There are some advantages to learning Japanese in a class. One of them is that you have a series of defined goals and tests that act as signposts along the way. When learning the Kanji in Phase 2 of the Hacking Japanese Supercourse, I had a defined path with a set goal, and I could track my progress daily. I have and don’t have that right now.
Yes, I am learning vocabulary with Anki. Here’s the snapshot:
I can see that there is forward motion. I am learning vocabulary, and finishing the deck is a goal, certainly, but it is one that is quite some time away, and it doesn’t have the sense of being a final goal, because I will surely need more vocabulary after that. Also, vocabulary alone isn’t enough. I also need grammar, which I am learning from a book, and I need conversation, which I am getting to some extent through Cafetalk, but is there a final goal?
Well, yes. The final goal is to be able to speak Japanese.
I am trying to avoid the “F” word here: fluency. That’s rather a nebulous thing. Here’s my goal: to communicate freely in Japanese; to think in Japanese while speaking Japanese rather than translating in my head as I go; to be able to carry on a normal conversation, including on the phone; to be able to read an average book or watch an average movie.
These are lofty goals, but the difficult part is that they don’t have a defined end point that is easily detectable. It isn’t as if I will just take a test and, by passing it, demonstrate that I have reached my goals. Someday, there will be a day when i will just sort of realize, “Oh, I’m more or less there.”
Now, at this point, someone might be saying, “But there is a test! You could take the JLPT.”
Ah, the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
Yes, I could take that, and I would probably be tempted if I were learning Japanese for job related reasons, or if the JLPT was offered closer to me, but taking it would involve all kinds of associated costs in time and money. I’m going to pass on that, at least for the time being.
In the meantime, I will keep on with my studies, get some more vocabulary and grammar into my head and see where I end up.