6-Month Update Nugget

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I last wrote an update here. I knew that was going to be the case last time I posted, but what I didn’t know was just how badly I was going to fall off the Japanese study train. The same thing got me that probably gets so many other people–life changes. Whereas I previously had everything worked out really nicely to where I knew exactly when I could study Japanese every day, now I’m running on a whole different schedule, and I don’t necessarily have access to the tools that I needed to accommodate my old routine. I’ve gotten married (to a Japanese woman, no less), taken on more responsibilities at work, and moved into a tiny apartment where there is not really space for my PC setup (my keyboard is sitting on a cardboard box on the floor as I type this). While my life is great in general, my Japanese studies are most definitely not going so well.

I thought that getting married to and living with a Japanese woman would be fantastic for my Japanese (but that’s not the reason why I married her, I promise!). However, that really couldn’t be further from the truth. We are living in the USA, so her priority is really on learning English. So English ends up being our default language all the time. The Japanese usually just comes out when her temper flares up, in which case it’s too fast for me to comprehend. On the positive side, she usually has Japanese variety shows streaming from YouTube and DailyMotion every morning, so that at least keeps me engaged with Japanese on a daily basis a little bit.

My Anki reviews have mainly been just that–reviews. I rarely find the time to sit down and add new material. Whereas I used to sit at my PC for hours every day, as previously mentioned, I don’t really have a good spot for my PC right now, so sitting down to use it for more than a few minutes is very uncomfortable. I used to use my PC for pretty much EVERYTHING related to studying Japanese, so that has really made things a bit difficult for me. This situation should only last for a few more months though, until I get my new house built.

So, my Japanese still sucks. I recognize that it still sucks. So what am I going to do about it? You certainly didn’t think that this post was just going to be me whining about how I can’t study Japanese, did you? No, I have plans to turn this around and get back on track!

I have actually started adding some new material to Anki. I previously mentioned that I had a lot of success studying collocations, especially thanks to the book Common Japanese Collocations. While I had previously put several hundred of these collocations into Anki and studied them as recognition cards, now I am going back and using cloze deletion to make them production cards. Because I am working from material that I already added to Anki, it just takes me few minutes on my PC every couple of days to add clozes to a few more cards so I can later study them on my phone. Studying the cards this way feels way better and more useful than when I was just doing recognition cards. I feel that this will really help me with speaking and writing.

I also recently came across a really cool website, called Animelon. I previously wrote about some cool ways to study subtitled videos using Pot Player. Well, Animelon works pretty much the same way, only through a website where they already have the anime and subtitles set up and ready to watch. You get English and Japanese subtitles, as well as other options like Hiragana and Katakana. The lines of dialog are displayed in a box beside the video and you can click any line to play it. You can also click any word in the subtitles to do a dictionary lookup (though it seems a bit finicky and doesn’t always work). While not really as robust as setting it all up yourself, its really nice because everything is all set up and ready to go for you. I imagine this site might not be around forever though, as I doubt they have rights to all the shows they are displaying here. But it certainly looks like it will be useful while it’s available.

Finally, there is a resource that I have known about for years, but never really taken advantage of. It’s the Hukumusume Fairy Tale Collection. This site has a ton of Japanese children’s stories and other content. Being that it’s for kids, it’s all fairly easy to read, even for the things that don’t have English. While this site is overflowing with content, there is one thing in particular that I am planning to focus on: 今日の日本昔話 Today’s Japanese Fairy tale.  They actually have a story set up for every single day of the year. So, I’m planning to (hoping to) visit and read the story every single day, to keep my reading skills sharp. I think I will probably fail at keeping this up, but I’m going to try. I wish the site was more mobile device friendly, but its not all that bad I suppose. This is a wonderful site though, so maybe I will write some more about it in the future.

Anyways, that’s where things stand for now. Things are kinda crazy, but I’m going to do what I can to bring my Japanese back on track.