Studying the Kana

I’m studying the Kana. It’s March 27, and this is my third blog post in three days (remember, I wrote these blogs soon after I was accepted to my new job in Japan, but well before Pastor Les announced it in church… I had originally scheduled these blogs to start publishing in June. But since the announcement was made 3 weeks ago, I saw no reason to hold back). Can you tell I’m excited? Also I’m home sick, so I’ve been bored all day. So I thought I’d expand on my post yesterday about studying for the JLPT N5 exam.

I mentioned that my major hang up so far has been learning the Kana, which is made up of the  two Japanese syllabaries Hiragana and Katakana. Hiragana is the more common one, and it’s the one I’m studying first. And I gave myself a deadline of this coming Friday to get it done. Although now that I’m looking at my record of studying Hiragana, it seems I’ve actually been at it since last Thursday. So technically my deadline should be this coming Thursday. But whatever, I’ll leave it as is because I’m doing something else while studying Hiragana: learning vocabulary in Hiragana. And right now I’m not even sure if I can get what I need to do done by Friday.

That’s because for each of the 46 Hiragana characters, I’m learning an average of 6 Japanese words. Which is a total of 276, which is just over a quarter of the roughly 800 words I would need to learn for the N5 Exam. Now of course I’m only learning them in their Hiragana form, and I would have to learn these words in their Kanji form as well (I think… or at least most of them). But as I mentioned, for right now I’m really only learning Kanji in English. Probably by the beginning of May, I’ll start drilling the 80 Kanji I need to know for the N5 level. But that’s still about 5 weeks away.

Looking ahead at the Katakana, it looks like each of the 46 characters there have only 4 vocabulary words attached to them. But most of those are loan words from other languages… like kohii for coffee. Or hiita for heater. Anyway, the main  reason for this exercise is really just to finally learn the Kana once and for all.

Which is also the main reason why I’m learning them the way I’m learning them right now… just repetitive drilling. According to my Anki app, I’ve drilled Hiragana 1300 times. At just over 100 total forms, that’s about 13 times each I’ve seen. And right now I’m averaging about 300 per day. Though I’m gonna try to up that to about 500 by Friday. In other words, in 8 days, I would like to have drilled Hiragana 4,000 times. Or 40 times each. Which won’t be the end of my drilling. Just a good start to finally learn this language system that’s been eluding me for the past two years.

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