The Key to Success: Do Stuff


Christmas is close, the last presents are bought, and if the world does not end unexpectedly, I should be able to finish this little side-project during the next two months. Having been a little lost lately, and writing it off my mind on my little space in the world of bits&bytes, somehow brought me back on track. I already started creating an Anki2 deck, typing up all the sentences from chapter 1 to 13, which is less than it might sound. 280 sentences, probably a little less, or slightly more. It is not the first time that I tried working with this program. The first time around, I was foolishly starting to type in all the vocabulary from the main book, which was no less than a nightmare.

The workbooks back then, have been of little use, as I was unable to understand the sentences. Not grammar-wise nor its contents. I’ve been trying it at the time, but it was a complete failure, so I stopped. This made way for KO.2001 as replacement for the heavy intake of vocabulary. Now that I am back to Kanji in Context, and only typing in the sentences from workbooks one, I can say that this is a great program. The sentences, although random in nature, do show in which context the introduced words are most likely to be used in. Except the length of some of the sentences, which can indeed be a hurdle for the learners in their early stages, it does make for a good source for flash-cards.

I don’t plan to review the deck, no matter what. I have had it with Anki, as good as it is, but since the completion and only reviewing of both the KO.2001 and 日本語総まとめ decks, and almost having reached the end of the CorePLUS deck with only 579 cards left for review, there is no need for anymore of this. Just in case you are asking, yes, I reviewed almost all of the 25.000 cards that are in this deck, in over a years time. I can perfectly learn and remember words from context now, so why should I have the need to keep on reviewing new decks? The good news is, though, that I will release it once finished. Maybe it will help someone in their progress through the jungle of words, grammar, and subtleties that makes up the Japanese language.

In the meantime I will decide whether or not to take the N1 next year in december, no matter how the N2 turned out to be, or I try myself on one of the 日本語検定 levels. There have been only a handful of questions available Online, but those few weren’t that hard to solve with some thinking. The only trouble I have had, was to identify the correct usage of 敬語 in a business situation. Since this test is aimed at native Japanese language speakers, and for the sake of getting a certificate showing proof of competence, this one is more interesting to me than the N1. The higher the goal is, the more I want to reach it, and in case of the 日本語検定, I would want to progress slowly on the way up to 1級, starting from 6級. 1 being the highest live, which only a handful of those taken it earning a pass, this is indeed something to work towards.

As is the case with JLPT, what counts is not so much the certificate, at least not for me. Nothing depends on it, no job, school or anything. The proof that counts for Japanese people is speaking and writing ability. In the book How to Sound Intelligent in Japanese – A Vocabulary Builder, the author nailed it down perfectly. “Nevertheless, the implicit premise of this book – and indeed of the entire Power Japan series – is that the linguistic status of the foreigner in Japan has changed and continues to change. This, of course, means ever more demanding standards. The day is past when extravagant praise can be expected for the mere ability to use Japanese in ordering 豚カツ or filling out forms. More and more intelligent aliens will be expected to prove themselves with well-informed and articulate comments on a broad range of subjects.”

So a proof on a slip of paper to be able to pass what is intended for Japanese natives, sure might give a little edge over everyone else. Not so much to brag about, but simply to show that this little pup has learned to wave its tail correctly, and can be talked to in a natural way. By natural I refer to, what happens when someone is slowing down his or her speech so drastically, as if speaking to a child. As nice as this might seem, it causes me to feel like an idiot, there’s no helping it. If I were rude in such situations, I would slow down even further to tell the other party to please speak normal, because I’m not dumb. This would indeed be rude, and this is not me, at all. Just saying. The point is just that those Japanese I get in touch with know, that they are in the clear that I can follow, even though my own speech lacks in speed. They can expect no less, and I don’t expect no less from myself, when it comes to it.

Speaking of tests, the only other certification that I might consider is the 漢字検定. This is also one of the more interesting options, because this one also involves active knowledge of the writing and reading of Kanji. And it might be a motivation to learn the rest of the Kanji up to 3000. Since I already know the 1945 old 常用漢字, the rest is childs play, compared to what I already learned in the last 3 years. All of the three tests will be long-term projects. I will take enough time to prepare for each of these once I decided which one to aim for. The only thing I don’t want to do is to learn for the test, and only for the certification, but to profit from and keep everything for later use. That is also the best way to succeed.

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