Japanese studies 4 - 日本語の勉強-四 / by Levko Ivanchuk

It has been 3 years 3 months and 8 days since I last posted about my Japanese learning progress. Lack of updates doesn't constitute lack of thereof or a failure, just a lack of time and/or effort to do so. More for the lack of effort, I admit, but still, time was and still remains a big asset, even if now there is a bit more of it (due to a knee injury). 

So, what has happened with my knowledge of Japanese since? A lot. 

Since October 2016, I have completed みんなの日本語ーI、a first level beginners textbook and I am on my way to finishing the second one, although the pace has been reduced dramatically due to the increased complexity. This progress is down to the two sensei I had - Julia-san and Oresta-san. Julia-san has pretty much dragged me through the first みんな as Shinkansen-like pace (I hope you get the pun there). For that, I am incredibly grateful, especially for her willingness to teach me at 9 AM in the morning. It was like back to school! Oresta-san is taking a rather slower approach now, but I have more time to absorb the information and reflect on things that are hard to understand right away.

Most of my time outside of class was spent on Kanji, and even though progress there is slow, it is there. Kanji is tough, very tough. I have searched for many tools to make it easier and bearable but found nothing better than just plain simple repetition. However, this path is also quite boring, hence I am still searching for a better way to memorize those bastards. Anyways, with half of Basic Kanji v.1 book well studies, I think I have made some decent, parallel progress. 

I have read my first book in Japanese - 雪女。It is an old tale which is apparently very popular in Japan. Thankful to Anya for giving me the book itself! It has beautiful illustrations too. 

On Memrise, the tool I use to study words and (currently) Kanji, the progress is clear - 2,141 words in long term memory in less than a year. This tool has been crucial for quick memorization of vocabulary, be it at my desk or on the go. I highly suggest you check it out, even if you are learning other languages or other topics. In the past, tools like Anki would be used, but this is clearly better than those. 

Also, to motivate myself, I have registered for JLPT N5 test. Perhaps I have chosen a slightly too easy level, as I can clearly answer almost all N5 questions correctly right away, but I won't be discouraged by getting a good result at N5 and then confidently moving on to preparation for N4. Besides, having an external recognition of my N5 level is better than having no recognition at all. 

Updates are done, for now. What am I learning at the moment? 

Recently, I've covered the Imperative form of verbs, e.x. たべる → 食べろ.Now though it is the turn of contextual conditionals using 「なら(ば)」. These are not so much fun as Imperative form (after all, with an imperative form I get to shout at people to do things), but still, it is fun to learn. 

At the moment, I would say I dedicate a good hour or two a day for Japanese, more of weekends. I do not plan to devote more time for N5 prep, I just intend to maintain the same pace as I do now. There is an idea to start studying N5 vocabulary alone, but I fear I would just be spending time answering questions I already know the answers to. Let me know in the comments whether I should start a separate N5 course.

My intention is to finish みんなの日本語ーII by the end of this year. Let's see if I manage to do that.