This is my 2014 Japanese review. Really I should have written this in August or September, because that’s when my language study suddenly took off and flourished. I could feel myself improving everyday, and was happy to sacrifice other pursuits in order to spend more time studying. I started watching Jdramas without subs, though, I’m afraid, not my favorite one and none of my anime simulcast.
The instigator of all that new found momentum was Kawaii Japanese. in the beginning of August I read their post about HabitRPG and joined without blinking. I participated in their Japanese subtitle challenge, winning the first one and completely failing the second (but still attempting it, which was worth something). For the challenge I watched Nonbiri with Japanese subs open in a window next to it, and paused to enter sentences into Anki whenever there was one that seemed eligible.
This was basically every minute.
And entering the sentences meant breaking them down, word by word.
I have never watched a show so slowly before.
I didn’t translate the sentences into English on the cards, oh no. I went hardcore and made them JPN>JPN. Nonbiri turned out to be a good show to do this for. The girls all had a different way of talking, which meant I was exposed to various styles of Japanese (as a language with varying forms, mostly based on politeness, such variation is important). Not only that, it’s a rural, slice-of-life comedy, so the sentences I translated were often short and somewhat funny, while still containing those ubiquitous phrases that pop-up everywhere once you know them.
Here’s an example of one of my cards:
Front : まさか ウイルス感染で登場人物全滅とは
Ah, Moribito (守人), where do I began? Moribito has long been one of my favorite anime, I watched it over two years ago when Crunchyroll first put it up, and immediately re-watched with my brother. And then they took it offline and I couldn’t watch it anymore. Last summer I bought the light novel off of Amazon. It was ridiculously cheap for an imported item, about $11, and considering that it’s 340 pages of words, words, words definitely more bang for your buck than a manga (sorry Natsume). I dived into the book and, despite being completely over my head in incomprehensible kanji, found I could keep up with the story well enough thanks to the furigana and my familiarity with the plot and characters. I might not know exactly what was going on in detail, but I understood just enough to know where in the story people were. And then there were the times when I understood whole sentences. Magic.
Don’t let the past tense fool you, I’m still in the middle of this book. I’ve been “reading” it with minimal lookup since July. At first my reasoning was that reading near a computer is impractical. But with my iPhone loaded with imiwa this is no longer a valid excuse and I’m forced to admit that it just goes completely against my boar-headed nature to pause in the middle of reading. Looking up one word leads to looking up another, and soon I’m no longer reading, just word collecting (more on this in another post). Still, even with minimal word lookup, my reading ability has skyrocketed. From understanding unconnected sentences like, “チャグムの目がまるくなった,” to being able to follow conversations. To everyone out there studying: take heart and force yourself to stay exposed to multiple media even if it seems totally beyond you. Your mind was designed to learn language, you just have to give it enough materials. I really think that watching shows without subs reinforced my reading skills. It’s almost like I can imagine how the conversation sounds now even if I don’t know exactly what they’re saying.
Okay, we’re almost done. In 2014 I started cleaning out my podcast library. This has been done with far less enthusiasms than my other learning methods. A few years ago I went on a wild spree and downloaded something like thirty likely looking podcasts. I subscribed to some of these, but only listened to a few, and those only rarely. The result is that I had over 600 podcasts episodes waiting for me in August. I have taken that number down to about 550 . . . . My goal is to whittle that down to 0 (as best I can, some of them are still updating) and then delete them all and keep only my four or five favorites. I already know what the first four subscriptions will be: MHN (Music Hyper Market), Sound LIbrary, Kikudrama, and Udon Chururchuru. I have a few contenders for fifth place, and might end up with a sixth if I ever get the hang of listening.
So, there’s 2014 in review, with a bit of a sneak peek into my 2015 plans. I spent more effort than usual in August and September and the result is visible enough to make me want to up my game a bit this year. Next time I post I’ll show you how I’m planning on using technology to make the most out of 守人. Until then, またね!