I’ve been continuing along at a leisurely pace with my studies. I would say I only do about an hour of studying tops a day at the moment. It is actually a lot of fun, because I’m picking up a lot of idioms out of the book I’m reading, …. It is incredibly easy to read thanks to the fact that each chapter is only about 3 to 4 pages long so it keeps me pretty motivated.
I think I might pick up something a little bit more challenging before I jump on the plane to go home though. I really do need to practice understanding more abstract reading passages. I think I should read more philosophy commentary type books, but I can’t seem to get my hands on one that I find interesting.
I think that during this lull in action, between taking the test and getting our results back, is a perfect time to do some reflecting. It’s good to take a good hard look at what went well in 2011 and what didn’t go so well, so that you can plan out a study strategy for 2012. That starts with taking a good look at your study habits from the last year.
What was effective for you this year? What did you feel helped you the most on the test? What was the most efficient way of studying for you? When did you feel the most motivated and learning new material? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself about your study habits over the last year.
For me, one thing that I used incredibly efficiently was Anki. Anki really propelled my vocabulary forward. I have complete confidence with most of the N2 vocabulary now. There are arguably a few patchy spots, but not nearly as bad as before.
I think memrise.com is slowly replacing Anki for me though. Especially when my computer crashed. A lost all my progress on my N2 deck because I was too dumb to back it up. But, with memrise.com it is already backed up. Also, they are really making some changes that are making the whole site even more powerful. Hopefully soon, (in early 2012?) they will be attaching recordings of all the words in the Japanese section of the site. This will truly make it an amazing training tool.
Another thing that was really effective for me was doing considerably more reading. This has really increased my reading speed, which in turn has helped me confidently finish the test. It has also increased my overall vocabulary and reading comprehension. Anybody hoping to pass the higher tests, is going to have to do some reading practice, no doubt about it.
Cut the Slackers
Now that you’ve evaluated what your study habits from the last year. It’s time to cut out the slackers. What hasn’t been effective for you? What took more time than what it was worth? What was more demotivating than motivating? If you answered yes, to these questions, it is time to cut the fat.
For me, I gave paper flashcards another time at bat this year, and they were all right, but I felt like I didn’t get as much out of them as I could. I guess they served their purpose in the sense that they were there for me to whip out at a moment’s notice to do some studying, but I didn’t use them as well as I’d hoped.
Another thing that I won’t be doing next year is listening to a lot of native podcasts. This seemed to be a waste of time for me mostly because I wasn’t able to double check my understanding of the podcast. There were no transcripts to help me read back over what I had missed. I will instead be doing a lot more listening to my JapanesePod101 podcast episodes along with going over the .pdfs that go with the lessons.
What Fat are you Cutting?
What didn’t work for you in 2011? What did work for you? Let me know in the comments below.
Tomorrow, I’ll be getting on a plane to go to the States for the holidays, so I might not be able to get online that often. I’ll still keep posting podcasts/blog posts, but I might not be able to respond to comments and emails quickly. Don’t let that stop you from sending and commenting on the blog though! I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
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