Sunday, February 11, 2018

Language Learning Update: Frustration and Procrastination | February 2018

As you may have guessed my last 90 Day Language Challenge didn't go very well. On January 1, 2018 I started my second attempt. I am more committed to this second attempt but not committed enough, I haven't really been making the time for this project which is causing me to ultimately lose. I want to learn how to speak and read Japanese. I want to be able to do this with some amount of fluency fairly soon. Unfortunately with the approach that I have been taking I will never be satisfied with my level and I'll never reach the level that I am striving for.

On January 1st, I started with an elaborate plan for language learning which I "tried" to follow for about 5 days. I was frustrated by the fact that even from day one I was behind schedule and I didn't have the motivation to catch up. I felt like I was never going to be able to follow the timeline that I had set up for myself. I probably had the time to get back on track but I just didn't do it and that was my failure. Something that I am still struggling with a month later. I want to make the time but I am really struggling with procrastinating. Which begs the question, do I really want to learn this language if I'm not doing it?

I want to speak and read Japanese with some form of fluency by the end of 2018. I want to know enough to at least be able to pass the JLPT N5 (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) by the end of this year. Is this possible? Absolutely! I still have 10 full months to dedicate to this adventure and I am going to amp up my learning starting today! Or at least that's what I tell myself on a fairly regular basis. What I can promise is to continue this journey until I make my goals even if I'm being irresponsible and unrealistic with the amount of time I am actually spending on active learning.

What am I going to do about this procrastination business? I don't know and that is my main concern. The answer is ridiculously simple, to make language learning a priority. The realization is simple but the practical application is difficult especially when I am self-sabotaging every free moment. Even this blog post can be added into this category. Do I have the time to learn right now? Well, obviously because I have the time to update a blog that I rarely visit. I have a very strong habit of procrastination that continuously is reinforcing itself. Any constructive help in this area would be very appreciated.

I still feel like I'm language learning even though I know that I'm not putting in the effort. I have been immersing myself in language learning since the beginning of January by living through the people that I see on YouTube. I have been watching the progress of other language learners, listening to their methods, and trying to learn from their own struggles. My main source of information and entertainment in this area have been lectures given by the Polyglot community. (If you want to procrastinate too I recommend checking out the videos from channels "Polyglot Gathering" or "Polyglot Conference".) Very fascinating but not helping my situation since I'm not actually studying Japanese while I'm watching these videos.

I have also been procrastinating through the use of language learning apps. I have never used apps for the purpose of language learning before and so far I have found them to be useful. Or more accurately, I found them to be useful and distracting, I heard a great deal of praise for Duolingo through the YouTube videos I was watching and decided to try it out for myself. Their language course collection is quite extensive and after discovering that Japanese is only a Beta version, I took the liberty of trying out two other language courses to see how they compared. Even with my rudimentary language skills I could tell that there were some flaws with the Japanese course. I am now also learning German and French because I can't stop procrastinating. Both German and French have more extensive courses and, because they aren't the languages I set out to learn in the first place, significantly more fun. I am still trying out some other online courses and apps but now with the added bonus of trying to learn two additional languages. I am fully aware of how ridiculous it is to start two more languages because I am frustrated that I am struggling to learn one.

Now that I've complained for long enough, what do I want to accomplish in the next two weeks towards my goal of passing the JLPT N5 by the end of the year? I am going to:

  • read at least 2 pages of the children's book "Aoi no Tori" every night
  • complete 3 full lessons "Writing and Comprehension" and "Vocab and Grammar" from the Genki textbook
  • complete 3 lessons from Kanji: Look and Learn by filling out 3 pages (front and back) in my kanji notebook
  • keep up my daily learning streak on Duolingo (mostly for German and French) by completing 2 lessons or equivalent every day. 
  • use the spaced repetition feature on the Jisho app for the N5 kanji list and complete at least 1 full round. 

So here we go! Let's try this again!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The 90 Day Japanese Language Learning Challenge

The 90 Day Challenge

I have decided to do a 90 day challenge starting September 1, 2017. At the beginning of July I caught the studying bug and have been fairly consistent working at learning to read, write and speak Japanese. Other than studying I have been preparing and learning how to study, by watching lectures put on by the online Polyglot community. Polyglots are people who have a passion for learning languages, many of whom are able to speak ten or more, often from a number of different language groups. I'm fascinated by them and their language learning abilities. It's possibly why I've been able to study for an entire month without slowing down much. 

Two of the language learners that I found have mentioned that they find 90 day language learning challenges to be extremely helpful. One of them hosts a community challenge that you unfortunately have to pay to join called the Add One Challenge. I think his challenge is basically self teaching with a designated practice language partner that you can use to help keep you motivated. The other owns a website and app called I don't see anything on his site that indicates his 90 day challenge but he was posting about one on his youtube channel earlier this year. From what I could gather from his videos he was spending concentrated time on a specific language that he wanted to improve on. It didn't look like he had a plan to follow other than amping up his usual study methods. The goal for both was to spend 90 days in a row intentionally working on a language. The goal is not to become fluent but to improve on the knowledge that you may or may not already have.

I do have a plan for my 90 day challenge although I won't know if I'll be able to execute it until my learning materials arrive in the mail. Obviously buying new language books when I already have a million of them is a frivolous approach to this challenge idea and is completely unnecessary. I definitely have enough books to work from but I thought it might be nice to start with something new and shiny. In under a week a bundle of level N5 and N4 study books from Japan should be arriving. The books I'm most looking forward to are the vocabulary lists for these levels. I have been researching vocab learning techniques and plan to use these lists for my 90 day challenge. I'm curious to see how many words I'm able to consume using a combination of Iversen's Method, The Leitner Box Method and The Goldlist Method. I'm hoping that this 90 day challenge will prove one way or the other if my planned learning method is too complicated to be effective. The main plan is to have enough exposure to the vocab words that some or all will be absorbed as if through osmosis. There are also grammar and Kanji books arriving from a few different series which have lesson plans built into them. I'm going to go through them one by one at the suggested pace in addition to the vocab lists. 

My biggest concern is the amount of time these activities are going to take to accomplish on a daily basis. I assume the amount of time I spend studying, specifically on the vocab lists, will take a tole on my motivation after a while. My main goal for the 90 days is to spend time in the Japanese language every single day even if it's only for 5 minutes. Obviously this also hinges on my continued interest in this activity as a whole. Let's hope for noticeable language improvement which will keep me excited and motivated.