Kanji Day 76 – Still plugging along

Here is the image for Kanji Day 76:

anki-stats-2015-08-31@11-18-32

As you can see, I am now less than two weeks away from finishing phase 2.  (I am calling Phase 2 finished when “unseen” reaches 0.)

It is now time to start setting up Phase 3, which is both nerve wracking and exiting, because, up until this point, my focus hasn’t been on learning Japanese, it has been on preparing to learn Japanese, and that preparation is nearly done.

Now, Phase 3 will be at least as hard as Phase 2 was, if not harder.  That is, it will involve at least as much effort as phase 2 did (check out the Hacking Japanese Supercourse if you don’t know what I’m talking about),

Right now my study chain really only involves two things:

  1.  Review the Kanji (must be done every day)
  2. Learn new Kanji (should be done every day if possible)

In phase 3 the study chain is quite a bit longer since it will involve reviewing Kanji, learning new Kanji as they come up, reviewing vocabulary, learning new vocabulary, listening/speaking practice, studying grammar…whew…

Yeah, that’s a lot, but learning a new language is a lot of work.  If I were taking a class, I would be using whatever method the teacher used.  Since I’m doing it on my own, I went looking for some guidance and found a method that sounded pretty good to me, so I’m following it and writing about it goes and what I found out along the way.

The thing is, each phase of the method is longer than the phase before it.  Phase 1 was a day to a week long, Phase 2 is 100 days long, Phase 3 is 8 or so months long, Phase 4 basically lasts forever (or the rest of your life, which ever comes first).

I look at all this work and I still sometimes ask myself if I can do it.

The thing is, I should know that I can do it, because I grew up speaking one language (English), I learned a second language as an adult well enough to do some translating from time to time (Spanish) and now I am learning a third language (Japanese).  Having a already learned a second language, you’d think I would simply be convinced I could learn a third, but if you look at all the work you have to do, it seems almost impossible.

So, don’t look at all the work you have to do.  Just look at what you are trying to accomplish over the next few days – very short term goals.  If you have a method and you set very short term goals along the way like signposts, you will essentially pull yourself through the whole language in bite sized pieces.

For example:  Learning 2,200 Kanji seems like a lot of work (but that’s only because it is a whole lot of work), so I don’t think about that.  Right now, I have 285 Kanji left.  Yes, I have come a long way, but 285, quite frankly, still seems like a whole lot, so I’m not thinking about that, either.

Right now my goals are to get “unseen” to 200 (hopefully only 4 days away) and to get “unseen” to 10% (hopefully only 3 days away).  “Mature” is currently at 1207, so there isn’t a good close goal there.  Get up to 1300?  Oh, that’s too far away to think about.  I’ll stick with the two goals listed above.

Of course, all of this is on top of my simple daily goal – review the kanji and learn at least 22 new Kanji.  That’s a concrete daily goal which I have, so far, managed to do consistently for 76 days.  (Some days I have studied more than 22 new Kanji, but every day I have studied at least 22 new characters.)

For me, focusing on these very short term goals keeps me going.  The task is not unmanageably large, and each goal I reach is a pat on the back that pushes me on toward the next goal.  (If you are using the Hacking Japanese Supercourse, you will know what this means:  From June 16 until today, my calendar is an unbroken string of 76 blue Xs.)

Now, having said all that, I am starting to assemble things for Phase 3 (which is some unimaginable time in the future) so that, when the time comes, I will have my method in place and can transition smoothly over.

Phase 3 is 2-3 times longer than Phase 2 was, so I’ll be looking for some new short term goals there, too.

Don’t forget NIko’s admonition:  Keep swimming.  You are crossing an ocean.

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