Sunday, August 14, 2016


It's difficult to develop a curriculum for the JLPT. Should I focus on grammar books? Vocab? Read newspapers? Read manga? Watch and transcribe videos? Focus on kanji by school grade? By frequency? By radical? All of the above? I have two sets of kanji flashcards (in addition to those I made for myself, which omit English entirely), but each has the character and then maybe ten Japanese and Chinese readings. So, do I test myself on all readings, meanings, verb forms, and compounds of every kanji? I'd never get anywhere, and anyway recognizing them in a text isn't the same as producing them with a pen, which is far from producing them with a brush, and typing them in a US-based IME is different again. Right now, I'm thinking I'll continue with textbooks—though Genki does tend to focus on the plight of the student abroad, which means a lot of vocab I won't need for newspapers and novels, and Tobira tends to highlight cultural elements that I want to learn about but that won't necessarily help me on the JLPT. It seems like I need grammar and functional vocab, with kanji studies as dictated by the reading, all done with a notebook and pen at hand to help with writing and memorization. I've tutored in French and English, so curriculum is dear to my heart, but Japanese does pose some unique problems, especially when the learning is directed toward a very specific but undefined goal....

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Transcribing passenger records, Japan to Brazil, 1936

I like a challenge, so ひまのとき, I transcribe old records for genealogists / family historians / historians who may be interested. I take on the records that no one else wants—18th-century Italian baptisms, 16th-century French that's impossible to read, passenger lists in Japanese. Puzzling out the geographical locations and family names is what I call fun, and it's good practice in reading and kanji. Some of the writing seems surprisingly calligraphic.

It's that time again....

JLPT registration begins August 29! I could use something to focus on right now, so I'm thinking maybe try for the N4—I managed to succeed in former 4 years ago and am doing very well on practice tests—or, if I'm ambitious, N3. Reading through Tobira. Really, ひさしぶりなので, I should head back to the first Genki; I need the review. I'm surprised how quickly it's coming back to me, though; with some things I'm reading, it takes me longer to think of the word in English than to understand it in Japanese. Good sign. Closely following the Emperor's hints at abdicating, or at being permitted to do so. Ramifications are major!