No Rest For the Weary

So, tomorrow, I have a day off.

Okay, I don’t really have a day off.  When I don’t have to go to work and my wife does, I do the laundry, pick up the house, etc, and I have to run to the store, help my mom with some stuff, and, you know how it goes:  用事がたくさんある。

Let me start over.

So, tomorrow, I have a day when I don’t have to go do the job I get paid for.

This means I won’t really have to interact with other people very much (except for a couple of times during the day – see above if you have a really short attention span) so I am going to make it a Japanese immersion day.

No books, no audio, no music, no TV unless it is in Japanese.

Why am I going to do this?

Apparently because I am a glutton for punishment.

No, seriously, because immersion, as frustrating as it can be, is a fantastic way to learn, so I am going to get as close to it as I can tomorrow.

By the way, have you checked out Udemy?  They have several Japanese language courses, including some focused on the JLPT at various levels at pretty low prices.  And, even if something isn’t at a low price, they have really frequent sales.

And, by the way, I don’t get paid for anything I recommend or anything you click on.  The blog isn’t about making money.  The only way I make money is if someone buys a copy of my novel (hint, hint).  So I only recommend stuff that looks good and helpful.  I have downloaded a couple of Udemy courses, and I am getting some good use out of them.  (And it isn’t just Japanese courses, by the way.  They teach all kinds of things.)

So, this was a pretty random post, but now it’s done.





What on earth made me think that things were back to normal and that I could study properly again?  Whatever it was, it was wrong!

But, now things really are back to normal.

I hope.

One of the things that you are bound to encounter as you learn Japanese is frustration.  There are, after all, all kinds of things to get frustrated about.  Grammar that you don’t understand, words or kanji that you just can’t remember, how hard it can be to find good study material, the unwillingness of others to grasp that you need study time, tiredness, business, attacks by Godzilla, earthquakes, internet outages…you know…normal stuff.

So, what do you do?

That’s the real question.

Friday, I made an eight hour drive with other people in the car who, inexplicably, did not want to listen to my Japanese audio lessons.  Saturday was events preplanned by other people (with no gaps for studying in).  Sunday was the eight hour drive home.

How much studying did I get done during those three days?

Hah!  Not much.  A little vocabulary review (smartphones!) but that was about it.

So, what do you do?  Especially when you are looking at a future test date and trying to prepare before the deadline arrives?

First and foremost:


It’s okay.


Yes, those days are gone and you can’t get that study time back, so just write it off, don’t worry about and pick up where you left off.

That’s it.

That’s the magic trick.

You see, worrying about the lost time accomplishes nothing other than raising your stress level.  You can’t get the time back, so forget about it.  Today is a new day.  Start studying at your normal pace.  Do not try to “make up for lost time”.  That’s just more  stress, and, anyway, you probably can’t do it.  Rushing your studying just means lower quality studying, and that doesn’t help you at all.

So, today I’m just picking up where I left off on Thursday.  With this:


Doesn’t that look fun?  Hey, it’s homework + reading practice + grammar practice + new vocabulary all rolled up into one nice page.  How cool is that?

Well, back to work.



So, I have decided to keep a Japanese Language Journey-al…see what I did there?

Yeah, it was dumb.

Anyway, I have decided to keep a Japanese language journal.  For now, it will consist of me listing what I want to do today related to Japanese language learning, and then I will go back and make what I actually did.

It’s a way to keep myself on track and to get some writing practice, since I intend to keep it in Japanese.  Yeah, I’m apparently a glutton for punishment.

Now, part of me want to by a fancy notebook full of genkoyoushi paper, and I could certainly do that, but I would have to buy the notebook, and we all know that stuff which is ただ (free) is better as far as I am concerned.

So, instead, I could go here and print my own for my favorite price.

(Okay, so it isn’t totally free since I have to provide paper and ink, but it’s close enough.)

Or, I could just use a regular notebook, which is also not ただ but is still pretty cheap.

This is where the trick comes in, and it is based entirely on personality.

You could take the cheap route (as I fully intend to do, since money doesn’t grow on trees) or you could get yourself a lovely notebook (and even a special pen).

Which way is better?

That depends on you.  Some people are more likely to keep up with the journal if they have spent money on a nice looking notebook or premade journal.  If that’s you, then go for it.

Which way is best?  The way that works for you.

So, why keep a journal?

For me, if I make a list of what I am going to do today, I will be even more motivated to get it done, and this matters over the next few days, because I have a little holiday from work coming up.

When that happens, I always think, “Wow!  I am going to study so much  Japanese!”  And, what often happens is that I waste a bunch of time watching TV (in English) or reading something stupid online.  I have nothing against watching TV or reading stupid stuff online or watching dumb videos (often involving cats) but, at the end of the day, I’m annoyed at myself for having wasted too much time that could have been better spent.

So maybe a journal will help me focus on those days.

Today has already been a good day as far as study goes, and I plan to get some more reading done.  (Rule one:  leave the novel I am reading in English at home so when lunchtime comes, I only have Japanese to read.)

Here are some ideas form other people:

Journaling from Inside that Japanese Book

Keeping a Diary in Japanese from J Talk Online

How to Keep a Language Journal from Language Surfer

As you’ll see, there are lots of different ideas out there.  There’s probably one that suits you.

Or not, of course, because maybe you hate the idea of keeping a journal, in which case, don’t keep one.

Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it’ll work for you, so find what does work for you and do it.



Back to Normal

Life has more or less gotten back to normal for me, so I am diving back into a study routine.  The  big thing right now is READING.

(Speaking of reading, head on over to Inside That Japanese Book and check it out.  There’s all kinds of good stuff over there, and a lot of it about reading.  そしてかわいいだね.)

Me, I’m focusing on the Nihongo Soumatome N3 book.  There is some good stuff in there.  Part 1 is about ads and announcements, and it is trickier than I was expecting it to be, but that’s a good thing.

I discovered that I have a tendency to rush the reading part and to dive into the questions before I’m actually ready.  After missing the first few questions, I took a deep breath and made myself s–l–o–w d–o–w–n…and that has really helped, since I have gone from getting the answers wrong to getting them right.

Wow.  Slowing down, making sure you understand and reading the questions carefully actually helps you get the answers right.  Who would have guessed?

I’m still working on immersion – Japanese audio, reading the reading book instead of something in English, etc.  I can only do this in a limited way since the people in my family will insist on speaking English and watching TV and movie in English just becasue they don’t understand any Japanese and aren’t interested in learning it.  Can you imagine?

The big thing, though is the reading.  After all, it helps with reading speed (duh!), vocabulary and grammar all at the same time, so that’s hard to beat.

Find your thing and do it, right?




Read a book

The interwebs thingy is great.  Apps are great.  Memrise is great.  Anki is great.

Hooray for all of those things.

But now I have…(wait for it)…(drumroll please)…a book!


quick mastery of vocabulary - in preparation for jlpt n3- 1

I have been taking this course on Memrise for awhile now.  In fact, I finished both courses (it’s divided into two parts) and am simply doing daily reviews.

A few days ago, I got the book.

Yes, I know that there are people who are aghast.  “A dead tree book?!” they cry.


And I like it.

If there are Kanji that I confuse, it is now really easy to see them side-by-side and study them.  If there are words that just won’t stick, I can now compare them to similar words very easily.

For example, these three trouble makers:

勤務 – きんむ – work

通勤 – つうきん – commuting to work

出勤 – しゅっきん – going to work

Why do these words give me trouble?  Who knows.  But having them pop up at random intervals on Memrise wasn’t helping me much.  Seeing them all on the same page, however, helped a lot.

Obviously, they all have the character 勤 (きん), which, just as obviously, must mean work.  That pretty much fixed everything.

I already know the chracter 通 – from words like 通学 – commuting to school and 通路 – passage, roadway, etc, and I already know 出 from words like, well, 出 – coming out, emerging, etc

But 勤 just hadn’t stuck in my head.  Now, seeing these words together, I think it will.

Hooray for books!

Use the learning tools that work best for you, regardless of what anyone else says (or blogs!).  A tool, app, website, book, cd, video is only good if it works for you.  If it works for someone else but not for you, then don’t be pressured into using it.  If something doesn’t work for someone else but does work for you, then use it.

Simple, right?


It’s Wrong? What do you mean it’s wrong?!

So, I am now in full Japanese grammar nerd mode.

I spent two days learning some grammar points.

I took a 27 question quiz on those grammar points.

I did not do as well as I had hoped I would do, largely because these questions, much like the questions on the JLPT are evil!  Evil, I tell you!  EVIL!!!

Okay.  Deep breaths.  Deeeeeeeep breaths.

So, what is the next step?

Or, rather, steps.

First:  Examine the wrong questions to make sure I understand why I got them wrong.

Second:  Review any grammar points that I need to.

Third:  Take the darned quiz again.  Yeah, it’s the same questions, so it’s not a perfect option, but at least it’s something.

Fourth:  Tomorrow start on new grammar

Got it.

Here we go…



Where Do I Study?

An excellent question.  I thank myself for asking it.

So, here’s how it works:

Bunpro and Memrise are both apps on my phone and tablet, so I can study them whenever and where ever, and I often do.  However, my preference is to do that studying first thing in the morning while everyone else in the house is still asleep, because it’s nice and quiet.

Next up, listening.  That would be the phone again, and I do it while driving, while washing dishes, while cooking, while walking and so on, so that kind of squeezes when ever there is time.  This isn’t an everyday thing, but I recognize that it needs to be.

Reading and grammar.


That’s the tricky part right now.

Reading I can more or less squeeze in here and there.  Trips to the restroom, while taking a bath (sorry if this has suddenly taken a personal hygiene track) or while sitting around anyplace that is sufficiently quiet to allow me a modicum of concentration.

Grammar is the tough one right now.  It works best if I have some sustained time when I can really focus on it.  I have grammar descriptions to read, example sentences to break down, reviews to do…I need someplace relatively quiet for this.

The problem is that I have had house guests for the past nearly three weeks, and there is almost no place in the house that is quiet, so studying has become a bit difficult, but there’s nothing to be done except get up extra early and try to get it done then.

My success at this has been somewhat limited.

Fortunately, the grammar for today is:


And, what do these things all have in common?

(I don’t actually expect you to know the answer to this one, by the way.)

I am already familiar with all of them.


That doesn’t mean, however, that I will just glance over them and move on.  I still intend to study and break down lots of example sentences and then glance over yesterday’s grammar points for a quick review.

I don’t quite know when and where I’ll do that today, but I’ll do it.