We are in the middle of rainy season here in Japan, which makes it incredibly easy to just sleep in and forget about doing anything demanding. There is nothing like walking home in the pouring rain to sap your energy. So, it has been a bit tough to stay vigilant about studying for the test.
Instead of grinding away in the same old fashion, I’m trying to switch things up a little and go with the flow. For one thing, I’ve recently dusted off my box of White Rabbit Flashcards and started using them a lot more. I’ve always been a fan of electronic flashcards for multiple reasons, but having the good ole fashion paper ones is also handy too. For one thing, I don’t have to switch to the app and wait for it to open (I’m on an ancient iPhone 3G).
Making Studying a Priority
Life is crazy. There is so many things that get squished into 24 hours it’s ridiculous. So, it is often pretty easy to let your studies slip by the wayside.
We’ve all been there at least once. You get sick, you get busy, or more often there is just a slow gradual decline in the amount of time you devote to studying a language.
Well, this may sound a little rough, but in my opinion “I don’t have enough time to study.” actually means “I’m not making studying a priority.” Studying a language is a lot like owning a puppy, it’s a lot of fun, but you have to make sure you feed the little guy every once in awhile or he might just run away.
I personally blame my schooling. We’re never taught such important things as scheduling or prioritizing or even how to study in school. So, no wonder we get lost. But, the important thing to think about when studying a language is consistency. 5 minutes a day is just fine if that’s all you can fit in.
If you are anything like me, you are probably working 8 hours a day or more or have class and other studying to do. But, it’s important to spend that time every day to give yourself a little something before going into work and giving someone else some of your time.
One small trick that I make use of to do a lot of my studying is tackling the most difficult stuff first thing in the morning. We all know that sometimes we have to eat our vegetables when it comes to studying Japanese, and if you eat your vegetables in the morning you can get it over with and get on with your day. I personally review my Anki deck in the morning before I do anything else. Just so it is out of the way.
Measure your Progress
It’s important to have some kind of metric, so you can see your progress. Anki has built in graphs to show you how well you are doing, but it can be a little more difficult with other types of studying. Make sure to test yourself over the grammar points and vocabulary that you have learned.
I personally grab the closest native speaker I can find and try out a few new grammar points that I’ve learned that day, just to make sure I’ve got them down. If you are outside of Japan and a native speaker is a little too hard to come by, you can use a website like lang-8.com to help you practice producing the language.
Although the test technically only covers the receiving of the language, I don’t think it is possible to pass N2 (or maybe even N3) without being able to at least have a short conversation. Producing the language (speaking or writing) helps give you feedback and also allows to learn through making mistakes.
Re-prioritize your studying, take a look at what you are studying now and decide what is the most important thing for you to be studying. Do you need to work on grammar? kanji? Then, choose a time of day to make that your studying time and stick with it. Now is the time to make those habits stick.
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Music by Kevin MacLeod, photo by Samael Kreutz