Learning Japanese: Month 1 Recap

Hey! I’ve already been studying Japanese for 1 month! Wow!

In some ways, it feels much longer than that. In other ways, it feels like I’ve just begun. I feel I’ve learned a good amount, and I’m relatively satisfied with the progress I’ve made. I feel like the Pimsleur lessons have given me a good backpocket phrase book, and a feel for the language and its most obvious snags. But this occasion is as good as any to take a step back, reflect, and re-evaluate.

Am I Enjoying Learning Japanese?

This seems to be the most important thing. And the answer is “Yes”, though quite a few times I’ve fallen into the trap of feeling like I needed to push myself, to make what started as a fun hobby into work. I’ve tempered myself and my expectations. The internet is full of great advice about how to learn Japanese – what apps to use, what textbooks are best, how to order and prioritize your study… I would love to have unlimited time to do it all, yet as my study expanded from 30 minutes per day to something like 45, 60, or even 90, I found myself getting anxious about other things in my life I was neglecting. With such a modest amount of time on my hands, I’ve had to remind myself what I would like to learn (my mind keeps going back to one of my favorite articles from Chinese the Hard Way: https://www.chinesethehardway.com/article/train-what-you-want-to-learn/).

Is 30 minutes per day of Pimsleur lessons – maybe with a few games snuck in during breaks – going to train me on what I want to learn? That brings me to my next point:

Why am I Doing This?

In my first post, I mentioned how my longstanding interest in Japanese culture influenced my decision to start learning Japanese. I wanted to go a little bit deeper, to understand a little bit more clearly the country and culture that had reached me so often throughout life.

If I knew I were going to be traveling to Japan with a month or so, an audio-only experience like Pimsleur would be the very best bet. But… I’m not. One of my favorite things to do is read – in English, in Chinese, and hopefully one day in Japanese.

Enter Genki

As so many have recommended, I’ve gotten myself a copy of Genki I, and started moving through it slowly – hour sessions a few times per week. I’m still on Lesson 1. I’m learning the vocabulary, listening to the recordings, writing down what I’ve read and copying the examples. I’m speaking them aloud and making my own recordings. I enjoy the holistic approach very much, and the 15 hours I spent with Pimsleur has payed off – the listening portion has not been a challenge thus far.

Oh, and speaking of Pimsleur – I will keep my subscription, as long as I continue to get something out of it. I just no longer plan to use it as my main mode of study, since I prefer the holistic approach. And, by the way Pimsleur does accommodate reading – but it’s a smaller component of a larger, audio-focused course. Pimsleur courses are most effective when used daily – I’ve heard that 20-some times now. Hopefully, they are still somewhat effective when used every-other day. Or, who knows, maybe when temps get above freezing I’ll be willing to go for more Pimsleur walks!

Going Forward

I’ll probably stop blogging for a bit now – maybe do this biweekly, or even monthly, instead of weekly. Next time I blog, I hope to be able to say that I know Hiragana and Katakana… we’ll see!

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