1000 Fails

My 30 days of Japanese project isn’t going too well. It got rudely interrupted by a 2-day hangover last weekend. I have come to the conclusion that I am old and that my days of drinking mystery cocktails in alleyways are numbered. I wasn’t even that drunk. At no point did I lose my inhibitions. I remember everything. But I was in a state of serious disrepair for a good 36 hours after I was technically sober.

Anyway, I’ve kept up remarkably well with the kanji, iKnow and listening. I’ve added at least 10 new kanji a day (excluding hangover days) for a while  now – I’m up to 279. My excel spreadsheet (I’m a closet spreadsheet evangelist) tells me that if I want to finish by December 31 I have to do 8.859 new kanji a day.

I’m chugging along with the iKnow. I’ve nearly finished the first 200 words in the Japanese Core 2000 set. I’m unconvinced as to how useful this multiple choice thing really is, but when I finish the first stage of the set I’ll re-evaluate. Right now the words seem to be sliding out of my brain as soon as I shut the program.

Where I’ve really fallen down has been doing the textbook work (Minna no Nihongo 1). I always seem to leave it til too late at night and by then I just couldn’t be bothered.

The one thing that’s made the most difference is definitely the kanji. It’s so satisfying to look at things I see every day and have the meaning leap out at me. Product packaging, billboards, road signs, menus – I can now pick out almost 10% of the words! It might not seem like much, but considering that I was totally illiterate a few months ago, I feel good. I feel like a bloody genius when I can understand my students’ writing. They often write notes to each other right in front of me thinking I can’t understand. Fools! It was something about a boy!  And liking! And a dog!

Last week I was playing Monopoly with some Junior High School girls. They’d never played before so I had to explain everything. One girl drew a card that said “Your stocks mature, bank pays you $50”. Last week I would have been stumped. The kiddie dictionaries do not include the word “stocks”. It would have been a load of stick cartoons, miming and blank faces (I’ve played this game before). This time, I was able to write the kanji for stocks. I felt like a freaking queen.

The process of kanji learning seems so slow. I have failed literally thousands of SRS flashcards over the past ten months – Anki, iKnow, kanji.koohii. This is my second attempt to tackle the Heisig method. I can wholeheartedly say though, that it works. With iKnow and other methods I feel like I’m only holding the kanji in my short-term memory for the duration of the repetition set. With Heisig, I can recognise kanji I see out on the street and recall the meaning after having only written it once, sometimes twice. My stroke order is almost perfect. I’m not saying this to brag. It’s the method, not my all-round awesomeness that has caused this.

So, 1000 fails isn’t a bad thing. I’m looking forward to racking up thousands and thousands more fails on this journey.


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