Learning Japanese: 2020 Progress

Table of Contents


Quick summary:

I started officially learning Japanese in 2017 when I memorized the Japanese alphabets (hiragana and katakana) in a couple weeks over the summer. I then took about a yearlong break and returned in 2019. I’m learning Japanese because I like the language (look and sound), and am using it as a learning lab of sorts, to keep my mind agile and to see how far I can go. So far, I’ve memorized over 1,000 new vocabulary words and have been conditioning my mind to hear the language.

This year:

My goal is to finish memorizing the iKnow.com vocab list (total 6K words, 1K+ down already), to grasp basic grammar and increase my listening and reading comprehension so that by December I can understand easy spoken Japanese and read picture books without having to look up words.

My strategies:

I will continue using the Fibonacci/Leitner/Anki SRS systems to memorize vocabulary and simple sentences. I’ll alternate on/off months with learning 1K new vocab words every other month. The sentences will come from movies and shows from Viki.com and articles from NHK Jr. I will learn song lyrics.

How I’ll know if I reached my goal:

By December, I can buy a bilingual picture book and understand the content without having to check the English. I can also watch a Japanese YTer or non-technical/specialized movie without English subtitles and understand enough to get the gist of the story.

By Month


Stated goal/strategies for this month: Originally was supposed to go through the rest of the iKnow vocab memorization but didn’t finish. Got distracted by other duties.

Actual updates: (2/7/20) This month, I took a break from studying Japanese. There was just too much to do, especially since I started a new college-level course on content marketing/writing and have been focusing on writing and pitching jobs. However, I did take a quick Japanese vocab test to see what my hypothetical vocab size is, and I got 900 which is not too shabby, considering the long delays I’ve had since memorizing ~ 1,000 words last year.



Stated goal/strategies for this month: (2/7/20) At minimum, finish the iKnow vocab cards that I have already written, but not memorized, and review the Fibo-Leit cards (focusing on Fibo). Also, come up with a better study plan that integrates into my current lifestyle. I want to focus on listening in particular. Tofugu’s seasonal resources are super helpful.


Update Jan 25 2022…obviously I stopped updating this post, because I stopped learning Japanese yet again for the rest of this year. Eck.