A reader named Kaba shares her AJATT success story. Yay!
Hello there Khatzumoto~ though I’ve only commented once on your blog (by the name of Kaba), AJATT has almost taken over my life. It literally will when I quit my English-heavy preschool teaching job in August [Khatzunote-o: this was written back in June]. Anyway, my story mostly consists of how I found success through any little thing I could find to motivate myself.
Working my way through Heisig seemed as natural and ordinary as it could’ve been. There were two main sources of motivation in this stage:
1. Bragging family and friends’ ears off about my progress (“I was at 1200 last week, and now I’m at 1550,” for example. I became a little too happy with the “wow”s and such). I’m just not too sure what to say about how this bragging business involves English-speaking. Anyhoo…
2. Recording this progress on a calendar. Each day, whatever kanji number I was at was written on the respective calendar day. If Tuesday’s number on the calendar was the same as Monday’s, I’d become ashamed and make sure such a thing wouldn’t repeat itself. Seeing the difference in numbers between each day was a nice concrete form of motivation. Also, setting a “last day of Heisig” date was effective since I was always trying to see how many days or weeks before the date I could finish, just to be extra proud of myself and all. Almost each day I would surpass my daily average amount of kanji, just so I could happily watch my deadline move up.
Now, in the sentence stage, I’m using pretty much the same forms of motivation.
The Kanji Poster: This combines both physical evidence of progress and the ability to show off (though more humbly this time). Here is what I do: Each time I learn a new kanji reading I write the kanji down on an index card. By the end of the week, the card is filled with kanji that I am now able to fill in with a red marker on the kanji poster. Once the whole poster is red, I will have accomplished my goal. This definitely brings on determination to learn more readings, and anyone who passes through my room is bound to say, “Hey, your poster there is lookin’ pretty red if I do say so myself ;)” Take a picture of your reddening (or greenening or purpling) kanji poster each week and you’ll truly see your progress.
It’s fun to watch them merge into large blobs of blushing kanji.
My last key to my success is entirely different, and something I just recently started. I’ve found that swapping emails with a native Japanese speaker does wonders for reading comprehension, knowledge of readings and all the other abilities that seem to appear magically. And, it puts the pressure on you to truly make an attempt understand what’s being said. It’s easy to give up when there isn’t another party on the other end waiting for your response, but when you know you can’t leave the other guy hanging, there’s an automatic need to respond with something related to the kanji after kanji of email that was sent to you (and if you’re typing in Japanese, ask for your native speaker friend to correct your mistakes). I’ve exchanged about 20 emails so far and now I find myself speed-reading even furigana-less manga…
Working full time has bought me some nice media to pull sentences from, but it has me on a slow pace. My “stats” are as follows: 560 sentences in 2 months, 200 of which were done on my one week vacation. So guess what? Bye bye job 🙂
To sum it up, my success is muchly due to shameless bragging, concrete evidence of progress, and situations where one must must must understand the Japanese that’s laid out in front of one’s face (and plenty of time away from other obligations). Whatever bit of motivation you can find with undoubtedly lead to results, which will, in return, lead to motivation once again, and it repeats over and over from there. Obviously there’s the constant audio-visual immersion as well, but what else can I say that Khatz hasn’t about that? 😛
That’s her story 🙂 . If you’ve had success with the methods discussed on this website, please email me about it! I can put it up here and it’ll inspire other people, and you’ll save me some writing!