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VonPeterhof’s log - 旅立ち’14, Yürükler’15+

 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
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vonPeterhof
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Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 1 of 158
29 December 2013 at 8:35am | IP Logged 
こんにちは! vonPeterhof here, starting my first ever log. In this first post I guess I should talk about my current level in the language I'm studying and my goals for the upcoming year's TAC. I've been studying Japanese on my own since the spring of 2010. I passed JLPT N2 in July 2013 and took the N1 earlier this month. The results aren't available yet, but I'm pretty sure I failed it. I suppose my current level is around B2. My base goal is to pass the JLPT N1 in 2014, the stretch goal being to reach C1 in the active skills as well.

When I have some time off (which will probably only be on New Year's day) I'll write about how I got to my present level and how I'm planning to advance this year. Looking forward to watching everyone else's progress! よろしくお願いします!
___________
For the 2015 Turkic challenge stuff see page 16.

Edited by vonPeterhof on 27 December 2014 at 1:10pm



kraemder
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 Message 2 of 158
29 December 2013 at 8:48am | IP Logged 
すごい。 I wish I were as good at this learning Japanese thing as you. I look forward to reading your log.



vonPeterhof
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Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
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 Message 3 of 158
01 January 2014 at 8:06pm | IP Logged 
明けましておめでとうございます! Now that the year 2014 has begun and I finally have some time off, might as well try to kick this thing off properly. As promised, here goes the story of my progress so far.

Even though I've been somewhat interested in languages for as long as I can remember, Japanese hasn't really been on my radar before the year 2010. That was when I got into anime (yes, I am one of those people, and I have the MyAnimeList account to prove it). Part of my motivation was to get better access to the material - to no longer have to rely on translators and be able to seek out "hidden gems" and interesting titbits on my own. Another part was that all the translators' notes and cultural commentaries piqued my linguistic appetite. More than a dozen of words for "I" whose usage depends on gender, age, formality and other social factors? Several politeness levels with corresponding honorifics? The concurrent use of three scripts, one of which consists of thousands of characters that can have up to ten various readings? Onomatopoeia for even the most abstract of concepts? It's like they're deliberately challenging me!

While I did start some basic fumbling about that could pass for "learning Japanese" in the spring of 2010, I consider that year's summer to be the start of my "serious" Japanese learning. That was when I, being faced with the daunting task of learning the kanji, discovered James Heisig's Remembering the Kanji book, as well as the website Reviewing the Kanji and its forum community. I completed the book in about six months, on December 31, 2010. In the last month or so of that process I disobeyed one of Heisig's recommendations and resumed studying Japanese proper on the side through a resource suggested by the RtK forum members, Tae Kim's grammar guide.

On January 1 of 2011 I started learning vocabulary using the Core 2k and 4k Anki decks. Around that time I also tried to start reading manga in the original. Initially I stuck to manga that I had either read in English previously, or had seen in anime form. The first manga that I read that was neither was ラブひな, which I downloaded from the legal manga hosting website Jコミ on the day its service was launched in April 2011. I was pleasantly surprised with how much of the content I managed to understand in the first chapter (around 70%), but after I read the translation I realized that nearly all the verbal humour was in the bits that I failed to understand. However, overall the language in that manga isn't all that hard, so after slogging through about five chapters I no longer felt the need to read the translation after each chapter - just looking up several words per chapter in a dictionary was enough. All the while I kept watching anime and an occasional live-action drama, gradually phasing out the English/Russian subs in favour of Japanese subs or none at all. It was probably only in early 2013 that I completely gave up on non-Japanese subs even for shows with very specialized vocabulary, like fantasy or Sci-fi. That's not to say I don't miss significant amounts of information in certain shows (shows having to do with 陰陽道 seem to be the biggest headache for me right now), but it has become easier to look up words and phrases I don't understand instead of giving in to the temptation of simply switching the English subs on.

By the autumn of 2011 I felt like I might pull off JLPT N3, but with my university graduation on the horizon this would have conflicted with my schoolwork too much, so I put it off until one year later. By then I was fairly confident with N3 material and passed with flying colours. While the N2 in July 2013 went unexpectedly well, my performance on December's N1 was more than a bit disappointing. So here I am, waiting to see how poorly I did and already preparing to retake the test this coming July.

By now some of you might have noticed that I didn't bring up how I worked on my active skills. In a word, poorly. I do have a lang-8 account, but, as you can see, in the almost three years that I've had it I've only written four entries in Japanese. the last one having been written last February. I am planning to resume writing there with at least some regularity (in fact I do have an idea for an entry that I will try to put into practice in the next few days). As for speaking practice, it's pretty much limited to a handful of short conversations I've had with Japanese people I ran into at different stages of my language learning. I could blame it on the difficulty of finding Japanese language exchange partners, but that would imply that I've actually tried to find one. The truth is, I am extremely shy and my conversations with strangers often resemble these even in my first language. While I can think and talk to myself in Japanese with some fluency, I'm afraid that doesn't translate very well into interactions with actual Japanese people, especially with all the rules of politeness, etiquette and social distance we have to keep in mind. My spoken Japanese is probably on the lower boundary of B2, if not lower.

Edit: Oh, and kraemder, thanks for the compliments! Not sure if my accomplishments are still impressive now that I've gone into greater detail..

Edited by vonPeterhof on 01 January 2014 at 8:09pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



Solfrid Cristin
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 Message 4 of 158
01 January 2014 at 8:37pm | IP Logged 
Mmmmm. When I finally get to studying Japanese ( in a few years) I will so come back to this post. Great
introduction :-)



kraemder
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 Message 5 of 158
02 January 2014 at 3:13am | IP Logged 
Intresting read. I'm still impressed since you passed N2 so quickly without living in Japan. That speaks for itself. But your hesitancy to speak to people in Japanese is more normal heh. I totally get it. Anyway, it sounds like most of your japanese learning was from reading manga and you also mention anki and the core decks. Going forward what tools are you using?



fabriciocarraro
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 Message 6 of 158
02 January 2014 at 3:55am | IP Logged 
Very interesting to read your story with Japanese! I guess I'll be crashing aroung here a lot, since I'll be doing Japanese now too! Well done anyway!



greatdaytonihon
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 Message 7 of 158
02 January 2014 at 4:42am | IP Logged 
I like how you talked about your "linguistic appetite" with the translator notes. Very interesting! Your log
has given me a good idea of where I should head next after I complete RTK! The video was really funny
and super relatable. Gotta trudge through to active that passive knowledge.. *sigh* Good luck with your
preparation!



vonPeterhof
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Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 8 of 158
02 January 2014 at 7:22pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for the responses, everyone! Now I believe I should go into more detail about how I am studying now. My present studying process can be subdivided into three parts: Anki, reading and listening.

Anki: These days I review between 100 and 150 cards per day, of which about 80% belong to my Japanese decks. These are the Core 2000 and 6000 vocabulary decks, an RTK deck that includes kanji from both RTK 1 and 3, a Tae Kim deck and my personal deck. The latter deck used to be a lot bigger and consisted of sentences I would discover "in the wild". I've given up on that since I've started trying to make my learning process less "Anki-centric". Right now the only sentences I add to my personal deck are those that help illustrate advanced grammar points I learn from Kanzen Master 1kyuu Grammar and A Dictionary of Advanced Japanese grammar. As for the kanji deck, I no longer review all the kanji, just the ones that are missing from the other decks (or those one or more of whose common readings aren't used in any of the other decks). Basically, the only reason why I even bother with those five decks at this point is the JLPT. The only uses I see for Anki are a) building up core vocabulary, b) memorizing information for formal tests and c) retaining vocabulary in languages that I'm too busy to study actively at the moment. Once I know that I've passed N1 I'll propably suspend all those decks and drop the Anki component of my Japanese learning entirely, at least until I decide whether it's worth it or not to take the BJT or maybe even the Kanken.

Reading: Here I'll probably have to discuss the various forms of media separately.

Manga: While manga has been an important tool in my Japanese learning, I am more of an anime fan than a manga fan and there are a lot of manga series that I kinda want to get into but just don't find the time to read. Right now I'm following along two ongoing series as new chapters come out - よつばと! (a series that I, along with many others, consider the perfect manga for beginning learners) and ヴィンランド・サガ (I wrote a brief review of it from the perspective of a Japanese learner here; check out the rest of that thread for more recommendations). Also, while watching currently airing anime I'll usually choose one of the series that were adapted from a manga and "follow along" (that is, watch an episode, then read the corresponding chapters of the manga). The manga that I was reading throughout the Winter 2013 season that just ended was コッペリオン, which features mostly straightforward action dialogue, but often interlaced with specialized terminology connected to nuclear disasters. The manga moves at a much slower pace than the anime, so I'm a bit behind. I'll try to finish this while the new season isn't in full swing yet (which means I have less than two weeks).

Novels: I've had a more difficult time with novels than with manga for some reason. The first one I tried to read was 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱, on which an anime series that enjoyed a brief period of extreme popularity was based. While the dialogue is mostly fairly simple, the language of the narration was so difficult I decided to shelve it. After asking around for a simpler novel for beginners' reading I got ゼロの使い魔. I only managed to read bits of the first chapter before getting so swamped with schoolwork I could barely make the time to do Anki reviews. I'm a bit hesitant to resume reading it, now that its author has tragically passed away without having finished the series. Now I'm making my way through another novel, 時をかける少女. I watched and really enjoyed the 2006 anime movie of the same name. When I found out that it's not really an adaptation, but more of a sequel/remake of the original story, I decided to check out the book as well. If I can keep up my current pace I should finish my first novel in Japanese by the end of this month. After that I thought I'd try out some advanced reading with some books by 夏目漱石 and 芥川龍之介 that I downloaded from Aozora Bunko (a collection of Japanese e-books whose copyright has expired) via its iPhone app.

Articles: I try to keep up with what goes on in Japan using the 日本のNews app and the japanCRUSH website. As has been pointed out in a thread I linked to above, the kind of reading that seems to prepare one the best for N1 reading sections are essays and editorials, so last month I've tried to start reading more of those. I found an iPhone app called たて書きコラム. Basically it takes a whole bunch of most recent editions of freely available columns from the websites of newspapers (ranging from such giants as Asahi, Nikkei and Sankei to regional papers from all over Japan, from Hokkaido to Yaeyama) and converts them into vertical writing. It was most likely originally designed to accommodate people who are used to reading their papers vertically and don't like the fact that web editions are horizontal, but for a learner like me its greatest benefit is the advanced reading practice - more than 50 latest columns and opinion pieces all in one place! For the past couple of weeks I've been trying to read at least the columns of the three nationals every day.

Listening: Most of this practice comes from anime. Also I listen mostly to Japanese music, and I often watch news clips online. Recently I've also started listening to a lot of audio dramas based on anime series. These are great for pure listening practice, since you get neither the transcript of the text, nor visual cues to what's going on.

A couple of months ago I also started to learn spoken business Japanese by getting a textbook with a CD (I'm away for the holidays and didn't take the book with me, so I can't tell y'all the title right now). However, after my experience at the N1 I've been making major adjustments to my learning process and haven't yet been able to reincorporate that textbook into it. I suppose that now that the time I dedicate to Anki reviews has gone down I should be able to do that once I get back.

I guess that's about it. Now I gotta get back to doing my reviews while watching anime :)


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