Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Lang-8 experiment

Today I wanted to try something new. So today, while doing my daily random clicking, I waited for such a chance. Then some Lang-8 spam arrived: "the site got a face lift".

It was already nice, but no it is a bit more usable. It is practicaly the same, but with some anoying bugs resolved.

Then I felt like I should try it. I already had an account for a long time. I already helped some members, but I had never, ever written anything in japanese. Remembering my wicked feelings from the beginning of this post, I did it.

Here it is:







It started with what was kindoff a lie, but hey, it is too late to change it now. I'll have to bear with it.
Now I'll wait patiently for the results. Next week I'll post the corrected version here. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Answering questions

Kris stated: Thanks for this post and your blog, please keep posting as you seem to be where I am at my Japanese studies and it is encouraging for me to read about your progress.

Thank you! I'll do my best!

Kris asked: You mentioned in the previous post that the Tae Kim sentence pack had mistakes. Are you using them anyway?

The sentences were great, but they had mistakes. So I'm not using them anymore. It was sad to throw away that many sentences, but I think it was the right decision.

Alyks asked: What I'm curious about is how you deal with sentences you have no clue how they work?

Specially during the beggining, I saw many many sentences which I did not knew the meaning and had only a loose translation.
Hey, I dont know. I allways have a little of clue, and I work on that.
In the beggining the sentences were small and simple, and soon they got bigger.
Everyday I meet an old sentence that had a meaning that was much more complex than I tought it was. Even for the simplest sentences. I guess this is my japanese evolving.
Anyway, this also happends to me with my both portuguese and english.

Phauna stated: Anki is not a substitute for a textbook, it just makes revision of the textbook more efficient.

I seem to be doing fine without doing grammar drills. A friend presented me to Minna no Nihongo. BTW, the book is really well made. I learned so much just by reading the preface, but the book itself is not meant for AJATTers. It has allmost no kanji at first and even at the end of volume 2 it still only uses very few kanji.
Also, it takes too long to intruduce grammar points and usage of particles (as you are supposed to be studying kanji and kana, etc).

To design a textbook like Minna no Nihongo, one should make it kanji heavy from the beggining.

I guess in the end I could not make phauna's claim invalid. I just know it can be done without textbooks. I'm not saying my way of doing it is better, just that the textbooks avaliable are bad.

But one thing I totaly agree with: After you have acquired the grammar sense by reading, knowing the rules helps you a lot.

Phauna stated: I'm not sure lyrics are a good source, they are kind of unnatural language.

I agree. But they are so easy to remember that I could not ignore them!

Alyks asked: That's awesome! How many sentences do you do a day?

Thank you! I do as many as I need to get tired of it!
I'm with 1485 sentences today, I had 1082 14 days ago. This gives me about 28 sentences/day.
My goal now is Finishing the Joyo, as I am with 50.5% I think I will need at least 2.000 more sentences to do it. So I plan to be done in 2-3 months.

BTW, my most recent stats:

The 1485 seen cards in this deck contain:

  • 1030 total unique kanji.
  • Jouyou: 982 of 1945 (50.5%).
  • Jinmeiyou: 15 of 287 (5.2%).
  • 33 non-jouyou kanji.

Jouyou levels:

  • Grade 1: 79 of 80 (98.8%).
  • Grade 2: 154 of 160 (96.3%).
  • Grade 3: 161 of 200 (80.5%).
  • Grade 4: 138 of 200 (69.0%).
  • Grade 5: 120 of 185 (64.9%).
  • Grade 6: 100 of 181 (55.2%).
  • JuniorHS: 230 of 939 (24.5%).

Dont think twice before throwing a sentence away

Any sentence will do, but only if you throw away the bad ones.
They'll take your time and energy. They will take away your will.

If you are having too much trouble to memorize a piece of vocabular, throw it away.

If are dubious about an aspect of the sentence, throw it away.

If you think it is too long, throw it away.

If you think it is now worthful, throw it away.

Don't worry about the kanji count. Just do your best allways, that it will rise again.

Sentences: any will do fine

When I first started with this thing of sentences, I was very worried on how to find them. It looked that it would be so much of a hasle.

Now I know. Any sentence is fine.

The problem is you. You have to understand what you are mining, but not completely. You must know your strenghts and weakness. You gotta check yourself every week and know where you are strong and where you need to work on. And use your strenghts to help your weakness.

That is the beauty of RTK. Not knowing kanji was a serious weakness. Ignoring it was even worse. RTK made of my weakness my strenght and now I use my kanji power to guide my vocabulary, my grammar understanding, my pronuntiation.

So, in my last self avaluation, I got a low score on particles. Reading trough RevTK forums. ( I found out that some guys are working on a book called All About Particles. Google books has the first chapter of it and I fell in love with the book instantly.
It was made for AJATTers (just ignore the romanji).
It ilustrates the use of "all" the particles used in japanese trought sentence examples, full of kanji, providing hiragana transliteration and a loose english translation.
So, I ordered the book:

I have not written yet on "loose translations", but they rock. That's one of the reasons I like yahoo japans dictionary so much. Loose translations are a way for you to get the "feeling" of a sentence without translating every element of the original sentence. So, for properly understand the original sentence, you'll have to resort on reflecting over the original one.

Raw Anime and Doramas

Yai, before this posts, I'll do some bragging.

I read the first two chapters of One Piece and Claymore without recurring to the dictionary.

And the preface and first chapter of


Now on raw anime. For 2 weeks already I'm watching only raw Anime and Doramas. That means, audio in japanese with no subtitles at all. There are some dialogues I understand 100%. There are some that I cant understand even 10%. But it is getting better!

At first I could not understand the most basic things. Those things that I knew I could understand reading, I could not while listening. But everyday practice helps a lot.
I AM getting better at this!
I rewatched some old chapters and I noticed I could understand more and more, everytime I watched them again!

What I took from this is: Watching subbed anime is good for getting used to the sounds of japanese, but will help you little to understand it. It is not worth as "study time".

So, I'm making a promisse here: I wont ever, ever again watch japanese media with subs.
Well, taking off when I'm watching it with friends, of course.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I'm interested in doing JLPT next year. But I wanna go straight to lvl 2. I should be doing it this year, but I'm a bit lazy and I'm a bit scared of it.

This are the stats that anki gives to me:

Kanji statistics

The 1082 seen cards in this deck contain:

  • 849 total unique kanji.
  • Jouyou: 807 of 1945 (41.5%).
  • Jinmeiyou: 13 of 287 (4.5%).
  • 29 non-jouyou kanji.

Jouyou levels:

  • Grade 1: 73 of 80 (91.3%).
  • Grade 2: 151 of 160 (94.4%).
  • Grade 3: 142 of 200 (71.0%).
  • Grade 4: 119 of 200 (59.5%).
  • Grade 5: 78 of 185 (42.2%).
  • Grade 6: 73 of 181 (40.3%).
  • JuniorHS: 171 of 939 (18.2%).
I'm searching for past tests for JLPT but I only found this page:

If I follow it, I'd pass lvl 3 for sure and would only get 40-50% in lvl 2. The passing mark of lvl 2 is 60%. That is making me wonder if I'm just being a chicken.

The 40-50% mark looked too close to the 41.5% mark of anki to be a lie. I'll redo this test in a month to see if I get a better score.

Anime sentences, the final bout.


I've done some more sentence mining from lyrics. They have a great thing about them. They are "free". They were already memorized. They are nice to repeat - as long you like the song.

But they are few and they are skinny.

Same for anime sentences. They are too skinny. By skinny I say: Short, few kanji, hard to know how to write, etc.

But that lead me to another way of doing the sentences. What I'm doing now:
When I hear a new word, I put it in Yahoo和英辞書 and mine sentences for it.
Then I do the repetitions.
If I find a word that I'm not confortable with, I put it in Yahoo和英辞書 again and I get some more sentences.
I do that until I'm tired.

It is working fine. I already told why I like Yahoo dict sentences, but I'll say it again. They are thick, they are heavy, they have the exact amount of kanji, the have the exact amount of new words, a certain degree of irony and a lot of culture.