Friday, October 3, 2008

The journey thus far

All right, so a little background here.

I first began "studying" Japanese about 8 or 9 years ago. I say "studying" in quotes because all I really did was memorize the katakana for the sake of playing imports a little easier; if I recall, EGM (back when they didn't suck quite as much) had an article of sorts on import games, and how to play/understand them, along with a kana chart. And certainly, learning katakana was a huge step in the right direction, albeit a rather backwards one (I'd discover years later that hiragana is almost always taught first), but it would be at least a few years later before I'd learn much of anything about the language structure, grammar, vocabulary, etc.

One would think that, after almost 9 years of "studying" a language, one would be at least partially proficient, but alas, I have (or, perhaps, had) a tendancy to lose interest in projects at the proverbial drop of a hat (see also, Swedish and German; I'll get back to you guys later, trust me), therefore progress slowed and stagnated for a significant portion of that time.

Until recently, that is!
With the kana, basic grammatical knowledge and a couple handfuls of words under my belt, I felt it the right time to continue my studies, set goals and conquer this language once and for all.

First stop: 漢字. Bane to practically all students of this god forsaken language, kanji has been arguably the biggest roadblock in the path of learning Japanese for centuries, and for good reason.
Fortunately for us learners living in the present, breakthroughs of the past decades such as James Heisig's remarkably efficient method of learning kanji have allowed us to leap over these difficult hurdles with relative ease; within the past month, I've managed to learn 800 of the 常用漢字, with a goal of completing all 2042 by November 1st of this year, effectively learning the equivalent of eight years worth of kanji in a condensed period of (a little under) two months. Thanks to SRS applications such as Anki, memorizing all these characters and keeping them in long term memory is made relatively simple. And this time, I'm not planning on letting anything distract me from my ambitious goal.


At any rate, I have a big pile of kanji to plow through before the night is up. I'll keep notes regularly here, mostly for the sake of my own reference, but hey, if this blog can benefit or inspire anyone else, that's great too.

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