How I Will Study Japanese in 2018

One of my major New Year’s Resolutions this year is to study Japanese. I want to take the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) in the summer.

I’ve been thinking about my Resolutions for several months now, and the thing that I keep coming back to is what I want out of my “manga-reading” life. I’ve become frustrated with the lack of titles in English that I’m actually excited to read – and find myself settling on things that I’m less interested in.

51JNWB37QFLI’m ravenous for 60s, 70s, and 80s shoujo manga! But, we’re lucky if we get 1 or 2 titles a year in English. It’s entirely frustrating.

I NEED to learn Japanese in order to read the books and series that I actually want to read.

That’s what this year is for! I’m going to spend the next 7 months studying for the JLPT in July. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll try for the N5 or N4 exam yet, that’ll come later. But, I figure the JLPT is the FIRST step that I need to take in order to become reading-fluent. I’d love to also be speaking and listening-fluent… but reading is my ultimate goal.

I’ve decided on a few study strategies that I will employ to study over the next 7 months… and beyond.

  1. I will keep going to Japanese classes for the listening and speaking practice.
  2. I will review my old textbooks. Just enough to get my grammar back to where it needs to be. It’s always a good idea to review old grammar… otherwise it’ll be impossible to learn new grammar.
  3. 51fOzhuUUbLI will go through the JLPT practice and study books that I’ve purchased over the years. This isn’t the first time I’ve considered taking this test. I’d actually registered a few years ago, when the testing was in December. It was blizzarding here that week… and I decided to stay home rather than take the chance driving on a treacherous highway to another city.
  4. I will study vocabulary using the Leitner box method. You can check out tutorials on YouTube about this. But basically it’s a particular technique to help you learn new words and concepts in a reasonably short period of time. It will take quite a bit of my free time to do, though. I’m not super thrilled with that. I don’t have that much free time to begin with.
  5. I will write key sentences as well as construct my own to help solidify the meanings of words and the use of grammar.
  6. I will memorize the required Kanji. I have a few ideas how I’d like to accomplish this, but I’ll have to test them out before I commit to anything.
  7. I will translate manga. My ultimate goal is to be able to read manga.

51OBMkbzS1LI might as well get some regular practice in… even if it is incredibly difficult to translate manga when you actually don’t know the language…

I would also like to start listening to some Japanese podcasts, Radio programs, YouTube videos, and Japanese dramas. I need as much practice to listening to Japanese as I can get. If you have any suggestions of good and interesting titles/shows/etc. to listen to in Japanese, (without English subtitles) I’d love to hear about it!

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Review: Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner

Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget ItFluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It

by Gabriel Wyner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s difficult to rate something like this without seeing if it works first. But, I do think that the author is at least giving you a very practical approach to self-language study… and he certainly doesn’t sugar-coat how much work it’s going to be. I’ve been stuck in my Japanese language study for a while — I think Gabriel Wyner’s approach might be the answer to get me out of this rut.

Also, I would highly recommend the audiobook of this to listen to while you read the book. He seriously has one of the prettiest narration voices. Plus, with so much discussion about foreign words and pronunciation, it is such a bonus to actually hear (rather than read and guess wrong) the words properly spoken. And, with how much he repeats his example words, my vocabulary is now 5-6 words larger.

Review: Is That a Fish in Your Ear? by David Bellos

Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of EverythingIs That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything

by David Bellos

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

He starts off the book by defining translation, the other solutions to dealing with language barriers, and whether translation actually exists (just because we’ve given it a name). Brilliant! It reminded me of my “Modern Art” history class at university — I put it off for several years because I took the stance that everything has been done before — it’s just a rehash. and what were the first words out of my prof’s mouth? “I’m going to take this semester to explain to you that Modern Art Does Not Exist!” YES! I know there were at least a few students who were NOT happy with this remark. For me, that was the best modern art class I ever could have hoped for!

Anyways, I don’t have much to say about this book — except that I’ll probably buy it and read it again. I kept wading through the text and was excited by so many passages. I kept thinking to myself, “I need to write this quote down…” This doesn’t happen that often to me with non-fiction works. I can’t explain it. All I can say is, I’d love to read some fictional works translated by David Bellos, his explanation of the how’s and what’s of translation were fascinating.