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Remembering the Kanji Update

Last month I created a post about my goal to learn all 2042 kanji in the book Remembering the Kanji. I set a goal of December 31 as my finish date. With only two months to finish, I had to learn about 35-40 Kanji a day in order to make the deadline. With only 12 days to go will I finish in time?

The simple answer is no. I currently sit at about 1300 kanji and will have learned about 1500-1600 by the end of December. Unfortunately, there were days I wasn’t able to study and that put me behind schedule. Am I disappointed? Definitely not. In fact, I think this is a great example of why setting big goals and falling short can be a lot better than setting small goals and achieving them.

Learning 35-40 Kanji a day is a huge task. Instead, let’s say that I had been more reasonable and tried to learn 5 or 10 kanji a day. Still a formidable project. Even if I had succeeded I would only have learned 300-600 kanji. Not to mention that 10 kanji a day would take 200 days, and 5 a day would take over a year. I would be much more likely to give up.

Being at 1300 kanji, and knowing that I am over halfway there is a great feeling. It gives me the motivation I need to keep going. I’m nearly 70% there. Had I done 10 a day I would only be about 25% of the way.

Set goals that you have to strive for and try your best to accomplish them. In the end, even if you don’t achieve them you will be much further along than if you had chosen a much easier goal.

Here are some things for you to try. Just fill in the blank with a number that seems too much and try to accomplish it.

Study ________ new Japanese words a day.

Watch _______ hours of Japanese TV/Movies a day.

Speak to a native Japanese speaker _________ hour every day.

Learn _________ new Japanese phrases every day for 10 days.

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Learn Japanese: How to Stay Motivated

I received an e-mail from a reader yesterday asking how I stayed motivated when I learned Japanese. Losing your motivation or feeling depressed by your lack of ability to speak Japanese is something that happens to many of us. My secret to staying with Japanese, even when I felt I wasn’t making progress, is really no secret at all. It’s very simple and something that can be applied to just about anything in life you decide to pursue.

Choose clear goals that you have a strong motivation to accomplish.

My original interest in Japanese came through my love of martial arts. My love of martial arts eventually lead to me studying a lot about budo, feudal Japan, samurai, and eventually Japanese.

There was no Japanese at my high school, but I enrolled into a class when I entered college. After one year, I could barely say “How are you?” Why? Because though I enjoyed Japanese, my interest in Japan and martial arts didn’t give me any clear goals. I couldn’t answer any solid questions: why I wanted to learn, when I would be able to speak, how much I should study everyday, how learning would help me, or a number of other important questions.

I was learning because it was interesting. It’s an okay reason, but it isn’t enough to keep you motivated when studying gets hard. I was thinking about giving up when I noticed that I couldn’t speak as well as I had hoped. I figured that Japanese was just too difficult.

After two years in college I had to choose a major. This was something that I wasn’t able to decide for two years and was causing me a lot of stress. After giving it a lot of thought, making lists of things that interested me, and considering my skills; I realized that I would study international business with an emphasis on Japan and a minor in Japanese.

Setting my goal helped me choose the path that I needed to achieve it

I had set me goal! After that it seemed like everything just fit into place. Setting my goal helped me choose the path that I needed to achieve it. Making just that one decision allowed me to immediately realize the following things:

  • I would focus on business classes (especially those pertaining to international business.
  • I must become fluent in Japanese.
  • I needed to put in more effort to learning Japanese
  • I needed to find a way to practice speaking with Japanese people
  • I need to spend at least a year studying in Japan.
  • I would work either in Japan or at least for a company who works with Japan.

So did I accomplish all of these things? I can proudly say “YES”. Was it always easy? NO. But I never felt like I would fail because I could see the finish line.

I declared my major as business with an international concentration, added a Japanese minor, and started studying more seriously in Japanese class. I also started taking advantage of the Japanese language tutoring lab to practice speaking. There were Japanese students available and I had never even thought to talk with them.

In addition, I started looking at study abroad courses and in the meantime took my first vacation to Japan. This motivated me even further and in my junior year I studied abroad at Waseda University and spent a year living  with a host family in Tokyo.

After I graduated, I moved back to Tokyo and worked as an admissions counselor to help other students from around the world come visit Japan.

I never would have gotten here if I didn’t have a solid goal and a very good reason for wanting to learn Japanese.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself regarding your Japanese study that should help you.

  • Why are you studying Japanese?
  • Why did you choose Japanese over other languages?
  • How well do you want to be able to speak?
  • When do you want to achieve this (what’s your deadline)?
  • How will being able to speak Japanese help your life?
  • When will you visit Japan?
  • Are you planning to live or study in Japan?

I would love to hear your answers to these questions. Please let us know your reasons in the comments section.

 

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Remembering the Kanji in 58 Days (Day 25)

It has been a few days since my last update, but I wanted to let everyone know that I am still studying kanji everyday. There are a few days that I wasn’t able to study (attending a friend’s wedding, busy work days), but for the most part I have stayed on track.

As of yesterday I was up to 835 Kanji and will finish today at about 870. That puts me very close to my target of completing the entire Remembering the Kanji book in 58 days.

I also have a few tips for using this book to study Japanese.

  • The stories are important. So when you get to the part where you have to make up your own, make sure you create a very visual story and don’t just skip though the meanings.
  • Focus when you are learning the stories. If your attention is divided you most likely won’t remember the kanji later.
  • Pay attention to the kanji when you are learning Japanese words for your normal study. The more reinforcement you have of seeing the kanji the better.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed. If you feel like you are going too fast and it’s too much, slow down.
  • Use the Glossary in the back or a kanji poster to mark off and see your progress. It will also give you one more chance at recognition.
  • Lastly, set your goal. It may seem like you will never finish, but if you have a goal, it is much easier to move forward.

頑張りましょう!

If you are following along and study the kanji as well, please post a comment talking about your experience.

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Remembering the Kanji in 58 days:Day 5

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Highlighted have been learned

 

I finished my 5th day today and am currently at 299 kanji. I had about 50 reviews plus the new cards I studied today. All together it still took me about an hour. Finding and marking the kanji off the kanji poster took far more time. However, I have to say that the kanji poster has been very helpful. It has forced me to recognize the kanji to make sure I know meaning.

Now that the kanji are starting to pile up a little, it is more important than ever to focus on the stories and really imagine them. I studied in the car today while waiting for my wife in the store. It was easy to get distracted and I realized later that I didn’t remember those kanji as well. Make sure you seclude yourself and really focus. Don’t try to go too fast.

In case you missed the start of this program you can read about how to do it yourself here: Learning 2042 Kanji in just 58 Days

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Using Imiwa’s Export Function to Get More Japanese Words

I have been using Imiwa as my primary Japanese dictionary for some time now. However, it wasn’t until just recently that I started taking care of a very useful feature to make learning Japanese words that much easier: Export list (E-mail CSV).

Here’s the way it works:

Each time you look up a word there is a little star that you can click on to add it to your favorites. I do this with any word I look up and think is common enough that I will use it. If you click on lists, there is an option to e-mail csv. This list can then be directly loaded into Anki. This will save you a lot of time putting the Japanese words into Anki so you can spend more time actually studying them.

I recommend that you then delete the list so you don’t end up with any duplicates. Anki is supposed to check for duplicates, but I like to keep things simple. Not to mention that when the list gets too big, it is mostly unusable anyways. Too many words without a search function.

Not using Anki? You can get it here: Anki

You can find Imiwa here: Imiwa

 

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