Four months ago, I started up this blog, with the intention of using it to somewhat hold myself accountable for making progress forward in my Japanese studies. In my first post, I explained how I felt about the current state of things at that time, and how I was planning to make progress.
So now, looking back on things four months later, where do I stand? Have I grown, or remained stagnant?
One of my primary goals was to get better at understanding normal Japanese conversations and being able to talk to people. I began using JapanesePod101.com as one of my primary learning tools. Starting out, I was listening around 35 hours per week. However, I have had to slow that down significantly for two reasons. For one, my job now requires a lot more mental concentration than it did at that time, and the level of difficulty of the audio lessons I am listening to now also require a much higher level of mental concentration than the easier lessons I was working through back then. And two, my anki reviews for the JapanesePod101.com material were growing a bit too large with the amount of material I was adding daily. So I am doing about 1-2 lessons per day on average now.
In terms of my listening comprehension ability, it has definitely increased from the level it was at before. Of course, it’s impossible to measure objectively, but I feel like my listening ability has improved somewhere between 50-100%. In terms of the JapanesePod101.com dialogs, I am able to understand “newbie” series dialogs effortlessly. I am able to understand “beginner” series dialogs as long as I focus. And I am able to mostly follow along with “lower intermediate” dialogs as long as I am listening intently, but still have difficulty catching everything at full speed.
In terms of my speaking ability, I feel like it has improved very little, if at all. This does not surprise me much, as I have not practiced it much.
For reading, I really feel like my reading speed and comprehension has improved a lot since I began going through Little Charo. I do a quick read through while playing the game, without worrying about full comprehension or looking up words. Then my intention is to go back later, and read through the scripts while trying to understand everything, and add useful words and phrases into anki. However, this part has proved to be considerably time consuming, and I have fallen behind in it. For longer episodes, I am considering only doing a thorough review of parts of the text that contain my frequently used vocabulary words. Then later on at some point in the future, I may come back through and do “full” readings of those episodes.
All in all, I’m mostly happy with the progress that I have made in the past four months. I have created around 1200 new anki cards in that time, which is about 10 per day. The one big thing that I am disappointed in is my writing/speaking ability. I really struggle with expressing myself in Japanese. I definitely have the ability to practice it, but I have chosen not too. It’s very time consuming for me, not to mention extremely mentally taxing, so if I focused more on that then I would definitely have to drop off either Little Charo or JapanesePod101.com. And I really don’t want to lose my momentum on those things. My plan is that once I finish one of those, then I will move on to focus heavily on writing practice at that time. I wonder if a well-rounded plan might be superior to focusing on just a couple of things? But it just feels like there is not enough time in the day nor enough motivation to do EVERYTHING.
A trip to Japan is coming up in August, so maybe I really ought to make the speaking/writing practice a priority right now. We’ll see.