I’m more than half way through ほぼ日刊イトイ新聞の本 (230/350 pages) and things are getting a lot smoother. I’m really able to pick up and understand a lot more. There are the occasional chapters that I get really messed up about, but one strategy that I’ve started to adopt more and more is try to push my way through the entire essay. Then, go back and re-read it a slower after I’ve looked up all the words I don’t know and I’ve read through the entire thing. Usually during this second time through things tend to snap into focus.
I’m actually looking forward to finishing this book off and moving on to focusing more on the N1 grammar that I need to know. I’ll probably be doing that while I’m reading another novel, hopefully something a little more fun to read like Harry Potter or something. I want to get through all the N1 grammar at least once before I make a valiant effort for the N1 in July.
I’m also still working my way through StickyStudy for iPhone. If you are interested in picking up this app, I created a video that reviews StickyStudy for iPhone that you might want to check out. At first, I thought it didn’t re-test words that you mastered, but it does, it just does it a lot later than I expected it would. Still probably the most aesthetically-pleasing flashcard app in iTunes at the moment.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Some people have a tried and true way of studying. You might drill words to death on memrise.com, read manga like it is going out of style, or shift through thousands of sentences in Anki. Chances are if you have reached an advanced level in your studies you have tried several different kinds of study methods in order to come up with what interests you and what helps you recall the most stuff.
I’m starting to realize though that if you just focus on one particular source for learning, there are some drawbacks to this. You can’t really rely on one resource to get you everything you need. For example, reading manga is great, but in realty reading manga a lot helps you get better at reading manga.
The book I’m reading now, ほぼ日刊イトイ新聞の本, is a great source of essays and musings from Mr. Itoi. It contains a lot of writings that are similar to the kinds of essays you see on the tests. But, I’m starting to see some of the same words being repeated. This isn’t so bad actually because I get to naturally review their meanings in context, but I also feel like I should try out a different author later.
Another example of this is when I went to the clinic when my wife was having a baby recently. I could get a basic idea of what everyone was saying, but needed to look up a lot of extra vocabulary. Also, just the phrasing of what the nurses were saying and asking me was a little unfamiliar to me. Overall, it was of course an amazing experience (having a baby) and a good learning opportunity as well because I was extremely motivated to know what the heck they were talking about.
The JLPT is good in the respect that it forces you to spread out your learning. You can’ simply watch jDramas all day and expect to pass the test. You have to spread out and hone your skills in order to have a chance of passing the higher levels. In this way, it pretty much prepares you for anything that is going to come your way.
How to Add some Spice
My current philosophy is that the minute you start getting really comfortable with a particular source of material is the minute you should start thinking about changing to something else. I’m starting to see this with ほぼ日. It is getting easier and easier and so maybe it is time to branch off and do something else more challenging.
It’s good to challenge yourself with something even if it seems next to impossible at first. This is especially true if you are at a higher level (N3+). Try to take on some material that almost seems next to impossible. This is the best way, in my opinion, to smash through plateaus you might run into from time to time.
What is your Favorite Spice?
What are some non-standard sources of materials that you use to flesh out your study routine? Let me know in the comments.