Qubyte Codes

It's time to build a study habit

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I started a new role recently, and the company is large enough that there are a number of folk learning or proficient in Japanese as a second language.

I joined a chat session with two other people whose Japanese was much further along than mine. It was great listening practice (I could mostly follow the conversation) but I was unable to contribute, which I found disappointing.

I've said it so many times in the past, but I really need to build a study habit which is substantial enough to improve my proficiency, but light enough that I can sustain it. Not just flash cards too.

All this is complicated by the little one. Evenings are complicated by his dinner/bath/bedtime routine, which can be exhausting. Mornings are more open, but that time needs to be carved out of my existing routine... I could make that work.

Sometimes it should be book work. I stalled on Genki II because there are holes in my basic Japanese from stop-start learning over such a long time. I might pick up Genki I and do one or two morning sessions a week with it.

Other times I think I should read some manga. Two I've been meaning to start reading which I think may work are よつばと! and しろくまカフェ. They're gentle and humorous stories which I think will work well as spring becomes summer here. I also have some graded readers on the shelf I can start on.

Of course, these are still not speaking, but I hope that if I can improve on reading and consuming a wider variety of discourse than just set phrases I stand a better chance of finding the words and phrases I need to contribute in the Japanese chat sessions.

Update (2022-07-09)

To prove that I'm not just talking crap, it's time for an update!

Since I wrote the above post, I've subscribed to WaniKani, and bought three volumes of each of the manga I mentioned above. I'm reading よつばと! first because it's a little more accessible at my level (and I'm really enjoying it, even if I am looking forward to しろくまカフェ). I spend 30-60 minutes each week on a Saturday or Sunday reading, and I intend to build that up to more.

I've found WaniKani to be especially effective. Over the years (decades?) I've tried a lot of flash card apps and approaches, but avoided WaniKani since my kanji wasn't too bad and I didn't want to spend a disproportionate amount of effort on it at the cost of time I could have put into other study. In hindsight, this was a mistake. The approach WaniKani takes is designed specifically for Japanese, and also includes relevant vocabulary. I can already tell it's helping me as I read manga.

To hold myself to account I'm logging my study sessions. I'm only logging sessions over about 10 minutes. Lots of WaniKani review sessions come in under that bar.