Welcome to the First Month’s Recap 😁

This one is Jam Packed so I’ve created a nice little Table of Contents and a quick summary for those who wanna just get in and get out. Don't know what's going on? Read here to find out more about my Japanese Challenge, or read each week's progress: Week One, Week Two, Week Three to get up to speed for this post.

Table of Contents

  • Summary
  • Month Reflection (The In-Depth Part)
  • Understanding the Trends
  • Two Key Issues
  • Going Forward (Month 2)
  • Next Month’s Goals
  • Life Update (Cause this is important too #NotARobot)

Woo-hoo! So much to read and juicy stuff to get into, so without further ado:


Summary

Light Blue = Sentences Learned; Dark Blue = Kanji (Kingdom) Learned

It’s a lot to recap, but I think this chart is a good start. As you can see, I’ve reached:

  • The halfway point for Jalup Beginner (500/1000)
  • About 1/4th of the way through the Kanji (450/2000).

It’s kind of exciting to see the numbers grow so much, but also a bit daunting as the reviews do too. Overall, the month has taught me a lot about learning a language (specifically my style of learning). It’s also helped me to come to terms with different facets of life and to enjoy the small things (like taking breaks).

Did we hit the goals laid out in the OG plan?

  • Jalup Sentences: 500/750 (oof)
  • Jalup Kanji Kingdom: 450/750 (big oof)
  • Kanji!: 37/180 (The BIGGEST Oof) 😂

Read on to understand why this happened!


Month Reflection

This section is going to dive into the trends we saw above (and some more below) to see what happened, why it happened, and hopefully what we can learn from it to bring into the next month.

I learned 500 sentences!! What the heck. That’s crazy cool. Way more than I ever envisioned years ago. Sure I may not be proficient with them, but, I can look and understand them. That’s pretty cool.

I have also worked hard on my listening comprehension. This has been a fun “pastime” as I put the Jalup sentences on in the background and just let them play. I can pick out a few words here and there, but as time has gone on, I’m able to pick out whole sentences 😱

Lastly, I’m still motivated. Seems weird to mention, but as we’ll see below it’s been a rough month in several ways, and celebrating the motivation I have is a good thing. That said, let’s look into “what went wrong”.

Spread too Thin

I didn’t realize just how much I was setting myself up for when I wanted to do 75 “new” things in a week. By not realizing, I mean that it wasn’t just 75 new things, but more like 225 new things.

To explain, I always say “kanji” and treat it like it’s one thing. 水 — Water (“Mi-zu”) for instance is a picture that means water. Sounds easy, I can do 50 a day… I thought until I quickly learned that it’s not just the meaning, but the two readings (the way it’s pronounced) and the way to draw it that go with it. That means for those of you keeping track at home, it’s 4 things per kanji I need to learn…That’s a lot to do for 50 a day… (4x50 = 200 + 25 sentences)

Going from a manageable 75 to 225 unknowingly was rough and definitely put me on track for burnout (quitting). Thankfully I avoided it through big breaks sometimes, but this leads to trend number two.

Too Idealistic

25 a day. Sounds great. Easy. Manageable. What happens if you miss a day? Oh, uh, um… 😅 System failure, that’s what happens.

I’ll stop being dramatic now, but it really is system failure when you miss a day. Why? Because you either extend the deadline to compensate (which is not really doable given the challenge), or you add more to the coming days…

Wait, didn’t you already have 225 things to do each day? And now you’re adding more because you missed one? Isn’t that hard⁉️

Yes, yes it is. And would explain why we’ve watched the numbers drop. It would also explain why I dropped Kanji! all together. On top of all of that, science has shown time and time again, that breaks are needed to increase retention and learning.

We saw in my week three update how short and tired sounding it was. I wasn’t happily putting that out, but it was the reality: I was burning out. Thankfully we were able to take a day off…actually two this past week and recover allowing me to rebound.

Here’s a chart to show the effect of missing a few days.

Light Blue = Sentences Learned; Dark Blue = Kanji (Kingdom) Learned

This chart shows how many “new” things I learned by the weeks. As you can see with the dramatic drop, I learned nothing that week with so much travel and moving. This lead to me having to increase my daily learning by a lot and almost drove me to give up.

All in All

Learned a lot about my lifestyle, what’s feasible for me, and how I can continue to improve over these coming weeks. I thankfully didn’t burnout as I had a few good days off, but I’m still hoping to improve the process over this coming month. Read on to find out how :)


Going Forward

So, lots to fix, good things to enhance, and Japanese to learn…how are we gonna do it? By doing sentences only for this next month. This is going to be the sole focus going forward. Why? Because of several reasons.

Removes the Issues From Above

I found myself spread too thin trying to learn too much vocab and kanji on top of grammar and other vocab. Though there is a benefit to learning this way at a slower pace, when “speedrunning” you need to get to 80% in one thing first before attempting another. That means I need to build the grammar pillars in my head and then populate the area with vocab.

Build up, not out.

This also helps kill the “idealistic” part of me that wants to say “learn the sentences and in your downtime sneak in some kanji.” The issue with that is then I have no downtime. I want to enjoy life while I’m being crazy, not waste 6 months on a challenge and let 6 months with family and friends disappear.

Multiple Benefits

Focusing this way will do a few other things for me too that I think will benefit me. I can reduce the amount of daily study time, write more, take more breaks (and increase retention), and get back to enjoying the studying.

After posting this, I am going to reset Kanji Kingdom and focus on the task at hand. It might create more of a learning curve in the future, but I have a feeling that having a firm grasp over the grammar will help. (I say that because I’m already able to start guessing a kanji’s sound based on the sentence’s flow, kinda cool).

To wrap up this section, I want to post this month’s goals so we can come back and see how I did like I did this time :)


Next Month’s Goals

Here are this month's goals so we can look back and see how I did :)

Jalup Sentences

  • Finish Jalup Kana (has some really good sentences and character recognition, not hard or trying to be memorized)
  • Beginner: Completed by 7/20, 3 days earlier than the original plan
  • Intermediate: 800/1000 (by August 8th, @50 a day, the first week will be 20 a day)

Pretty bare bones and basic, the way it ought to be :)


Life Update

Last section!

Thank you for reading up to here if you have 😊 There’s a lot going on and it takes a bit to make it all flow nicely so hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading it. Now, to get into life and how that’s going.

Home/Work

It’s been good living at home. I’ve enjoyed being in a comfortable space and my mom working downstairs gives me a chance to focus on studying and writing without distractions. That said, it’s also helped me to realize more about where I want to go and what I want to do with life.

Per this challenge, I’m very interested in going to Japan. I want to work for a company that’ll allow me to go there and have been looking for jobs in that market (knowing that I need the fluency to attain that hence the drive to learn). This month is also a big month as many of the applications for JET, Fullbright, and even schools (yes, looking at a master's in Japan) are coming up.

There’s a lot to consider and I’m a bit overwhelmed, but with the decreased study time, I’ll be applying and doing everything I can to get myself primed to be in Japan. That said, life isn’t about me. It’s about what we can do for others.

Volunteering

I am currently in the process of getting set up to teach English to students in the Houston area. This’ll be really cool because I can feel their pain (of learning a foreign language) and gain practice for teaching others. JET is a teaching program where I can go to Japan for a year and teach. Getting to do this locally by volunteering is really cool.

I’m also wanting to look for more hands-on opportunities. Despite COVID, many places still require workers and I’m in the process of finding who I can help. More to come about both of these over the next few weeks.

Fun Time

Reading a good book called The Courage to Be Disliked. It’s a book about a young man challenging a philosopher and is written as a dialogue between the two. Haven’t gotten too far in, but I’m enjoying it.

Also, a bit silly, but I’m setting out to conquer all of the race track cups in Mario Kart. It’s a fun pastime as it gives me a chance to get away from everything, complete a challenge, and not be swamped with English (which I’m trying to wean off of with learning Japanese and all).


Wrap Up

Thanks so much for reading through all this! If you found things you were surprised by, confused on, or just wanting to know more about comment below or shoot me an email bradwargo@sbcglobal.net

You rock! And I can’t wait to share more about this crazy journey :)


A Picture (How fun!)