JLPT BC 157 | Back to jDramas

JLPT BC 157 | Back to jDramas post image

I’ve been spending (or wasting depending on how you look at) with keeping my streaks up on Memrise. I think it is great to have that daily goal, but I have busy days and not so busy days and it can make it hard to keep up with keeping a good streak going. This has lead me to ‘learn’ a lot of words, only to score 50% on the tests afterwards. This can get a little frustrating.

Other than bulking up on vocab, I picked up a new jDrama, Hirugao, which literally means afternoon face. It is a pretty risque drama about two women involved in affairs during the day, hence the whole afternoon face. So far it is pretty interesting and has some interesting phrases. Although I hope I won’t need so many of the vocabulary words.

And finally, I’m back to doing some translation. Although translating is not communicating at all, and isn’t the best form of practice, it helps get me some reading practice while getting paid at the same time. Studying during work is really important, as any new father will tell you, and it’s been great to get back into doing it when I can. I hope I don’t get buried again.

Memrise Streak Contests

So recently Memrise has held a few contests on their platform. In January, they held a contest to see who could learn the most words in a month. And in February, they had a competition that asked participants to meet their daily goal for a particular course for at least 12 days straight.

These competitions have come under a little fire on the site because a lot of people feel like this is just encouraging people to ‘over-game’ and use Memrise simply to get more points so that they can win prizes. And in general, they teach bad study habits because users don’t develop a slower, more thoughtful process of absorbing vocabulary.

And I would have to agree that yes it does encourage some bad behavior. Especially if they kept the contests up for an extended period of time. But fortunately, they just limited these competitions to the first two months. And I think these little spurts of focused study can be good for you. It helps you create ways to cope with !unpredictable schedules and prioritize your studies.

After you’ve established the study habit, you can modify it, scale it down or up to fit your lifestyle. I found the February streak contest a bit of a blessing and a curse. It forced me to make time for studying, and I scored a tremendous amount of points, but it also forced to push through study sessions a little faster than I would have liked so that I can score my points for the day and move on.

I personally slow way down on the weekend because I spend a lot of time with my family and just doing the usual errands that you tend to only get done on the weekend. However, during the week, I can be incredibly focused, especially during my morning and evening commutes, and traveling between teaching locations. I love having nice trains that I can sit on and get work done on, instead of sitting in a car.

Watching Risque jDramas

I was interested in picking up a new jDrama to watch and I ended up doing a Google trend search just to see what was really popular these days since I hadn’t heard of too many mentioning one particular series. Google came back with Hirugao, which was apparently wildly more popular than other dramas.

And it is easy to see why. The series is a scandalous story of one married woman who was having an affair recruiting a complete stranger to help her cover up her lies. And trouble ensues from there, complete with edgy scenes and implied nudity. The end credits are barely suitable for prime time TV. Hmm, I wonder why it is so popular?

So far, it has some useful dialog with some good daily expressions. This can be a bit hard with jDramas because they are often set in some particular industry with its own yougo or jargon that makes the phrasing not so useful. Although it is fun to quote some things from Hanzawa Naoki from time to time, it didn’t have a lot of reusable material.

I also find the series a little interesting culturally speaking. The series focuses on the plight of the two women and the husbands aren’t shown in the best light. The story plays a lot on the fact that the affairs are just ways to get the attention that they aren’t getting from their neglecting husbands. The characters are still somewhat 2D and stereotypical. The handsome smart teacher guy, and the brooding troubled artist are the two characters that play their love interests. Not exactly ground-breaking stuff.

Translation Work

I took a bit of a break from translation because I got busy with a lot of other work, but have now managed to pick up a few little gigs here and there to get the ball rolling again. I think translation helps expose you to the wide variety of material out there that is in Japanese. It seems I get everything from personal emails to legal documents thrown at me, which makes for interesting reading.

I don’t think translation is for everyone, but for me, I really do like to piece things together and see how the puzzle fits together. Translation is like writing but you don’t have to come up with ideas and the topic. You can just focus on how it all comes together. I’m not sure if I could do it for 8 hours straight, but the occasionally gig here and there is a good little break from teaching.

I should say that translation isn’t actual studying. In truth, when you do translation, all you are really getting good at is well translating. Although you do pick up a few words here and there, I don’t find it to be the most efficient way to study.

However, I have learned how to decipher some pretty tricky messages through translation though, which comes in handy for comprehension. Translation is paid per Japanese character you translate, which means some cheapskates will attempt to write the shortest message possible and hope that you get their full meaning. Often times I’ve had to make my best guess, and later I double check my work with a native, and they didn’t even know either.

How are you Faring?

If you are studying for the JLPT this July or December, be sure to check the 2nd Month of the JLPT Study Guide for tips on what to do this month.

Have you changed your study routine? What is working for you? Let us know in the comments.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • andrew April 3, 2015, 12:31 am

    Hey mac,

    long time no comment for me.

    Memrise – I like the new memrise group ideas. I was thinking about trying them out for some projects I am working on with friends.

    Just an idea, but you should make an adv study group and advertise it here in your next newsletter. Then your readers can compete against each other and study whatever you are studying. Could be fun now that they offer the non-classroom groups.

    Translation work can be tough depending on the type of language it is in. I did a young girls manga last year that had a lot of Kyoto-ben. I should have hit you up for help ha. My native Hiroshima wife and I had a fun time trying to figure out a few phrases.

    Lastly I had a question:
    – Do you study memrise on your way to work and home using the app.. or do u open a browser and go to the homepage. I am assuming the app because it is more mobile friendly. But the app for memrise, duolingo, etc. is sometimes lacking in areas the home site versions can fulfill. I would always prefer to study on a computer, but of course there are a lot more opportunities at least for me to study on the mobile version.

    • Clayton MacKnight April 9, 2015, 5:36 am

      I use both the website and app depending on where I am and what I’m doing. The app is great practice, but I think it really isn’t challenging enough to lock things in, so I try to use the site as much as I can, which can mean my studying slows down a bit.

      The other thing is that on Memrise, you can only practice the ‘difficult words’ lists on the site. So if you want to specifically focus on those, you need to use the site. (I think difficult words are a part of the premium features of the site). So, what ends up happening is a study on mobile when I can and then, at home, I sit down and chew through my difficult words and concentrate on them more and hopefully build mems when I have time. Although recently I haven’t had as much time as I’d like.

      Anyway, Andrew I hope you are doing well. It’s been a really long time since I’ve heard from you. Hope Hiroshima is treating you well.

  • Chromoo April 26, 2015, 4:52 pm

    Hello Mac, I’ve been listening to your podcasts for quite a while and I just wanted to drop by and say thanks for making my commute to school less boring. You’ve given me a lot of information to bounce up and motivate me in this somewhat long process of obtaining the N1.

    I was wondering whether I am able to translate Japanese to English, how can I make sure I am ready for translating such difficult texts? Also, where do I get started? Any tips and suggestions to point me to the right direction?

    • Clayton MacKnight April 29, 2015, 2:11 pm

      Well, it really depends on how comfortable you are translating things and if you actually want to do it. I know that sounds strange, but if you want to make good money you’ll be translating medical reports and mechanical manuals and such, nothing very riveting.

      Um, I’m bit of a small fish in terms of translating, but I can recommend a pretty good book that got me started down the right path. The aptly named How to Become a Translator. It’s a cheapy little Kindle book, quick to read and gives you the basics. That’s what got me rolling.

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