Monthly review: March 2018

I have decided to start a new category on my blog and write a monthly review at the end of the month to talk about how I have been studying Japanese and other things.


What is new on my blog is how I write my Friday post. Instead of studying a news article on Friday, I write a review of the week concerning Japan politics and society. To write this post, I have to check the news at least once a day (I open NHK News website and listen to NHK radio news). It sometimes brings a little stress, but the benefice is more significant than I had expected:

First, reading the news is an activity that slowly becomes easier. Given that several subjects go on for several days or weeks, once I know the vocabulary I can read on the same subject with a little more confidence.

But the greatest benefice is this: I know what is going on in Japan even if I am not living there and it creates some kind of relationship with the country. I have an interest in Japanese literature, I love a lot of Japanese culture aspects, but I am not a fan of Japan’s pop culture as many learners are. As a consequence, I sometimes feel that what links me to Japan is very thin. Through reading the news, I feel implicated in what happens in the country, and it motivates me to keep on studying Japanese.

Finally, I have always considered that reading the news in a foreign language is an immense benefice of language learning. You can have a direct insight into a country’s state and the way media works there. It is also interesting to see how other countries see some major events, or how things that happen in your own country are seen in foreign media. Anyway, it’s exciting to have several points of view.

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I am not doing much study since I passed N2 in December of last year, but I enjoy doing what I am doing.

I still write down Japanese names to slowly get closer to this ideal state: being able to read a name when I see one. Last week, I posted about the 紅白本合戦, and I saw a picture of the 20 books ranked during the conquest: there are two lists of 10 authors whose name I cannot even pronounce. And it’s a picture so I cannot copy-paste it. So frustrating!

I am still studying my new deck of onomatopoeia. This works pretty well, and I am very satisfied with it. I finally could remember some onomatopoeia! But the most important point is that I enjoy studying this deck. Before, when onomatopoeia appeared in my regular Japanese deck, I was so bored I just dismissed them with a “correct” answer and tried to ignore the sense of guilt that Anki tried to instil into me. The reason why I enjoy studying my onomatopoeia deck is that it is full of sentences I saw in novels I liked, and I can recall the scenes exactly as I imagined them when I was reading these books.

Also, I am writing in マイブック on an almost daily basis. In the beginning, I was glad when I wrote half or even one-third of the page. Now I always reach the end of the page. I started in February, so it’s a little soon to claim that I got into the habit of writing in Japanese every day, but I am on my way!


I have done very little to improve my English this month. I feel discouraged by phrasal verbs. There are so many!! I am sure that we mostly learn the one-word substitute instead of the phrasal verb at school. It seems much more natural to me to say “please remove your shoes” than “please take off your shoes”, even if I’m talking to a friend in a casual situation! I feel like I am starting from scratch with phrasal verbs. Maybe I will take a pause with it, and learn English idioms instead. It’s more fun!

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In Japanese, I have read 「ぶたぶたラジオ」by 矢崎存美 and started 「イノセント・デイズ」by 早見和真, and in English, I am reading The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. I am much ashamed, but I have read mostly French literature, and there are a lot of British authors that I have never read… Doris Lessing is one of them. I thought that The Golden Notebook would be difficult to read, but it’s not. As every book that inspires me, I wish that I had read it sooner. I love the many insights into Communism at the time, I am learning and understanding a lot through this novel. Experiences are also seen with different lights, describe differently or with a different mood and what is striking is that these different points of view are all emerging from the same person, Anna. The notebooks contained in the Golden Notebook are like a palimpsest where new writings come over the old ones, but we still can read through. We see how, through the writing of experiences and memories, a novel takes shape, and these insights into the creative process are very inspiring.

I am also “reading” my first History book in Japanese! “Reading” is not exactly the term, I would say that working my way through it with a dictionary and Wikipedia is a better definition. But it is an exciting journey, and I will post about it on Wednesday!


That’s all I can think about for the moment, but it’s the first time I write a monthly review… Now that Winter is over, I will feel guilty again to stay at home on warm sunny days. But I like Spring too, it brings new energy and feels like a new beginning!

9 thoughts on “Monthly review: March 2018

  1. Although it might not feel like studying in strict terms, daily immersion in the Japanese language is equally important! I didn’t have time to do anything Japanese-related after I passed my N2 two years ago, so now I find it more difficult to immerse myself back in the language >.<

    I don't think your ties to the Japanese language are as weak as you think – popular culture is what attracts most people, but there still are those who are interested in other aspects of the culture and language 🙂 Any reason to learn is a reason enough in itself! 😉

    As for English, phrasal verbs are a nightmare indeed! But you do get used to them, especially when you encounter them in books or movies or in daily speech and they become easier and easier to remember 🙂 Keep persisting and you'll eventually get there!

    1. Thank you very much for your comment! 😊 Yes, you are right, any reason to learn a language is enough in itself. I don’t know why I felt a little discouraged lately…
      As for phrasal verbs, I think I never paid attention to them before, that’s why I never learned them. I will try to pay attention when they appear in books and movies as you say!

      It’s hard to go back into immersion after a pause, but it does not have to be a full immersion from the start. Just doing something in Japanese on a regular basis is a good start! 🙂

  2. Really? Japanese names never bothered me. I’ve never even added a single name to my anki deck; there are too many words to learn out there as it is. there have been so many instances where I’ll read a novel not knowing the character’s name either because the furigana was only on the first instance and i didn’t memorize it or i don’t know how to read the name (USUALLY I’m just unsure since there’s multiple readings for a given kanji and sometimes there tenon, and sometimes there isn’t. ), but even then i follow the story fine since i recognize that the character’s name is written as x kanjis. I heard somewhere that there’s 10,000 Japanese last names and lately there have been ridiculously kira kira names these past 10 years ( google it if you don’t already know) . I just learn to read whatever names I happen to pick up from immersion but even then i sometimes forget it 30 minutes later lol but it just doesn’t bother me. i think part of it is because I hate how in korean you can “read” everything but not understand shit.

    1. There are 10,000 last names? But Japanese do read most or some of them, so it should be achievable by an active, continuous and conscious input.

      I see what you mean with novels; it’s the same for me too. I forgot how to pronounce the name after the first occurrence, and I think that it does not matter because I still recognise the kanji. But somehow it bothers me anyway! ^^
      I know it’s an endless road, but I like doing it. Names are not in my Anki, but I use a special notebook. I will be back with this subject on my blog in some months, to see if it has been useful or not!

      1. I remember on this one Japanese show they said how some last name is really rare ( as in only a handful of people have that last name out of the whole country) so obviously no one knew how to read it ( all the tv talent people had good guesses but there’s no way to know unless you ask that person) . If you’re curious you should google about Japanese names about how many there are out there for first names and last names.

        Oh and i also remember an instance on a talk variety show where they asked some tv talent what’s that other tv talent persons full name and he or she got the first name wrong because she doesn’t know. It could be that the talent was just dumb but I do get the feeling it can be burdensome and difficult to remeber Japanese names ( at least the full name) because they’re so long and there are so many kanji out there just for names which just makes it harder to remember

        I keep an online notebook on Japanese names. It’s for the purpose of collecting names i like whether it’s the sound or the kanji. It comes in handy for naming characters in a game lol. I don’t even play games though lol. Not a gamer

        1. So Japanese struggle too! I have been busy, but I will google around to find out more about Japanese names as you suggest, it’s interesting!

          1. The show I learned about the last names was bi-bop high learn. this show covered so many topics and it was educational and entertaining at the same time. i found this blog that covered some of the info they shared on the show. i vaguely recall the the information mentioned on the blog since I literally saw the episode like 10 years ago on youtube lol.. of course it’s not there anymore!


  3. I thought you’d pursue more conventional/easier methods for learning english like watching american dramas with english subs. there’s nothing wrong with please remove your shoes. i have no idea what phrasal verbs are lol.

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