See a sentence: Repeat that sentence out loud. Use your memory to understand (recall) that sentence. Then optionally write that sentence. Rinse and repeat. This is the recall method style of learning, and what you see here on the Jalup decks. This is great for those who want to listen and watch and read Japanese.
What about when you want to actually produce your own Japanese? You want to connect with another human being. You want to speak and write! What now? You’ve been merely recalling information. You’ve been passive the entire time. What’s your fate? To never engage in conversation?
Let’s touch on what production cards actually look like.
There are a 2 main ways people practice production with flash cards
1. The English is shown, and you must turn it into Japanese
2. A Japanese sentence is shown, with a blank, and you must fill in the blank
There are other ways, but I want to focus on these 2.
First, there is nothing wrong with these. Plenty of people do them with varying degrees of success. However, I wanted to explain my reason for not liking them and not incorporating them into the Jalup decks.
1. You are looking at English. Then artificially changing it into Japanese. This has a few problems.
Eventually, when you get good at your recall cards with Japanese on the front, and English on the back, you stop looking at the back. You read the front Japanese sentence, know that you know it, and skip the back. This is the goal. This is how you breeze through the easy cards. You don’t want to be reading English where you don’t have to, especially once you get to J-J.
The other problem is that as you get better, you can start translating sentences in a variety of ways. The answer on the back isn’t the only correct way, and you don’t want to mark yourself wrong for not having picked the exact way.
2. Fill in the blank or “Cloze sentences” I just find boring, and make me feel like I’m stuck in an eternal classroom environment. Some people love and swear by them though, and say they hold great power.
I’m not putting down either production method (or others not listed here), so if you think it might be for you, giving it a try never hurts. You may find it is exactly what you’ve been looking for.
However, what I really want to focus on is:
Production cards are not necessary to learn to produce Japanese.
During recall flashcards, you are “mimic producing.” You are repeating the sentences. Through native immersion, you are repeating and shadowing. The effect is obvious immediately. You are able to produce Japanese on your own, but it’s not anywhere near as close as your ability to recall it. Your passive knowledge is much higher than your active knowledge? Does this sound familiar? How about your own native language?
From beginner to intermediate level, you feel it the most. You can’t produce what you want, despite understanding it. This can feel a little frustrating.
However, I guarantee you that the more you continue with these recall cards, the more you immerse, the more you shadow, the more your production ability will grow.
Ask yourself this:
Would you rather be able to “understand” a conversation or “speak” in a conversation?
You can always simplify your words, make mistakes, and sound awkward, but be able to talk. But you can’t simplify what the other person is saying. “I just had a conversation with a Japanese person, and I couldn’t say anything!” This sound familiar?
How many conversations have you had so far?
2? 5? 20? 50?
While you may not need production cards to learn to talk, you absolutely will need conversation practice. Its the only way to get your mind used to converting all that passive knowledge into active knowledge. No amount of flash cards or immersion is going to prepare you for conversation.
Your only option is to start doing it. Dive right in. Have those first dozen awkward conversations (which they definitely will be). Then watch and smile as your internalized Japanese starts being converted to externalized Japanese. Life will be good. You are in it for the long game. No need to rush the process.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.