JollyScot's Journey Starts

Where are you and where are you going?
JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

I have decided to make use of my X number of pomodoros a day by picking up a challenge I have always want to do. Been at it for 12 days and have an initial update on progress. Trying and include some sort of accountability in my task, also to see if anyone has any tips to help me efficiently proceed.

The task is to learn Japanese, I spent a couple of days organising what I am going to complete and in what order.


1. Learn the Alphabets Hiragana/Katakana

2. Learn all the English to Japanese Kanji (characters) meaning. I have read some people saying not to do this. However I have decided this works for me due to my willingness to really commit to completion.

3. Start progressing through a language workbook series. I have picked a course named Genki.

4. Construct word lists based on frequency of words use. With each word have a couple of sentences that contain the word. Gradually work through the first 1000 words.

5. Start speaking by getting transcribed Japanese material and speaking along with it. This is the point where I will probably look at online lessons for speaking help and corrections of issues.



I am not sure exactly what my time line for it. I will probably reset goals depending on whether I stumble into work or not. If I have no work then the progress plan will be using the minimum of my 8 pomodoros.

Now for the first 12 days how have I gotten on.

Days 1-2 - learned the Alphabet.
Day 3 - Read a kids book, not understanding but pronounced the words based on Japanese characters and pronunciation only
Day 4 - Started Genki and Characters, this is where I decided to just commit to getting characters done (2042 is the number)
Day 5-10 - Worked only on producing Menmonics for the characters and tepping through the list of them

At this point I am currently sitting at 700 of the characters meanings and how to write them complete. My Flash Card set for them is sitting at around an 80% retention level. I am not sure I will be able to keep the pace I am currently going at. Over the last 12 days I have completed 95 hours of distraction free working on it. So it has been pretty brutal, with 8 hours of pomodoros not being the same as 8 hours at work

However since I have half done everything I had planned since initial quitting work in 2015 I think it is time to go big for once. Wish me luck

basuragomi
Posts: 164
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by basuragomi »

700 characters in 12 days is amazingly fast! Are you learning how to recognize them from speech as well as from writing? At least for Chinese, 700 characters will get you about 80% understanding, although Chinese characters are admittedly used very differently than kanji. Even knowing 500 or so plus hiragana/katakana let me navigate around Japanese signage with barely any issues.

What are you using for flashcards? I always used the Anki android app.

JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

At this point it is just the meaning and how to recognise then. Both English -> Japanese and Japanese -> English way. I will be doing the pronunciation as I start working through the words and sentences. I saw that knowing the characters on their own was fine but really for reading a large part of it was seeing them in the word combination format. I did start trying to do pronunciation at the same time but it didn't seem as efficient for what I was trying.

I have been using Anki too (its great), trying to organise my day around that. I do my initial round of reviews of old characters first thing in the morning. Currently at 250 per day and takes a couple of hours, expecting to get much larger. Then once they are complete I start adding new characters in batches of 10. With a target of 100 per day. If I miss it then fine.

Its a hard enough target that it forces me up and into a routine to have any chance of hitting it.

Initially I was just going to do the first 1000, which would have got me 93% coverage. However I quickly realised that a lot of them built on top of each other. So with the speed of doing it and the sake of another 10-15 days I'm doing the 2000.

I'll optimise at the next stage. I almost didn't bother as everything was saying it takes 2 year of consistent study to learn them all. Then found 1 video of a guy who said he did it in 20 days. So decided whats the harm in trying.

JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

So quick update on progress after just finishing day 17. I will be taking a couple of days off (other than reviewing my required flash cards) so an ok stopping point. Hopefully about half way point time wise to getting through the characters.

I am sitting at 950/2042 seen and attempt to remember. My flash card system is currently sitting at 80ish percent retention rate.

Yesterday this had tumbled down below 65% and I was really struggling to keep the stories going in my head at the speed I was adding them. The level of frustration was high enough to make not want to progress. So I took a day off from adding new characters and tried to solidify what I knew.

It worked reasonably well once I got a decent process going. I review all of characters in the morning. Then I focused on the ones I failed for the rest of the day. I was able to get my success rate back up to a level where progress wasn't painful.

From now my process is going to be, do morning review of existing items. Add new characters for the day in batches of 10, then between each 10 review a stack of the most difficult characters. I considered slowing down the pace, but I think would make this system more trivial. So I am going to stick with the challenge to completion.

JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Currently sitting at 1150/2042 with a plan to add another 100 characters today.
Had a couple of days off since last update so still good progress

Starting to struggle to keep ahead of the reviews as well as adding new characters.

It takes me about 40 mins to add 20 new characters and initially learn them. If we add in some faffing time then that is about 3.5 hours adding in the items per day.

As for reviewing it takes me about an hour to get through 100 items. This all depends on how well I know it. As I get rid of the easier ones my progress begins to slow a little but a decent ball park estimate.

So this morning as an example I would be attempting to do the following

100 Characters - 3.5 hours
297 Review - 3 hours

So 6.5 hours of study to just maintain pace. Not considering trying to get ahead of my learning. I can see myself eventually not having the time to add in 100 any more. That is fine, I will readjust depending on how my time allows.

On times when I do try to get ahead of my learning, at the end of the day I will take the time to go over only the ones that I didn't remember immediately in a given day. This seems to be the most efficient way to make the following day a bit easier.

My motivation is usually still ok as long as I start. That initial sitting down is getting worrisome though.

RoamingFrancis
Posts: 305
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:43 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Are you familiar with Jouyou Kanji? This is a list of about 2,000 kanji curated by the Japanese government; many newspapers and periodicals limit themselves to just using kanji in this set. Which means that if you can master a relatively small set of characters, you're functionally literate!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C5%8Dy%C5%8D_kanji

What sort of mnemonics are you using? I find that some variant of the Method of Loci works best, with Anki on top of that for review.

https://artofmemory.com/

Is your goal just to read, or to also speak/listen/write? This will change how to go about practicing. Regardless, make sure you're practicing reading real material after you've gotten a critical mass of vocabulary down. You have to see the words in context to get an instinctual understanding of how they fit together.

lingq.com is my favorite for this. It costs money for a membership but imo it's worth it if you're serious about progressing in a language.

JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Yeah that is basically the list that I am doing. A couple of the less used ones are missing, so 2042 instead 2136 in the Jouyou list.

The memory method I am using is based on the Heisig book. It is sort of a small story for each character built up by whatever the component parts are. The method of loci probably works better, but the construction of a mind palace to get it all linked together I never set up the initial work to be able to do that. The general stories linked by a key word hook is working for me so far.

Long term I want to be able to generally converse and write in the language at an acceptable level. So can conveny broadly what I want to without too much pain on either party.

I am doing the characters first to remove a chunk of learning from the usual list. When I first looked and was learning words it went along the lines of

How is it written in Kanji?
How is it written in Hiragana?
How is it written in romanji? (english pronunciation)
What does it sound like?
What other words make up a sentence?
Why are the characters in that order? (grammar)

It was too many components all at once to try and keep together and feel like I was making progress. So I decided to upfront get the core meanings and writings of all characters and alphabets out the way. Then go back and begin to construct a couple more flash card sets of vocabulary and then a list of sentences based on it with pronunciations and so on.

Had I been doing things slowly like a normal learner and doing a little bit a few hours a week then I am less sure the method I am doing would be right choice. It might still not be right choice, but forward progress is forward progress so we will see 3-4 months from now. I will keep layering on information to the initial structure I am building now.

I have a couple of books that read Japanese to you and have a transcript to follow along with, Is this similar to lingq? Regardless agree I need to move into localised material. As I build up the initial vocabulary and sentence I will look at a tutor then most likely. I want to be speaking sooner rather than later.

RoamingFrancis
Posts: 305
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:43 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Are you familiar with CEFR levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2)? Any idea where on that scale your final goal is? I would guess B2-ish based on your description.

I haven't heard of the Heisig book, sounds cool though. Method of Loci is nice because it also connects to parts of your spatial memory that just image association doesn't. Though in my experience with it (although fairly limited) it's only strictly necessary if you want to memorize things in a specific order.

That other method you mention sounds terrible - at least, I wouldn't last a minute on it.

Those books you mentioned are very similar to LingQ, though LingQ has the added advantage of tracking and providing definitions for words that you don't know. And automatically putting new words into a spaced repetition system similar to Anki. If you can't tell, I'm a bit of a LingQ fanboy :)

The structure you have now is solid; if you keep going, you will see progress. Worst case scenario is that it's not 100% optimized. I've been a language nerd since I was little, but I've never done a deep intensive dive into a language like you are doing now. If I were, I'd probably do some variant of:

1) Use mnemonics and spaced repetition to rapidly accumulate a "critical mass" of vocabulary sufficient for getting by in everyday situations.

2) A fuckton of compelling, comprehensible input.

In 2018 I attended a language learning conference. At the time, the biggest idea in the language acquisition field was Stephen Krashen's Input Hypothesis. I haven't followed the field closely since then, but I don't think much has changed. This does a good job at explaining why so many people take four years of high school Spanish and come out with nothing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Input_hypothesis

JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Yeah the CEFR equivalents for Japanese are N5-N1, with N5 being the lowest. I think N3 is the common target. That is what people need if they want a job in the country. In general it would be at the B2 level under the CEFR codes.

The method I am using is less bad than it sounds. Once you get into it then it is almost fun to come up with the stories. The hardest part seems to be getting those initial building blocks down. The second half is easier to get the hooks in, the issue is now just the sheer volume. Even with the spaced repetition and good retrention they stack up fast. Relative to what I was expecting for learning they have been a breeze.....

It is also very useful to distinguish similar but very different things. For example the word split vs the word part, I would probably get these muddled but the stories are so different it just won't happen for me.

Split - The skeleton warriors split any garments you try to get them to wear
Part - Sword comes down and parts the very sky

There's quite a few instances like this where if I was doing rote memorisation I think It would have been a nightmare.

Had it not been Japanese (or any character based language) I was doing then I would have jumped straight into sentence and vocabulary.

I will take a look at LingQ when I get to listening. Not sure what method is the best, as long as I stay near the bounds of what I can understand and process I'm sure I will make progress. I have heard people mumble about i+1 though, so that link is a useful explainer.

Once again it seems to be if I can get myself up with bum in seat first thing I have a productive day. If I faff about it generally derails fast and I don't enjoy so much.

RoamingFrancis
Posts: 305
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:43 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by RoamingFrancis »

I didn't mean to imply the method you're using is bad. The "How is it written in Kanji?" followed by all those other questions is what I was referring to. I think using stories to help learn a character is a great idea.

i+1 is a good rule of thumb when selecting what content you want to study. The best content is interesting for its own sake, not just as a language learning tool, comprehensible, and slightly above your current level of understanding. Obviously, it's not always possible to find that content so sometimes you just have to make do with whatever's available. LingQ has a giant library of interesting stuff and you can import your own lessons, which is another reason why I like it (they're not paying me I swear!).

And yeah, probably 80% of it is just showing up regardless of the method you're using.

"A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week."

- George Patton

Your plan is good - now you just have to violently execute :)

JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Yeah initially I was reading about how best to progress. However the internet went along the lines of...do this, everything else is garbarge or wrong because of reasons. Now buy this product based on my superior method.

I ended up going with Heisig as it was very clear as to what it was and very clear on what it wasn't. Added benefit of I can blitz to the end and feel like monumental progress has been made. Hope being it is enough of an initial burst to feed through to the remainder, we will see.


Anyway I have found out today that I have won a 6 month contract of work so my learning of the Kanji characters now has a hard deadline of....Sunday

Basically that means adding 100 chracters a day this week. Should be doable but can't have many distractions along the way. I have one of the summary tables from Anki that shows the progress since starting. Completed 13000 reviews of characters!!!!. You can also see where I had the off day and wanted to cry the day after catching up.

Image

Hopefully the now hard deadline will get me over the line. I will still be reviewing the items for weeks afterwards to keep in my head but the completion of the 2000 would be a nice win for a months work.

ertyu
Posts: 1424
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by ertyu »

Now comes the hard part. Keep going through the characters on a regular schedule (without adding new ones) or I promise you you'll forget them in time.

RoamingFrancis
Posts: 305
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:43 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Yeah, there's a lot of sketchiness in the world of Internet polyglots XD

It's super inspiring to see a practical example of someone doing such intensive language work. I just hope you're able to retain it!

ertyu
Posts: 1424
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by ertyu »

it is absolutely a matter of continued revision. and it's the hardest part to stick to because it's not urgent or essential and other projects always take priority

JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Once I complete the 2000 the plan is to review the characters with the Spaced Repitition System (SRS). I would say by the end of the list there will be about 400-500 reviews to go through per day. Which is still going to take me 3-4 hours to get through.

That is instead of 6-8 hours now. Eventually I would expect that number to decrease as I begin to cement the knowledge. If I were to stop once completing then yeah it would leave my head straight away. I have gone through them too quickly for them to move to my long term memory.

I would say another month of reviewing what is suggested in a day and I should have the majority locked down. Based on how long I have spent so far and assuming 3 hours a day for another month. It will probably come close to 300 hours of work to complete them to a sufficient level where I can recall most at will. A few heroic assumptions are in that though.

The next step of working through vocabulary will also help with intermittent reviewing of characters as they appear too.

JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Yeah I picked Japanese as we made the trip there a few years ago and loved it. Large chunks of the experience were not within scope due to the language difference. The hope is to go back and use what has been learned to do a little more.

Agree with the immigration to there it really isn't a doable thing. Unless you are happy doing the English teaching side, but that is not for me. I could technically get a job as an 'expat', but that's working in a mental work climate country. I'd be more inclined to do regular longer trips.

I have put off doing big ticket challenges since I have sort of half retired. This one seemed like one that is worth the challenge. I am realising that had I put the kind of effort in fir French I would have been speaking fairly well out there. Playing catain hindsight isn't useful though. Lesson learned...

JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Life

So it is unlikely I will hit the completion of my Japanese characters by Sunday.

A day got derailed by the sale of my old property. The buyer wanted confirmation I didn't need specific sign-off on the changes. I got confirmation at the time that this was not required, they wanted a confirmation as of today to proceed.

However in 2019 the government changed the rules and if I were doing upgrades now I would need the permission. So I am now in the position where the local authority is trying to demand I retroactively apply for the permission before the will confirm it is fine. They also want to charge me a 300% penalty for the privelage....because I didn't do it at the time....

So I could take them to court over it, but it is borderline on a cost benefit basis to be worth it. I am not sure what I will do, it is a 6-8 week turn around to process their application which could result in a lost sale. If that does happen then it may be more worthwhile to sue them as I can take into account the difference in sale prices because of them. I would rather not though, I would prefer people weren't garbage.

I may end up now keeping the flat and selling it into my company to have it rented. To be honest it has pushed me back to regreting returning to UK. I now just want to divest from all property (including new one) and have nothing to do with them. The lockdown and coming issues means I am stuck with the mess though. I am reluctant to process the upgardes on the current flat now. As I can't trust that some random will retroactively decide on another new rule.

Japanese

On the Japanese front I should get to about 1900/2042 by close of play on Sunday now. The last 142 I will spread out at a rate of 10 or so a day as I am beginning in the new role. I will trying and pull together the summary of my actual time spent on the learning. I have a record of all the pomodoros over the last month which is an interesting summary.

I will still see if I can make it back up, but it is looking like my actual daily review count at the end of this week will be closer to the 600 mark. This is a lot higher than I was expecting. The 8 hours or so a day just isn't going to get me over the line this week. Shame but close enough that it is ok.

I have organise all the house steps I need to now so I should be back onto being able to focus on the learning again.

JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

My work contract has been delayed another week so I have been gifted some time to get my Kanji learning over the line.

As of Sunday evening had completed 1903/2042 characters. Will add another 25 each day this week and then by the time next week rolls around I should be well on my way to cementing the knowledge.

Below is a summary of my time spent on the learning for the last month. All in all it come out at about 200 hours of time spent. It should be noted though that the early weeks look better than they are as there was a lot of "research" time as to what to focus on and building a study path. I would say in reality I have spent 150 hours on the characters.

That makes up, writing a story for each
Putting this into the flash card system
Stepping through initial reviews
Doing any future reviews the system put up each day

Image
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This is time actually spent sitting with a pomodoro timer. So the numbers here is for proper time spent rather than the dubious time spent at a proper day job.

All in all I am happy with the progress but near the end there has been a serious crunch on reviewing the items. When you have 800 or so characters it is relatively easy to review 200 items then add another 100 new ones for the day. When you get up to 1500 characters it become more painful to complete and it is easy to fall behind. Time will tell if it was the best starting point, everyone who has commiteed to it seems to say it was worth it, it may be confirmation bias though. It was a big investment in time to complete.

If I were to do it again I would probably add 150 per day initially and then gradually scale back as the older character reviews start to build up.

In terms of actual retention the first 1000 characters I remember about 95% of them when asked. Once we get into the second half of the list it begins to tail off quite quickly. I would expect this to improve over the next month of reviewing though.

Time to move onto the vocabulary and sentences, albeit at a slower pace.
Last edited by JollyScot on Fri Aug 07, 2020 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Switched how I am reviewing the characters. Instead of looking at English word first I have reversed to character first.

Then instead of 600 a day recommended to me I changed the settings to complete 200 a day. And just keep cycling through the list of characters.

I have actually found being shown the character instead of the English word is proving easier to make the link than the other way round. My worry is that I have jumped the gun too early with switching the order. I don't think so as I have at least 2 passes of all characters now and know the working of the stories if not able to recall them all.

The next step is to begin working through the Genki book that I have. There are 23 lesson in all, each one supposedly takes a week to complete. We will see how I manage time wise with working as well.

On top of this I will be learning sentences that will be ordered based on the frequency of a given word. Aim is to learn 3-5 new sentences per day. Depending on how that goes I will modify the rate of my work.

JollyScot
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

I have finally started the working role that has been rumbling on in the back ground for the last 4 months.

Basically I worked until end February and then the company I worked at terminated my contract due to law changes on whether or not I was an employee. Even though both the company and I was happy with the agreement.

The individuals I was working with wanted me to continue so we came to a new agreement where I would be classes as an "employee" with adjusted pay levels. The plan was for this to start at the beginning of April, this was done to avoid any cross over in tax years and have clean break between roles. There was some concern that the UK tax authorities would retroactively change tax status meaning huge extra costs for both me and the company. So we wanted to make sure that I was coming back to a new distint role.

Then Covid happened and the whole things has been pushed back until now. Bearing in mind that had the tax laws not changed I would have just continued at the company through the whole period. So I looked back over the last two years to see how much the UK state has actually cost my wife and I. Both direct and indirect.

Taxes
£5,013: Income
£2,392: Extra France Tax
£5,360: Council
£6,082: Corporation
£29,500: Stamp Duty
£40,219: VAT
Total = £88,566

Indirect
£1,500: House Planning (potential of lost house sale)
£13,500: VISA (Costs of 1 extra year in France included)
£56,000: Company Rules (lost income)
Total = £71,000

Final count, £159,566 (or a house) in two years. I know most people will never do a calculation of the costs associated with Government and state runs systems. I guess most people think the "Free" stuff they get relative to the costs. No one will probably look at indirect costs of anything the government does. They stop at the good intention rather than the actual result of what they are doing. Not much I can do about it, waiting for my wife to get her passport is probably still worth it. However the costs of it are much much higher than the sticker price they say would suggest.

I may start to shift how I operate to have as little interaction with them as possible and thus limit my extra costs as a result.

Taxes I can reduce by just not doing any work.

For housing its harder as there is no way round them,
Buying and you have to deal with them upfront and on sale, can be very expensive.
Renting then you have to deal with them, and landlords, and estate agents.

Corporation and VAT, well they stopped my ability to run company so thats out now

VISA, not much I can do but suck it up or move country. I would prefer not to, but considering the costs above...I dunno it is starting to seem like a series of bad decisions investing in coming home. We will see

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