What I’m Learning this Week

Since I’m using this as a document of my progress in learning, a weekly report on what I’m currently learning would be a great thing to add.  I’d like to settle on a specific day to do this, but since the idea just occurred to me last night, I’ll start today!

Unfortunately my dynamically-pulled Kanji data from WaniKani doesn’t work all the time in the blog, I’m just adding a static table to show the Kanji I’m working on. Oh, how I love technology! I’m working on 42 Kanji characters this week for Level 5 of WaniKani. The table below allows you to view, sort and page through the kanji.

Kanji I’m Learning This Week

From WaniKani

Total since I’ve started:

Radicals 141
Kanji 145
Vocabulary 321
Total 607

Currently starting to learn:

Kanji I'm Working On

西westせい, さいにし
rainあめ, あま
mixこうまじ, ま, か
forest, woodsりんはやし
times, revolveかいまわ.*
goこう, ぎょうい.く, おこな.う, ゆ.く
home village, home town, hometownさと
soundおんおと, ね
color, colourしき, しょくいろ
selfじ, し
diagramず, とえ, はか.る
rice, americaべい, まいこめ
come, nextらいく.る
near, closeきん, こんちか.い
right, success, correctとうあ.たる
many, much, lots ofおお.い
shape, appearance, formけいかた, かたち
grass, weedそうくさ
sayげん, ごんい.う, こと
sunlight, lightこうひかり, ひか.る
feather, feathers, wing, wingsはね, は
makeさく, さつく.る
study, learn, learningがくまな.ぶ
think, considerこうかんが
younger brother, little brotherだい, で, ていおとうと
whatなに, なん
skyくうそら, あ, から
angle, cornerかくかど
blueせい, しょうあお
Kanji I'm Working On - Level 5

I reinforce the Kanji I learn from WaniKani with a supplemental fan site called KaniWani which reverses the drills. Instead of being shown Kanji, I am shown the definition in English, and I write it in Japanese. More about that later. I also use an app called Kanji Drills on my phone a little bit each day.

Grammar (and more) I’m Learning this week

Just an aside, some of the grammar resources I’m using are still simultaneously teaching me hiragana and katakana. NihongoMaster has already taught me all the kana, and now they are slowly easing into Kanji, but most of the lessons are in kana yet.

From NihongoMaster.com

  • Verbs します (to do), しごとします (to work), べんきょうします (to study), そうじします (to clean)
  • Particles  を, の, に
  • Days of the Weeks

I can read a sentence like this:  私は十二じにごはんをたべます。(I will eat dinner at twelve o’clock.”

From YesJapan books and website

I bought almost all the YesJapan books – Japanese From Zero 1-3, still need to buy 4. I also just started Kanji From Zero 1. I’ll blog about these very soon!

From Japanese From Zero! 1 book and website

  • Possession (かのじょは にじゅうきゅうさい です。)
  • Colors and Adjectives (わたしの くるまは しろと くろと あおです。)
  • Likes and Dislikes (わたしの ともだちは さかなが だいきらいです。)

From Human Japanese App

I’m taking the descriptions of the chapters I’m reading right from their website.

  • Food – Introduces dozens of culinary vocabulary words, allaying any fears the reader might have about Japanese food.
  • Demonstratives – Teaches how to use sets of words like “this,” “that,” “that (over there),” and “which one?”, which always come in convenient four-packs.

NihongoMaster – Now adding JLPT N3 content!

My enthusiasm for my favorite Japanese learning resource is what prompted me today to do some stalking, I mean researching on my favorite website – NihongoMaster.com. NihongoMaster was founded in 2012, after its founder, Taylor Dondich, had traveled to Japan but noticed a dearth of effective Japanese learning resources, most using antiquated methods.  He created a platform to learn Japanese that is fun, engaging, social, and motivational. With the use of technology, he was able to build it with gamification techniques to help learners retain what they’ve learned, and be motivated to keep learning!

learn japanese online the fun way

The NihongoMaster community itself helps people grow and learn together in its Community Forums, and learning Teams. What can be more motivating than to hit the Top Learner charts! Maybe one day I’ll screenshot myself at the top. 🙂

My email updates

Since I joined NihongoMaster in November of 2013 (I didn’t take it seriously at that time and I regret that), I can see my history of NihongoMaster emails. At the time I joined, they definitely had a huge amount of content already. Looking back at the email subjects, they sent me something every few weeks, whether it be a New Lesson announcement, Cultural Notes, Featured Site/Member, Live Chat sessions, Blog updates, and of course, since I wasn’t active, the occasional “Where Did You Go?” or “”You could speak Japanese fluently by now but…”, haha. Don’t worry, you won’t be inundated with emails filling your mailbox, just the right amount to stay excited.

What it all tells me is that they are always working to improve their site, motivate you, and add new lessons. Since I’m a total nerd and will database weird things, I pulled some info into a spreadsheet and found that since I joined, they’ve been adding about 4 new lessons each month. I looks like in mid-2014 they completed all the lessons that would get you to JLPT N5 proficiency, and that fall, they started adding the next section of lessons.

New Advanced Classroom!

A few weeks ago, my screenshot showed this Classroom header.

When I came back from break, I noticed a little change to my Classroom header!

They added an Intermediate level. Well, they actually created the Intermediate level to hold what was Advanced before, and created a new Advanced Classroom Level. The new lessons will be covering JLPT N3 lessons, taught by the new instructor, Aki.

Here’s a view of one of the Advanced Classroom lessons. I have no clue what any of this is yet, but give me another year?

NihongoMaster advanced

Can’t wait to learn more

But here I’m still stuck on Beginner (23% complete) and still quite a ways from N5, but I’m so excited to keep learning and learning! I did level up last week, I’m now Level 9! I’ll have to keep at it to level up more and not lose my levels again. I have been going slow with my lessons lately, but I’m going to go at a steady pace once again now. The interaction with some of the more experienced members have left me wanting to go faster, so let’s see how I go from here.

I don’t want another email with the subject “Where Did You Go?”, “You could speak Japanese fluently by now but…”,  “Where have you been? Remember to keep up your Japanese studies!”.

NihongoMaster JLPT Study Lists

In my research, I did find this handy list.

Back from Spring Break

After nine days, I’m finally back home from spring break in Cancun. I meant to post a few more times than I did while on vacation, but I only brought my phone and tablet, and figured I’d just focus on having fun.

Fun Seeing Sea Creatures

Hey, it’s an えい!

While in Mexico, I was able to go snorkeling in the Mayan Reef and see sea turtles and stingrays, some coral, some man-made reef art, and tons of fish! The dolphins (delfín/海豚) and sting ray (pastinaca/海鷂魚) photos I included in this post were from an aquarium in Cancun – Delphinus. (I could be wrong on the kanji for those animals, I haven’t learned them yet and got them from a translation site.) They say Hola! Konnichiha! Ni Hao!

Chichen Itza Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza

It was a very cool coincidence, but I managed to visit Chichen Itza Mayan archaeological site right on Spring Equinox on March 21st, which is a special celebration for this location. The exact time I took this picture was when the shadows outlined a snake rippling down the left side of the pyramid, it only happens twice a year (spring and fall) for less than an hour. You can no longer climb the pyramids, but I think I may have pictures from the first time I visited Chichen Itza. My daughter got to check off one of the New Seven Wonders of the world off her list. It was her favorite attraction on the vacation.

Study while on break

Dolphins at Delphinus

And believe it or not, I managed to study my Japanese and Spanish everyday while on vacation! I leveled up to Level 5 in WaniKani, and played with a bunch of other kanji apps on my tablet and phone. Unfortunately, I only got to do NihongoMaster.com one time, as it is not phone or tablet-friendly, so I had to find a laptop. Still, I made my way through over 300 drills, and now only have 85 today to do. I haven’t done a new lesson in a week and a half, so I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed. I do have 244 reviews in WaniKani, mostly because I had just leveled up a few days ago and have a ton of new things to learn.

Good language learning apps have some sort of motivation for you to keep learning and using their product everyday. Whether it be an active community who can see what level you are currently at, or a daily “streak” – these little features kept me going each day. It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I kept at it.

I am happy my particular hotel seemed to cater to Japanese, with some things labeled in Japanese like my prior blog post mentioned. The huge buffet breakfast they offered had the middle offering typical breakfast foods, and the right side traditional Mexican breakfasts, and the left side Japanese breakfast food! That was very neat to see.

Pokémon Go level up

Okay, not so much relevant to a language learning blog, but it is ポケットモンスタ, and I did say I had fun seeing sea creatures… I also managed to level up to 25 in Pokémon Go, haha. I very rarely play this anymore, but I do enjoy walking, so it goes well with a walking hobby. Got quite a few water creatures! Then I realized water creatures were boosted anyway, they are having their March Pokémon Go Water Festival event. Instinct (yellow team) seemed to dominate Cancun, boo!!!

Pokémon Go Water Festival event

Pokémon Go Water Festival event

Now that I’m home, I’ll be spending the evening catching up with my drills! See you soon with more about learning Japanese this week, Mandarin resources my daughter loves, and maybe even something Spanish-related.

Practicing my Spanish on Spring Break


I’m relaxing on Spring Break in Cancun, Mexico, I meant to blog every few days, but it took me a bit to remember my blog password. Still a few days left, but now I can update the blog again.

Everyone speaks to me in Spanish here, so it’s the perfect opportunity to practice the language.

How cool is it that my hotel sign is in both languages I study?

Hey, I think I’m ready for  beechi massagi!

Lesson Comparison in learning 久しぶり (Long Time No See)

First, a quick update on what I’ve been learning this week. Lots of new kanji and vocabulary! Thanks to leveling up in WaniKani, a whole slew of new radicals/kanji/vocab to learn. In NihongoMaster I’m learning new verbs (a few weeks ago I knew only desu), as well as getting to understand the various verb endings. I got five new Kanji to learn in NihongoMaster yesterday. The big difference in NihongoMaster is that they use it in sentences and such, so I get experience really reading it and listening to it in action.

Something cool from this week was seeing the same word in both my favorite learning websites! So today I’m going to give a lesson comparison between the two. They tackle two different things, so they shine in different ways. And now, the lessons where I learned LONG TIME NO SEE.

ひさしぶり in NihongoMaster

I first encountered it in NihongoMaster in the form of a manga (Japanese comic). This was presented as a new word, I’d never seen it before.

アマンダさん Runs Into A Friend

Here is the full lesson, I just learned how to do an entire screen capture of a page. I will share the full page here (click to see the original size), so you can see a typical lesson, but I normally won’t do this, as you will want to experience it yourself with your own NihongoMaster account, plus the page was super long!

In reading Japanese comics, you start from the top right, and work your way left, in both the frames and word bubbles.

So here the lesson starts with the manga, then proceeds to explain the new concepts in more detail, which in this lesson are:

  • And You? ~ は?
  • The Invitation: Negative Questions
  • The Vocabulary Section (six new words)
  • And then a detailed explanation, with a complete line-by-line of the comic

All of this includes the audio, stroke order animations, and an option for you to record your pronunciation. NihongoMaster is so awesome in how it gives the lesson in a chunk I can handle, and offers various media as in pictures, comics and sound. Stroke order is handy too. But I love the practice in reading and listening!

Next, 久しぶり in WaniKani

Then I’m on to WaniKani, and I’m sounding out this new Kanji I just learned. And I’m like, Wait, I know that word! Sure enough, eventually I learn the Vocabulary word, and there it is. This is how WaniKani first presents a new Radical, Kanji, or Vocabulary word. Extremely well done user interface.  The use of color, minimal distractions makes the site so easy to use.

WaniKani Vocab page

Here is the page on the Vocabulary word. If you click it, you can see the way they help you set the word in your memory, with vivid verbal imagery mnemonics. In this one, here’s the mnemonic to help you remember the しぶり (shiburi) part.

Just imagine that she buried you alive, then a few days later came back to dig you up. The first thing she says is “LONG TIME NO SEE!

I can’t believe how effect it is to learn new kanji. You can also add your own mnemonic if you think of something you might remember better.

All in all, a great week learning Japanese!

Leveled up in WaniKani (4)

Hooray for me! I’ve reached Level 4 in WaniKani Kanji learning website! The free trial period ends after your first three levels, and you have to choose whether to continue (of course you Wana) subscribe. They offer plans by the Month, Year or Lifetime. I already opted for the Year subscription, I am hoping to learn most of it in just two years.

The first three levels are free, but it feels like you learn so much! It took me two weeks and three days to reach level 4.

They are even going to send me a little present for giving WaniKani a try and making it to level 4! That was totally unexpected. Here’s a tiny excerpt of the celebratory email I received:

  • Level 5: 97.50% of the kanji that Japanese 1st grade elementary students need to know, and 78.48% of the JLPT5 kanji (really, you’re almost here).
  • …..
  • Level 60: 84.78% of the  kanji that Japanese 9th graders should know, 78.81% of the kanji found in JLPT 1, and 99.21% of the kanji found in Japanese books/ebooks.


I do love their motivational emails, starting right off the bat after your first hour with WaniKani. Those first few days can be tough (in terms of waiting for something to do); most users are so eager to learn, but they use a spaced repetition system (SRS) for most efficient learning. Have patience! Soon  you’ll have lots to do!

WaniKani addons/extensions/scripts

You may notice on my screenshot above that it may not look like your WaniKani homepage, I’ve installed a few browser extensions. I added a Level Up notification, I think the first two levels I didn’t notice until I got the email. There is a handy Reviews Timeline, so you can arrange your day around learning WaniKani most optimally, haha. Last night I was worried because the slider was out a few days, and it wasn’t showing much on my review plate. Then this morning, I did one big batch of reviews and BAM. Hit level 4. You can see it automatically gave me 89 lessons!

I’ll list my favorite WaniKani addons, but for now I’ll leave you with my updated screenshot of Kanji I’m learning! Feel free to click it to see more detail. And of course, I already updated my Level 4 Kanji I’m learning page!

WaniKani – start of level 4

If you’re using WaniKani, what level are you? Do you have any words of advice for a newbie in the “Pleasant Level”?

My dog – 私の犬

Listening to JapanesePod101 while walking my dog

Listening to JapanesePod while walking my dog

これは私の犬です。(This is my dog.)

My dog and I walk an hour together most days. What I’ve been doing the past month while walking her is listening to JapanesePod101.com. It’s a great way to get used to listening to native Japanese speakers! Multi-tasking is great, my dog gets some outdoor stimulation,  both her and I get some exercise, and I learn Japanese.

Unfortunately, my first and only month I paid for just ran out, so I had to listen to intro lessons. Luckily, there are a bewildering assortment of lessons to choose from. Today we learned some common Japanese food and beverages.  One of these days I’ll have to try me some nigiri.

I didn’t take advantage of all their features, and I mean to do that soon. All I’ve done was listen to their lessons so far. I do think the site has an attractive interface, with lots of content and tons of useful features. They even have an app, which made it super easy to use on my phone while walking! It is a bit overwhelming, there are several “Beginner” lists, I just wanted to know which one to start with! I’ll have to give it another try soon and give a more in-depth review on the site.

I’m sure Luxie knows more Japanese than anybody in my neighborhood. I repeat what I hear so she gets plenty of Japanese conversation during our walks!

Do you have any favorite Japanese podcasts or shows you listen to that you’d recommend for people trying to learn?


I love keeping a blog again

I just had to add a little post about how exciting it is to be blogging again. I understand there’s a strong possibility that no one will ever find this blog and I’m the only one that uses it. That’s ok! My main goal is to motivate myself to keep going.

But I gotta say, I’m really enjoying keeping a blog again. I have had a popular blog before, it still gets comments! Although it’s been about six years since I actively posted every week, it still remains a good resource for people who are interested in that particular subject. Looking at the visitors in the old blog stats right now, in the past few hours I have had visitors from Idaho, New York, Michigan, Australia, Ohio, Missouri, Virginia, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Hidalgo, Michoacan de Ocampo (wherever that is). It would be exciting to get people to visit from all around the world on this new Language Learning blog as well, but we shall see.

Not only does it inspire me to keep up the daily language lessons, but it also got me to delve into my old, technical skills. I’ve manipulated data from the WaniKani API to dynamically show what I’m learning, edited some CSS to customize the look of this blog and worked in Photoshop again. I’ve figured out how to use Hiragana and Katakana inside Photoshop.

And I probably would’ve gotten around to this sooner or later, even without the blog, but I’ve learned how to type in Japanese using my normal keyboard!

こんにちわ!日本 is awesome!

小泉 (こい?)

Well, to be honest, I have no idea if that is really the Kanji of Koi fish, but I do like how the Kanji pops up when I type in the Hiragana for koi. Well, I type in the Romaji, which converts to Hiragana after each syllable, and THEN it let’s me choose the Kanji.


I’m sure most of you if you are learning Japanese know how to type in Japanese by now, but I’ll add a tutorial to the site anyway this month.

Do you enjoy typing in Japanese? Type a comment to me in Kanji!

NihongoMaster Drills

NihongoMaster Drill Creep

So I’m just about to enter my second month on NihongoMaster.com. Things are going well, I’ve made it further than I ever have before (20% into Beginner). My tiny dilemma of the day is NihongoMaster Drill Creep. It’s one of the things that made me give up before. I love the drills, they are the best practice in reading and listening for me! But they tend to “creep” up to scary, daunting levels.

With NihongoMaster.com you learn a lesson, and then they drill you every which way on what you’ve just learned. Each drill must be mastered about five times (you can change this in settings). Until then, they will keep showing up in your “Dojo”.  You can see the number of drills due in the top right of my screen here, circled in pink. Since I did my drills this morning, I only have 28 this evening. That is a manageable level. You can also see the scheduled drills, tomorrow being 72.

Upcoming Drills page

But look at the drills creeping up and topping out above 500 a day! This keeps happening to me, I usually end up with 800 or more a day and that’s when I give up on NihongoMaster. I flew through the entire Introductory section in a few days. This is where you learn Hiragana and Katakana and very basic vocabulary and grammar.  Now I’m in the Beginner section and have slowed way down. But ideally I’d learn a lesson every day or at least every other day.

NihongoMaster Drills

So my goal is to hopefully figure out how to keep this more manageable.    Do I suggest doing only one lesson a day to start, and then slowing it down if it gets too much? Should I stop new lessons for a few weeks until the number gets below 100? I will know more in time.

There was a little thread in the community today and a more experienced person said just spend so much time a day and tackle what you can. That person happened to have 6000 drills due, I was pretty shocked at that.

For now, I’m asking any of you, if you use NihongoMaster, what is your pace? Do you have a lot of drills everyday? Do you ever catch up?