My 300+ day streak of doing Japanese daily

Objectives of this long post:

Get feedback, share the methods, and maybe get new ideas.

Background:

What I’ve been doing since a bit earlier of new year, as the usual new year self-objectives, is a set of exercises/tasks to help me on my quest to learn enough Japanese where I can confidently read and enjoy Japanese media. Note that my main objective currently is reading, so it might not be the best for everyone.

I do have N5, N4 and N3 certificates, although this last one I feel a bit like a cheat. I signed up just to test my level before taking it seriously, and I ended up getting a passing mark by acing the listening and scratching the pass mark on the other sections. I kind of think I shoot myself on the foot by doing this, as you are not allowed to re-take levels you have obtained a certificate from, so the next JLPT has to be N2, which is currently out of reach for me.

What it works for me and what it doesn’t seem to work for me:

Accountability and tracking. This is a big thing. At first, I was keeping track of what I did daily on paper, and then pass them to an google docs spreadsheet through a survey. This generated a report at the end of the day with a score based on the objectives I completed that day.

With time, I developed my own system in PHP, moving away from the docs, where I keep track of everything I do. This system calculates average times and scores my daily Japanese grind. It could potentially calculate the streaks, of each task too, but I’ve been quite busy with work, so I haven’t had the chance to get around that yet. This system currently also shares the progress on a private discord via a bot to a server I have with other friend that it’s also in the task of learning Japanese.

I plan to have an end of the year report where I can see some nice stats and graphs hopefully. I also have in my to-do list updating to match new daily tasks I do.

WaniKani. Although this was part of my daily to-do exercises, I’ve moved to other Kanji learning methods that seem to provide better progress for myself. I’m still a subscriber although in vacation mode for quite a few months, but I’m always pondering if I should drop it for good. Part of the reason of not working for me is the lack of feeling of progress, frustration with it’s not very flexible SRS system, and apparently weird kanji ordering. This last problem is also something I have problems with Kanji Garden.

With the new Kanji learning method I’ve jumped on, that I discuss further down this long post, I feel like I’m getting closer to my objective to start being able to read things.

My daily grind:

  1. Bunpro. I do the Minna No Nihongo I and currently II path. I used this briefly in Japanese language school and I feel comfortable with the format. I have no idea where I’ll go from there, so we will see.
    • My current method is I mix this with some grammar lessons that come from an online course from the Attain language school for N5, N4, N3 methods… I take the lesson, then look up in what part of the Minna No Nihongo book are those grammar points, review them, and then I add the lessons on my Bunpro account.
    • I have finished the N4 course, so now I plan to finish adding all the pending Minna No Nihongo II grammar points, and from there, I’ll do the remaining N4 grammar points with the Bunpro order.
  1. Japanese media. Anime / Comedy shows / Talk shows. I try to select easy to understand ones, and sometimes fail miserably thinking they are easy when they are not. I watch with soft subs (disabled by default), so if I get stuck in a part, I enable subs and replay the part that I previously watched without subs. I have a self-imposed maximum limit of 50 minutes per day (which is around two episodes of anime), as I’ve noticed that after a time you start losing focus and absorbing new things.
    • Currently for example, I’m watching Yuyushiki.
  1. Kanji Kentei, Kanji Kentei 3DS and Anki. This has been a big discovery for me. I’m currently learning Kanji with these books ( Amazon.co.jp: 漢検 10級 漢字学習ステップ 改訂二版 : 日本漢字能力検定協会: Japanese Books ) , instead of WaniKani.
  1. Other misc tasks. Although they don’t have their own dedicated section on the tracker I have, I sometimes do:

Further improvements to the system I plan to take:

I want the system to generate statistics automatically, currently it all gets dropped in a database and a simple, end of the day report is generated, which looks something like this:

I also want the system to take in mind the time I spend studying for the scoring instead of just the tasks. It’s currently possible to “cheat” the system by spending 1 minute on each task and moving on.

Closing the long post:

If anyone is interested in seeing the stats/report at the end of the year, do let me know!
Also I always welcome and appreciate new methods and feedback. I’m constantly looking for new materials and methods that could help me speed up the process.

Do please take in mind my main objective is reading comprehension currently, second would be listening, although I think I’m doing okay on this last one.

Thanks for reading and hopefully I didn’t bore you to death.
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Updates log for the above post:

  • 11/10/21 - Formatting, msising image

Wow, your efforts are impressive! :+1:

Don’t you take your kanji journey too seriously? As for me, I did WaniKani to 20 lvl, dropped it because I found it extremely boring for me (and frustrating too when some correct answer marks as incorrect because it’s not exactly the same that Wanikani expects).
Then I passed through that famous 1K Anki deck Recognition RTK that was a part of MIA approach (now it’s called Refold IIRC), and now I feel like my kanji knowledge is quite good for reading something like “slice of life” (but I still have to look up a bunch of words of course).
Maybe it can be good for you to invest half of your kanji learning time to reading, because you will build new strong connections in your brain related to how and in which context all these kanji and words are used.

I look forward to seeing your end of year report :slight_smile:

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Thanks! I do hope to have some interesting stats at the end of the year, so I can see how I should move forward next year. At least one thing I know for sure, is that I’m getting Bunpro lifetime on the next sale.

As for the Kanji journey, I’m taking it seriously, because what I feel I lack most in my self-learning now is that.

The fact that I don’t have the knowledge of Kanjis of a high-schooler means, most light novels and other media such as VNs that I’m so interested in reading are off-limits.

I’ll probably slow down on the Kanji once I feel comfortable reading stuff and not having to look a Kanji 5-6 times per each phrase. Looking up one or two is fine, but when you spend more time in the dictionary than whatever you are reading is plainly depressing.

I bought one of those OCR sticks from Sharp, although they are very handy and speed-up the look-up of things, is still not optimal.

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I am pretty sure you can retake the JLPT as many times as you like. Unless that is a weird rule in your country?

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I had the idea that you couldn’t repeat a passing level, but I might have the wrong information.

I’ll look into it. Thanks for the heads up.

Wow, your your learning Journey is really impressive!

For Kanji / Vocab:
I really like Kanji Senpai: Kanji Senpai - Apps on Google Play
It has a stats page… I think its worth a try / look.

Try coping from books / manga. Eg a page from a light novel / news article from NHK web easy. I think it can be really useful to build comprehension and remember kanji / words.

For reading:
Try light novels from Kadokawa Tsubasa label: 角川つばさ文庫
(I keep suggesting this to everyone )

These are aimed at kids and have more images plus furigana on everything (its easier to look up words). There are books based on anime movies (eg Your Name). The grammar used is not that difficult. Reading a few of these books really helped me transition into light novels (even though my vocab is really not that great and I have to use a dictionary hehe).

Normally for light novels, the first volume is always quite a pain. However after getting used to the voice of the author and learning (getting used to) the vocab he/she uses, its not that bad…

After Minna no Nihongo, maybe consider getting a JLPT N3 grammar book like Kanzen Master N3… That way you can fill the missing info? Other options could be Tobira, An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese and Dekiru Nihongo…

Considering your programming skills, maybe there are automations that you can make when adding new words / kanji with Anki to make your life easier?

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I do all my WaniKani on the phone using an app called Tsurukame so that I can select ‘my answer was correct’, or ‘add as synonym’ if I get something wrong.

There are bound to be plugins for the desktop version that do the same thing.

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This way destroys one of the main features of Wanikani, the instant answer evaluation. I don’t want to judge myself, I want to get feedback instantly. What if I actually answer wrong, but I misbelieve for some reason that it was a correct answer. All that double checking stuff makes it tedious.

I think that you will always have that situation with any test that asks you to type an English word or phrase as the answer. There is no exactly correct translation for a lot of things. There are usually quite a few synonyms for each answer already but they are very US-centric. That’s why WaniKani allows you to add your own synonyms.

I think we can all agree that Wanikani is not for everyone. For one reason or another.

Also with all these tools for learning Japanese, more than the intended way the authors meant to give it to you, you should adapt them to a way that goes with your workflow / learning. You might make mistakes, or start inefficiently and polish your methods, but that’s part of the self-learning pains.

Thanks for the suggestion. If I recall, other publishers have a similar label but I forgot about them (I think it was a blue colored one).

It’s a shame that the serialization on that label is a bit of hit or miss. For example, 涼宮ハルヒ (Suzumiya Haruhi) only got one.

Since I’m finishing my seasonal work and should start having more time for indulge myself, I’ve decided to give these a try:

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My feedback is why are you using 3DS and Optical sticks? Is it 2005 again? :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously, a very impressive effort and one that actually made me a little bit depressed… But I’m enjoying my N5 lessons, sub-20 WK and graded readers, will drop by head back down and not look ahead at others.

Any suggestions on better ways of looking stuff up, I’m using a combination of google translate and jisho, everything I read has furigana luckily.

apologies for not checking, late for zoom call, are those titles on https://learnnatively.com/

Sorry, no idea… I dont use learnnatively…

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it’s a site for tracking reading and grading books, really helpful for others…

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That’s great! Happy reading!
I really liked Summer Wars. After reading the book, I watched the movie too hehe.

Yeah there are blue and orange (I think) books too which are similar.

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I’ll check that site later, thanks

I really liked the movie, so that and haruhi won’t be going in blind like the other two books I bought.

The Kanji Kentei software for the 3DS is superb, and I haven’t found anything similar for PC/Switch/Smartphone in that level of quality, part of the reason why I said it was underrated. People tend to dismiss it because it’s old.

As for the sticks, they were in a sale so I kinda just bought one.

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Yeah, have a switch, not a 3DS unfortunately.
I have yomiwa app on my phone for OCR, would you recommend the stick over it?

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The sticks only work well on paper and are a bit hard to handle. They cost me like 20€, so at least they were cheap.

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You don’t need to judge yourself. Scripts on desktop (or apps on mobile) allow you to set it so that an incorrect answer just turns red, but still allows you to reattempt without being shown the correct answer.

With these settings, the srs is essentially no different than bunpro.