Learning Japanese: 2021-2022 Progress


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 took another two years’ break (sorta) and dabbled on and off in 2020 and 2021, and now it’s 2022 and I’m back again ๐Ÿ™‚

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2021 Recap:

I didn’t do any serious Japanese learning in 2021. Actually, I didn’t do any serious learning starting from 2020, as you can tell from the 2020 article. I just watched a bit of Youtube and Rakuten Viki here and there, did a little Remembering the Kanji flashcarding via an anki deck I got from Matt vs Japan, and learned one song (Dakara, Hitori Ja Nai), and that was it.

Oh! And in 2021, I test-started a project idea: Sing and Learn Japanese, where I write little mostly-English songs to help myself remember new vocab. Based on the iKnow.com vocab list, which I painstakingly copied over into an excel spreadsheet (not done yet). I wanted to see if I could use music to remember better, like I used music to learn the multiplication tables and American presidents when I was a kiddo.

Inconclusive results, as that attempt has been abandoned (hopefully temporarily). I’d like to get back to writing little SlJ songs this year, but we will have to see…

One more thing: Sometime (a few months?) before June-July 2020 (I know this date because that’s when I moved houses), I took a sample N5 test, and actually did alright on it, to my surprise, considering… (81.8% on vocab, 62.5% on grammar, 54.17% on listening. Not surprising, since I focused on memorizing vocab).

Unrelated, but I also took the TOCFL (Taiwan version of the Mandarin test) and did relatively alright (Got a 80% on reading, and a 76% on listening, weirdly enough).

I know these scores because I kept my red spiral notebook with all my Chinese and Japanese learning stuff.

This year:

So apparently in 2020, I’d written that my goal was 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 could understand easy spoken Japanese and read picture books without having to look up words.

Yeah. About that…

Clearly didn’t happen.

So this year I’m not going to go too crazy with this goal setting stuff, especially since I have a few other MAJOR projects going on.

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My strategies:

In November 2021, I bought a Japanese course from my favorite Japanese Youtubers, Ryu and Yuma of RyuuuTV. The nice thing about this course is it’s a little bit of a twofer–they’re teaching Japanese, in Chinese. So while I’m learning Japanese and linguistics, I’ll be keeping up my Chinese as well. Yay for multitasking!

A few other things:

  • I want to include more input (it has to be effortless, yet interesting enough to keep my attention even if I re-watch it over and over)
  • I need more focus (no jumping around from YT channel to YT channel, looking for ever more resources)

So for now, the plan is:

  • Active learning = Go through 7-module RyuuuTV course, and when that’s finished, if I have the inclination to keep going with Ryu and Yuma, I’ll review their free YT learn Japanese series
  • Input = listen and re-listen to the Japanese version of In Time With You (esp. the second episode), just to get my ears used to the sounds of the language.
  • If I need more input = listen to the Comprehensible Japanese YT channel.

In the future:

  • I’m interested in possibly taking Dogen’s pitch accent course. Definitely not before March 2022, though, maybe not even this year. Of course, the sooner the better, because one never knows how long these things last, but I seriously can’t take on too much more right now.

How I’ll know if I reached my goal:

No hard core goal/results for now. I will know I’ve reached the goal if I’ve done the steps, that is all. Oh, and also I want to try to update this blog as I learn, too.

Current Level

Update Feb 10, 2022:

I finally sat down a few days ago and tried to record a “current level” video to see where I am. I mean, I know where I am (very far from competent), but in a few years I’ll likely forget, and anyone reading this article doesn’t know either, so I thought it’d be a good idea to create a marker for where I am right now.

Note: This video will give a general idea of my current vocab pool and pronunciation. Granted, speaking is not my #1 priority in this language (comprehension first: that means listening and reading), but it’s difficult to assess comprehension, so this is the best I can do as a beginner marker.

So, behold, the atrocity:


Monthly Updates


Stated goal/strategies for this month

  • Go through the RyuuuTV course. They’re releasing it module by module through March, so this is my priority, Japanese-wise, for the first quarter of the year.

Actual updates:ย 

  • The RyuuuTV HaHow course began dropping content in the end of January and will continue to do so through March. What I like about this class is that it’s quite entertaining, being made by two quirky professional Youtubers who live in Japan (one is Japanese, one learned Japanese). It’s a bit heavier on entertainment than education, but I think that’s fine when you’re a beginner, and honestly, I’m still very much a beginner.
  • So for this course, I just watched the videos, talked through a few basic assignments, and that was about it.
  • Another major update is that near the end of the month, I took the plunge and signed up for Matt v Japan’s Project Uproot course, that he’s doing with Ken Cannon of Japanese Through Anime. It’s a 60-day intensive course focused on pronunciation and will start in March. Check out the language index page for more on that.
  • And one final note: I found a ton of Kimi No Na Wa content: English novelization (I already bought the Chinese and Japanese novelizations, and read the Chinese one), Japanese audiobook (NukeMarine), the movie itself (with Eng subtitles, but that’s okay because…), and Japanese subtitles for the movie (posted on a random blog). Hooray!


Stated goal/strategies for this month:

  • Continue going through RyuuuTV course.ย 
  • Finish listening through Matt v Japan QA archives.
    • Start taking notes
  • Go through Protocol 80, daily after 10am. take notes.
  • Keep doing listening–passive (and active if I can wrangle it): Kimi No Na Wa, ITWY JP version, Youtube (found a new Chinese-Japanese channel that’s really interesting. Haru’s Japanese Cafe. But in the interests of simplifying, I’ll try to keep my YT listening to this and Comprehensible Japanese and that’s it, besides music)
  • !!! Record my current abilities: guesstimate vocabulary size and do an audio of me speaking whatever broken Japanese I know so that I have a reference of where I was “before” !!!

Maybe, also:

  • Review the Refold/MIA site for Anki tips and redo my Anki deck to start doing SRSing their way.
  • Read through Tae Kim’s grammar guide, just to get an overview of Japanese grammar. May or may not take notes.
  • Handwrite lyrics for all the songs I want to learn eventually (Towa Ni–Little Glee Monsters, the entire Kimi no na wa soundtrack
  • Keep an eye out for anything related to Tabineko Ripoto (The Traveling Cat Chronicles) audiobook, ebook, movie…that I can get my mitts on ๐Ÿ™‚ So many things are hard to buy here
  • REALLY optional: Review the AJATT and Antimoon websites to see what they have to say about the language learning via immersion process

…but if I don’t get to these this month, no worries. Just roll them over to next month.

Actual updates:

  • I continued to go through the RyuuuTV course, mostly just listening. Need to still a) take notes and b) process/digest/practice the concepts
  • The Project Uproot course came with a couple bonuses: the Matt v Japan QA archives (~70 hours of QA that he recorded over the past 5 years for his patrons) and Ken’s Protocol 80 (30-day basic listening course).
  • So I basically binged on the QA archives for about a week, listening while doing other tasks. At some point I want to go back and listen carefully while taking notes, so I set up some pages on this site for that.
    • This isn’t really learning Japanese time, it’s more meta-learning (learning abut learning), but that’s an important aspect of why I’m learning Japanese in the first place, so this is still important.
  • As for P80, I’ve been following it day by day. It takes quite a bit of brainpower to listen, I’ve found. Reading is so much easier. Notes for both of these bonuses can be found on the index page.
  • I also restarted my Japanese songwriting project, not sure how much it will help with learning, but it’s fun, and is meaningful in and of itself, and that’s what matters.


Stated goal/strategies for this month:

  • Finish going through RyuuuTV course.
  • Project Uproot begins!!! Do whatever is necessary to attend classes, take notes, practice/do homework

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How it Went in 2022