How I Study Japanese {English}

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Jun 22, 2010 13:16 Study
(2011 update -- this was how I DID study Japanese last year but now I mainly just read and add words now.)

I used a series of books called, "How to Remember the Kanji" by Heisig. I actually skipped book two because I didn't like the concept but the 1st and last books are really neat. Essentially you attach characters, people or distinct object to radicals (部首) and simple kanji and use them to create images of kanji.The method doesn't teach the pronunciation of the characters. It is meant to learn the correct stroke order. This is the hardest step in learning Japanese in my opinion. Here is an example of a story:

童 juvenile)
立 standing
里 computer (The characteristic isn't related to the actual meaning.)
Image: Juveniles are known for being impatient. Here is a juvenile standing on a computer, stomping, as he tries to speed up the connection.

I am using 3 books to study Kanji:
This is 完全マスター2級日本語能力試験文法問題対策. The grammar points are designed for someone planning on taking the JLPT. There are lot's of tests and quizes. This is a good book but the vocabulary is brutally difficult for me.
Next is どんなと時どう使う日本語表現文型500. This book is amazing. This book organizes grammar by topic but then further divides JLPT 2 and JLPT1 points by flowers. Sprouts represent JLPT 2 grammar points and the grown flowers represent JLPT 1 grammar points. The book shows the difference between many difficult and rare grammar formations needed for the test. There is a workbook too. I haven't used it yet but it looks great. Before each chapter there is a checking of understanding and at the end of each chapter there is a review.

Listening Comprehension)
(新)毎日聞き取り50日 is a good series because of it's simplicity. There is little to no English. There are some notes for the vocabulary like, "国際連合→国連 is an abbreviation meaning United Nations". The listening is normal paced but the pronunciation is spoken as to be easily understood. The book focuses on retaining informations in a conversation. For example, in one exercise I have to listen to how to make 牛丼 and I have to draw the steps in order. Yikes! At the end of each chapter there is a ひと口 with notes on the topic and culture.
The second book, 生の日本語を聞き取ろう! is very different. The book is written in Chinese, Korea, Japanese and English! Those are all languages I am studying so it's awesome practice! The book focuses on understanding Japanese in difficult situations like listening to advertisements or broadcasts in a train. There are lot's of notes for vocabulary and grammar and the book is easy to understand...except the dialog. They chose some really hard listening exercises. I can't pick up a lot of the Japanese. How can I understand what the waitress is saying if there are multiple people talking at the same time? This book has nice pictures and maps. It's very detailed and there is a lot of cultural information.

I bought a book with three past tests with the answers and dialog. These are the same tests that were used but the format of the test changes this year. Still this helps me sharpen my test abilities and helps my reading speeds.
I use Anki, mentioned a few days ago, for retaining information and memorising vocabulary. I am working through 6000> words this summer. Everyday I memorise 150 words and re-memorise 30 kanji a day. I hope to finish 3000 kanji by the fall! Of course I listen to Japanese audio but recently I haven't been so succsessful in finding radio podcasts and good sources for practice.

I will leave for Japan sometime in the Spring for three months and I want to really improve my Japanese before then. I will be taking the JLPT2 this December as part of my graduation project. It will also be of help when I start college and then later teaching. My focus will only be on 標準語 until I reach Japan, because I think it's best to study a dialect by living in the direct area.

Thank you for reading my post!