Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life is Study

As the lovable Kintaro, hero of Golden Boy once said, "Life is study."

And I often spend working holidays catching up on my studies. I've tried to stay on some kind of schedule, and to some degree I have kept up with things.. the problem is mostly that I'm doing too many different things and trying to maintain them all (alongside all that lesson plannin' and other stuff I do at my desk).

SmartFM has proved to be an excellent tool for studying Japanese vocabulary (and the countries of the world), and I try to do lessons regularly. The lessons go quickly and are kind of fun.

My kanji benkyo-ing has been going slowly. You might remember a time when I said I wanted to "nail down" the 508 I "knew" before moving on to the next lesson. Well, the process of nailing down those kanji, begun in the summer, has reached its.. um.. halfway point today.

And it's not that I've been slacking. My methods are just very.. methodical. I get confused by all this "kunyomi" and "onyomi" stuff, especially when there is more than one of either of them for a character, so I figured the best thing to do would be just learn some words for each kanji. Then I would get exposed to more vocabulary, and see how the kanji fit into the meanings of their respective words.

But writing a handful of words for each character is ridiculously time-consuming. It's working, I'm remembering, if not all the words, at least I'll be able to feel like I've seen that before... when I encounter them, and possibly even produce the correct sounds in reading the words.. but I'll get the meaning, and that's what is important.

I've been doing the kanji review quizzes regularly (the screen shows a word in English and I write the kanji on my scrap paper, then hit spacebar to show the correct kanji. If it's right, I type Y, if wrong, I type N. The N ones have to be redone and then they go into the box to be reviewed soonest and most often. Kanji work their way out further and further into the 2-times reviewed box and beyond depending on the number of times I give them a Y response. Every time, a handful of them make their way back into the first box because I've forgotten them since the last review.

As of now, though, the boxes are like this:
One review: 12
Two reviews: 25
Three reviews: 9
Four Reviews: 33
Five Reviews: 95
Six Reviews: 325
Seven + Reviews: 9

After a set amount of time, each kanji expires and comes up for review. On any given day, I can have just a couple, or 40-something. If I wait too long, a lot will have expired and I'll have to plow through a hundred or so. If I get a kanji right, it goes to the next box, and wrong goes back to the first. The first boxes expire at a faster rate, and I assume further boxes just get exponentially longer times.

But yeah. I'm at 254 "nailed down" and still sitting at 508 in process.

I'm also not too far behind in my grammar studies. I've persisted in scraping what understanding I can from the free books we get from the government as JET participants. Last year I failed to finish the 6th and final book, but they sent me a certificate anyway. ^_^ This year I'm doing the blue (advanced) set, and I'm on book 2, week 4, day 3, which is where I would need to be, exactly, if I weren't about to run off traveling and leave the books sitting on the table for two weeks.

I'm not allowed to do more than two days of CLAIRbook in any one day because it causes my eyes to glaze over and for me to pass out at my desk. I'm not kidding. I drooled on my kanji notebook once. I don't retain more than two lessons at a time, and even those I like to space out these days (so I'll do one of those, then some kanji or smartfm).

So this is part of why I do not have free time at work like other JETs might. I'm just not equipped for that.

I have also developed some kind of inability to study at home. I can write letters at home, and watch pirated American TV, and I can clean the house and do laundry and even cook a little, and I can write at home, and I can leave the house for my other extracurricular stuff, and I can socialize at home. But I find it very difficult to actually do "homework" there.

Tomorrow I'm expecting me to do some, though, so we'll see how that goes!

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