Summer Break Shenanigans

Sometimes do reps in my Anki decks on my front deck.

Sometimes I do reps in my Anki deck on my front deck.

Here we are, already well into September. The back to school feeling is in the air, and with that, I’m ready for new Japanese adventures. I feel extra pumped, because as many of you know, I scaled things back a bit in order to enjoy the summer. I certainly didn’t stop doing things in Japanese though. I don’t think I could if I tried, nor would I want to stop anyways.  Really my summer was all about transitions. July was the last month of my contract at my previous job, meaning I am currently unemployed. Not so great for finances, but awesome for Japanese and family life. So after some enjoyable trips to the beach, Animaritime, bonfires, roadtrips, and manga reading on my front deck, I’m into a new semester of Japanese immersion.

Back in May, I posted about taking the plunge into big level ups in Japanese. Funny thing is, before I looked back to that post just now, I felt like I really wasn’t any further ahead. But now I think about how much has changed since the beginning of summer. The types of activities I use to study, my SRS deck format, and even the level of material I’m willing to take on have all changed. I think that’s what makes it so hard to feel a sense of progress in language learning, especially past the beginner level. We’re always raising the bar, always on the way to the next level, and seldom looking back at how far up the ladder we’ve climbed.

My goal was to still enjoy the summer and live life, but to keep Japanese in the loop, just without doing any hardcore study aside from keeping up my reps in Anki, (a program you may have heard me mention once or twice.) Afterall, Nova Scotia is cold most of the year! The first year that I moved to this town, there was snow from November to April. Some of the Canadian stereotypes are true I suppose… I knew if I spent all this nice weather indoors, I would regret it when the crisp air of autumn came around, and would possibly even experience major burnout as a result. So just how did my summer flow? Well…

Making the pilgrimage!

Making the pilgrimage!

As an element of just trying to do Japanese, I got back into gaming more. My original reason to learn Japanese was closely related to gaming, a hobby that had unfortunately taken the wayside because of extensive study, and especially extensive preparation! So when I decided to make it a point to do some gaming, I went from playing nothing to playing everything. Newer titles, Steam bargains, handhelds, classic games, etc. One nice thing about newer games with voice acting is they often have subtitles in Japanese too, something that I admit isn’t as easy to come across with TV and movies.

One other frustration I was running into was that by completely giving up certain hobbies, I was starting to lose myself. So in certain amounts, I allowed myself to do things like practice music and creative writing. At times, I admit I would give myself an inch and  take a mile. But what I did find was that doing Japanese 75% of the time was just as effective as doing it 100% of the time. As long as you keep yourself in check, you can have your goal and still live life too. In fact I sometimes found that enjoying some of my other hobbies in moderation would inspire me to try even harder at Japanese.

As my computer tech job neared its end, I knew I’d have more free time. So with the rest of the blog crew, I tried picking up some Esperanto again. The main reason was to gain confidence. Not only in seeing progress, but also in actually daring to use the language with other speakers. Even though I was doing well, it didn’t take me long to drop it again. My thought was that no matter how easy or interesting Esperanto may be, every SRS rep, every bit of reading in that language, took away from time with Japanese. And while languages are certainly a big hobby of mine, Japanese is more than that—it’s a life goal.

There was still cell phone reception here... score!

There was still cell phone reception here… score!

So at this point I have set Esperanto aside yet again. One thing that did arise from studying Esperanto was gaining the confidence to do language exchanges on SharedTalk in Japanese. At first I still didn’t feel ready. My vocabulary wasn’t big enough, my grammar was bad, and I didn’t know how I’d keep up in the conversation. These were the perfect reasons to start doing an exchange right away! Now they’ve made their way into my regular Japanese activities. They can be intense, and difficult, and they are extremely useful. It’s amazing how one can have a pretty decent command of understanding basic conversational Japanese, but then draw a blank when they have to produce it. These factors actually led to a big change in my Anki card formats, also a topic for a future post, among others…

Now into September, I’m still doing exchanges here and there, but have shifted my focus building up my vocabulary as quickly and effectively as possible. The reason of course is the upcoming Tadoku contest! After being invited to join a couple of times by my fellow learners on #ajatt, I decided to mark my calendar (literally) for the October contest. I will be sure to have a post about my reading adventures once the contest is done.

I’ll also be going into more detail about some specific experiences and techniques that have come up over the summer, some of which I’ve already mentioned, along with some surprises. When I look back at the summer, I realize just how much has changed. The content of my Anki decks has been almost completely replaced, the formats have changed, I’m using more media, I can understand material that I used to struggle with, and I’m doing exchanges with native speakers. I feel more focused than ever, and I got to have an enjoyable summer. Here’s to another great season!


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  • Read More or Die! 2011

    _2011 End Results_
    Total read for Tadoku:
    __433.3 pages!__
    Placement: 115/188
    October 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 97/120
    End Tally: 59.2
    July 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 86/142
    End Tally: 195.6
    April 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 62/106
    End Tally: 154.5
    January 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 84/99
    End Tally: 24
    August 2010 Contest:
    Placement: 20/41
    End Tally: 160

  • Read Or Die 2013

    Goal: 600
    Total: 906.26
    blew my goal outta the water!

    March 2-Week:
    Goal: 125

    Goal: 250
    Total: 314

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