesigning the website from the ground up would be extremely costly. It would be nice to an IGNesque style format, modernise the website more. The content is great, but I think a makeover of the website would be awesome in attracting more readers/bringing the site into the mainstream more. I think it’s great your targeting language learners in general, because outside of kanji, a lot of this advice applies to everyone.
In regards to the lofty goals and the costs associated, I’m personally open to more advertising/marketing on the website in order to support these costs. Or any other type of fair monetisation you can concoct, I’m sure the majority of loyalists would support that. Nothing too invasive, but if done tastefully could work. I don’t think readers are completely ignorant to the cost of running a website, especially if substantial website infrastructure changes are made.
Like above, I think the walk through in particular needs a massive rework. Not just to cull some of the obsolete content, but in overall presentation, i.e. graphics/sound.
A lot of what I’m suggesting is a massive, expensive expansion of the website, but I also think it’s pretty important to consider if this site wants to garner a larger audience. A lot of internet users associate quality with the appearance and function of the website housing the content.
Fluent in 3 months… Not trying to advocate his website, since I don’t agree with a lot of what he says. And yes, I understand it’s also his use of hyperbole and emotive language helps drive his cause. But even as an avid supporter of JALUP, the website is a lot more eye catching.
Looking at a conglomerate like IGN and I get some pretty strong ideas about some of the many directions the layout/design could evolve to.
I also understand these suggestions are extremely ambitious and risky. So really these are more suggestions. Suggestions that are probably a lot more farsighted than others too. But I think it’s a necessary risk at some point this website is going to have to take. I’m sure you’ve probably mulled this over on your own at some point. Perhaps it isn’t financially viable, but at least it’s something worth looking into, if it at all possible.
Maybe it’s just me, but I really feel like this website could become something really huge if spruced up in a few areas. The content is really great, after all.
Then again, I can see you’re already attempting that sort of ambitious behaviour with your novel. So it’s not like what I’m suggesting is your only way to expand.
Maybe, and especially if the site remains the same style/format, you might want to consider something like donations? I often feel pretty guilty using this website and there is little to no advertising. I understand people need to make a living, so do what you gotta do!
At the end of the day, this is only really my opinion. So take these words with a grain of salt. I know you already have your own plans for expansion, but if you were looking for a bit of extra direction. I do really believe that giving the website a visual upgrade would do wonders for the viewerbase. Maybe evenbranching out into more general language learning themed stuff (or maybe a spin off website).
Also, that idea for variety show website sounds freaking amazing. I think if that has any chance of success you’ll have to find a way to produce english subtitles. Majority of audience that watches anime in the west are doing so with English dub/sub, so I can’t see why it would be any different for variety shows. Really hoping that becomes feasible for you! It’s quite an exciting prospect to toss around.
Hey if you do need translators/subtitlers I’ve gotten some decent experience with aeigisub through some other translation work. And if it’s for Adam then of course I’d do it for free.
Thanks James for the detailed analysis. This really lets me reflect on a few quite a few things.
A few thoughts in response.
1. I have been considering a site design change for a long time. I’m aware that the current format is 2010ish? Earlier? Haha. I took a look at IGN and Fluent In 3 months. They are much prettier than Jalup. Are there any specific things that you like that you can point out to me?
If I can start getting an idea of some features, I can figure an idea of what I’d want to do. If anyone else wants to chime in here, I’m all ears (any website designers out there?). My goal has always been to make the video game theme more apparent.
2. I’m looking into Jonathan’s affiliate idea little more. Advertising, I’m a bit apprehensive of, because I hate seeing annoying advertising on sites I like. But maybe I can figure some way for people to voluntarily contribute (not money, but a little time) to help the site grow.
3. Same on the Jalup Walkthrough. I realize it has grown a bit of control (as Hi’iaka pointed out above), and I find it harder to organize new articles into it. I’ll think a bit on structure.
4. Risk and trying new things? That’s all me haha. The site went through major changes in the early years, but design changes have remained pretty stagnant since.
5. Agreed on the subtitles for the variety show website. As the non-learning audience would also be interested.
For heaven’s sake don’t go all AJATT and spoil something good in the sordid pursuit of coin.
I’m not sure what would make you think I would go down a road just to pursue money. Have you seen much advertising here?
If you are talking about the affiliates idea, that would be to thank people who have been sharing my site and helping it grow. If you are talking about a modern redesign, that is to make it more accessible and intuitive for people to use.
I disagree with the idea of a major site design overhaul. The current format works and gives you exactly what you need. That’s not to say it couldn’t be improved, but a massive change in the site would be off-putting to me, especially if it were turned into something like Fluent in 3 Months which I feel is laid out poorly with a focus on selling you his method. When I see something like a language learning website that has a lot of shiny website design tricks, it always makes me wonder how much time was spent on the actual content itself. It rings “this is a scam” alarm bells in my head. Of course, I know JALUP isn’t a scam, but newcomers don’t. The more modest design just feels more trustworthy to me, you know? It has nothing to prove.
If a redesign is done, it won’t be a copy of a site like Fluent in 3 months. The goal is not to sell more products or my method, it’s to not intimidate learners. Any redesign will focus on taking all the massive text that is scattered everywhere and turn it into a more intuitive, visually engaging format. And I would continue to do this with feedback from everyone. The idea is to make it more enjoyable to use for everyone, not less.
I think it would be great if you had some slick engaging intro video for the site. Something that can quickly in 1-3 mins capture the interest of any Japanese learning hopefuls. And it gives a great overview of the resources available on this site. Perhaps it could even be inspiring as well (“You can and absolutely will do this”). I just think it would be a cool video I could show people to get them into the site. (And yes the intro section might technically do this, but a video would do a much better job for a lot of people).
I also feel like this site has a great backlog of articles that are hard for people to find without going through all 90+ article pages. The walkthrough, related articles, and random article are good for this but as mentioned before the walkthrough is pretty bulky by this point. I don’t even know what the solution would be. Maybe you could delete some articles that aren’t very good or useful.
Hmmm… You know I just have this fear that maybe some people happen across this site and get scared by that huge walkthrough and leave. I mean you don’t say it, but some people might get the impression they have to read all these articles to learn Japanese. It might do good to hide each world like you do with the English version of manga on this site. Also you should have some warning clarification like: “Remember, this guide provides many paths for your Japanese journey, but you can’t and shouldn’t take them all. Focus on the questions you want answered for your journey and use the advice as you see fit. Each article is merely a potential way to improve your Japanese battles. That said, you could be just one article away from kicking Japanese butt!”
Thanks Drew. I really like the idea of an intro video. I think it could be fun and an easy way to introduce the site.
As mentioned also by a few people above, I’ll look into a possible way of redesigning a better way to get to the articles (site and walkthrough). I know that the current Jalup walkthrough is growing increasingly intimidating…!
I don’t have any input but I was curious, do you live off the site 100% or do you do other work? If the latter than I’m impressed with the amount of time you put in here.
The latter. I work a regular job as well. I’m a busy person but try to efficiently squeeze out every last second of the day.
Interestingly enough it is when you are busy you get the most done… At least I have heard a lot of people experiencing that, and experienced it myself as well.
As long as you take care not to stress yourself so much you end up falling ill from it. So take care, Adam :) what you do is of immense value to a lot of people.
I’m late, but had an idea.
I’d like it if maybe Kanji Kingdom and Jalup Stories sort of… combined? Like, you would start reading a story, and it would be in all English. And then, slowly, over the course of several stories, it would morph into being Japanese, starting by replacing one kanji at a time, and then one word, etc. until we got all the way to full Japanese stories. Something like that might help the crowd who doesn’t like using Anki.
I hadn’t really considered the work hours necessary to do this, and I’m sorry if this overstepping or impossible. Regardless, thank you for making this site and helping this serial quitter get her butt moving on the road to fluency. I really appreciate it.
Oh! P.S. It would be kinda cool if the media guides maybe updated with the latest season, or with manga currently in the JUMP magazines? That way it’s current and easy to get hold of.
Ohh, I like the idea for a Kanji Kingdom stories. Related to this, there has also been an idea floating around of creating a Google Chrome plugin that would convert English (keywords) found on websites into the kanji from Kanji Kingdom, based on where you are in Kanji Kingdom.
And the media guide needs a major rework, so I’ll also take that idea into consideration.
I was just reminded of something:
Starting Jalup Intermediate I found certain constructions in definitions confusing.
There were various patterns I saw a lot in definitions which were not present in Beginner sentences.
E.g “Xがある” and a lot of さま and よう
I think it would be helpful to have some ‘worked definitions’, say a mini-pack of 50 sentences.
Walk-through of the definition
This is different to J-E-J because you are ‘showing your working’, not just the answer.
It would probably make sense to get input from people just making the transition to see what causes confusion. Looking over the early sentences now, they all make sense, and it’s hard for me to remember why they were so difficult first time around.
+1 on this.
I struggle a lot with the Japanese definitions still. I have a tremendously difficult time accepting a vague understanding and while I have become better at accepting that I still try to break down the definition and want to understand the definition completely. Sometimes I can’t understand it well enough to be able to break it down and when it happens it causes me a lot of frustration.
Seeing Japanese definitions broken down and explained would calm my mind a lot and help me break down future definitions on my own.
I actually pitched an idea for something similar to Adam. My plan was to ask for everyone’s techniques for solving cards. I guess I should start working on it?