Slow and Steady

My newest adventure consists of learning Japanese grammar. Before beginning with grammar, using An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese and Dictionaries of Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Japanese Grammar, I was planning to learn two chapters per day. But I ended up working through one chapter every second day. I have to admit, that it had to do with the slow process involved in adding cards and typing in sentences, that caused me to push off learning for the day.

Instead of learning every other day, I was reading, I was playing games and I was watching Anime. I was even reading Amazon customer reviews, and old topics at Yesterday, one particular topic was drawing my attention to it. It was a discussion about the possibility of passing the JLPT 1 in 3 months. As we have some Japanese members in our community, one of them was replying to a question in Japanese. I didn’t even realize that I was reading this, and understanding what he had written, without translating anything. This gave me the necessary boost of motivation.

I mean one can expect that I am able to read and understand text, without having to look anything up, after 1 year and about 8 months of learning. But it is always special to notice that I actually can read this and that now, and that I begin to understand differences, being able to notice sentence patterns, etc. And now that I am studying grammar, which at first I didn’t like all that much, I also became able to notice certain subtleties between grammar patterns that seem to be similar. らしい and ようだ, のような and ようだ, そうだ and ようだ for instance.

And it isn’t hard to remember it at all. So my grammar cards seem to work. By learning grammar, I also started to see the bigger picture of things, and what goes on in a sentence like the following. 私は毎日漢字を五つずつ覚えることにしています。 THe grammar part is ずつ. It is used after a number or a small quantity and indicates that a quantity is distributed equally among two or more objects, time, etc. By knowing this, I can tell that in the case of this sentence, the memorizing of 5 Kanji is distributed equally among some days.

The only thing I would wish for is that creating grammar cards would be as fast a process as creating sentence and vocab cards for KO.2001 was. But I think that I became used to the thought that it will take a little longer with grammar, and that it is not necessarily a bad thing at all. As long as it guarantees that I will not forget what I am learning, it is worth the extra time it takes. It is pretty much the same with listening, or stopping to translate into English, to “understand” what something means.

As far as listening and reading goes, I just stopped actively translating anything in my head. No, that is not correct. The translating stopped once I started understanding things. Only for those parts that I don’t understand, a translation is still needed, because I am still not able to infer meanings to words I haven’t seen before just like that. But I seem to become better at it, and can now guess the meaning of words, or parts of sentences, without knowing a corresponding english word or expression. And the translation in my head, it hasn’t fully stopped yet, but I guess it will. Right now, when I am reading something, it is as if Japanese is overlayed by English. It is as if there was a very quiet voice that is simultaneously translating what I am reading or listening to. Be it, as it may, it will go away too.

Now it is time to get back to my textbook and learn more grammar.

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