I’ve been trying to keep my studying pretty steady over the last couple of months and not really piling on and changing anything. This has a lot to do with me just having way too much going on for me to focus on going in a different direction. I’m also not entirely sure where to go from here.
At the moment, I’m tooling up for a new assignment that is requiring me to use a lot more Japanese. Specifically, listening and speaking a lot in Japanese. Since the JLPT doesn’t exactly test speaking, it is not very useful for me to pour over literary phrases and grammar that I may hardly use at this new job. So, I’ll be shifting more towards speaking practice once I get few more things sorted out.
That’s not to say that I am abandoning JLPT Boot Camp. I love interacting with everyone and I love pushing out the updates to the N5 Grammar guide and study guide. It is a huge motivator for me to hear from so many people and read about their success stories. I’ll be continuing to do my best to help everyone I can to pass the test.
I have, though, been doing a lot of vocab bulking and taking a different approach to my studies where I try to get perfect scores every time I go through a vocab test. If I don’t, I’ll work on a new mnemonic or way of looking at the word in order to keep it locked down and not floating off. Ed Cooke recently wrote an excellent post on some quick tips about how to use Memrise to learn words fast that encourage anyone that uses Memrise to check out.
Other than that I’ve been trudging through Harry Potter at a pretty slow pace. This is mostly so I have time to practice and review the vocabulary in each chapter. I’ve also been doing some editing to the Harry Potter course at Memrise due to some of the definitions being a little off. I’m trying to add all the audio as well, but I’m not going to promise anything. Adding audio to a Memrise course can get a little tedious at times, but well worth it I think.
Closer Focus on Vocab
One of the small changes I’ve made is tweaking how I learn vocabulary. I’ve been trying my best to slow down and build a stronger link with new words that I encounter. This may involve taking a good amount of time to build a nice mem, or simply trying to act out a situation using the new vocabulary word. I think it is important to engage all of your senses when learning something new. And also, just getting up and moving a little keeps you awake when you are drilling through hundreds of vocabulary words.
I’ve also been making a point to just run with my curiosity instead of trying to digest as much vocabulary as I possibly can. So, if my mind goes on a tangent with some word and I really want to take some time to look up some phrases here and there to see what I can do with it, I don’t worry about taking a bunch of time to do a little more investigating. As long as I have some time to do so.
One example of this is jyumoku, which is a word that popped up in a N1 deck that I am currently studying. In the deck, it had the English translation as ‘tree.’ Now, if you’ve been studying Japanese for any length of time, you’ll know that the word for ‘tree’ is usually ki. Or at least, that is what usually comes up first when you do a dictionary search. So, what is with this jyumoku?
Well, just as we have a myriad of words to describe things like a place we live (lodge, cabin, house, hut, shelter, etc…) so does Japanese (go figure). And each of those words I mentioned before conjure up a different image in your head right? A lodge is different from cabin in your head. The same is true for jyumoku and ki. They kind of have the same meaning, but they are slightly different.
It turns out jyumoku has more of a written or academic tone to it. It is more often used in writing or in some kind of prepared presentation, not in regular conversation. And it is used more to talk about trees in general and not a specific tree, like ki is more often used for. jyumoku has another translation as ‘arbor’ and can be used in such words as tree husbandry (樹木の栽培管理).
Of course, these distinctions are little blurry and you still need to read through a few examples to get a feel for how it is used. I feel like this is why, the higher you get the more reading and using of the language you need to do to really learn all these little nuances that can come up. You can’t just drill everything and hope for the best in other words.
Intensive Reading with Harry Potter
When I first read through Harry Potter, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of it and that I picked up a lot of vocabulary. But, in reality I had looked up a bunch of words, temporarily put them in my head and then moved on. It has been a great experience to go back over things in detail and learn some of the quirky little words that come up. I’ve been drilling them using my deck and trying them out with friends and co-workers for laughs, especially some of the words that can be hard to work into a conversation.
For example, I picked up the word usunoro, which means half-wit or knucklehead. I obviously can’t use that with too many of my friends or co-workers in a regular situation, but I’ve been joking around with them and trying out new phrases and vocabulary.
I’m still reading through the elementary school newspaper and it has been pretty interesting so far. In general, it is pretty easy for me to understand, although a lot of the vocabulary is not automatic for me. I may understand the meaning of each word, but comprehending it all put together has sometimes slowed me down a little, so I think it is a great piece of material that is just at the right level where I understand most of it and can practice and get faster with a foundation of useful words and over-learn it all.
Memrise Premium Updated
It is always a good thing when you are able to set little mini goals for yourself as you work towards your big goal. It keeps big goals from seeming so unattainable. I go into a lot of detail about goal setting in the JLPT Study Guide Kit, because I think it is something that a lot of people overlook when going to set out to study. But, it is critical that you set goals for yourself.
Memrise does a great job of gamifing the whole process of learning with points and charts to show your progress. And this has helped a lot in setting goals and being able to track how well you are doing as well as allowing you to compete with your friends for some motivation.
But now they have taken the process one step further and allowed you to set points goals for each of your courses. This is a good way to keep you focused on trying to learn a particular number of words each day. And of course, since it is Memrise, everything is beautifully presented to you in a little chart for you to fill up.
To make things simpler, Memrise has simplified the process a bit by limiting you to only 3 choices – 1500, 6000, or 9000 points a day. This can make things a bit trickier, because I think about 3000 per course is a good goal if you are split between two courses that you are actively studying (like me), but hey simpler is better.
How about you?
How have your plans changed? Are you new to the site? You might want to check Month 1 of the JLPT study guide to give you an idea of what to do this month in preparation for the July or December test.