Still getting used to the bitter humid cold of Japan’s winter. We don’t get that much snow in Kyoto, but it is definitely windy and the cold goes right through your clothes. It makes the morning and evening commutes pretty interesting.
Since I’ve been back to Japan, I’ve been putting in some volunteer time being a curator over at memrise.com. We have been really cleaning up the data and making it a great place to study Japanese. Recently, we added the 20,000+ most common words from the WWWJDIC database to sort through and clean up the words that are already in the courses there.
Last week I published my first N5 vocabulary lesson. I have a few mixed feelings about it though. It seemed to take forever just to get a small little lesson out, but I’d love to hear your comments on whether it was useful or not, or if you’d like to hear more of the same. I’m very keen on making some serious improvements to the podcast this year.
Other than that, for my studies I’ve just been doing a lot of reading. I’m putting in about an hour of reading a day. This has started to really boost my vocabulary and reading skills (and speed). It’s also taught me a lot about Japanese writing style as well. I always encourage people to pick up a book and do some reading if you can.
There is a saying in Japanese: 十人十色, ten people ten colors. I think that holds true for learners of a language, too. We are all a little different, so it makes sense that we learn things a little differently.
You’ve probably all heard of analytical learners, visual learners, auditory learners, or kinesthetic learners. Nobody is strongly one type of learner, but we are usually a mix of several types of learners in one. Some of us are 60% visual and 40% analytical or 30% audible and 30% physical and 40% analytical. It is very rare to have a pure visual learner for example.
So, it is important to keep in mind some visual learning techniques because they just might help that grammar point finally stick in your head. We can all use a few more tools in our JLPT studying toolbox, if you know what I mean.
Am I visual learner?
You may be wondering to yourself – am I a visual learner? There is definitely no checklist that you can go down and check to see if you are a visual learner or not, but there are few indicators that can help you to understand if you are more of a visual learner than another type of learner.
First off, do you need it to have a fairly quiet place in order to study? I definitely have this problem, when I study on the train I have to pump in nature sounds in order to blanket out what is going on in the train even if it is fairly quiet. If random noises like people talking or moving around distract you from doing your studies, you might be a visual leaner.
Do you need to write things down to understand them? Do people tell you to do something (audibly) and then you forget to do them? But, if you immediately write it down, you remember to do it without any problems? This could be good indicator that you are a visual learner.
One final test, which probably seems pretty obvious, but are you attracted to fashion or colors? Do you understand charts more easily than any kind of writing? If so, chances are pretty good you are a visual learner.
If you are even part visual learner, you should try to integrate some learning techniques that can help you lock in the information. One really simply way to do that is to use highlighters and colored pens in your studies. During your reading exercises you can for example color in the grammar particles in the passage so that they stick out better.
You may also want to dissect a few sentences here and there as well. If you are having particular difficulty with a grammar point you can pull apart a sentence into pieces and take a look at how all the pieces fit together. This is especially useful for the second part of the grammar section of the test where you will have to unscramble the sentences (sentiential questions part 2).
Finally, take a look at a few videos online to help make the language real and have some visual reinforcement of what you are hearing. For example, you could do a search for 方法 which roughly translates to ‘How to …’ in YouTube. You have to do a little sorting, but you’ll be amused at a few of the videos posted on there from a few helpful folks.
Time to Get Visual
What kind of activities do you use to learn more visually? Let me know in the comments below.
P.S. Are you about ready to get all visual? Then, you should join my newsletter!
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