These last months have been almost entirely devoted to preparing for N2. I am very happy that I did it because it helped me improve my vocabulary and grammar knowledge with the result that I can read books in Japanese more comfortably now than I could this summer. I also worked a lot on improving my listening skills because the listening part of the test that I took on July (JLPT N2) made me aware that listening was my weak point.
But now, I am very glad that all of this is almost over. I don’t plan to study that much this week because I feel that it won’t change anything anymore. Instead, I am more focused on what I will do after the JLPT. I won’t try N1 because I really want to do something else than preparing for a test. I think that sometimes, I just don’t know what to study next and feel like I don’t have any concrete goals. At these moments, deciding to sit the JLPT is a great booster that gives me a clear line to follow without asking myself why I do it. But sometimes, I feel that, on the contrary, I am full of ideas that I want to concretise, that there are hundreds of things I want to do to study Japanese in my own way. This is exactly how I feel right now.
When I was a child, I always thought of New Year’s resolutions as something to be done on January 1st. I would sit down at my desk and write in my journal some stupid things I already knew I would never achieve. That’s why I stopped making any resolutions on January 1st. In fact, if good resolutions are taken out of nowhere just because today is the day when you feel everything start fresh and new, no wonder that I should soon give them up. Instead of deciding on one day what my plan for the next year will be, I will give myself the whole month of December to think about it. As December will mostly see me preparing our Winter trip to Kyoto, I think that it is a perfect moment to take some distance from my studies and do some preliminary investigation concerning where to go next. Instead of talking about “resolutions” I would rather see it as “things I want to achieve”, or simply “things I want to try”.
- First of all, I want to read more in Japanese. There are two lines I want to follow:
- I want to read a lot of Higashino Keigo’s novels or short stories. I have bought a new book which is called 「パラドックス13」and is very long. I feel that if I can read a 562 pages novel in Japanese, I already have achieved what was my first goal when I started learning Japanese. Next year, I also want to finish the Kaga series, I still have 4 books to go.
- I also want to try reading more challenging books. I have some titles that I want to read next year. Among them, books by Mishima Yukio (The Temple of the Golden Pavillon), Kawabata Yasunari (The Old Capital) and Dazai Osamu (No longer human) and Natsume Soseki (Kokoro). I may not be able to read these novels at all, but trying it is one of the things I want to do in 2018.
- I also want to write in Japanese on a regular basis. Writing had never been a concern to me before, but in November I participated in the Kotobites writing challenge. Through this, I realised three things: 1- writing in Japanese is much easier than I thought, 2- writing every day is much more difficult than I thought, 3- the benefits of writing are worth the effort. I already have an idea about a writing planning that I could set for myself. I think of writing a structured text about a social issue once a week. This would mean writing a little, maybe not every day, but several days a week, and try to really work on it by looking for specific vocabulary and use at least up to N3 grammar points.
- I want to read the news and be able to also read articles about politics. This implies to get a little familiar with Japanese political state, which I am not. One of the most difficult things when reading about another’s country politics is that, even after having gone through all the difficult words, I sometimes just don’t know who is who, who they are talking about and why it is important. I have a book called 「朝日キーワード2018」that I plan to study as soon as the JLPT is over, I am sure it will help!
- Speaking is not a priority for me because I don’t live in Japan and anyway, I am not a very social person 🙄, but I hate having a French accent, it ruins all my confidence. Sometimes, I rather say that I don’t speak English at all because I am ashamed of my pronunciation. I don’t want this happening with Japanese too, that’s why I want to work on pronunciation and a little on speaking.
- As for listening, here again, I would like to follow two paths:
- First, do more listening exercises, with materials aimed at Japanese learners
- Try to understand “real” Japanese by watching more films and dramas. I really want to watch more Japanese films but I don’t know where to start. Making a list of dramas and films to watch can be a good plan for next year.
- I want to read about Japanese history, especially the 19th and 20th centuries.
These are things I have been thinking of lately. I don’t think that I will be studying much in December so I still have time to plan all of this more concretely. For example, make a list of the books I want to read or think of how I will write in Japanese. Also, I would like to link everything to this blog. It should be easy given that I post about books on Wednesdays and I usually post about reading a news article on Friday. I think that maybe I could post a writing subject every Monday and post my writing on Sunday. Not that I think that it interests anyone but, you know, for accountability.
Anyway, this was my draft of next year’s plan. I don’t except sudden progress but I do hope to see a difference between the beginning of 2018 and the end of 2018. Language learning has to be considered in the long-term! Anyway, I don’t think that it is too early to start making plans for next year and doing this definitely boosted my motivation! 😄