Learning to Read and Write Kanji Row 11

I've been learning Japanese again. If you don't know what's going on, check the previous posts. This is a test and then a short blog.

Kanji test row 11

席 野 長 少 研 所 切 客 勉 当 番 食 声 代 宅 母 究 目 借 内 教 学 近 貸 仕 森 読 度

As with the previous row, most of these are from row 11 and some of them are from earlier rows. I made two mistakes, one was reversing 当 and the other was not remembering 仕. Because the first is just a horizontal reversal, I'm going to count it as correct (since it gets the message across and we are not here to twist language into some sort of bureaucracy, we only intend to communicate). That gives me a score of 27/28 or 96%. I'm only 1 day ahead of my test day (always Sunday is the day when I plan to move on to the next row) so this is a departure from previous rows which I was able to learn in 2 days. This shows the substantial gap left in my previous attempt to learn kanji, but I'm glad that the previous attempt was retained as well as it was. Looking back, it looks like I did learn a few rows past row 11, but the method I learned them did not actually promote long term learning of difficult kanji. This method I'm currently using seems better, but has interesting limitations. My plan is to do a full kanji list test this week.

I wrote a pretty lengthy blog for this week, but decided against posting it until I have a better grasp on it. This is how blog posts die, I suppose. I decide to improve it and then it goes into the archives and that's the last we hear of it. So what did I do with my week of learning these kanji? If I told you I tested everyday and then corrected all the mistakes on my test, that would be boring right? Well let's go day by day since I have a record. On May 25th, the first day I started learning row 11 I did a test. 14 wrong out of 28, so 50%. I could write down the ones I got wrong here, but it's not necessary. I corrected my mistakes and that was that. On May 26, I decided that a test would be worthless, so I did a practice. I just looked at the kanji drawn in the correct order and then drew it from my memory. Those I knew a reading of, I chose not to write the reading of. But I made a text file with each kanji and a reading. On May 27, 28, and 29 (today) I did a test. With each test I improved remarkably and you can see that all the mistakes of yesterday I fixed. I watched a lot of youtube videos on Japanese (not in the actual language but about the language) but I wouldn't consider these immersion or training. Mostly it's just a matter of shifting interests from one thing to another. On May 27th, I got 仕 wrong. Had I memorized it then, I would have gotten a better score on this test. Oh well, that shows how this method works. I got 貸し and 借り backwards and I misdrew the left side of 所 which is understandable. So May 27th was almost a passing. What went wrong on May 28th? From IRC: "for 用 I drew 仕 because I confuse 仕 and 使 and 作 and 使 means use and so does 用". That's right, I got the same thing wrong as today, but backwards. It's clear that I don't know 用 from 仕 at all. I got 貸し and 借り backwards again too. So what I did to fix that is: "lend is the one with the shellfish", "borrow is the one with 昔". Then an hour later: "lend is the one with the shellfish. borrow is the one with 昔". Then 3 hours later: "lend is the one with shellfish 貸し borrow is the one with 昔 借り". By committing the English to another kanji, I'm hopefully learning that kanji as a result. 昔 just happens to be a kanji that will come up in a few months and the fewer I have to learn then, the better.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what this whole thing means as part of the blog post I wrote. The bold text in that blog post is: The answer to this problem is being able to communicate. While it requires context, I think it can be summed up pretty easily: when you can't communicate with someone ask them to excuse your lack of skill and do your best. In Japan especially I found a handful of really pleasant people who were willing to help me out. In the case of a person talking at me in a rude voice at a soba restaurant in Akihabara, I remember vividly being unable to comprehend and wanting to ask them to slow down. I couldn't come up with the words. So I grabbed what I could: "分かりません、すみませんが". This translates into very understandable Japanese: "I don't understand, excuse me uhh". The ga at the end is a grammatical piece that shows that you're about to say something important in Japanese. The fact that I trailed off shows my inability to communicate. The person who spoke to me walked away without another word, so there was no way to communicate any further. Did she want to know whether I wanted soba or udon? I suspect not. Did she want to let me know that what I ordered was not available? Probably not. Did she want me to give up my chair to another customer? Probably not, but who knows? My guess then and continues to be my guess now is that I was looking at something I had just purchased and that it was somehow rude to do that. Soba joints are extremely fast, so maybe it's rude to do anything while waiting for your food. If I had a little more preparation -- audio comprehension and effective vocabulary, I could have asked her to repeat what she said slowly and then I would have understood on the second pass depending on my skill. This is what I mean by communication. Not skill, but preparation. Don't necessarily study to succeed, but study to fail into a better result.

I hope that this story helps anyone who doesn't understand why foreigners don't learn English. When a person get off a plane after having learned English for a year, their English is a trainwreck. If they've studied for two years they can maybe ask for help and try to understand your response. By the time they've learned English to an intermediate level, the world is a lot easier. There's no reason to complain about someone not learning the language, it's difficult. Yes, they should try their best, but their best doesn't cut it.

Row 12 is going to be a doozy I suspect, so the plan is to do it in 5-7 days. If I don't get 80%+ by Sunday, I'll post, but instead of just moving on, I'll take the ones I do incorrectly to the next row. That should keep the show on the road, but will of course make my life a bit more difficult.

Oh yeah, I'm fully vaccinated. How about that? Two doses and two weeks. Let's go world! While I'm not going to find the nearest crowd and start singing, I think it's prudent to be a little less cautious.

I probably didn't mention that while I'm studying Japanese... I'm also learning Latin. I found a website that teaches it -- in a very weird way. Having studied their free course for many months now I can confidently say not to do what I did. I've learned a lot of Latin, but... the only thing that keeps me going is that I've never done daily stuff for an entire month and it looks like May will be it.

I'm looking forward to listening (critically, not passively) to all the Feynman lectures which were just released. That should give me something to listen to on my daily walks I've been doing. For the more difficult ones, I expect that the books will come in handy. The books were released for free not long ago if you're interested and don't have the cash for the hardcopy.

Until next time!

I'll hopefully post all tests as I pass them. Wish me luck.

Previous episodes:
Learning to Read and Write Kanji
Learning to Read and Write Kanji Row 5
Learning to Read and Write Kanji Row 6
Learning to Read and Write Kanji Row 7
Learning to Read and Write Kanji Row 8
Learning to Read and Write Kanji Row 9
Learning to Read and Write Kanji Row 10

Javantea out.


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