My memory stepped out its comfort zone

Published a year ago

It's been over four months since I started studying Japanese and I enrolled to an evening class at the City University here in London. So far I've been progressing and although learning the language is a pain, I'm enjoying this time far from the screen of a computer.

I didn't decide to start studying this language because of a particular reason — apart from being addicted to the way it sounds, and more importantly all the Japanese modern culture such as manga, anime and drama.

One of the most difficult things when studying a new language is finding a study plan that works for you, and a textbook that you like. Starting from the latter, deciding a textbook that works for you is going to help seeing the study as a pleasure instead; as a moment or relax, or a hobby after work. In my case, I went to a couple of libraries and I spent hours (literally hours) browsing textbooks and their approach to the language — and I finally found a couple which I ended up buying: a textbook, a workbook, a kana workbook, a kanji workbook with the first 500 kanji and a grammar textbook with exercises.

It sounds like a long list but trust me you will need each one of it if you're into studying Japanese. Nevertheless, many years after finishing up with my school studies I found out once again how important is to have a workbook to exercise during your studies. Moreover, I also ended up using a SRS (Space repetition software) called "Anki" to memorise Japanese characters. Such softwares let you add flashcards with a front and back, and then a number the cards are reviewed every day while new ones keep adding to the stack you have studied. It's being over two months and I managed to memorise over 400 kanji and their meanings with the app, so I highly recommend it as a companion for your study plan.

As I am a developer, last January I also made an open-source Meteor-powered webapp to practise Japanese, you can read a bit more about the technology behind it on my post about Gakusei here! You can also see it online here — and if you know a bit of Japanese you're more than welcome to try answering the questions!

So, what's next? I wish I knew... Albeit studying hard, I still can't understand more than 5% of a Japanese drama/anime/TV show. I guess I'll need at least one more year to be able to understand a good amount of the sentences I hear :)