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 What Kind of Creature are You?

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Onikyoushi
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PostSubject: What Kind of Creature are You?   Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:36 pm

A lot of students start a foreign language in junior high or high school (or maybe even in college) with the idea that they will achieve fluency within a couple of years.  While you can make tremendous progress in two years, very few if any actually achieve true fluency in this short time.  My chart is probably somewhat more realistic...

Download the attachment below to read more and to check out the advancement chart.
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Lindsey Kaler
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PostSubject: Re: What Kind of Creature are You?   Sun Aug 14, 2016 8:43 am

I typed up a response to this but my computer randomly shut off and deleted it. I'm guessing it was a sign I talk too much. Rolling Eyes

I wanted to say that I love this idea! It's a fun little way to see where you stand. Smile I feel like I'm somewhere in semester 4 in mindset, probably because I didn't keep up with my studies as well as I should have. So I lost some of the details that would make me feel more confidant in the language. 

However, I haven't forgotten how to study Japanese so I'm catching up quickly with some review. I've even started sending sentences in Japanese to others for fun (or perhaps Wizard is influencing me, either way I can't complain). I think if you can spare 10-20 minutes each day to focus on something, you will continue progressing quite well. Very Happy Personally I like learning vocabulary and Kanji so I usually focus on that. When I have a larger chunk of time or energy I'll look at grammar or pick an assignment on here to figure out. So far it's been working without being overwhelming.
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Onikyoushi
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PostSubject: Re: What Kind of Creature are You?   Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:12 am

I've added the following to my Advancement Chart, but it started out as a reply to you.  Thank you for your feedback, I'm always interested in what you have to say (no matter how much).

I think it's possible to be having experiences that span over two, three, or even four of these phases.  In other words, perhaps you’re a pretty solid 4B, but you still have days of feeling overwhelmed and discouraged (some lingering 3B) and other occasional days of discovery where you start to feel like you are really getting the knack of putting sentences together the way a native would versus the way a functionally fluent non-native would (continuing 4A).  You keep studying, but already, for the most part, you can say what you want to say in the target language (a progressing 4B).  However, some days the words just flow and you find yourself using vocabulary and/or grammar that you haven’t worked with or even thought about for a rather long time (euphoric albeit fleeting moments of 5A).

So it's not really a clear progression.  Also, it will undoubtedly take a lot longer for one to feel confident of having graduated from any of the levels above a 3A.  If one were to illustrate this chart using the image of a stairway, there would be an increase in the height added to each consecutive step.  For example, stepping up from 2A to 2B might be double the difference stepping up from 1B to 2A.  4B to 5A might be four or five times the former.
I think a lot of people give up after two or three years of language study because they begin to feel like they are no longer making the same kind of rapid progress that they experienced early on.  You will temporarily plateau at the higher levels.  Telling you this is not meant to discourage you.  Possessing the knowledge that despite your ongoing efforts those wonderful storms of the sensation of having made a really significant stride in your progress will likely become increasingly sporadic should help you to keep up the faith.  Though they may seem not to come as often, they will continue to come.

Fluency is not an unachievable goal, but set your sights on one level at a time in order to have more opportunities to celebrate success.  And when those celebrations become too infrequent, start rewarding yourself for other accomplishments that keep you on course.  Ten chapters in a study book or 100 repetitions of flashcards (not the exact same set, mind you) are definitely causes for celebration!  Set up a regular study routine with repetitions of material and recorded progress.  Don’t allow it to get monotonous.  Have at least two or three forms of Japanese study that you can alternate between and change it up a bit by doing something new with the language whenever you feel you need to in order to keep the fire burning.  In addition, I highly recommend challenging yourself by signing up to take a proficiency test (such as the JLPT*) as soon as you feel ready to make your first attempt.  Then retake it every other year or so to get a measurement of your progress.

I would say that a strong third-year student has a reasonable chance of passing the N5 level exam.  A strong fourth-year student should at least pull off a commendable performance on the N4.  For someone who is not totally immersed in the language, scoring at N3 or above will likely take at least five years of preparation.

By the way, my current favorite website (I have a lot of favorites) is...

https://www.nihongo-pro.com/free-japanese-quizzes

Click on the "Freebies" tab and try a few quizzes.  You get three lifelines, plus they keep a record of your accomplishments.  I will definitely have my students doing some of these this year.

Hope you are enjoying your summer to the fullest!
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Lindsey Kaler
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PostSubject: Re: What Kind of Creature are You?   Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:59 am

Ah, great! Smile Glad I inspired something!

I definitely agree with the additions! It makes sense to sometimes be a little above or below the 'base' level, so to speak. Just like we have good and bad days with anything else. I imagine if we didn't, we would have to be robots or something.

I like the changing stair comparison too! It's a great physical representation of the struggle. I've heard something similar when practicing viola, that the last 10% takes many many years to master and it's difficult to see progress. I wonder if running up 10 flights of stairs this summer without dying was some subconscious metaphor regarding my attitude toward Japanese too. Razz 

Having something that can measure your progress has been a tremendous help to me. I like seeing my progress visually, and with review tools I can see exactly what has improved and give myself some immediate praise and see my progress. And of course, the infamous Pop-Tart Points are another example of visual progress for this site. So I agree, always take pride in your progress, no matter how small!

I feel like coming back to Japanese after a few years of sparse study has helped me finally overcome the difficult 3B phase that seemed to haunt me whenever I thought of jumping back in. I think when learning a language is no longer required (or convenient in schools), you end up facing some of the 3B feelings again, no matter where you are. You have to choose whether your love of learning the language overcomes the fear of it (whether you are struggling with the language itself, or trying to fit it into your life somehow). It's sort of like moving out of your parents' house for the first time. You look forward to it for so long, and theoretically it's a simple adjustment. You know what you need to know. But of course, it's never that simple is it? Before long you realize your apartment is covered in an inch of dust, and when was the last time you cleaned out the fridge? You have to decide what your priorities are and if you're willing to put in the extra effort to get what you wanted. Or if you even still want the same things. 

At least that's been my experience. I wonder if what I went through is actually another new phase? Like a secondary 3B. Or if it's a mixture of the phases you already described? Perhaps it is a new phase, but only some people go through it. Kind of like a gap year? I'm not too sure.

I bookmarked the website and plan on checking it out before I go back to school in a few weeks! Smile My summer has been great, and I've enjoyed just about every minute of it. I hope you have had a good summer too! I know you've been pretty busy.
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Onikyoushi
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PostSubject: Re: What Kind of Creature are You?   Thu Aug 18, 2016 2:11 pm

The 3B feelings of frustration and discouragement are like a little imp that keeps pouncing up on your shoulder whenever you are hunched over far enough for him to make the jump.  "The more you know the more you know you don't know" aspect of 4A also something that continues on into the latter phases can sometimes be discouraging and feed that frustration while at other times it is eye-opening with many "aha!" moments.

I agree with your self-assessment.  You are solidly at the point of not really needing a class or teacher to make progress (not that I'm trying to get rid of you).  You can self-diagnose what you need to work on and find the resources to meet your needs.  I am certain that you are also highly capable of teaching someone else.  You're simply in that long stretch loved your viola analogy, by the way of piecing together that 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle one piece at a time (without the box lid to use as a reference) until you become confident that you have enough of the picture to be able to figure it out.  You don't necessarily need all of the pieces in to be able to start explaining what you see, but the more you complete the fuller the description will be.

I imagine what you lack the most is the opportunity to speak Japanese which is the hardest skill to train with outside of a classroom (or outside of Japan).  You don't really need a tremendously extensive vocabulary to be able to carry on conversations I would bet that anyone would do quite well with 1,000 of the most common words.  The trick is then to be able to make yourself understood even when you lack the words you would prefer to use to make your point.  Learning to be quick on your feet with explanations and analogies is key.  I wish I had a way to incorporate that kind of practice into this site.
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PostSubject: Re: What Kind of Creature are You?   Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:08 pm

That's probably exactly why I'm not seeking out any 'official' Japanese classes in college. Smile I feel like I can manage on my own just as well (if the classes weren't thousands of dollars it would be different). Same with my viola. And my art. Huh. I did that with all three of my favorite interests at the exact same time. How strange.

Yes! That is definitely my biggest challenge. I have enough trouble trying to figure out what to say in English, who knows what would happen in Japanese, even if I knew all of the vocabulary. Razz This is exactly why I loved and hated having a traditional Japanese class in the classroom, haha.

I would suggest having a class-wide video call with everyone on here but we are all so busy and have different schedules, it would probably never work out. Sad
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