☆  miuofstars  ☆ Rotating Header Image

Pushing Through

The number of times I’ve restarted kanji study is rather ridiculous. Ostensibly, this was because the previous methods weren’t just right – something was off so nothing was sticking. In class, I’d always just memorize what I needed to for the tests and then forget it shortly afterwards. You could say I’m a good procrastinator about that kind of thing; I can cram the knowledge in and do well on the test, but in reality what have I learned?

I’m smart, and I’ve come to realize over the years that this, combined with traditional public (and even some private) schooling, is not as nice a thing as you might think. I’m also incredibly lazy. I think I became this lazy because I was allowed to be – if I didn’t study, I’d still do well. In fact, I never really studied at all, save for a couple cases (one of which lead to me eventually giving up on the subject all together and I STILL passed), until I got to college. I like to think I’m one step above some of my friends who wouldn’t do homework, wouldn’t go to class and still did well because at least I actually went. Well, for most classes. Despite being able to do decently without any effort, Japanese was actually the first subject I felt like I did well in, and understood. I suppose I understood other subjects, like English, Algebra and Calculus, but I often didn’t feel like I consciously understood them. I was apparently also decent at French, but I never felt like I understood it, either.

So, feeling competent with the language, I initially put a lot of effort into learning it. This energy eventually declined until I was back in my pattern of study-right-before. I never put as much effort into learning kanji as I should have. I just learned what I needed to learn for class. I ignored my brain telling me nothing was going to stick this way. I was getting As, wasn’t that enough?

No, it wasn’t enough. This didn’t really become clear until I arrived in Japan, and my teacher called me out on it. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was really behind in Japanese, that I might actually do poorly grade-wise. In fact, I think I failed a few tests. It was a steep learning curve – the way we were learning and being taught was completely opposite of how I’d been learning back in the US, but it was the way I knew I should have been learning it all along. By the last month, I was starting to get comfortable with this new system, and felt I could really do well. In retrospect, it might have been really beneficial for me to stay another semester, but practically speaking it was difficult to organize.

I returned home, and returned to my old study habits, since that’s all that was required. Graduating with a bachelors in Japanese, I felt like it was almost a joke. I wasn’t anywhere near fluent, although I felt more fluent than I had previously. After graduating, and lacking any real purpose, I took up attempting to fill in the large gaps in my kanji knowledge. I was at a loss as how to achieve this. I tried japanese-kanji.com, which focused on knowing the readings and definitions for each individual kanji. I got to about 400 or 500 and then stopped. That’s about where my natural ability falls out – I didn’t know more than a handful of characters beyond that, and it became difficult. So, I lost interest.

I tried again later, using a similar method and a book I’d owned since I started learning the language. I wrote the characters out, over and over again, saying the readings each time. I think I made it to about 300-400 this time, mostly because the copious amount of writing was really difficult to keep up. I have some peculiarities in the way I write due to teaching myself as a child and no one correcting it, so constant writing is something I have trouble with. Just saying the readings wasn’t going to cut it, and I couldn’t continue writing that way, so again, my energy decreased and it got pushed aside.

In another fit of determination, I tried the flashcard approach. I could bring them everywhere with me, it was perfect! I even managed to finish writing up a whole set of 1945 kanji flashcards (not a small feat!) but studying them was another matter. It’s too hard to learn something like kanji without words to place them in (frequently when people are describing how to write names, for example, they’ll mention the kanji based on the common words they’re found in), so this method was a bust.

I was insistent to not lose to yet another failed approach, and while looking for information about the JLPT, I stumbled across nihongoperapera.com, which I’ve mentioned previously. I bought the recommended Kanji in Context books, since a learning system designed for the intermediate to advanced speaker of Japanese seemed more suited to me than crashing through elementary school style repetition at this age. Shortly after this, however, I discovered Otona no Kanji Renshuu, the DS software that helps you remember kanji by practicing readings and writings, so I left the books aside for the most part. OKR is a great tool for drilling knowledge, but since it’s all in Japanese, if there was vocabulary I didn’t know, I wasn’t learning it (the short phrases given in the tests are not nearly enough to give context for definitions), and as I said above, no meaning = no remembering.

So, I pulled out the KIC books, and started to make flashcards… on my computer. This was a really time consuming process, to the point where I’m not even done with all of the lessons even now, but I think in the long run this is an excellent approach for me. But this alone isn’t going to cut it – self-rating allows for short cuts and laziness, so OKR will be my backup review, along with readthekanji.com, which has the benefit of helping me learn vocab for the JLPT levels as well.

I certainly have additional studying to do to prepare for the test, but kanji is the foundation for everything. If I can’t read the test, I can’t do anything! XD I periodically update my twitter with OKR/RtK scores, so keep an eye out if you’re curious how I’m progressing without waiting for another blog update.

{ started 2009-06-07 06:53:18
published 2009-07-14 10:45:18 }

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com