Language Goals January 2019

A new year has started! There will be some changes but first I want to look at my goals from December:

Language Goals December 2018 – Results

Japanese

  • Take the JLPT N4
  • 52 Kanji (Heisig + Kanji Study App)
  • N3 vocabulary (Memrise, 600 new cards)
  • Reading practice (Watanoc N4 articles)
  • Listening practice

At the beginning of December I took the JLPT N4. I wrote about my experience with it here.

And I finally finished learning 2042 kanji with the Heisig method! I took me a really long time and I talked about it in more detail in this post.

In the beginning I was worried about my vocabulary goal because I was progressing very slowly. But then I got used to it and I even overachieved my goal! Overall I learned 734 new cards.

I read a few articles on Watanoc but not as many as I wanted. I really need to start reading more again. I did a lot of listening practice though. I mostly listened to the same old N4 stuff that I have over and over, trying to understand more and more. I also watched a lot of Japanese videos without subtitles. I understood almost nothing but I still hope it helps a bit getting used to native Japanese.

My Japanese study time dropped a lot in December because I was more busy than before. Overall I studied for 45 hours, that’s roughly 1.5 hours per day.

jpstudytime-2018-12

Spanish

  • Spanish novel (A2 level)
  • Watch Youtube videos
  • Duolingo reviews
  • Duolingo stories (Set 2)

Noooope, nothing… I watched maybe 3-4 youtube videos but that’s it. I just didn’t have time or motivation to do anything for Spanish.

French

  • Listen to songs
  • Duolingo reviews

I test out of at least one Duolingo skill per day and I did this consistantly the entire month. I also kept listening to songs though I have to admit less than the months before.

Language Goals January 2019

With the new year there will be some changes. I will be extremely busy in the next few months with other stuff I have to do, so there will be less time for language learning. This is why I decided to focus on Japanese only and put aside Spanish and French for a while. This was a very hard decision for me, but I think it’s better in the long run.

Since I want to keep my Duolingo streak I will still do some testing out of skills every day (either Spanish or French) so I won’t completely forget about it, and I might watch some youtube videos from time to time, but I don’t want to set any goals and feel pressured to do something.

So I only have Japanese goals for this month:

  • N3 vocabulary (Memrise, 800 new cards)
  • Reading practice (Watanoc N4 articles)
  • Listening practice

Yeah, very minimal again. My main focus is still building on vocabulary and I will try to learn 800 new cards. (Current Number of cards: 1201)

The rest of my time I will use for reading and listening practice.

 

 

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My Language Learning Year 2018

2018 was the first full year of language studies after picking it up again last year. There wasn’t a single day without studying for any language (I kept my streaks on Duolingo and Memrise even when I had almost no time). This year showed me once again how much I love languages and that I definitely want to continue learning!

January

Last year in October I decided to focus on Japanese for a while. And after taking the JLPT N5 I was even more motivated to study Japanese, so in January I mostly studied Japanese and started preparing for the N4 level.

At the end of January the results for the JLPT were published and I passed the N5, which gave me another motivation boost. I also started tracking my Japanese study time, which helped a lot to motivate myself and to see in which areas I needed to do more.

February

Thanks to some unexpected changes in my life I had the chance to go to free language classes during spring/summer so I decided to pick up Spanish and French again. Part of my February was still studying Japanese, but I started spending a considerable amount of time preparing for the language courses, especially the Spanish one.

March

In March I went to a French A1 course. It was a 3 weeks intensive course, 5 times per week, 3 hours per day + 1-2 hours for homework. I really wanted to focus on French during these 3 weeks to get a good foundation so I did almost nothing for Japanese. I don’t regret it, I learned a lot in this course and I absolutely loved it! In the exam I got the best grade possible with 99/100 points. This was amazing for me because in school I was really bad at French and this showed me that if I really want to study a language, I can be very good.

April – July

From the end of April until the end of July I went to a French A2 course and a Spanish B1 course. Since I also had to work I was really busy during these three months. I didn’t have time for Japanese anymore and only reviewed some words and kanji, but not very regularly. I also stopped making goals for Japanese because I couldn’t meet them anyway.

At the end of June I felt like I was about to hit a language learning burnout. I still continued with both courses and took the final exams. I got a very good grade in the French exam and a good grade in the Spanish exam. I felt like I learned a lot in this French course. I wish I had progressed more in Spanish in regards to speaking, but at least it gave me more confidence in Spanish in general.

August

In August I was on vacation and went to Amman (Jordan) for about 4 weeks. I mostly used these 4 weeks to take a break from everything so I didn’t really study any of my languages there. I kept reviewing some words and did some Duolingo lessons, but just on a very minimal level.

I also didn’t go there with the purpose of learning Arabic. Actually, this would have been very nice and I would have loved to try being in a country for 4 weeks and learn the language there. But I was so tired and worn out from my language classes and work that I just couldn’t add more work. I also didn’t think I could continue Arabic after these 4 weeks since I already had 3 active languages, so learning it at that time felt pointless to me.

September – November

After coming back from my break I realized how much of the N4 vocab, kanji and especially grammar I had forgotten, and that there were only 3 months left until the JLPT. So I started putting all my time into Japanese only, trying to study 2-3 hours every day. It was very tough because I also had to work a lot. At the end of November it was really hard for me to continue but I kept pushing, trying to practice as much as possible.

I barely did anything for Spanish or French anymore, except for watching some videos here and there and listening to music. I also kept reviewing both Spanish and French on Duolingo, though I was annoyed about the high amount of absolute beginner material they added instead of more advanced stuff.

In September I dabbled a bit in Irish because I found a free online course. I noticed quickly though that I can’t add another language at the moment and just looking a bit wasn’t very satisfying. I need to put more time into a language, otherwise I will just forget everything immediately and that’s too frustrating. So I decided to drop the language for now.

In October I participated in the Language Jam #2. The language that was chosen randomly for me was Tagalog! I had never considered learning this language so it was a nice chance to learn something about it. And it was so much fun studying it for a bit! I really like the language and might pick it up again later.

December

On December 2nd, I took the JLPT N4. I had pretty mixed feelings about it and it showed me how bad I was prepared in some areas. I realized how bad it was to take a break in Japanese because I had to study basic things like grammar before the test instead of focusing on practice tests and improving my listening and reading skills. I don’t regret taking the Spanish and French courses, they really helped me, but now I think I shouldn’t have neglected Japanese that much.

After the test I started preparing for the N3 level. This time I plan to study regularly so I won’t have the same problems in the next test.

I also finally finished learning the meanings of 2042 kanji with the Heisig method! I was very happy when I finally did it because now I can move on to learning kanji in context.

Overall I’m happy with how the year went and I think I learned a lot in my 3 main languages. I hope next year will be great too!

Language Goals December 2018

In November my focus was again on Japanese to prepare for the JLPT N4, which I took at the beginning of December. These were my November goals:

Language Goals November 2018 – Results

Japanese

  • Review N4 grammar (book+notes)
  • Review N4 vocab (Memrise)
  • Review N4 kanji (Memrise, Kanji Study App)
  • Quizzes N4 grammar/kanji/vocab (JPDrills, old JLPT practice tests)
  • Listening practice (N4/N5 material)
  • Reading practice (N4 material)
  • 72 Kanji (Heisig + Kanji Study App)
  • N3 vocabulary (Memrise, 350 new cards)

I achieved all the goals related to the N4. I studied a lot every day, balancing between reviewing and practicing. Especially my listening comprehension became better compared to 1-2 months ago.

I thought I could do the few kanji that were left but I only did 20 and then decided to focus on N4 material instead. That’s why I also only did around 220 N3 vocab cards on Memrise.

Overall I studied for almost 79 hours this month, that’s 2.6 hours per day on average.

jpstudytime-2018-11

Spanish

  • Spanish novel (A2 level)
  • Watch Youtube videos
  • Duolingo reviews
  • Duolingo stories (Set 2)

Not a good month for Spanish again. I didn’t read the novel at all. I read 3-4 Duolingo stories but not the complete set. I did watch some Youtube videos though to improve my listening comprehension and also did some reviews on Duolingo.

French

  • Listen to songs
  • Duolingo reviews

I achieved all goals for French. I listened to French songs almost every day and tested out of a few Duolingo skills every day.

Language Goals December 2018

Honestly, I don’t really know how to continue at the moment. Now that the JLPT is over I would have a bit more time to do Spanish or French. But I’m somehow in “Japanese” mood and would like to continue here. So I guess my priority will still be Japanese for a while.

Japanese

  • Take the JLPT N4
  • 52 Kanji (Heisig + Kanji Study App)
  • N3 vocabulary (Memrise, 600 new cards)
  • Reading practice (Watanoc N4 articles)
  • Listening practice

My biggest goal for December, taking the JLPT N4, is already achieved. I will now mostly focus on N3 preparation, starting with adding a lot more vocabulary. My plan is to add 600 new cards, which is about 20 per day. (Current number of cards: 467)

Since my reading and listening skills lacked so much in the N4 test, I need to do a lot more for both. During December I will continue with N4 level stuff, to get more confidence and just to read a lot more (it would also be a waste not to read the remaining Watanoc articles…).

And of course I want to do the final kanji in the Heisig book!! Only 52 left!!

Spanish

  • Spanish novel (A2 level)
  • Watch Youtube videos
  • Duolingo reviews
  • Duolingo stories (Set 2)

Same goals as before for Spanish 🙂

French

  • Listen to songs
  • Duolingo reviews

And also the same goals as before in French.

 

Language Goals November 2018

October was a really good month for my language studies, or at least for Japanese. These were my October goals:

Language Goals October 2018 – Results

Japanese

  • Review N4 grammar (book+notes)
  • Review N4 vocab (Memrise)
  • Review N4 kanji (Memrise, Kanji Study App)
  • Quizzes N4 grammar/kanji/vocab (JPDrills, old JLPT practice tests)
  • Listening practice (N4/N5 material)
  • Reading practice (N4 material)
  • 90 Kanji (Heisig + Kanji Study App)

The preparation for the JLPT N4 went really well in October. I reviewed grammar and collected similar grammar points which I need to have a look at. And I reviewed vocab in Memrise and also collected more words which I don’t know yet but might appear in the test.

I did a very thourough kanji review with the Kanji Study app – my goal was to be able to write all the kanji. While the JLPT doesn’t test you on writing kanji yourself, it really helps differentiating between similar kanji or fake kanji, and just remembering the kanji in general.

I did more listening practice: previous JLPT tests, Japanese podcasts, and when I watched anime I tried to catch as much as I could while reading the subtitles. Overall this was about 1/4 of my study time, so not bad.

I also totally fell in love with reading easy Japanese articles and read a lot during the month (almost 21 hours!). I definitely want to keep this up and read a lot more in the future.

And of course I did old JLPT practice tests and used JPdrills.com to get more practice. These two things really help to actually use the grammar, vocab and kanji in context, and see where I still have problems.

The only goal I didn’t achieve was the Heisig kanji goal, but I came very close. My goal was to learn 90 new kanji. I learned 70 new kanji and I’m now at 1970.

Additionally I started studying N3 vocab and learned 254 cards on Memrise.

Overall I studied for over 89 hours!! That’s 40 hours more than last month, wow! Overall that’s 2.9 hours per day on average and I’m very happy with it.

jpstudytime-2018-10

Spanish

  • Spanish novel (A2 level)
  • Watch Youtube videos
  • Listening practice (podcasts etc.)

I’m still not done with the novel. For some reason I feel like I need to really sit down to read it, so it never happens because when I sit down to study something, it’s Japanese. I did some other reading in Spanish though, so at least there was some reading.

I watched several youtube videos, so I would say I reached my goal here. I watched those videos without subtitles, so I would say it also counts as listening practice, but I didn’t do any additional listening practice like I had planned to.

French

  • Watch Youtube videos
  • Listen to songs

I watched a few videos but not enough to say I achieved the goal here… But I overachieved the song goal. I’m listening to French songs basically everywhere because I really love them at the moment. Additionally I also started doing lessons on Duolingo again (just reviewing old stuff for now).

Irish

I didn’t do anything for Irish in October and around mid-October I decided to drop it. I just can’t invest into dabbling at the moment, even if it’s very light dabbling. I need the time for my other languages and if I only look at it a bit, the words and grammar just don’t stick so it’s a waste of time.

Tagalog

This month I participated in the Language Jam, a short challenge where you study a new language for just one weekend. My target language was Tagalog! It was a fun weekend and I wrote a blog post about my experience with it.

Language Goals November 2018

I will focus on my 3 main languages only (no dabbling). Japanese will be my main focus (at least 80%), Spanish and French my secondary focus.

Japanese

  • Review N4 grammar (book+notes)
  • Review N4 vocab (Memrise)
  • Review N4 kanji (Memrise, Kanji Study App)
  • Quizzes N4 grammar/kanji/vocab (JPDrills, old JLPT practice tests)
  • Listening practice (N4/N5 material)
  • Reading practice (N4 material)
  • 72 Kanji (Heisig + Kanji Study App)
  • N3 vocabulary (Memrise, 350 new cards)

These are amost the same goals as in October. There is only 1 month left to study for the JLPT, so my main focus will be reviewing/practicing N4 stuff.

Additionally I will learn 72 new kanji with Heisig. Then I will actually be done with the book! There are later editions with some additional kanji but I looked at them and they seem to be a bit random to me, so I will not learn them immediately.

I will also continue learning N3 vocabulary. My goal will be 350 cards on Memrise, that’s about 10 per day, which should be fine.

Spanish

  • Spanish novel (A2 level)
  • Watch Youtube videos
  • Duolingo reviews
  • Duolingo stories (Set 2)

I want to start doing a bit more for Spanish in November. I want to finally finish the novel I’m reading and supplement it a bit with some Duolingo stories. I already did Set 1 of the stories a long time ago so I’m starting with Set 2 now. These are 10 short stories, which should be fine.

I’m removing the listening goal for now because I probably won’t have time for it and I will get a lot of listening by watching youtube videos.

French

  • Listen to songs
  • Duolingo reviews

This month I want to start going back to French a bit. For this I will do some Duolingo reviews. I found out they published yet another new skill tree so there are now tons of new beginner lessons. I will review them by testing out of all of them. They are so easy for me I rarely get something wrong, but it’s still a good practice for now. Additionally I will continue listening to French songs.

Focusing on what’s most important

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my language learning. My main problem is that I don’t have a lot of time for language learning – and yet I want to learn so many languages.

I’ve tried different strategies – focusing on just one language, doing 2-3 languages at the same time, dabbling in other languages inbetween. I don’t think I’ve found the perfect solution for me yet, but I do think it’s important to try different things to figure out what’s best for one personally.

Trying many different approaches also means failing a lot but I think that’s important too. It helps learn what works and what doesn’t, and especially it helps learn what’s really important for you.

I’m currently at a point where I believe it’s best to focus on what’s most important. I want to learn a lot of languages, but I clearly can’t do it all at once so I need to prioritize.

One thing that I’ve learned in the past is that having a good reason is the key to learning languages. If I don’t have a good enough reason to learn a specific language I lose motivation quickly. And while it’s fun to dabble in other languages, it doesn’t help me with my main languages.

I have a lot of languages on my list which I’d like to explore more, but I realized that at the moment I don’t have a good enough reason to learn them. So picking them up won’t do me any good. This is also why I’m dropping Irish now.

I’ve decided to stick with my 3 main languages (Japanese, Spanish, French) and bring them to an advanced level before I start any other language projects. I can already see myself changing my opinion in a few weeks or months and starting another language…

The reason is that these 3 languages are the most important to me. I love them all a lot and I really have a lot of reasons for why I want to be able to speak them.

I’m still thinking about how to divide my attention so that I don’t neglect any of these 3 languages too much. My primary focus will definitely stay on Japanese because I still plan on taking all the JLPT levels. But I need to make some room to also do more Spanish and French. So I might come up with some goals for them for the next month and just see how it goes. Failing is allowed and encouraged to find the best way for me to learn them all.