Japanese Brain Squeeze

Core2000 review

current Step 3:

I’m definitely either going too hardcore, or doing something right. I remember a very, very long time ago I took a Japanese class in college. For the entire semester, we had to learn maybe, twenty words and how to say things like “A is more than B” or “A is less than B”. I remember that it was a Japanese 3 class and I had skipped Japanese 2, and there had been a good two years since my first (uber basic) Japanese class. It was when I jumped back into Japanese 3 that I experienced my first brain squeeze.

My mind had to somehow adapt to the new words, grammar patterns and so on that I wasn’t used to. This caused headaches for a few weeks, but then shifted into massive clarity when I realized I started to understand some Japanese from the class. Now, just for reference by the time I got to Japan (maybe four or five years later) I forgot what little Japanese I had learned, but I never forgot that sensation of my brain feeling like it was battling against a pair of invisible clamps attached to my head.

I am kind of “beasting through” some tough words and phrases right now in Core2000 and I am not sure if I am mentally tired, or on the verge of reaching a new level of comprehension. Sometimes when your mind keeps fighting against what you are forcing in, the dam eventually breaks and things get easier.

I’m trying to do 200 new cards per day for studying, which equates to maybe 80 to 100 new actual words per day. Now i am seeing what all the fuss is about over core2000 step 3. It isn’t easy by any means. I’m saying this from the standpoint that,

if you are teaching new vocabulary, why introduce several new, difficult words in the early sentences?

I feel sorry for a person with low listening comprehension and limited exposure to Japanese who has to go through this step. It’s pretty taxing because of all the new words. Some sentences i’ve found  quite easy, and others are just too dense to even bother messing with.

What i’ve done is, if a sentence is RIDICULOUSLY difficult, I just mark it as “understood” and move to another one. What’s important is the vocabulary word. Now i’m seeing why guys went through all the trouble of making special Anki decks where the new vocabulary word is in as small a sentence as possible.

However, supposedly after hitting step four, life should become easier. Doing 200 reps for new sentences in Anki and then having to write Japanese takes more energy than i’d like, so i’m mixing voice translations with new vocabulary for practice. E.g  I wrote the following sentences down, and then did quick translations to check vocab.

*note* I did this maybe two hours after doing my Anki revisions, I was way to tired to write the sentences right away, so I just tried to translate these as best as I could while I was in the zone, and then just rested for a bit. 

1. Videogames are targeted to children.


2. Yesterday construction had started.


3. He was more than one hour late.


4. What is the relationship?


5. Who is the president of the company?

*had to correct this* learned that “president of a company is ‘shachou’ 社長

大統領(daitouryou) meanspresident of a country

会社の大統領   社長は誰ですか?

*this is not “daitoryou” its “shyachyou”*

6. Where is the center of the that park?


7. What’s the problem?


8. There’s hardly any money


9. Many roads in Jamaica are in a bad state/appearance.


10. Design is my field (of expertise).


11. Let’s continue.


12. Life is Jamaica is okay.


13. I gathered information from the internet.


14. I chose the red pill.


15. I didn’t study economics in college.


So I said these questions to myself to try and just… I dunno, use the vocabulary as soon as possible. At the end of the week i’m going to see if I can write an essay in Japanese that speaks about stuff involving Jamaica and all the words i’ve learned as a sort of “weekly vocab wrap”.

With all this “brain squeezing” i’m finding it difficult to do as much as I want. I mean its hard to learn vocab and use it properly without knowing some grammar, but its also sucky to know grammar and have no vocab. i’m picking up points from the sentences i’m learning, but every now and then I try and squeeze in a lesson or two from Tae Kim to get a better understanding of grammar. But what I need to solidify is a regular partner to speak Japanese with. I think once I get that setup I will really be able to practice using new vocabulary a lot.

Either way, studying this new vocabulary is allowing me to write more Japanese and by extension read more Japanese. But like I said before, after doing say an hour and a half of anki SRS, then writing sentences, then practicing grammar, then trying to get your listening in, it can all really start to add up. This is why I couldn’t handle the AJATT method consistently because it was just too stressful.

However,  Japanese “most of the time” i’m finding is a good substitute. I went completely all Japanese for a short period when I was living in Japan, simply because at work, at home it was all Japanese and I eventually got used to it. Now i’m re-tweaking things to get the listening and reading up.

What’s funny is that the reason I’m stressed is completely perceptual. A little Japanese kid doesn’t stop trying to read Japanese after a day of study… the kid just know he/she is Japanese and therefore its a part of their daily existence. Adopting a way of thinking like this is quite helpful to relieve stress, but I’ve found it  terribly hard to do at times. Either way,

I’m seeing that being reasonably consistent is giving me access to the juicy vocab i’ve been dying to be able to read for over a year and a half.  I’m going to see if I can monitor how I balance “casual Japanese reading”, “casual listening” and “background immersion” on top of this stuff i’m doing around my regular activities. I’m almost done with Core2000 Step 3, so I’ll start posting observations on Core2000 step 4 after i’ve done 50 to 100 cards in Anki.

Matta atto de ne!

About marcusbird

Writer, Designer, Filmmaker
This entry was posted in Core2000 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Japanese Brain Squeeze

  1. Paul Nogas says:

    If you want japanese people to proof your sentences, I’ve heard Lang8 is very good but I’ve yet to try it. http://lang-8.com/

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