JLPT BC 51 | Getting Back on Track

studying while busyRecently, I’ve switched my focus from vocabulary to grammar. Back in July, I took the N2 and failed the test, and one of my strengths was vocabulary. I also scored all right in grammar (B), but I feel like I’m getting a little bit rusty lately.

So, I’ve actually gone back and started studying one of the first books I ever got to study for the N2, my trusty old Kanzen Master book. It is surprisingly still in print and for good reason. It is incredibly comprehensive and has plenty of tricky exercises to sharpen your skills.

I’ve been going back through it and taking the practice tests in it. Then, going back and making cheat sheets with the grammar points that I got wrong. I’ve come to realize that I am familiar with a lot of Japanese grammar but I haven’t really mastered it all yet.

Busy Little Bee

I’ve also been incredibly busy recently because I am teaching an intensive where I have to work 4-12 hour days, which involve 10 hours of being in the classroom and working with students. To say this is exhausting is an understatement. I do this every year and it completely takes over my life for the week.

Everybody gets busy now and then, maybe you have a busy season at work, family commitments, people visiting from out of town, or it’s just simply one of those weeks when you can’t get anything done. You get busy.

Also, we all have disruptions in our lives like moving somewhere new, getting a new job, getting married, or simple shifts in your schedule that can affect how you study. It can be incredibly difficult to stick to the books during these times of disruption.

The Problem of Being Busy and Disrupted

The reason for this is pretty simple – it interrupts your study pattern. I’ve talked before a few times about how after only 21 days a new study habit can cement itself into your daily routine, but if some big change comes along or you get incredibly busy, you can lose that pattern.

I’ve seen good students, who study every day and do their homework, vanish from my class in a matter of a few weeks once they’ve started a new job or even moved somewhere different in the city. It’s a bit heart-breaking to see, because I know how much effort they’ve put into studying the language and now they are going to lose a lot of that by letting it go.

Don’t Walk Away

So, if you find yourself in one of these situations, don’t walk away from studying. At the very least, try to squeeze in a little bit of practice during your breaks or other times. Even if you are just looking over a few flashcards, it’ll be enough to remind you of the language and remind you to get back into a pattern once things have calmed down a bit.

I would also recommend not jumping back in at 100% again. Try to ease back into studying if it has been awhile since you last cracked the books. Also, be a little lenient on the rewards at first, too. If you are able to study for 30 minutes, go watch TV for 30 minutes as a reward. Then, over time, increase your studying time and decrease the rewards.

In the case of SRS, or spaced repetition systems like Anki, you might be coming back to 400+ cards after just a week away from it. This can be intimidating and might lead you to either just walk away or simply flip through the cards without much focus. Neither of these things are going to do you much good.

What I do is set the session limits in Anki to make sure it is something that I can handle. Then, stick to that pattern of studying. This will probably involve you studying a little bit more than you did before. Don’t worry about working your way through those cards, they can wait. Your head on the other hand, can only take so much memorizing in one day.

Leave Your Mark

How do you rebound from a disruption or a break in studying caused by being busy? Let me know in the comments below.

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Music by Kevin MacLeod Photo by Fred Jala

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