I’m now eight months into my learning basic Japanese project, a month away from hitting the road for Asia and six weeks from my first visit to Japan. Here’s my “end of month eight” progress report. It’s a brief one this time, as it’s only two weeks since the last of my weekly summer diaries (covering Basque as well as Japanese). This month’s “update vlog” is down at the bottom of this post.
The “focussed Japanese study” routine I set at the beginning of this project back in January was thirty minutes a day, seven days a week. This changed for the last fortnight of July and the first two weeks of August. I was on a sabbatical from work for that month and was able to increase my Japanese study time to one hour a day, five days a week (so, up from three and a half hours a week to five). For the second half of August, I was back on 30 x 7.
Here’s the full month eight study breakdown (the first three weeks were, then, part of that “summer sprint”):
Week 1 (Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th August): two hours, (on Thursday and Friday as per summer plan).
Week 2 (Monday 5h August to Sunday 11th August): five hours, twenty-five minutes (Monday through Friday as per summer plan).
Week 3 (Monday 12th August to Sunday 18th August): five hours, fifteen minutes (Monday through Friday as per summer plan).
Week 4 (Monday 19th August to Sunday 25th August): two hours (two days missed).
Week 5 (Monday 26th August to Saturday 31 August): two hours, fifteen minutes (one day missed, only 15 mins on one day).
I more or less got back into the old routine in Week 5 but I did miss my thirty minutes on two days in Week 4 (the first two back at the office).
Month Eight Total: 16 hours, fifty-five minutes over 22 days.
Running total: 160 hours 5 minutes (1st January to 31 August)
Japan trip plans and arrangements shaping up
I booked the flights to and from the Land of the Rising Sun back in June. I’m arriving from Hong Kong on Saturday 12th October (here’s hoping the current unrest there does not upset those plans and, more importantly, that a solution to the conflicts there is found).
The reason for my trip to Japan is to attend the Polyglot Conference (Friday 18th to Sunday 20th October) in Fukuoka on the southern island of Kyushu for the first nine nights: five at a hotel in Chuo ward (western part of the centre) and them moving for four nights to Hakata ward (eastern part of the centre near the main station). The university where the Polyglot Conference is taking place is accessible from there by train. Then I’m moving on for one night to Kyoto where I’ve booked one night in a pretty central “machiya” (a traditional town house).
I’m planning to spend the final five nights in Tokyo, but I haven’t booked anything yet (and that’s a priority now). Any tips for Tokyo accommodation, please let me know! Likewise, if you have recommendations for things to do and see (and places to eat) in Fukuoka and Kyoto, do share in the comments below 🙂
Using the Japanese from Zero textbook
My project goal was an active command of language in the first three volumes of the Japanese from Zero textbook series (there are five volumes of the main course in all).
My intention was to complete one book every three months, so, to have the first three “done” by the end of September, though I’ve fallen behind and for several months it’s been clear that the goal (which I though was modest) wasn’t realistic for the first nine months (though should still be doable by the end of the year).
There are (free and paid) online resources available for this course as well, though I have not used them since the first couple of months.
During the time since I went back to work and reverted to my previous focussed study routine, I’ve been continuing with JFZ Lesson 3, but it’s been much heavier and slower going than I’d hoped. The new grammar in Lesson 3 was the positive -て form of the verb (the “do it” imperative form). Then there were more “mini conversations”, reading comprehension pieces with questions, translations to and from Japanese and the substitution drill. It was only on the last day of August that I moved on to Lesson 4.
One of the side-effects of not having my commute to work for a month was that I spent less time reviewing words and phrases on flashcards during my month off than I’d hoped.
I also listened less to the Pimsleur Level 2 audio course (thirty half hour audio only lessons, on an app on my phone). I was only doing this when out jogging.
Now I’m back into my commute routine three days a week, I’m getting extra listening time as I walk too and from the underground station and for fifteen minutes or so of flashcarding words and phrases from JFZ each way for three days a week while I’m actually on the train.
Goals for Month Nine
I still don’t feel I have an active command of a lot of the language that I’m supposed to “know” already.
For the final four weeks, then, I’m going to switch attention from trying to move forward in Japanese from Zero to consolidating what I’ve already covered.
I will try to complete JFZ Lesson 4 during the time that remains. That’s it though until I’m back from my travels.
The thing is, I’ve only make flashcards for the first eight units of JFZ Book 1 so far. Making flashcards takes quite a bit of time time, before you even start to use them. So, I don’t think there will be time for any more new material.
So far as there is spare time, it will go on redoing some of the exercises from the first two books and the beginning of book three and practising the short conversations out loud….and really hit the flashcards.
I’ll also keep dipping into Assimil’s Le Japonais occasionally and continue to listen to Pimsleur Level 2.
The other thing I’d really like to do is have a few one-to-one lessons with a teacher on italki, just to get some basic speaking practice, with particular focus on my own “personal phrases” (answering questions like “What do you do”, “Why are you in Japan”, “Why are you learning Japanese” and “toolkit phrases” (How do you say x in Japanese; please speak more slowly; please repeat and so on – the sort of stuff I’m going to need to learn more Japanese through Japanese).
I’ll let you know how it’s gone in the next monthly update, at the end of September, when I also look forward to sharing more of the details of my trip.
Are you a Japanese learner? How’s it going? Does my experience differ from yours? Let me know in the comments below.
Other posts in this series: