Recently I made an Excel tool for self-quizzing my Japanese vocab. It’s a basic spreadsheet with a list of the words I’ve been learning, plus a Quiz feature on a separate tab (click for screens). It’s extremely basic, but does what it needs to, which is help me get my Japanese incrementally back into shape.
I began learning Japanese last spring, when I had a few months off before starting my new job. I spent about 8 hours a day on self-study and reached an early-intermediate level, across reading, writing, and conversation.
Now, I work a lot and study less. Much less…I stopped from Aug-Dec of 06. Looking back, I think I feared not being able to learn Japanese as well as I had been. But it kept bothering me, that I was no longer studying… And, my wife (who’s Japanese) and her family would be visiting in 6 months…and I began to worry, will I be ready to speak in Japanese again???
So I figured, “why can’t I learn a little bit, a few nights each week?”. Seems pretty obvious now, but you have to understand, there was still this strong pressure inside, to only learn Japanese if I could do it at least 8 hrs/day! Such a schedule used to give me enough time in the day for kanji learning, grammar, conversation practice, and sometimes a Japanese film (Miyazaki!).
Now, since I’m often on the road, it’s not so easy. And stuffing textbooks (too heavy, too likely to be left unread) or flashcards (too likely to get damaged , and too static in their content) into my suitcase doesn’t work. So I put this list together. Every week, after listening to some Japanese podcasts or encountering new vocab (e.g., perhaps talking to a 鮨職人 (sushi chef)), I grow the database by 10-20 words. And then try to quiz myself 2-3 nights a week. Even that’s been a hard routine to keep!