toolset refinement

I was once amusingly characterized as mistaking the acquisition of learning tools for actual learning.  In fact, it almost seemed like a fair point at the time.  However, I’ve noticed that my toolbox is becoming ever more lightweight as time goes on.

I started with a few textbooks and reference books, most of which I no longer use.  Also, at one point near the beginning, I had sixteen apps on my iPhone relating to Japanese study.  Now I use three.  As for websites, the sites I use have also gotten fewer in number, as have the blogs I read.  It’s like an apprentice woodworker, who might start with a dozen planes in his toolbox but eventually finds he never uses ten of them.

All that notwithstanding, I don’t think there were any mistakes in that approach.  Some of these tools, like the excellent Human Japanese app (an introductory text with quizzes and games), were only useful at certain times.  When they were useful, I got a great deal of use out of them, but they have been outgrown.  Others had duplicate functionality, or near to it – and how would I know which I liked had I not tried both?  I don’t think language learners should ever be concerned about getting too many resources, too many tools.  You don’t know what will click with you until you try it, so if it looks even remotely useful, by all means acquire it and give it a go.  If it wasn’t right for you, there’s an easy way to tell – it’ll collect dust.  And if it was, it just might become indispensable, at least for a while.

I think towards the end of one’s language learning curve all you’d need would be something to read, something to review, and a dictionary.  And once the language is mastered, you’d have your library and nothing else.

4 responses to “toolset refinement

  1. I have that situation happening too. I save a bunch of links of things to go through, but I’ve noticed that in the end I really only turn to the same sources, and replaced sources completely as my level of advancement has changed. The more completely monolingual I go, the less and less I need resources anyways.

  2. I mostly agree with that – there is a real merit in trying out lots of tools and seeing which are fit for purpose. Only problem is paying for them (something I’m ever reluctant to do since such things tend to be expensive).

    I have unused Kanji flashcards (£25) and an unused Let’s Learn Kanji book in my room (£25), and an extremly well-worn copy of Heisig. Could’ve got a lot of other stuff if I’d just got Heisig first 😉

    • It’s just money, they’ll print more 😉

      Seriously, it’s a point well taken, but one that is ever so much less of an obstacle than even ten years ago – who in the pre-internet age would ever have imagined that with a few taps on a pocket-sized device a complete, searchable Japanese-English dictionary would flow over the air onto your device, with no money expended at all and without having to go even so far as the local bookshop?

  3. Same here,
    after a few years, even if I am not that good in japanese, I have lots of books on that subject, books I bought for class, because I read this or this one is good, trying different methode, present from friends or familly …

    Now, I use my jlpt master book, I have a dictionnary (even if I use the internet ones or my ipod/ipad apps), a good kanji dictionnary, the basic/intermediar/advanced grammar dictionnary, and that’s mostly it.

    There is not too much market here for japanese book and I don’t plan to go into ebay/papal stuff… to sell them.
    I take all my extra book and give them to the local university library who have a good japanese section (they teach japanese), if they like the book, they willl keep it, else they will sell it for little to student, …