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Getting Back On The Horse: How To Make A Comeback from a Japanese Hiatus

So, the other day, I’m eating spinach, and I get this email from a kid we’ll call Amphy, because that’s her online name:

Hi Khatz,

Your recent posts, adapted from a IM conversation with you friend Maddie, really struck a chord, especially how she said she always gets sidetracked and fails. That’s I guess the position I’m in at the moment: I wanted to and indeed was learning Japanese (would never even have dared start if not for your blog, so thank you for that), but health problems got in the way — I’ve been pretty much useless for anything for the last few months, but would now like to get back into it, just don’t know where to start (again).

I’d done RTK (thanks for recommending that, btw, all those squiggles suddenly looked like writing), and was assembling a SRS deck based mainly on sentences from Tae Kim’s guide, as well as odd ones I found and liked (桜の樹の下には屍体(したい)が埋まっている! :D).

I was still a sucky beginner, couldn’t even read children’s stories, but I was at least learning consistently. Now I’m left with a deck, much of which I no longer understand, and kanji I no longer recognise. So, I guess what I’m wondering is, where would you start from? If anything, it feels more overwhelming than when I first started.

Any pointers would be much appreciated, and thank you again for AJATT,

Amphy (in England)

To which I wrote the following reply:

Wow, so you finished RTK? Nice.

Start there. Start at the beginning. Start with the basics.
That’s where we always start and it’s where we always return.
No one’s ever too good or too smart or too dumb or too inexperienced or too advanced or too young or too old for the basics. Except dead people. Dead people suck. They can’t do jack.

You live in England, Amphy. There are foreigners there. Some of them have shaky English. Why? What is it that’s shaky about their English? Is it their lack of knowledge of Chaucer? Is it their inability to handle Cockney rhyming slang?

No…they make basic errors; they get basic things wrong. They wake up “on” the morning; they get “upon” the bus; they “haved the lunch” today. They are messing up the basics, things that a “native” speaker toddler has had drummed into his ears for 40k+ hours. Native speakers make plenty of mistakes, too — they “tow the line” and do things “irregardless of the consequences” and get fooled by “slight of hand”, but they don’t really make those habitual basic errors.

In fundamental ways, B-star, the world is very simple. We make it complex. But think about health. What does it come down to, really? Eat fruits and vegetables. Get enough sleep. Take brisk walks. Easy on the crisps and pies. These are things that your mother and her mother and her foremothers could have told you without a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. They are things that mothers have most toddlers do. The basics. The Jansport backpacks and the Nike shoes and the Garmin GPS pedometers are all great fun, useful even. But they cannot replace the basics.

So what do adults do? They never sleep because there’s “no time”. They eat junk food because they’re “busy” and “on the go”. They consume the maximum amount of legal and illegal drugs — ciggies, alchohol, weed, whatever — that their economic activity will allow. They’ll watch bad TV before they’ll read a useful book. And they actively seek to exchange vital fluids with total strangers. And that’s just weekdays. Then they wonder why their bodies are falling apart.

We all forget about the basics all the time: we need to have them repeated to us our entire lives. I sound like a crusty old man. But I’m 27…I drink a lot of mango juice; I shower infrequently and irregularly and I wear dark clothes to mask this fact — so I’m not really one to talk.

We all lose track of the basics — of so-called “common sense” — a lot. By the time we’re in our late teens, so much BS has piled up that it’s easy to lose track. But the basics are always there and they will always help you. Revisit them now and every day and you’ll enjoy yourself a lot.

So what about learning Japanese? What are the basics there? Listen to music. Watch cartoons and dramas. Do your SRS. Go one kanji at a time, one primitive at a time. That’s all there is to it. Forget? Relearn. Fall? Stand up. Stop? Start.

So pick up the SRS and take one step. Then another. When you’re tired, rest (cartoons, music, movies, comics). When you’re bored, change the channel (do something else in Japanese). When you’re hungry, eat (go for more of that other Japanese thing). When you’re full…stop (change Japanese activities again).

The more time you spend with Japanese, the more used to Japanese you get. And being used to something is being good at it.

It’s so easy it’s almost anticlimactic.

The basics. The fundamentals. These things that are, to paraphrase the late Jim Rohn, so easy to do that they’re easy not to do — easy to overlook.

Easy. Do whatever you can and want to in Japanese that is easy and fun for you right now. Do easy things that move you forward with your Japanese. The more you do them, the further and faster forward you move. But it’s never hard. Always easy.

Begin again. You’re not a total beginner so I imagine this will all actually go faster than before. Either way, there’s no shame in being a beginner (or even a serial beginner). Begin as many times as you need to. It wasn’t until my 4th or 5th attempt at kanji that I even got through, so…I speak from experience.

Begin again. There’s no level you’re “supposed” to be at right now; if you were supposed to be there, you’d be there. It’s simple cause and effect. There is no “would” or “could” or “should” — those things don’t exist: what exists is “are” “is” and “am”. You are here now. Begin here. Begin now. Don’t worry about where you are (position), just focus on where you’re headed (direction). Begin again. Begin as many times as you need to.

Everyone knows how to get back on the horse. You just do the same things you did the last time you were on her — foot in one stirrup, hands on mane, hop up and bring the other leg over. The thing is, we wonder: “is it worth it any more?”. Well…Japanese is here, you’re here, and the time is going to pass anyway. Might as well go for it.

Finally…don’t try to learn Japanese. It won’t work. Instead, let yourself get used to it. Get used to Japanese. Come into frequent contact with Japanese. Frequent. Every couple of minutes, something Japanese is happening.

But, now that I think about it, my reply kind of sucked. Too abstract. Having said that, there are a couple of good reasons why I like to give vague, high-level advice:

  1. It makes me sound deep and smart
  2. Whenever I give concrete advice, people on either side of the middle ground die. People who are against the advice freak out about how “hardcore” it is, and people who are in favor of the advice kill themselves trying to follow it to the letter, even if it has parts they don’t need or like. It is this latter group — the people who will hurt themselves before they’ll break some “rule” because it’s supposedly “canon” — for whom I fear most. A lot of smart, serious, perfectionistic people are in this group, and I have to protect them from themselves (!)

So, anyway…do you guys have any more concrete advice for Amphy? Anyone out there with experience making a comeback? Please share your stories and pointers down there in the comments section! 😉

You like how I say “down there”? Very…上から目線.

  26 comments for “Getting Back On The Horse: How To Make A Comeback from a Japanese Hiatus

  1. Lan
    July 17, 2010 at 00:19

    Never be afraid to forget. Forgetting is an important part of learning. You haven’t learned something properly until you’ve learned it at least twice.

  2. Dmitri Mendeleev
    July 17, 2010 at 02:06

    This is also my second go at RTK after a break of ~5 months. I have yet to make it to the sentence mining stage, but I’m imagining it’s a lot more fun than kanji memorization if done properly because you can focus on things that interest you. This is the light at the end of the tunnel that keeps me going. However, if you just stay chill about learning the kanji and Just Do It™, you’ll be surprised at how much you actually do remember from last time and you’ll cover a lot more ground in a lot less time. I also see it as an opportunity to improve my mnemonics. On my first attempt I got lazy with it and just started memorizing definitions. This time I really try to make each story as visual and bizarre/memorable as possible, with much better results. I have more fun this way too 🙂

    950 down, adding 76 more today =D

  3. July 17, 2010 at 02:36

    I’m on a sort of hiatus myself.. the Japanese I come into contact with is that that I can’t help but come into contact with. The best advice I can offer is that it’s best if you focus all your energy on developing your immersion environment so that it causes you to see and hear Japanese all the time.

    The other bit of advice I can give is to treat it as an experiment where you need to have a controlled environment that promotes growth in your target language. Just keep introducing new variables (or delete ones that seem to hinder the process) until you get the results you want. This kind of experimental attitude adds to the fun, I guess.

    Good luck!

    L2 Link:

  4. stars
    July 17, 2010 at 02:55

    I am also restarting my Japanese adventure-and this is probably my 4th ‘real’ attempt. The advice Khatz gives to just start again with RTK by taking it step by step, radical by radical is key. I recently tried restarting my old huge RTK deck and found that I was lost and overwhelmed quickly. Or, I could guess the general meaning but had forgotten what the radicals meant, so making stories for new kanji quickly became INSANE. Now I’m restarting with a fresh deck and just taking it step by step. Even though I’m re-making cards that I already had, its much more fun and less daunting. RTK cards have become a playground again and not a “detention” center where I go to punish myself for falling off the wagon.


    l2 link:

  5. Asher
    July 17, 2010 at 03:02

    I’ve totally let my SRS slip this past month. I’m supposed to be progressing, and instead I had head surgery! And then, instead of getting back up on the horse, I’m… I’m… well, I’m talking to a hot chick who’s coming to see me 🙂 There are few things that make me wanna forget my Japanese studying, but having a head wound and hot girls are both right up there.

    So, as daunting as it seems, I’m getting back into the swing. My only advice is to remember some past advice from Katz: don’t binge to get back where you were. Take it easy, take your time, don’t force it. Start with an easily sustainable pace… a few here, a little there… so you don’t drop your studies all together. That’s all. Just let yourself drift back into it.

    Good luck, and keep at it!


  6. Harry
    July 17, 2010 at 04:21

    I know what she’s going through. I myself stopped out of pure laziness for four months in the Kanji stage, and have continued to stop and start. Recently (as in the past 2-3 months… of course family came in so I slowed down for a few weeks again, but starting up again full force:P Goin for the finish line.) I finally snapped myself out of it, and am now on my way out of the Kanji with only about 400 more to go! Khats is right to go back to the basics, but as some have suggested I would NOT start over, with Kanji at least. I would review and refresh your mind. That’s what I did and after about… Oh say a month? Maybe even less, they had all practically come back to me. Just ‘relearn’ them through the SRS, looking up the writing’s if you forgot. It all comes back to ya, trust me. I’ve stopped and started countless times, and have been on Kanji for 1.3 years, yet I’m confident that fluency is right around the corner, plus I still learned these way faster then someone not doing Heisig. Try not to get down about the failures, or how long its taking you to get to point b. but keep confident that you ARE going to be fluent, you ARE going to get to point b. and your gonna have a blast while doing it. And of course, remember what you want.

  7. July 17, 2010 at 04:38

    I’m having some similar problems right now. I’ve been learning Japanese at a very slow pace due to busy schedule, but at least I was consistent. In about a year I went through almsot 1900 RTK frames and gathered around 200 sentences. I was already listening to Japanese music before that, and I got into the habit of listening to Japanese radio. However, life got in the way about 2 months ago, so I stopped RTK reviews which lead to some 600 kanji reviews piling up and me forgetting many of them. I still kept up with the sentences since there weren’t that many anyway, but I just got discouraged every time I looked at the RTK deck.

    I’m slowly starting to get back on track. I set up 20 minutes per day dedicated to just RTK and however many reviews I go through, that’s that for the day. The pile is getting smaller (very slowly) and I noticed it helped if I kept switching the order in which I review (i.e. shortest interval, longest interval, order due) in Anki. This gives it some variety and lets me make sure I push the old cards as far back as I can while still getting a chance to review the ones I learned more recently.

    This is probably easier than going through RTK from scratch, because even though my retention rate dropped it’s still around 70% which is much better than what I expected.

  8. Amelia
    July 17, 2010 at 05:48

    Fall back in love with it. When I dropped French for Chinese, it was because I stopped liking France (I was living there, and China seemed nicer than where I was). But ten years later I went back to French because I thought I could just take a test in it for some cash. I took six weeks and filled my head with French, but it didn’t work, because I HATED it still. I kept missing Chinese.

    When I went back to Chinese after being away from it, I felt stupid. It was harder to read books, harder to understand the sitcoms I leave running all day (丑女无敌!), harder to read the more obtuse characters and idioms I had been SRSing. But I kept at it. I left a stopwatch running all day that I started and stopped whenever I listened to Chinese and every day I wrote down my time and tried to beat it. And after a while, mysteriously, it was all easy again. I just knew what they were saying, and I LOVED it again. How could I not keep learning when it’s *the* fun thing in my day? I read martial arts novels at my break (天龙八部), listen to stupid sitcoms with my tiny iPod and tiny timer (SportCount’s ring timer), and do my SRSs on Anki for iPhone. It’s all gadgets and goofy fun. Honestly, I don’t even care if I’m learning–I’m just enjoying.

    But I’m totally learning.

  9. Jon
    July 17, 2010 at 08:54

    1) Delete anything you don’t understand from your deck and immediately add 5 sentences/Kanji/etc. you do understand.

    2) Open up RTK to the index section. Now write out all of the primitives one by one. Do this for a week everyday in conjunction with SRSing them. (It doesn’t take long.)

    3) Go get one movie you really liked in Japanese, grab some popcorn and let it wash over you. (Just don’t care if you understand anything or something.)

    # Primitives are the basis of RTK. Recognizing and writing them means you can write all of the RTK Kanji.
    # Get your sea legs back by doing some enjoyable listening.
    # It’s going to take ages to re-remember your deck if you have a lot of items. Just delete and refresh.

    Side note:
    Thanks for the good article Khatz. I think that going back to basics is something I also need to take on as I’ve found myself stressing about not being good enough to talk yet. Your article really helped me and so thank you!

  10. Maya
    July 17, 2010 at 10:20

    I’m also re-doing kanji for the gazillionth time 🙂 To be more precise, I’m now on my 4th go at RTK, and on my 8th-ish go at kanji in general. But I’ll get there – I’m now going at the slow but steady pace of 10-15/day. I can do it 😀

    It’s funny – when I first decided to learn Japanese, I was actually thinking that I’d only learn the spoken language, since I assumed it would be impossible for me to learn that many “symbols”. Now I won’t settle for anything less full literacy 😉

    So there – everyone sucks/is doubting themselves at first. Just don’t let that doubt get the best of you, and you’re good to go 🙂

  11. Ken
    July 17, 2010 at 10:30

    Here’s one thing I learned the hard way (which is really just another way of saying what Khatz said). If you set a goal to add new one sentence a day (yeah, I’m a little slow), and you miss both days over the weekend, then on Monday you *don’t* owe yourself 3 new sentences. You still just owe yourself one new sentence. If you try to charge yourself compound interest for every day you miss, you’ll get overwhelmed in no time. Just do one thing, today.

    Also, get the kanji poster, and hang it up where it’s in your peripheral vision at work. Just glancing at it for a couple seconds every now and then seems to be a big help. (Maybe it’s like micro-SRS’ing: instead of repeating things with depth every few days, it’s repeating things very shallowly but every few minutes. Or maybe not. Who knows. I’m not a neuroscientist, I’m just some random guy on the internet.) And train your coworkers to quiz you on it!

    P.S., One of my favorite American TV shows, Law & Order, doesn’t appear to have ever been dubbed into Japanese (only subtitled), so if anybody knows who I have to bribe to make that happen, please let me know. 🙂

  12. Jason
    July 17, 2010 at 14:41

    I was in a similar boat at the beginning of the summer. After a rough two college semesters, I looked at my SRS and realized I had well over 2000 cards waiting. I’d tried, over my winter break, mainlining those cards, and actually did manage to bring what was, at the time, a 1600+ backlog down to 0. The problem was, it was arduous, and I hated it. This time around I poked at the deck as the mood took me for a week or two, and then really sat down and looked at what I had to do. The massive amount of cards overdue were completely demoralizing, and killing any ambition to even start SRSing. So, I took an evening, turned my japanese music up loud, and dove into the deck. Anything I still remembered I kept, and any cards I was fuzzy on I reset and put on the bottom of the deck. I didn’t take any time to study, or even really try and look at what was on the cards. This was just meant to quickly sort the deck, and help me find my priority cards. It turned into a fun night, actually. Cutting through the deck so fast and rocking out to the music really made it enjoyable. In the end, I stayed up late since I was having such a good time, and filtered through the whole deck. I don’t know how many cards got saved, and how many are back to being unseen cards, but the deck is manageable again, and I don’t feel like I’m lost when I use my deck to study, anymore.
    As I see it, the brain rarely forgets things outright. It just loses the links between separate data. I don’t think of the cleared cards as lost, or forgotten, or anything I once knew. They’re just cards. As I’m coming across these kanji and sentences, though, they seem to stick a lot better than the first time. It may almost have been beneficial to clear these cards out. As I come across them again, sometimes I draw new links. “Oh, that’s why this kanji, rather than that kanji, is used in this sentence.” “Oh, this shares the same radicals as that kanji, and the meanings are so similar.” An unexpected upside, but definitely something that brings me back for more.
    As an aside, I kept my kanji deck organized by JLPT levels, and this helped me quite a bit with prioritizing certain cards. While it’s certainly good to have a well-rounded vocabulary, a lot of the higher-level vocabulary builds on the lower level stuff. This ties in a bit with the idea of starting from the basics [although Khatz may have a thing to say about relying on a formulaic, mandated guide, rather than learning what you find fun]. Anywhoo, don’t distract yourself with the idea that you should already know this or that, or you should be [or would have been] at a certain level by this time. You know what you know, and there’s no changing that. What matters now is what you want to know, and I don’t think that has changed from when you started learning japanese.

  13. NDN
    July 17, 2010 at 23:37

    “Whenever I give concrete advice, people on either side of the middle ground die. People who are against the advice freak out about how “hardcore” it is, and people who are in favor of the advice kill themselves trying to follow it to the letter, even if it has parts they don’t need or like. It is this latter group — the people who will hurt themselves before they’ll break some “rule” because it’s supposedly “canon” — for whom I fear most. A lot of smart, serious, perfectionistic people are in this group, and I have to protect them from themselves (!)”

    First of all, excuse me for any mistakes in my english. I’m not a native speaker so when I write too much in english (as in japanese) it’s very easy for me to get excited and start making mistakes.

    Khatz, I hope I can help you a bit with your burden through this comment.

    This is ONLY to all the “smart, serious, perfectionistic people” out there who try to follow EVERY concrete advice from Khatz.
    Hopefully this will also prevent people from becoming like that in the future, in particular, Amphy who is just starting (again). 🙂

    If we all had the same lifestyle and “genes” (not necessarily talent-related ones if there’s any such a thing. I prefer to call it environment instead of genes) as Khatz does, then we could follow his advice to the most detailed of the details. But WE DON’T. Each person has his own life (environment), his own problems. Khatz’s advices apply as long as the problems have (mostly) the same properties (e.g: how to learn to write kanji and not forget them). This should be pretty obvious so I don’t really know why there’s such a group of people trying to do everything the Khatz (not AJATT) way.

    I prefer high-level/general advices because they can be easily applied to a lot of (apparently) different situations. Of course, some concrete advices show better the real nature of the thing but they’ll never give the benefit of flexibility that the general advice gives. So let’s consult Khatz’s general and concrete advices with care looking at how they apply to our own specific problems rather than taking them as rules that a god up in the sky named Khatzumoto wrote. It would simply be unfair to consider Khatz to be a god or genius without scientific proof. 🙂

    In much the same way I no longer consider Newton, Einstein, Wilhelm Steinitz and many other so-called geniuses to be really geniuses. It’s enough to look at their historical background and see that their environment simply CAUSED them to have great ideas. In short, everyone is a genius if that’s the word but I prefer not to use it as it’s not real. Don’t know what else to say so 以上。

  14. fdsfdaafsd
    July 18, 2010 at 11:06

    Wow I didn’t know people had to restart for so long. I believe the main reason that people tend to forgot to do Japanese or just leave it there is because 1. something really happened or 2. You forgot to LOVE doing Japanese. I should know been restarting for 2 years and still not fluent. I’m not a beginner but I start to feel like it when I can’t even understand simple things. I have noticed I can translate a lot of things to my friend for example Angel Beats. I don’t know why but he actually understands it through my translations.

    I remember the first time I wanted to learn Japanese because I wanted to live there. I HAD to do it because I was being too hardcore and destroying everything english but not replacing it at all. These bouts of feeling not too hardcore led to me going back to a certain English channel on youtube to relieve the stress. This seemed to continued for 2 years until I finally realized in a post Khatz write to destroy EVERYTHING in enlgish but I at least replaced it with Japanese things.

    Now my reasoning for learning Japanese is like a child’s thinking. “I will learn Japanese just for the cartoons and video games” was my reasoning and it worked properly. I had never had to go back to the certain channel and it’s actually been fun. Like Khatz said begin with the basics. Repeat the basics because they will come back to you. Remember you don’t have to follow Khatz advice of Japanese at all. There’s no point arguing just DO it. Do it because it’s fun and remember why your doing it. If you can’t remember just do it because it’s there simple.

    Now if only I could go back to my SRS deck. I’ve been lazy to start it but I believe I will start now instead of later because I could make it fun. I don’t know how work and play could be the same thing. For language it works but I don’t know about anything else. Do whatever you like hell you could even give this up altogether but just remember have fun. It’s going to be long and you’ll have to restart but it’s a GAME. A game where you can put as many tokens into because you’ll never run out. That kind of game.

  15. Magdalena
    July 19, 2010 at 03:54

    I like the part about the basics. I realised it only not so long ago. I used to think that learning a language requires remebering some rare words. And I would daydream about knowing words like that and of course I did nothing. Some time ago I’ve heard someone say that learning a language means mastering the basics. A simple thought but how powerful. I no longer disdain practising how to say “I am” in all different ways. That definately works. Good luck for everyone learning languages with AJATT!

  16. July 19, 2010 at 04:22

    I’d start with a Kana/Kanji de Manga or Kana/Kanji pict-o-graphics. It depends of whether you prefer images with english words association, or comics.
    It helped me A LOT (I like more Manga :D)

  17. July 19, 2010 at 17:24

    I was in a similar situation. I fell off the horse and needed to restart, but considerably earlier on. As far as relearning the kanji I’d forgotten went, I just redid the RTK up to the point I’d forgotten, putting everything back into my SRS and reviewing it from the start. I’m a lot further now, so I don’t know if I’d want to know delete everything from it again and put it all in again, since it would be waaaay too much work. I’d probably just suspend all the cards created past a certain point so I could re-familiarize myself with all the earlier stuff again, and unsuspend more and more as I got further along. It was a lot easier to relearn the kanji I’d forgotten than to learn them for the very first time, so it was fun seeing how well I was doing when I first started again!

    Before I got started in RTK again though, I had to overcome those, “Oh nooo I don’t know anything again I need to start from the beginning!!!” feelings I got. I had gotten over that one day by rereading one of my favorite comics which is in Japanese only and really wishing I knew what was being said. (It’s already funny without knowing what’s being said. It’s probably hilarious knowing!) The few characters I still remembered that I could pick out every once in a while as primitives really made me want to go back and restart from the beginning, so next time I could pick out just a few more at least! It really reminded me of why I wanted to learn to read and every step closer is a step closer to being able to read those comics, not to mention everything else!

    I don’t know if any of this comment gave any advice which was helpful to you at all, but as long as you’re exposing yourself to Japanese (and not hating it!), you’re on the right track!

  18. Drabant
    July 19, 2010 at 22:51

    I think one problem is over ambition, especially early on. When climbing back on the horse again we have to look at what made us fall off in the first place.

    I am almost done with my reboot of RTK, and doing much better this second time around than my first. So why did I fail the first time? First when I started out I wanted to get over RTK as soon as possible, to get on with the real stuff. Doing this lead to a situation where my waking time ended up being split between work and doing RTK, until I finally grew sick of it.

    Instead of being fixated on how many sentences I have to add each day, I should make sure that I keep the time spent on the SRS each down so that even if I skip a day or two, it won’t feel like a chore when I catch up. Which will actually give me time for the important stuff, listening and reading.

  19. Aric
    July 20, 2010 at 10:28

    I think theres something to be said about the fact that returning after a Hiatus can be daunting. I slipped a while back, moved back in with my parents, ereader broke, computer got stolen, and kind of gave up for a while. I’m “getting back on the horse” now, it theres some stuff I forgot sure, but I just keep SRSing and its all coming back quickly.

    Heres to cool part:
    By stepping away from the language and coming back and seeing where you left off, you really get a outside perspective of how much you’ve done. I don’t care if its 5 sentences or 3000, you get a new view on how much you’ve achieved.

    It’s not something I’d recommend, but it also isn’t the end of the world. As people have said make it fun again, and don’t try and force it all back. Take your time, enjoy yourself. Also heres one tip of what I did if you have a SRS deck piled up and are afraid of it. First, ignore the number, you owe your computer nothing, you only have to do as many as you want (atleast for now). Second, if your like me this may help, set the time for the SRS sessions to something like 60 seconds and leave the program always running, and then when ever you’re waiting for a page to load, or commercials or just bored or willing SRS for those 60 second intervals. If you want to keep going, most programs let you. You’ll be surprised at a) how much more willing you are to SRS when you only have to do it for [reasonable amount of time here] and b) how quickly the deck seems to disappear even using this method.

    Thats my 2 yen, good luck and have fun.

  20. Jack
    July 21, 2010 at 11:47

    This reminds me of the Sisyphus analogy. You know, the guy who offended the gods and for so doing was punished to push a rock up a hill for all eternity, only to have the rock become so heavy near the top of the hill that it slides back down. We only start at the bottom of the hill once. Every other time, we are closer to the top of the hill than that first time. Still, we have a huge distance to go, and probably still did have a huge distance to go when we stopped pushing.

    So what kind of advice to you give someone whose rock has fallen down? Push the rock up the hill. But why did they stop pushing in the first place? Does it even matter?

  21. Dan
    July 21, 2010 at 17:12

    My SRS has stalled the last few months. I just had about 2 weeks where I didn’t look at it and felt pretty bored about going back to it.

    But because I donated all my old English books to my old secondary school last year, have nothing but manga and Japanese personal development books in my room and my computer/ipod, etc, are all set to Japanese, I have still being taking it in. You can absorb Japanese even when you don’t want to. If you build the right environment it stops becoming a choice about whether or not you learn Japanese today.

    Otherwise, I like to reignite my passion for Japanese by occasionally searching the net for ‘the 100 best Japanese films/comics/superheroes/computer games/comedians/blogs/podcasts Ever’. This kind of searching opens up huge areas of new fun material to splash around in.

    A Japanese friend directed me to this legendary resource for free anime/films and tv

    Last fm is a great lazy way to find new Japanese bands without too much effort. Just put in a band you know and the playlist will automatically skip around to similar Japanese bands. Awesome.

  22. July 26, 2010 at 00:09

    First off, thanks for linking my article. You inspired me a lot, and I was just tired of everyone treating the 10000 as a holy grail of sorts, and the ride didn’t count.

    Also, it’s my most searched/read article 😛 Probably need to do that more, right?

    Secondly, I’ve been on a break too…I’ve been not liking Japanese. However, reading this article has really made me want to get back on it…so…yeah. I’m changing my XBawks stuff into Japanese. I’ll just play Blazblue in Japanese lol

  23. May 12, 2011 at 11:32

    Well… I was also in the very noble journey of owning Japanese and eventually becoming a trilingual translator… but I stumbled with a different project I wanted to pursue. I decided to stop reviewing my RTK kanji and the few sentences I had on my SRS. I stopped watching anime and japanese videos, trying to read websites in japanese, manga in japanese… I only listen some japanese music now.

    And it’s hard to admit… but I lost all I have learned. “Use it or lose it”. But meh; whatever. I knew that would happen. And once I achieve what I want to achieve, I will re-start, from scratch, from the very beginning, from 一, from あ. But the thing is that I already knew what lies ahead… so it’s kind of an advantage.

    It’s like when you borrow a game from a friend, and you get to a cetain point of it, then you return the game to your friend, and he deletes your save file just so he can see your horror face… but once you buy that game for yourself, you know what lies ahead, so you can complete it faster and arrive to the point where you were initially, but in less time.

    For me it’s kind of exciting re-starting something, so the process of re-reviewing 3030 kanji again doesn’t seem painful or unfair. It’s just what it is. Don’t use it… restart the game, dude. Then… keep playing, and play it the most that you can!

    So yeah, my point is: If you have a long hiatus, restart. For some it’s exciting, for others might be painful… but that’s the only option you have.

  24. July 23, 2012 at 15:01

    It’s true that a lot of kids have highly underdeveloped powers of focus these days because of Twitter and social media, but I have to acquire their side about Frankenstein… I’ve tried twice to browse this damn thing many of the way by and failed both times-it ends up on every school reading list like clockwork because it’s “literature”, and although the old black and white movies they spun off it in the 30s and 40s are great fun, it just doesn’t hold up. A few of a long time back again I heard a possibly apocryphal story about a teacher who gave his students the choice of reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula alternatively; a highly popular choice until the schoolboard was quietly leaned on by a group of parents to remove it…It was also Catholic for the fundamentalists, much too Satanic to the Catholics, and way too Godly for that small group of atheists who joined in. So now the kids should slog by way of Frankenstein and student suicides are up 50%…

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