Lately, I’ve gotten more and more annoyed at doing vocabulary drills. A lot of this has to do with it getting tremendously boring to do the same thing over and over. But, also because of being at a higher level, it is easy to get two words that have similar meanings mixed up. And there were some simple words in my Memrise courses that I’ve been ignoring and pruning out.
I also couldn’t study the old N2 course on Memrise that much because it is too big to be used on the iPhone app. I almost dropped the whole course, but I’ve decided on another course of action instead.
I’m taking every single word I get wrong and adding it to a Japanese only deck. Although I’ve known Japanese to Japanese is the best way to learn, I’ve been pretty lazy about switching over. Mostly because I can’t find a good source of resources for practicing Japanese to Japanese words.
One handy app that a reader recommended before is 漢字読めるカナ. It practices the reading of the kanji and allows you to look up the definition online if you get it wrong. It also has a handy image search function, too.
But for Memrise, the data that I used to create the main dictionary is all from WWWJDIC. Meaning it is all Japanese to fairly good English definitions, so to create Japanese to Japanese I have to make the cards by hand. If I have time I might try to hunt down open-source data, which I’m sure exists somewhere, but for now it is a manual process.
Japanese to Japanese
Full immersion seems to get a lot of praise as ‘the’ way to study a language, and for the most part it is a pretty good method for hard-core language lovers. But, it can also lead to a bit of confusion and sometimes just be simply de-motivating because it is difficult to jump into at first. And some recent studies suggest that at the early stages of language learning, it might be better and faster to use one’s native language to learn with instead of guessing at meanings.
I like to call this ‘half’ immersion. Where you do immerse yourself sometimes but not all the time. For example, I’ve never understood Japanese explanations of grammar points. Sometimes it’s filled with too much jargon-y language terms, sometimes the grammar point is just too complicated. For whatever reason, I like to look at both the English explanation and the Japanese one, just to be safe. Also, it gives me a well-rounded understanding of how to use it and how it sounds.
I’ve been a bit hesitant to switch completely to Japanese to Japanese dictionaries because I’m afraid I won’t be able to lock in vocabulary as well as if I used an English definition. Also, some Japanese definitions are more complicated than the word they are describing. But, my recent experience with Japanese to Japanese for vocabulary building has been fairly okay so far, and has added a lot of clarification.
It has slowed down my studying a little bit, because you need longer definitions and I need to look up every word and add the card manually. But, I think this extra work helps you process the word more and ultimately to recall it better in the future.
Overall though, I’d like to be doing a lot more JLPT practice than I am currently doing. The amount of time I have to study every day has dwindled down to only about 30 minutes or so. For N1, that is way too short of an amount of time to make good progress. I have spent more time on detailed grammar practice and I am squeezing in vocabulary practice when I can with my iPhone app.
I’ve had a lot of little personal fires of late to put out. A friend’s website went down, and we had to do some emergency work to bring it back up again. I’ve been offered a few more classes to teach, which is always a good thing.
And, I don’t want to jinx it, but it looks like I’m moving out in the very near future. We are currently going through the loan process and paperwork of buying a house. So, it looks like I won’t be getting any sleep for the next month or so. Ideally, it probably isn’t a good idea to be in the middle of a major move right before the JLPT, but it’s the perfect house, so we had to get it.
Anyway, the main focus for me is to improve my grammar and vocabulary score and keep my other scores up. I think that is fairly achievable and once the move is finished my life can have some normalcy and I can get back to blogging, studying, and creating courses.
How are things Shaping up for You?
Are you ready for the big exam? Taking it easy? Putting out fires of your own? Let me know in the comments.