All of this is in reference to the Hacking Japanese Supercourse. There are lots of really excellent details there that I won’t be going into here, especially as regards the Almighty Study Chain, which is a way of organizing your efforts and a way of keeping yourself motivated.
However, as we all know by now, Phase 1 is to organize a series of useful study tools and Phase 2 is to learn the 2,200 daily use Kanji, all in preparation for Phase 3, which is vocabulary, grammar, listening practice and speaking practice. In other words, in Phases 1 and 2 you are really just preparing yourself to learn Japanese, and the real learning starts in Phase 3. (Of course, you could be doing some studying and picking up some Japanese during Phases 1 and 2.)
Well, I am actually easing into Phase 3 by introducing some of the study chain now before I finish Phase 2. That way the transition from Phase 2 to Phase 3 won’t be so abrupt.
Anki (of course) and Nihongoshark.com for vocabulary
JapanesePod101 for listening
JapanesePod101, Human Japanese, and Learn Japanese from Some Guy for grammar
The Internet for speaking practice (I know that one’s a little vague, but I haven’t actually tried any of the various sites available for this yet, so I don’t have any I can really comment on).
I have officially added the listening and grammar portions of Phase 3 to my study chain as the end of Phase 2 approaches. Here’s what I’ve learned:
I have learned that Anki is great tool, but it could come back to bite you on the backside if you don’t stick with it. I love Anki. I use Anki every day. Anki rules. But, I have never missed a day of studying. Now, yesterday I had a little over 150 review cards. Today I had a similar number. Tomorrow I have another 150 cards due. So, if I were to take 3 days off, I would have between 450 and 500 review cards due on the same day…it doesn’t take long for it to get overwhelming if you miss a few days. Now imagine if you missed a week…this is Anki avalanche. You must avoid this at all costs. Honestly, that’s good. Fear of Anki avalanche should keep you motivated to at least do your review cards every day.
I have learned that knowing the Kanji really does help with vocabulary acquisition. I haven’t started serious vocabulary study yet, but Learn Japanese from Some Guy does use some Kanji and does introduce some vocabulary, because it’s hard to explain grammar without using any words, and I have been able to figure the meaning of (admittedly basic) sentences without necessarily knowing all the Japanese words, and learning the Japanese words has been easy because I already knew the Kanji. Cool. Nice to know the last three months haven’t been wasted.
I have learned that I can commit to a daily study regimen and stick with it. Nice to know. When I started the Kanji, 3 months of continuous study seemed like an unclimbable mountain, but it wasn’t. And now I’m just going to continue with some modifications. The Almighty Study Chain works.,
Trust me guys: If I can do this, so can you. Create or find a study plan, study every day, put forth consistent effort, make studying part of your daily routine, oh, yeah, and study every day.
Oh, and if anybody tells you they have a secret method for making you speak Japanese like a native in five days (or any other unreasonably short amount of time), click on something else. Consistent effort is the key. Persistence pays off. I can’t give you date by which it will pay off, but it will.
Learning Japanese, just like learning anything well, it takes time and effort and dedication. It’s a journey grasshopper, not a destination.