The chronicles of Burrito's bizarre adventure into Japanese.

(A very, very late) Post-Tadoku Report

with 2 comments

Well, at least I can say that the timeliness of this post wasn’t due to laziness, as it usually is.

I’ve been a busy, busy bee since the completion of last month’s Tadoku. Riding the high of my solid finish, my motivation hasn’t been this high since the earlier days of my studies when every day seemed to result in my knowledge doubling. More on that in a bit, though.

As for that finish? Well, I had set a few goals in mind, mostly toward the halfway point of the competition, namely:

  • finish in the top 10,
  • finish Danganronpa, and
  • finish with more than 2,000 pages read.

Not only did I finish in 7th with 2094 pages, but with less than 10 minutes remaining, I watched the glorious Danganronpa credits roll. Fate smiled upon me that day, or perhaps I should thank my 11 hour PSP marathon and sore left hand (indeed, my PSP hand) instead.

More than the burning spirit of competition, however, was the impression Danganronpa left on me. Now, I don’t want to inflate the hype machine more than BDH and I already have, but I’m pretty sure you should take my advice when I say you need to learn this language, acquire a PSP and a copy of this game by whatever means necessary, putting everything else in your comparably insignificant life on hold until you, too, are savoring the quirky characters, mind-blowing plot twists and the heart pumping tension of the game’s amazing class trials.

That’s pretty much all I’m trying to say here, no pressure.

At any rate, I was left craving more. Sadly for me, there is only one Danganronpa (although possible sequels have been hinted at!), so filling that gaping void in my soul hasn’t been as easy as I had hoped. Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before I caved into my own curiosity, leaving poor ol’ Umineko 4 out in the cold yet again as my attention shifted to a prettier, younger lass by the name of STEINS;GATE, and we’ve been together happily ever since. Of course, I plan to get back to the Sea Kitties in due time, but I must admit I’ve become a little spoiled by these games and visual novels that I can actually read without having to look up every other word (I exaggerate, but it really is better in the long run for me to stick with stuff at or slightly above my level).

I recall mentioning  that I planned various words of interest and SRS them during Tadoku, which worked out… partially. For the week and a half or so that I was reading Umineko, I collected almost 200 words which were gradually added to Anki, though it wasn’t until much later that I began reviewing them regularly. Once my focus shifted to Dangan, though, that plan was put on hold until after Tadoku. Fast forward to today and this deck is healthy and lively as any SRS deck of mine in memory (note to self: don’t jinx it), with currently over 450 words gathered from Umineko, Dangan and S;G and growing by at least 30 every day.

The methodology of this deck is more or less the same as my good ol’ Berserk one (which may get merged with this one if/when I’m in the mood for 800-odd dark fantasy related esoterica) – copy down words of interest to a text file, slap those suckers into Anki with rough English counterparts and reading on back, done. I don’t really consider these words “in isolation” or “out of context” since I’ve already been exposed to their context from whatever I’m reading, although some words (mostly verbs) definitely benefit from example sentences (which Twitter search is surprisingly good for). I like to write words by hand at least once to get a good feel for them, which I think really helps to cement the word into my brain. All in all, this has been the quickest, most painless, and most enjoyable way for me to bolster my vocabulary and get a better grip immediately on what I’m reading, and I’m totally gonna keep it up.

I figure that the amount of practical (and sometimes, impractical) vocabulary necessary for literacy and fluency is pretty damn finite. The exact number of words, of course, changes dramatically depending on who you ask, their definition of fluency and so forth, but I tend to agree that some number around or over 10,000 probably isn’t that far off (especially if said words are very well known, let’s say “active”). Personally, I’m currently aiming for literacy (the ability to read, and ideally also to listen, with very high comprehension) above fluency (writing and speaking), so I figure the bar is set a little higher, especially in terms of passive vocabulary, but that pool of vocab is still quite finite. Having no idea of how many words I currently know (somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000?), if I’m able to learn and solidify 1,000 new words a month through my reading and vocabulary grinding via Anki, I should theoretically be sitting pretty damn comfortably by Fall. Whether that will work out in practice or not, well, I suppose we’ll just have to wait and find out. But barring apocalyptic events and/or deathly illness, I have every intention of finding out.

Also, I plan on tweeting more in Nippongoes, so yeah, fair warning.

See you suckers at the finish line! ヽ(´ー`)ノ


Written by ritobito

May 13, 2011 at 1:55 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Nice post!
    I’ve also been adding vocab via readings online (news, blogs, etc) and I agree that the initial exposure is enough when adding to Anki. And I couldn’t agree more with the Twitter comment. I’m actually in the midst of drafting a post about Twitter and language. But it will probably have to wait until Finals are over.

    Anyways, thanks for the recommendation. Looking forward to the Nippongoes.

    P.S. I will be buying Danganronpa this summer.

    Koyami Tulley

    May 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    • Awesome. I seriously should have tried using Twitter for example sentences a lot sooner, while I was tinkering with my J-keyword kanji deck (which I’ll get back to eventually, honest!). So many current, relevant and context-rich examples, often in colloquial usage. Definitely beats the 私は___です crap I had to sift through at Smart.fm, or the error-filled minefield that is practically any site that uses sentences from Tanaka Corpus… 汗


      May 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm

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