A New Year’s Resolution for Japanese Learners: Have a Plan

Happy New Year’s Eve! Or New Years day depending upon where you are in the world.

I’m thinking about my New Year’s resolution to make a plan and carry it out to study Japanese for a year, with the goal in mind of getting ready for another JLPT. I want to figure out a good system of self checks and balances to make sure I don’t let myself down in the accomplishment of this resolution.

I suspect I just barely either passed or failed N2. I doubt that I can be ready for N1 in a year. So my plan is to study for N1 and take N2 again even if I passed it. I’ll know my year was worthwhile if I do significantly better next year on N2 than I did this year. And who knows, maybe I’ll surprise myself and think I’m ready for N1, but I’m not counting on it.

I’m motivated right now, but I could lose that motivation. How do we keep from losing our motivation, if we don’t have a naturally un-diminishing energy source like the world’s most successful people? We need to keep ourselves accountable. The best way to stay accountable to yourself (meaning you don’t have a boss or a teacher to make you work or study) is to have a plan and a way of measuring yourself against it. So I put together a rather large stack of study materials and a dynamic, multilayered plan that includes vocab, kanji, grammar and reading (I practice listening and speaking on a daily basis with friends and by watching Japanese TV programs).  My plan is almost 20 pages, so I can’t really show you the whole thing, but I’ll show you a couple screen shots so you can get an idea.

These are some of the books I’ll be using for reading practice in the order I’ll be using them:

「完全マスター読解問題対策 1級」

And for grammar:

「完全マスター文法問題対策 2級」

As far as vocab goes, I’ll study the vocab that applies to the reading at hand until I reach JLPT specific reading books, at which time I’ll start using:

「完全マスター2級/1級文字語彙 (the purple book)」

So, now you have an Idea of how I plan to study Japanese for the next 300 and some odd days. What’s important here is that you think about your own skill level, think about what skill level is required for you to pass the test your aiming for (or what skill level you need to be at to accomplish whatever you’re trying to accomplish next year) and then figure out what you need to do to get there. My plan increases in difficulty as the year progresses, until by the end of next year I’ll be dealing entirely with N1 level material.

Of course, all plans are subject to change. I don’t know what my circumstances will be 6 or 9 months from now, so it’s hard to plan in detail that far ahead. You need to try though, and if things need to change, that’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just let the plan change, but make sure the changes don’t wreck your year and become your next excuse for failing N2.

Always measure yourself against your plan. There’s no point in making a plan if you can’t stick to it and actually learn what’s on it. Every day, every week and every month, check yourself and make sure you’re on target. If you’re not, figure out why. Maybe it’s a bad plan. Or maybe you are not living up to your promises to yourself. Either way, something is going wrong, and it needs to be fixed.

Your plan won’t accomplish itself, and Japanese won’t learn itself. 頑張れよ~!

Happy New Year, see you all in 2011.


5 responses

  1. Andrew

    That’s a heck of a lot of books dude =P

    December 31, 2010 at 3:09 pm

  2. I usually need to push myself or stick to a schedule otherwise I’ll slack. I had a schedule I followed and it was working out fine, but then it got lost and I began slacking off again. So I’m gonna take this opportunity, seeing you also made a schedule, to follow a new schedule.

    Et voilà! My new schedule (I made yesterday)! じゃ〜〜〜ん♪

    February 2, 2011 at 5:35 am

  3. Elliott

    wow, your schedule cool! what did you use to make it? I just used excel and it’s… less than aesthetically pleasing. lol


    February 2, 2011 at 8:29 am

    • Thanks! I used (adobe) InDesign. I have to have an actual (physical) schedule so that I see it everyday on my desk (to remind me), so that I can check what I’ve finished.

      February 2, 2011 at 5:20 pm

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