Taking the world less travelled

Carlie’s Japanese Progress – February 2009

Posted by on Mar 1, 2009 in Language | 14 comments

It’s really bad, but it’s been a while since I’ve done a monthly update on my progress. In fact, unless I missed an entry, the last one I did was almost a year ago, back in May 2008!

All through 2008 I was experiencing burn out, mainly because I really wanted to study Japanese my own way but had to do it the University way. Now that I’m out of university, it means that I can do it my own way but no longer have the push that I absolutely have to get something done. So in a way, I can’t have it all, dammit!

So while my start to this year hasn’t been filled with as much Japanese study as I could have done, I’m making more of an effort now. Here’s some of the things I’ve been up to in Feb:

Anki, Remembering the Kanji and 2001 Kanji Odyssey

Currently I have 755 cards in my Anki deck, with 45% of the “mature” cards.

In Japanese at the moment my main aim is to be able to read. Even in English my reading and writing ability are stronger than my speaking ability. I am much more articulate in writing! I love to read, and what I really want to be able to do is read my manga collection with relative ease.

Wall of Manga

In manga, because of the relatively short dialogue, I am sure I know most of the grammar, but my biggest weaknesses are kanji and vocabulary. Eventually I want to move on to big thick novels.

I’ve decided I’m going to attack this with Remembering the Kanji and 2001 Kanji Odyssey, using Anki. What I am doing is going full speed at RtK, until I get bored of it, then I will study KO. I do reviews of both in the one Anki deck, but take turns in actively studying whatever I feel like it out of the two. I think I’m making good progress.

I don’t mind so much now about powering through RtK. Originally I wanted to just go through RtK as quickly as I could and get onto other things. It wasn’t working for me, which is why I’ve changed to this approach. With RtK, I do find it is the best way for me to learn how to write the kanji, plus a basic keyword which does come in handy when reading, as I can sometimes guess what a word is from a keyword.

However, while I really want to write the Kanji, perhaps a bigger concern for me at the moment is actually reading/knowing words. I’m really excited about KO as it provides what a lot of Kanji guides have PLUS three sentences for each Kanji. I find that when I’m using a SRS program, I do learn better with sentences vs just words. So this is great.

The first book is 555 kanji, and if I’m persistent (and don’t revert back to RtK or move on to something else… which is highly probable) I could finish it by my birthday in April easily.


Are you pleased with your Japanese learning progress for Feb 2009?

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  1. Mike

    WGood stuff :) Keep going – it gets harder as you add more to your repetoire, but you can also read more and more stuff with relative ease. Although you’re learning to read I would learn the sounds for each Kanji too, so making the step to speaking on day would be easier.

    • GoddessCarlie

      I learn the sounds for kanji automatically through exposure to different words, so I think it is unnecessary to learn them individually. Plus it is easier to learn words than just sounds.

  2. yonasu

    I could’ve done a much better job than I did… Is there a cure for laziness? ^^

  3. Jamaipanese

    I so wish I had such a large collection of manga.

    cool smilies!


    • GoddessCarlie

      :thumbsup: Glad you like my smilies! I’m smilie obsessed. :D

      Definitely recommend book off when you get to Japan. They are second hand but they are in awesome condition that it’s hard to tell. And they are mostly 105 yen each.

  4. Intricate


    I’m also learning Japanese. And I was wondering why you did not start RTK right when you began your Japanese studies. I knew about RTK from the beginning but I only began using it like a year ago (started at around the same time as you btw), which is rather late, and I’ve regretted it ever since. And the stupid thing is that, now, the new kanji adding is so slow (uni stuff in the way) :/ that I hardly learn any new kanji at all.

    But i’m so sure that if I had started with RTK right away I’d probably have finished Vol.1 and would’ve been well into the 2nd volume by now, and thus, actually learning words instead of just meanings.

    So.. what you sayy!? Do you wish you had started RTK earlier? Or would you think it’d not have mattered a lot?

    • Goddess Carlie

      I did start RTK near the beginning of my studies but couldn’t keep it up because of uni.

      I have come to realise that learning Kanji through RTK is no rush. It is awesome in learning how to write the kanji but you will still have to learn how to read the pronunciation of it and learn to recognise it rather than just recall it. So at different times I focus on these skills and trust that I will eventually finish RTK but am in no rush.

      Also, my motto in life: No regrets!

      • Intricate

        well that’s just it. Every reference to RTK I find on the net and elsewhere (including the book itself) says that you should be able to finish that whole book in just a few months, like a semester in uni or something. And it does make sense because if you just, say, learn 10 new kanji per day you will learn the new elements so quick by sheer exposure that you will have finished it quickly without forgetting a lot. It’s just that it’s so intensive to do it in such a way. Especially with anki, because the amount of your due cards for each day will be humongous.

        So part of me is thinking that it is not good to take RTK slowly, but another part of me is saying that it will tremendously get in the way of uni when doing it the proper way. Quite the dilemma eh.

        • GoddessCarlie

          As with all things, read the advice and then adjust to what you think will work for you. Personally I couldn’t learn Kanji for uni and do RTK at the same time, so I would put RTK on the back burner while at uni. And through time I’ve come to realise that FOR ME at least RTK just teaches one aspect of the kanji that I will learn but I don’t have to learn first in order to succeed with Kanji. Just do it the way you think you will actually do it – that’s the main thing.

  5. mtfuji3776

    Hello Carlie, nice to meet you.
    I’m a Japanese man living nearby Tokyo.

    I found your page when I searched on the internet by the keyword “remembering the kanji”.
    I’m an English learner.
    Recently I’ve tried to start my blog in English to improve my English skill.

    I hope your study goes well.
    See you later

  6. mtfuji3776

    I’m sorry that I might post the same comment for some articles yesterday.
    After I posted my comment for an article, I couldn’t find it out anywhere.
    So I tried to do that for another articles…sorry about that.

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