The most important part of my journey has been driving down the J-J lane. I’m not a speedrunner but I have done the occasional sprint. I suspect that in this I am not alone. Like many others I have only ever learnt Japanese as a self studier.
Prior to finding Jalup I had started and stopped Japanese twice, and on my third try I tried to force myself through Genki I as a self study. I endured it to Chapter 10 and could well have given up if I hadn’t signed up to do N5 that summer with a friend of mine. A month or so before the test I found the Jalup app just sitting there on my phone. I can’t even remember when I downloaded it. I sped through the first 100 cards, and a few days later bought the beginner deck. I am confident that this system got me over the line with the N5!
Not long after that I bought Adam’s “Fluent Fantasy” book. I highly recommend it. It gave me the confidence that I could fit Japanese into my life and have fun doing it!
As I write this I am about 18 months into my Jalup journey (700 cards into the Expert Deck). If you are considering the Jalup system, or are already treading your first steps into the J-J world, I hope that I can help you stay on your feet. If only by telling you that I have been through it and couldn’t be happier with my choice.
I distinctly remember, five or so months after starting Jalup Intermediate reading a page of NHK News Web Easy. Hovering over a word I didn’t know and then realizing I actually understood the definition… I was reading Japanese! Of course by that point I had read over 750 similarly written definitions in the Jalup deck! Shortly after that I went to Japan for the first time, and quickly realized that even if I could speak a bit, I could understand almost nothing spoken to me! And today? Well I have recently delved into output, writing short journals and even speaking with (patient) natives.
I just want to take a moment and echo what others have told you:
Intermediate is hard…– The emotional stages of going through Jalup Intermediate
It’s brain twisting at times…
But out the other side there is clarity with the language that I would not expect to have after 18 months.
The transition into J-J is an exciting and at times frustrating journey. What I hope to give you here, and the reason I wanted to write this post, is to reflect on what worked for me. This is a combination of Adam’s advice, other sources and my own findings.
1. It is your journey
Don’t be afraid to walk your own path. But at the same time you can learn a lot from youtube tutors such as Senseis, Misa and Miku. In my opinion, as long as most of your study is in a J-J environment, then be free to step outside of it, if it’s a style of study you find valuable and enjoyable.
2. Be consistent and fit study into your life
As others will tell you, do your reviews. Just do them! You will thank yourself in the long run. And there is nothing more satisfying than getting to zero day after day, right?
Make it a habit. Fit it into your life. Whether that is on your commute, with your morning tea, etc.
3. Keep immersion enjoyable
For me, immersion needs to be enjoyable. I personally don’t worry about how much benefit/effectiveness I am getting from immersion. I watch movies/dramas/anime, play videogames, listen to music etc. At my level, I am not expecting to learn much new from this process. But it acts as a counterpoint to words I’ve recently learned or a fuzzy concept might gain clarity in context.
4. Read the posts on this site!
Over time I have hoovered up the knowledge on this site. Adam’s and other contributors gave me the confidence I could make the transition to J-J. Feel like nothing makes sense? Read a post. Motivation draining? Read a post. Considering giving up? Read a post. My favorite tactic: click random posts and just see what pops up!
5. Make the app work for you
A few things that I found made my own journey with the app a little bit more pleasant
- Don’t be afraid of not knowing a card: There is still at least 10+% of Intermediate cards I just don’t get. That’s ok!
- Send cards off to the future: Related to above, it’s ok not to know a card. Just send it off into the future. One day it will feel easy. But that day is not today, and you shouldn’t sweat it!
- Use the Star options: I starred cards that I had decided I just didn’t get yet. This had three benefits: 1) On a busy review day, if it was starred, I could move on and not stress about it. 2) On a quieter day, I could spend a bit more time and re-read the definition. 3) On a really quiet day, I could search for all starred cards and review them independently
- Use the hidden RED and GREEN functions: Long press GREEN → doubles review time. Long press RED → halves review time
6. It’s a marathon not a sprint
Sometimes it’s frustrating and I feel like I’m not progressing. I want to be able to say/comprehend/understand more than I do, but then I slow down and remember how I got to today. It was by being consistent. Don’t worry about what you can’t do today. Consider how much more you will know in six months.
That’s it really. If you are reading this and are currently working through intermediate, I feel you. I’ve been there and I hope my voice can be one more encouraging shout from the sidelines.
And here are a few of my favorite posts that are worth your time and really helped me.
Careful of perfectionism:
Realistic Flash card goals:
Still comprehending how fortunate he is to be learning a language in the 21st century. Believes in consistency over speed.