Welcome to the very first post of a new series! Since my JLPT road map included monthly goals for me to complete in order to reach Japanese N2 level, I decided to do monthly summaries of what progress I managed to make within that month. Since today is January 31st, let’s take a look at my study log and analyse how I did.
It was an exhausting month for me work-wise. I really had to juggle between my job and Japanese studies. Yet, I’m proud to say that I stuck to my 2022 ROAD MAP and completed my monthly goals! I have reached chapter 6(2) of Try! and chapter 2-3 of So-matome N2 goi (the vocabulary book). It means that I have fulfilled my plan but did not exceed it.
What’s more, I did 7 chapters of Kanzen Master N2 Kanji. This is a textbook I will be using more diligently in autumn, BUT starting from chapter 15, as the first 14 chapters are a revision of the first 350 kanji. I decided not to put those chapters in the road map and instead want to squeeze them in the months leading to September somehow.
This month was a blast… A LITERAL BLAST! I have read the entire Btooom!! series! As you can probably derive from its title, this series follows a group of characters participating in a deadly game where they compete against each other… using bombs! I am so happy to have wrapped up this series after almost a decade of reading it – and reaching the ending entirely in Japanese, too! Also, as this series is intended for adult readers, I have learned to read and recognise a lot of new kanji and phrases because I couldn’t rely on furigana. Despite this, I breezed through this series. I think the contributing factor was that it is an action series, meaning they do not speak much per page, but when they do – boy, was I struggling at times!
As for other materials, I have read a book called いつかすべてが君の力になる (Everything Will Become Your Strength One Day) by Yuuki Kaji, a Japanese voice actor. I had had my eyes on this book for several months prior to last Christmas when I received it as a gift. It was such a smooth and pleasurable read that I almost completed it over a few evenings… but them I got sucked into Btooom!! again and kept on reading that manga until I reached its final volume. However, with a few days of January to spare, I also managed to finish Kaji’s book. It’s about his road to becoming a mainstream seiyuu, including his tips for young people aiming to become voice actors themselves. I have been interested in voice actors for quite a while now (not that I want to become one, no), but I was simply curious how one becomes and makes a living as such an actor in Japan.
The other reason why I can recommend this book is its language level. I believe people of N3 level should be able to read it quite smoothly. It’s addressed to Japanese 14 year-olds, so while kanjis are present, they are quite often with furigana and some words are even written in kana instead. Moreover, Kaji uses such a straightforward language to reach his target audience that a language learner can only benefit from it. If you’re also interested in voice actors (or are a fan of Yuuki Kaji himself), give this one a try. It’s only 170 pages long and includes a recording studio tour (with pictures)!
One huge conclusion I have for this month is that I need to include some listening practice. Don’t get me wrong, I do listen to Japanese a lot, but it’s mostly subtitled. I’ve barely watched or listened to any shows this month, honestly. I need to incorporate them to my studies as well. The problem is that I used to ‘watch’ shows while textbook studying (i.e. they were running in the background) but since N2 level is quite a jump from N3, I need to focus more on the items I am studying at that moment and my brain shuts off that ‘background noise’ that might an anime be. I need to find a way to work around that struggle. It might be that I have to adjust to N2 level and will be fine to include background anime later or it could just be what advanced level is about.
The other issue is that I mostly used anime I had already watched (and loved) in the past as my ‘background noise’ and the list of those had significantly shrunk back during my N3 studies. For instance, I have rewatched the entire Marmalade Boy and Fushigi Yuugi series simply by listening to what was going on and not watching the screen (because I didn’t need to – I know those shows by heart). That’s how it usually goes so I cannot include an anime that either has a lot of action (meaning I need to pay attention to the picture) or that I haven’t watched before.
One solution I have come up with is playing games again, especially that I have put two visual novel games on my 2022 resolutions list. The games usually give me the best of both worlds, boosting both my listening and reading skills at the same time. I’m also curious to find out how Zettai Kaikyuu Gakuen’s story ends so I really want to get back to that game soon. Maybe in February, then? Who knows. I am a very spontaneous person when it comes to what I’m watching or reading which is why I cannot tell what authentic materials I will be going through – they mostly depend on my mood.
Another conclusion is that I was right about the amount of textbook materials to go through per month. The number of chapters I have assigned myself for this month was perfect and since February has the same dosage – I’m feeling pretty confident about it. But I have to admit, the first few chapters were tough. Having to adjust to the increased level of vocabulary and topics punched me in the gut at first. However, reading more adult-oriented authentic materials (Btooom!! is an 18+ manga and uses little to no furigana) was a jackpot. As the month progressed, I was making noticeable progress, too. And I wish it to stay that way in the upcoming months.