every now and then i meet a goal

Today being the last day of this summer ReadMOD, I’m happy to report that I achieved both the goals I’d set midway; namely, to get over 600 pages (and beat my round 1 score), and to finish all twelve volumes of ARIA.

And by the way, if you haven’t read ARIA yet, drop what you’re doing and begin immediately; your life will be better for it.  It’s one of those rare works that manages to be sweet without being cloying, emotional without being manipulative, makes you think without making you depressed, very funny (when appropriate) without being ridiculous, and is generally inspiring.  On top of that, the artwork is gorgeous.  Character development is a bit spotty.  Akari, the main character, hardly seems to change at all, nor does her senpai Alicia, who was apparently perfect from the day of her birth.  Akari’s friends Aika and Alice do grow a great deal, and Aika was probably the most interesting character in the series.  There isn’t a great deal of plot.  The characters’ life is the plot, you could say.  I did notice that the later volumes seem to get considerably more literary perhaps, or at least certainly use a more sophisticated vocabulary, and a bit more formal grammar.  The last two volumes in particular, I have to admit I was below that 95% comprehension much of the time, and must confess to reaching for the dictionary quite often.

Now it’s time to carefully plan my learning for the next two months at least.  That doesn’t imply any complex strategy; rather, things will be taken away until only that which is necessary remains, without distractions.  The “analogue” incremental reading I’ve mentioned before will, I believe, be the main focus.  For this I’ll mainly take chapters of ARIA, and song lyrics which will also greatly aid listening comprehension.  Extensive reading will take place as and when I feel like it, as the recreation it was meant to be.  I still have rather a lot of material left unread, so there’s no shortage of opportunity – and if there were, there’s more books crossing the Pacific right now.  I’ll continue the vocabulary deck for the time being, although it’s on probation.  RTK with Japanese keywords will continue a little day by day, since daily kanji writing is good for the soul, in moderation.  readthekanji.com will get a lot of focus.  My goal for now is 600 reps per day, but we’ll see.  Anything one gets sick of is something one can’t learn from.  Of course, immersion will continue, as goes without saying.   And … that’s it.  That’s entirely enough and maybe a little too much.  If it is too much, the vocab deck will be the first thing to get dropped.

I think I’m going to start focusing a lot on drama CDs for immersion.  Music is all well and good but it’s not annoying enough to not understand it.  It’s still enjoyable even if you don’t understand a word, so when you don’t get something you just tend to tune it out and the voice becomes just another instrument.  Drama CDs require more involvement because things are happening, the plot is the thing, and this automatically draws the mind more into the mode of attempting to figure out the language.

I’d like to add in shadowing, writing lang-8 journals, maybe some language exchange, a bit of dedicated grammar study, and so forth.  But, you can say of so many things “well this will only take ten minutes a day” and before you know it you’re doing two hours of a dozen different things and if you’re anything like me you can’t learn much of anything from doing ten minutes of any given exercise.  By that time I’ve just started to get my focus on it.  A half hour is a good start and an hour is better.  Some of these things, however, could be a good fit for weekend days when more time is available.

2 responses to “every now and then i meet a goal

  1. Sounds like a very solid plan. I hope this serves you well. Keep us updated on how incremental reading is serving you. I really think it is an extremely powerful tool, though I am sure I haven’t mastered it yet, or found the perfect way to implement it. I’m gonna do a blog post before long, I think, with a few new thoughts on it, about what I’ve discovered to be best for getting the most out of it. Mainly that the more comprehensible the material you put into it is, the more effective it seems to be as a method. I’m also trying to figure out why I am really finding using the overlapping cloze deletion cards to be a necessary supplement in order to make rapid gains. The patient can certainly get by without, but for some reason no matter how much I read, if I’m not also actively building vocabulary, my progress slows way down. BUT, two things also seem to be true. One, every time my focus has shifted from the reading to moving the vocab acquisition into focus, progress also slows down. Two, the more comprehensible the material I’m using to make the OCD cards from, the quicker I memorize and move forward with those. Despite it seeming like the opposite would be true: One would think if you could brute force memorize lots of difficult paragraphs and etc., one would make very fast gains, but in practice the opposite is true. Again, no idea why, but it seems to tie in neatly with the whole i+1, tadoku/extensive reading philosophy. So anyways, expect a new post when i sort out some of my thoughts on this stuff.

    • Sounds good, looking forward to it!

      I think for me the simple vocab deck serves a similar purpose to your OCD cards (that acronym never fails to amuse me, incidentally). It really seems to grease the wheels of the incremental reading process. That’s why I’m reluctant to drop it in spite of all the good advice about not learning words out of context and so on. Although, the concurrent incremental reading then becomes the context.