Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Experimentation, part 32694

Yeah... I'm at it again.

Lately, I've been frustrated by how it takes me a lot of trial and error to memorize words. Repetition works absolute wonders, of course - I thought I'd never remember 間違い, but yesterday when I woke up, the word was going through my head like crazy, along with the accompanying iKnow dictation (which has also been nothing short of invaluable). Of course, that's no isolated incident and one I've experienced dozens of times. Yet, I still have my fair share of trouble words, and find that it takes a heck of a lot of repetition to memorize vocabulary.
At the same time, I'm finding that the more vocab one learns, the easier it is to pick up new words, absolutely. (Just consider how we learn new words in English, after all) 
There was a time when every other word would look, sound identical to the last word, in my mind (no thanks to the sound-poor nature of the language). Now, I find it significantly easier to differentiate between words, even similar ones, and a phenomenon where I pick up on the word's "rhythm" - how it sounds, how it "feels", its syllables, its tones. This is most definitely a big step forward in my progress, especially when I'm able to read simple material. But at the same time, frustrating when vocabulary is my biggest weakness and it's still so tricky to pick up.

So what I decided to try today, while going through my daily reps, is something I've been considering giving a shot for a while - switching the question side to the hiragana reading, and reproducing the sentence with kanji
Well, 120~ reps and a good hour and a half and 68% correct later, I can certainly say that it's considerably more time consuming and difficult. On the other hand, it feels novel, fresh and fun, and it's so rewarding when you get it right! Being able to recognize a sentence at a glance is great and all, but I was surprised that I had trouble reproducing all the kanji accurately for even some of the more simple sentences. The benefit of this method is strengthening one's kanji greatly, and hopefully strengthening vocabulary retention as well.

So here's the deal - for the next 7 days (that is, until next Monday), I'm going to only review using this production method. Not only that, but I'm going to listen to very little music, instead passively taking in Japanese via audiobooks, podcasts, streaming news and TV, etc., whenever I possibly can. I feel strongly that my listening comprehension needs a heck of a lot of work, so more listening (both passive and active) should be just the ticket - plus, as recent scientific studies have finally discovered, passive listening has been shown to reinforce one's knowledge of the language even if the listener understands little to none of the material. Perhaps more listening is what I need most in my studying diet right now. We'll find out shortly!

If I were a guinea pig, I'd be the most masochistic guinea pig that ever lived.

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