Retaining Your Japanese

“I’m trying to learn Japanese, but I keep forgetting what I’ve learnt!”

 I hate it when I go to use a word in Japanese and I have to stop myself and think “I just learnt this! Why can’t I remember it!?” *Flips table*

Well over the years I’ve found that you cannot retain information as soon as you’ve read it (if you’re like me; if you’re like my boyfriend and can then you can f-off right now because I am very jealous of you). So learning does take a bit of practice and although you might find it takes a while you will slowly absorb the Japanese you learn to the point where it begins to come more natural.

It’s tricky to get over certain plateaus and hurdles but there are a few tricks you can do to push yourself over them.


1. Variety

Apps, flashcards, textbooks, manga, anime, dramas, use a variety of study methods/

Keeping your brain entertained with a variety of challenges and things to study will keep it engaged. But try not to overload it with everything at once. For example, do some flashcards one day, text book another, and read Japanese manga for fun on other days.

Retaining Your Japanese manga yotsubaUsing a variety of resources for your study will not only keep you from being bored but will re-enforce the things you’re learning. Drilling flashcards is well and good, but your brain picks them out more in a ‘natural environment’.


2. Review Regularly

I’ve always been really bad with reviewing Japanese. Using a variety of study methods will help with this review as you accidentally come across words, phrases and grammar you’ve been studying in texts, apps etc.

But it’s also good to spend some time every now and then to go over everything you think you’ve learnt. Aiming for a JLPT level helps a lot in this case (even if you don’t plan on taking it) as there are plenty of resources that are split by JLPT level. Apps like Obenkyo and JLPT words are great because they let you know how well you know the words you’ve gone over.

Retaining Your Japanese KanjiIn my case, I am currently trying to learn N1 Japanese. But I’m not going anywhere near the N1 stuff until I go over N5-N2, which I’ve been doing by using apps like Obenkyo. I’ve been surprised myself by how much I forgot or have been out of practice with, and reviewing has been incredibly useful, so it’s worth doing every few months. (For more apps ideas see this post)


3. Shake Things Up

If you’ve been studying an area of Japanese for a while and you’re getting frustrated or bored, it’s always great to have a break from it and move onto something else.

For example, if you’re just starting and you’re bored of learning hiragana/katakana change it up a bit to learning basic vocabulary such as animals, family, objects around the house etc.

Or if you find yourself going over text books over and over put them aside for a bit and pick up some Japanese manga (you can buy them or down load them online).


4. Push Yourself

It’s hard but if you’re stuck it’s important to push yourself. Using the techniques above will help but every now and then if you haven’t studied for a few days, weeks, months, years, it’s hard to get into the habit. Just got to take a chance and dive into it.

I am trying to read novels at the moment, and I keep thinking every day to pick one up and start reading. But I keep getting distracted, time goes by and its the end of the day. It’s frustrating but I am trying to push myself to read and finish a novel.

Just keep swimming~ Just keep swimming~ What do we do? We swim. Swim. Swim.

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