So. I realized some things that I just needed to accept. First, my attempts at studying Japanese were not going anywhere. Second, that was probably related to the manner in which I was trying to study and the lack of predetermined course of study. In school I had to study in order to pass the tests so that I could get a good grade and feel okay about myself (I felt bad if I got worse than a B, sue me). The course of study was therefore related to the curriculum. It involved studying Kanji, if only briefly, to pass Kanji tests, as well as vocabulary and grammar to accomplish the homework assignments, projects, and chapter tests.
Now the situation is entirely different. My previous goal has just been to get better at Japanese and eventually become literate. This goal was wrong. My goal now is to learn 12 new kanji every week, read about 20 pages of real Japanese text per week, and work on the vocabulary I find in there. I’m also planning to do about five textbook activities per week, to practice grammar. To cap it all off I want to write a journal entry every weekend in Japanese describing things I have done during the week. The purpose being to have an opportunity to use kanji, vocab, and new grammar patterns that I’ve learned during the course of the week. Especially because I don’t always get a chance to use them in conversation.
I’m currently using a program called Tomboy Notes to help me organize my studying. It’s a desktop sticky note program that features note-to-note hyperlinking. I have one sticky note detailing my weekly study routine. In that note there are links to several other tasks, like New Kanji, Activity Checklist, New Vocabulary, Text Paraphrase, and Weekly Journal entry. I will update each of these and timestamp them when I accomplish my predetermined goal. For reinforcing Kanji and vocabulary I’ve downloaded Anki, a flash card memorization program that can be filled with decks of cards containing any information you want.
Previously I had been trying to use smart.fm. I really like smart.fm’s website and appreciate the course of study that they offer but I can’t seem to make myself go to the website regularly. Part of the reason I think is because it is such a good program that it includes audio as well which provides and integral aspect to the studying. Unfortunately I can’t turn the audio on at work when I have free time to study, so I end up never using it. Anki is silent so I don’t feel bad using it at work since I’m not bothering anyone else. (I have a lot of downtime when I have all my lesson’s planned and no classes, especially during school breaks).
Regarding the Japanese Text, I recently got a library card to my local village library. I talked to the librarian and she helped me find a book of fairly difficult and interesting Japanese short stories that conveniently has all of the furigana (readings) hanging to the side of the text. I also have a book of short stories made for either middle school or high school third year students to read in 10 minutes each. Naturally I can’t read them that fast, but I can however read them. Beyond that I just bought a fairly low level book about Sakamoto Ryouma (a famous Japanese historical figure, who is especially famous in Kochi). I’m trying to read through the text once without looking anything up, then read through it again without looking anything up. Then if I really don’t get part of it then I’ll look stuff up. The reading practice is really more just to improve my reading speed and kanji recognition skills. Naturally I’ll slowly learn a little bit from context but I don’t expect to make leaps and bounds of progress right away.
Overall I think my study plan is fairly conservative. It seems wiser to keep it that way as I hadn’t been accomplishing any studying previously, so a little is better than none. Anyway if I can maintain this routine I can always increase my study load whenever I want. It’s more important that I get going on it in the first place.