Grammar Cards

Today I am going to write about my third attempt to create a grammar deck. Until yesterday I wasn’t too sure that it would work this time. When I started today, I first wiped most of the sentence cards I created two days ago, except those containing grammar points. I already had the grammar information on the remaining 15 or 16 sentences cards, so there was nothing more to do for the time being. Before I could begin entering example sentences from the main part of Lesson 1, there were still two questions that needed an answer.

+ Which information do I want to review?

『6』 動詞 (plain) ことになっている = ‘be expected / supposed to, it is a rule / custome that~’
『6』 動詞 (plain) ことになった = ‘it has been decided / arranged that~’

ことになっている / ことになった indicates that a certain decision has been made for the speaker by outside forces. Use ことになっています when you want to talk about your future plan, which has been already arranged. Use ことになりました when you are reporting a certain decision or arrangement which has been made.

In both cases, you are presenting a decision or a plan as something which was beyond your personal control. Moreover, ことになっている is also often used to describe a rule, regulation or social custom.

This is a typical explanation for the grammar points. It consists of:

+ the formation
+ the main text explaining the use
+ special uses and further information about the formation in some cases

I knew that I didn’t want to memorize the formation part. And it would be pointless to try to memorize the entire information about a grammar point. I was trying to do this in my first attempt, trying to remember all the information, in my second attempt I was only trying to remember what a grammar point can mean. Looking back at it, this was bound to fail. This is why I was looking at the example sentences next.

a) 日本で英語を教えることになっています。
c) 日本の会社で仕事をすることになりました。

The first thing I noticed when I was looking at the formation of the grammar points, is that they describe the formation and meaning for both of the example sentences you can see here. Then I was looking at the actual grammar information. All of a sudden I knew what I need to remember, and how to structure my cards accordingly.

Example Sentence
a) 日本で英語を教えることになっています

Grammar Information
『6』 動詞 (plain) ことになっている = “be expected / supposed to, it is a rule / custom that~”

ことになっている / ことになった indicates that a certain decision has been made for the speaker by outside forces. Use ことになっています when you want to talk about your future plan, which has been already arranged. Use ことになりました when you are reporting a certain decision or arrangement which has been made.

In both cases, you are presenting a decision or a plan as something which was beyond your personal control. Moreover, ことになっている is also often used to describe a rule, regulation or social custom.

Example Sentence
c) 日本の会社で仕事をすることになりました

『6』 動詞 (plain) ことになった = ‘it has been decided / arranged that~’

ことになっている / ことになった indicates that a certain decision has been made for the speaker by outside forces. Use ことになっています when you want to talk about your future plan, which has been already arranged. Use ことになりました when you are reporting a certain decision or arrangement which has been made.

In both cases, you are presenting a decision or a plan as something which was beyond your personal control. Moreover, ことになっている is also often used to describe a rule, regulation or social custom.

As you can see, I have marked the grammar part I want to test in orange, and in the grammar explanation, I marked the information that applies to this sentence. The information marked in green is what I am going to test. Fairly easy, isn’t it? This is all I need to know about a grammar point, and what I have to remember, in order to use it. Or to be able to tell when and why one or the other is used when I find it in native sources.

When I was finally ready to begin entering the sentences, I instantly felt that this would work just perfect. It was the same feeling I had when I was done figuring out my deck structure for KO.2001. While I was typing in the sentences, copying and marking the parts I want to test, I also felt that I really understand what is going on in the sentence. This is in part because I don’t just copy and paste everything, but really think about what I am learning, and why one structure is used, but not the other. The first review of the 55 cards will be the ultimate proof if it’s working or not. I am confident, however, that it will work.

And yet, there is still one more question, that I need to find and answer for.

+ Production, but how?

As An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese comes with a workbook, containing fill in the blank questions, I think I will do the following. I will enter the sentences and create “fill in the blank” style cards, and maybe also cards which ask to choose from one of two answers. The other idea for production is to simply do the exercises without bothering to create cards specifically for them. This would save a lot of time, and I would still learn something from it. Not everything has to be entered into the SRS, right?

In case you got curious about how my failed attempts to create working grammar cards were looking like, you can take a look at three examples by clicking on the following screenshots. I don’t think that I have to loose a word about why I failed with them. It should be pretty obvious.

2 responses to “Grammar Cards

  1. Hey Nagareboshi,

    sorry for still not having answered your longer email, but I’m REALLY busy right now and there are a lot of all-deciding exams awaiting to be written!
    I found this post really enlightening, as my grammar deck looks pretty much like your ‘failed’ grammar decks… I have never really been bothered by textbooks and after the Genki series I stopped working with textbooks (therefore I guess I did not build my listening comprehension. My reading comprehension is only high due to my huge vocabulary knowledge, I guess!) and learning grammar points. I find the following difficult:

    + formation (= syntax). “Was there a の or な after the noun used?” All these tricky questions..
    + correct usage. Especially differentiating between forms like ところを・ところで・ところに/へ is difficult when it comes to choosing the right one in the whole context.

    Concerning ‘Production’: I guess it is useless to learn with production cards, f.e. with “____” spaces, because in the end, you will just learn by heart in which space to put which phrase to make the sentence have the right meaning. I guess, no, I know, that for production there is only Lang-8 that is useful and on top of that fun.

    I’d be greatly interested to get to know what the source of your grammar deck is primarily and would like to ‘try it’ out, if you don’t mind. Please send further messages to: isengardsswo[- at -]gmail[- dot -]com ← for the sake of spam-protection^^

    Regards,
    Tori

  2. Hello Tori,

    Don’t worry about replying to my e-mails. I know that you have other things to do that are more important right now. Whenever you find the time, just send me a message.

    I don’t think that Genki or AIAIJ does much for listening comprehension. The one is very slow, thus unnatural, the other is very fast, or closer to native speed of speaking. Actually very close. I’ve been listening to a Harry Potter audio-book the other day, and I can really say that by the speed the speaker is speaking, I would be able to finish this book reading-wise in less than three hours. Listening hundreds of hours to native media does way more for 聴解 than textbooks. However a huge amount of passive vocabulary helps a lot, not only for reading, but also for being able to concentrate on those parts of the language, that still need to be learned without having to worry about not knowing every second word.

    Correct usage and formation (of grammar) are of course difficult, and I can foresee that I will struggle with this as well. This is why I am already working on something that could counter most of these problems. It is to early to write anything about it, and it will need some testing before I do. For now it is enough to know how things are going together and why.

    As far as production goes, I think you are right. For others the cloze-delete approach works, for me it seemingly doesn’t, so why bothering with it? The current method works, so I stick to it as long as it does, and alter it slightly when there is a need to do it. This has done wonders for my learning with KO.2001. My production consists of doing the exercises in the workbook right now, and very soon by starting my own little journal over at lang-8.

    I will send you my deck in progress of course, but what do you mean by “the source of my grammar deck?” It is An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese, and I thought I mentioned it more than once in my blog article. The other sources are A Dictionary of Basic | Intermediate | Japanese grammar, at least right now. Next week my prep books for JLPT should arrive, and those will be rich sources for grammar points as well as new vocabulary. And my other sources are blogs I am reading.

    Regards
    Nagareboshi

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