The Japanese Quest, Why, How and by When?

I feel that this is the most important part of language learning, outside of actually studying, I need my goals for Japanese clearly defined so I know what I’m working towards, so let’s go through some of this stuff.

Firstly, why Japanese?

    • So I can enjoy Japanese media without subtitles/ translations
    • Communicate with Japanese people! (in Japanese of course)
    • A working holiday in Japan after I graduate is something I’ve always been interested in, and having taken the JLPT and being able to speak Japanese would be a major asset, and could open doors to working in my field in Japan
    • I like politics, so much so that it’s my minor, and I’ve considered doing an independent study course on Japanese politics (Whether it’s about domestic politics or Japan foreign relations I’ve yet to decided). Japanese politics being Japanese, Japanese would be a useful asset in this case as well!

The big two for me are being able to enjoy Japanese media and communicate with people in Japanese, and do kinda of intertwine with the other two reasons why I would like to learn Japanese.

Now, goals?

  • Being able to understand Japanese media like Anime and Dramas, being able to understand everything being spoken that’s everyday language would be the aim here, and not yet worrying about the more specialized knowledge of medical terms or what have you.
  • Being able to speak with a native speaker about things I would talk about in English. Stuff about programming, video games, politics, and all that other good stuff.
  • Being able to read Manga in Japanese is another goal, similar to the visual media, being able to understand almost everything would be my goal.
  • News and other types of media that are more informative (the newspaper, podcasts etc) as its own goal, since they are much more informational and much less day-to-day speech.
  • I would like to pass the JLPT at a N2-N3 level.
  • More specialized vocab for Politics and Computer Science & being able to function at a professional level is a long-term goal for me.

“That’s all” I’ve got right now, we’ll see if the goals change over time, next is how long I have and what my daily schedule will look like.

Where I live, people write the JLPT in December, and registration opens on the 1st of September, so after some thought I decided that will be my ‘due date’ for Japanese, which means an intermediate level of Japanese by that time. I feel that 6 months is reasonable, and most of these months are during my summer break, so I will have lots of time to study.

The stuff I do daily will be:

  • 5 new kanji + review old (from Remembering the Kanji)
  • Memrise review (Kana and some words)
  • 1 Grammar Video
  • Japanese music/podcast/video, 2 hours of passive listening

I’m considering doing a course on Memrise that teaches you the 1000 most common Japanese words, so I have something to push-off of and can start reading and learning vocab from native material faster.

Of course, these numbers are daily minimums and I will do more if I’m feeling it or have the time. Just need the grammar and vocab so I can start enjoying myself in the language and hopefully it will snowball from there.

Obviously I’ll also be watching a lot Japanese media as well, but that isn’t an everyday thing and I prefer to study in quiet then with background noise. My current goal is to learn enough so I can start reading something! Reading something is better than reading nothing.

So that about wraps this up, anyone have any Japanese media recommendations? Especially stuff that would be easy but still enjoyable for someone who doesn’t know a lot! Thanks guys!

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6 comments
  1. Good luck with your language goals! Actually that reminds me I know someone who is working on a new website to track language goals. If I get more info I’ll update my blog about it.

    I can help recommend something to watch but first I need to know what you mean by “Doesn’t know a lot”. Have long have you been studying and do you know basic grammar yet?

    • Thank you for the luck, and thank you for following my blog!

      I’ve been studying off and on since September, maybe 2 real months total. I can read Kana and about 200 kanji. As far as grammar goes I know basic stuff like how to phrase a question, say where something is located, and how to ask for things like “Where is the bathroom”, “What is x in Japanese”, “My name is Tyler” and all that kind of really beginner level stuff. That should change quite quickly, something I try to watch on a regular basis is Chi’s Sweet Home, which is something I can understand 55% – 60% of the time.

      Hopefully that gives you an idea, thanks you for taking time to comment/help!

  2. I would experiment with trying to read children’s books or children’s apps (mobile on iOS/Android, etc.). I wrote a post on a distance learning program for Japanese children the other day, you can check it out if you are interested:
    http://selftaughtjapanese.com/2014/01/20/shimajiro-and-benesses-distance-learning-program-for-kids/

    Though that program itself is a little expensive, I think anything that is designed for little kids would be a good way to gradually ramp up your reading ability. There is also a magazine called “ohisama” that is targeted for older kids and is a bit more advanced (http://www.magazines.com/ohisama/1550914-MA,default,pd.html).

    In my case, I spent a lot of time focusing on Kanji and grammar patterns, and then one I felt somewhat comfortable in those areas I started reading adult-targeted novels. That can be quite tedious if you have to look up every word, but if its a book from an author you like, or the story is compelling, then it is possible to maintain motivation to push through things. Also I recommend reading Japanese novels on Kindle Paperwhite since you can simply touch a word to get a dictionary definition. That is also good for Kanji learning.

    • I swore I already posted a comment thanking you and saying I would check this stuff out, but apparently the WordPress App on Android doesn’t work that good!

      So thank you very much for taking the time to make some suggestions, and I’ve been looking into Ohisama, simply because the first is a little too expensive for me.

      • Sure, no problem. I have had similar issues with the WordPress iPad app, though it’s gotten better lately.

        Let me know how Ohisama turns out. There are a lot more resources out there but that is one I personally like and is low on Kanji while giving interesting stories.

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