Japanese Quest: The Legend of You
I’ve found 3 main mindsets in learning Japanese. The first is treating it like any other academic subject. You go to classes, you have textbooks, there is a specific structure of progressing, there are quizzes, tests, and papers, and you track your improvements. The second is to learn Japanese naturally, like a Japanese person would, and just get used to it. I prefer the third mindset, which is kind of a combination between the two:
You are the main character in a video game, and Japanese is your special power
Video games (especially RPGs) possess great components that can be extremely useful in transferring over to the development of your Japanese. This includes elements like skill stats, weapons, enemies/bosses, and leveling up. These games are incredibly addictive based on their design. Use this design to your benefit.
Why do you think people spend hours doing mindless tasks in these types of games? They want to build up their character. There is great pleasure in your character getting stronger, faster, acquiring better weapons, kicking ass and gaining power. Next time you dread thinking about spending a few hours doing Anki reviews, think of it as the same as spending a few hours killing repetitive monster spawns to gain experience points for your character.
Be as creative as you want, and organize the way you want your character to be based on whatever elements you enjoy most from your favorite video game. I’ve narrowed it down to four main areas:
1. Character Stats
Come up with specific stats to whatever you personally want to accomplish. Your current stats might look like:
Mafia Slang: 7/100
Famous Ancient Proverbs: 35/100
Celebrity Impersonations: 20/100
Ninja Vocabulary: 15/100
2. Experience Points
Put experience points on the tasks that you like doing, and especially on the tasks you don’t like doing:
100 Anki Reviews: 250 exp.
1 Anime Episode: 25 exp.
1 News Article: 50 exp.
30 Minutes On Skype With Random Lonely Japanese Person: 80 exp.
Make these the big obstacles you really want to overcome, and give yourself big exp. point returns:
Massive Backlog of Anki Reviews: 1,000 exp.
JLPT Test Level 2 Beast: 10,000 exp.
Japanese Job Interview: 8,000 exp.
Arguing Your Japanese Electric Bill: 7,500 exp.
This is one of the most rewarding and important parts of any video game. I’ve worked hard in developing the level (general guide and self-test) on this site. Level increases get exponentially harder, so going from level 1 to 20 may take as long as going from level 65 to 67.
Find What Suits You Best
If you are too lazy to keep track of everything by writing it out, internalizing it in your head works just as well. That’s mostly what I do now. But I know some people like to see everything in written form, so go wild.
And now you finally know the origins of the title of this website: “Japanese Level Up.“
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
This has been one of the most entertaining blogs I’ve seen you post. And this is something that I will definitely use when I’m during my low points of Japanese study. ^)^ ありがとうごさいます。 これはすごいだよ
I refuse to accept this system without the sound effect and swirly light when I ding the next level :P
That I’d have to charge for.
This is a very powerful technique. I’ve been experimenting with the same idea since last September and it really does give you a sense of improvement. Only, I’ve given my Japanese a physical character. (Click my name to see what I’m talking about.) I’m still on the 赤ちゃん[baby] phase according to my experience, so whenever I feel a little down about my Japanese I think about my Japanese Goal Monster’s level/phase and I think, ‘My monster is a helluva lot better than a Japanese baby would be at this point.’ And that brings a lot of encouragement and motivation.
Yea I’ve checked out your site and like what you’ve done. It does have a lot of similarities to the way I do things.
Why did I never think about something like this??? Dude this technique sounds really fun and motivational! I am a huge gamer and RPG’s tend to be some of my favorite types of games. I had to stop MMO’s because the daily grind became so much that I would spend hours and at the end of the day feel like I had wasted my day and didn’t really gain anything. With something like this, I could get that video game feel, AND be improving my Japanese at the same time. It will make me feel accomplished everyday. I happen to be a comic book artist so I’m gonna go the full route and design myself as a character, design a D&D style character sheet, bosses, monsters, quests/goals and work from there. I’m pumped! Thanks! I need to determine my starting level though… I’m thinking that since I’m wrapping up N3 grammar I’m about 20ish?
I used to play MMORPGs as well so that’s why I took the idea behind it and used it to something actually worthwhile to your life. I like the idea that you are going fully flesh it out. I’d be curious to see what you come up with. Might give other readers here some ideas as well.
I plan on doing a post very soon as to an explanation of what the levels coincide to, so just wait a little while longer.
Yeah I’d appreciate it if you would post what kinds of leveling/experience scale you use to level. I spent about 6 hours or so fleshing out the basics of what I think I want to do, unless your leveling system is better than mine of course. (I’m not so good with numbers lol) I’ll let you know when I get it up and running. I think you are right and that something like this could motivate others and it would even motivate me knowing that It’s helping others.
Okay I posted the level scale. I’ve never actually come with an actual number based experience scale, since for the most part I’ve internalized the process.
That’s ok. I think I’ve come up with a system that will work for me. In fact, maybe it’s better that people make their own scales because it makes it more of “their own” so to speak. :)
WOW!! Just… incredible. Once I get back into my japanese studies I will place this post as my homepage hehehe :D
Really, very very creative idea you had. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks! And very nice guide you have there about learning kanji using the Heisig method.
Writing a kanji a few hundred times? Mining that planet.
Not getting discouraged because I *still* don’t know katakana the way i should? Penguin race.
Powering through no matter what? Bongo Bongo!
Lulu is back and is going to practice some nihongo magic every step of the grid.
Oh, yeah, and somehow work in obsessively playing galaga and tetris like the Pong player I was.
This idea is awesome, but I really have no idea how to set the Experience, since I have no idea how much would I need to do in order to get to the next level.
I think I start this method in lvl 20, so lets randomly say it’s already 10,000XP, how much do I need for 21? 11,000? 100,000? how can I know that?
I forgot to mention, but obviously this is relative to the amount of XP you gain for accomplishing tasks. This doesn’t matter tough since I still don’t know if I need 10 task points (where 1 task point = X actual study) or 1000 task points to level up.
I’ve never actually come up with an exact system of experience points. It’s more of something you need to develop yourself and that suits you. The only basic guideline is that it should take more time to level up as you get to the higher levels, so the amount of experience required should be significantly greater (but I’m sure you’ve already figured this out).
Just found this website and after giving it a good thought.. decided to use it mixed in with AJATT :P Also, I’ve found an exp/level system that works well for me.. actually, I used the level chart on this website, and mixed it with the Runescape exp charts (since I used to be addicted to that game, for over 5 years) and now I’m gathering things that can give exp and then will figure out how much exp each things will give haha. In case anyone needs idea of what should give exp, here’s my list (I’m looking to add more too because I KNOW I’m forgetting something)
One Kanji Learned
One Anki Review
One Anime episode w/o Subtitles
One Sentence Added to Anki
One Manga Chapter (In Japanese)
One J-Drama episode
One “Journal Entry” on lang8 or so
One Novel w/ furigana
One Novel w/o furigana
One Japanese-Dubbed movie
Finishing Genki (same for both)
Switch to Japanese-Japanese Anki
30 min skype call with lonely native Japanese
JLPT Level 2 test
JLPT Level 1 test
Native Japanese thinks I’m native on phone
Native Japanese thinks I’m half japanese irl
Get accepted in a japanese University
Japanese Job Interview
This seems like a fantastic idea! I was wondering if you could make some guides on how to make interesting back stories and quests. I never got that interested in Dungeons and Dragons because I was bad at creating interesting characters and coming up with quests – I think it would be very interesting if you could write some dungeon Master-ish tutorials for us. :)
Thanks for the input. It’s an interesting idea. Though I would rather make it part of a program then just in PDF or other form. It has been something I’ve been thinking about lately though.
I just wanted to say that this must be the coolest website that I’ve seen yet on learning Japanese. I have a huge love of languages and of Japanese culture (besides manga and anime). It’s great to know other people do too.
Welcome to the site and thanks for the kind words! You’ll find a great community of people here.
Best community and website creator I’ve ever experienced hands down. So supportive and sincere, everyone wants to do what they can to help out. The more seasoned vets aren’t arrogant at all and are welcoming as they are helpful.
Hope you’re stay here is as long, fruitful and pleasant as my own. Welcome!
Pardon me for possibly being blind, but where’s the leveling chart mentioned in this article?
Thanks for pointing this out. This post needed an update (the level chart used to be on the sidebar of this site). The info is now updated!