I have finally finished off the two elementary school level books that I had lying around the house. They were novelizations of “Toy Story” and “Surf’s Up” that I had picked up awhile ago. These novelizations tend to be pretty easy reads for N2/N1 level. I could get through about 10 to 12 pages in 20 minutes or so on the train.
I took a very casual approach to reading these books. Basically, I didn’t look up any words unless I absolutely had to or my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to check a meaning here and there. I was surprised to find some grammar items that had come up in my N1 grammar books, but most of the grammar is around the N4, possibly N3 level. There is a lot of vocabulary you have to work through, but they are worth I try if you are that level.
I have a lot of fun with Chrono Trigger, an old Super Nintendo game that I am playing in Japanese. I think RPGs are the most helpful kind of video game to play for language learning because they have a story and lots of reading. However, most RPGs have a fantasy setting which means they usually use a slightly different way of speaking.
Still, it’s good practice and you can usually decipher what is trying to be said. The old Super Nintendo games are especially useful because, due to space limitations, they don’t use as much kanji as newer games. I would say the worst system for reading kanji tends to be the Playstation 1 and 2. Sometimes the characters are so smashed together you can hardly read them.
I’ve started experimenting with a couple of different ways of studying. Mostly because I still don’t feel like sticking my nose in a drill book quite yet. I’m also nearing the end of the jDrama I’ve been watching “Hanzawa Naoki” which is quite good. It’s a little difficult at times, but I can understand the main plot points which is about all you need. It has Masato Sakai and Aya Ueto, which I could watch in absolutely anything (for her talented acting of course).
I’m wondering what I should try to tackle next for TV shows. A lot of people have recommended variety shows. I have a hard time getting into them to be honest. I might end up watching more news stories on YouTube. I’ll keep you posted.
Revising My vocabulary decks
I made a course at Memrise of all the words that I had trouble with when I was studying my drill books to get ready for the N1 test. There are about 400 words total, which isn’t that much. But, to my surprise there were actually a few words on the test that were also on that list, so I’d like to finish it up.
Once I’m finished with that list I want to move on to the list of words I made for Harry Potter. I’ve found that a lot of words I tripped over in my reading lately have been words that I read in Harry Potter, but never really mastered. It turns out it is a pretty good list of words to study if you want to do some reading.
I’d also like to finish the course off. At the moment, I only have the first 4 chapters posted online. Sorry to anyone that has been patiently waiting for the rest of the chapters. I’m going to try to get a little better at posting them and keeping my Memrise lists updated.
I also have plenty of problems with vocabulary glut. I studied way too many N2 words and I have started to fall behind in them. So, I’ve been continuing to ignore some of the easier words and converting the more confusing words to an all Japanese deck. I still spend a good half hour every morning working through the huge list of words and I think a half hour is a little too much. I’d rather be doing something more natural with that time.
Although studying vocabulary all in Japanese is a little daunting at first, it has proven to be quite useful. Mostly because I have to think more about the vocabulary. Yes, this slows me down a little but really helps the vocab stick. I highly recommend it if you have a little patience.
Listening Reading method
This last month, I stumbled upon a method that a friend of mine recommended and swore by. It’s called the listening reading method or just l-r sometimes. It’s kind of drilling technique that seems to work for a lot of people, so I thought I would give it a try.
Basically, what you do is take some material in Japanese in both written and spoken form, and an English translation of the material. First, you listening to the audio of the Japanese to get used to the sounds of the conversation.
Then, you listen to the Japanese while reading the English. This is for you to understand the meaning of the Japanese. This part sounds a bit difficult and it can be, but does help with the meaning.
After that, you listen to the Japanese audio while reading the Japanese text. This is to help link the written words to the audio and it can be really helpful for visual learners that need to see something in front of them I think. It also helps internalize the pronunciation of the kanji used in the text.
Finally, you read along with the text while listening to the Japanese audio. Try to match your rhythm and intonation to the recording as much as possible. If you wanted to do a little extra practice I suppose you could do some shadowing as well. Shadowing is where you only listen to the CD (without looking at the text) and repeat what the speaker is saying while the CD keeps playing.
The hard part is finding some good, already made material for this. There are a few options available to you though. One pretty easy way is with a service like JapanesePod101 which has tons of bilingual materials along with Japanese audio. Or, you could find a Japanese friend to record some audio for you as well.
I experimented with some material from some online resources and having my wife record it for me. I’ll report back with how it worked out. So far, I’m a little mixed about it, but that might change after I get a little more used to it.
Does anyone have any experience with this method? It seems like it could be pretty effective and easy to stick with once you get a pattern down and have a good source of material.
How is your progress going?
How are your studies going? Have started doing some reading? If you are preparing for the December test you might want to check my first month’s JLPT study guide for the JLPT for some tips on how to get started.