🐈 cat's notes 📓

I am now 29 days into the challenge and have had 30 hours of conversation so I am done! :tada: This final week was all rebooks, I didn’t have any more energy for meeting new people.

Final takeaways:

Tutor stats (not pretty)

I met with 2 known tutors, one a woman, one a man, both in their 30s. Of the new tutors I met with 9 women and 7 men, ranging from mid-20s to 60s. Of the new tutors, I plan to keep meeting with four of them. I choose who to keep meeting with based on how well their schedule matched mine, how easy they are to talk to, and if they consistently corrected me when I made mistakes.

The four new tutors I plan to keep meeting with are two men, two women. They range in age from mid-20s to early 40s.

I know some of you wanted pretty charts/data from this as I did keep a spreadsheet, but I’m really now sure how to make it pretty. I did color code based on ‘dislike, neutral, slightly like, strongly like’ and it looked like this though. Blue is ‘known tutor’ then it goes red→gray→light green→darker green.
chrome_OlCeAJUY4B

How did I choose who to book?

I avoided profiles that seemed to be catering heavily to beginners. I also strongly preferred tutors with low-to-no English or a stated preference on their profiles to not speak English. I noticed that booking tutors who I had superficial similarities to, like overlapping hobbies or same gender and age, gave no noticeable boost to whether or not we’d mesh. In fact, my two least favorite tutors were chosen partly based on such similarities! I generally preferred community tutors over professional teachers having been burned by overly structured lessons in the past, but of the four I’m continuing with one is a professional teacher.

How was my language ability assessed

I had multiple tutors comment on my ‘きれいな発音’ which, while absolutely in comparison to other learners rather than in general (ie, including natives), was still nice to get unprompted so many times as it means I don’t need to stress too much on improving that aspect of my speech. One tutor just directly said I was ききやすい which felt probably more honest :joy:

I had a few tutors comment on my listed level (B1) and say I’d set it too low. I’m not sure, honestly. I can get by very comfortably in casual conversation and introductions, but the moment I’m pressed to explain something outside my comfort zone things begin to break down. I think this may be a case of other learners are (unintentionally) inflating their ratings and skewing perception rather than me being too harsh on myself, but without an actual CEFR test for Japanese it’s hard to know.

I do think I’m getting nearer to B2 levels of “can do” with regards to speaking, though. I think also skewing things is my listening is definitely stronger than my speaking ability, so I can understand someone talking relatively quickly and with a larger vocabulary, but my responses are significantly simpler in both grammar and word choice.

In general teachers commented that I used relatively natural Japanese expressions when talking, but sometimes would say things in an odd or round about way. This was a mix of me coming from English and not knowing how to say something ‘Japanese first’ and trying to talk around words I couldn’t remember/didn’t know without looking them up mid-lesson. I also sometimes would use 書き言葉 when talking which is 100% a result of having so much of my Japanese knowledge come from books.

Would I do this again?

I don’t think I’d want to do a challenge like this again. While there was definitely merit to meeting lots of different tutors, I can only see the value in doing it once. It helped really clarify what I want from a teacher and introduced me to new ones that I can work with for some variety of topics / styles. However, it was also incredibly stressful trying to fit that many hours of tutoring into my month and finding new teachers to meet with.

Would I recommend others do it?

If you’re in the same situation I was (leery about talking to new people and sitting on an unused budget for conversation practice - I’d budgeted 75 hours for the year and only used about 30 before the challenge), sure, give it a go. Maybe don’t do it in December though as there are so many holidays and it’s cold/flu season. I had a few tutors reschedule due to sickness and I got lucky in that I myself didn’t get sick during the challenge.

After 30 hours do I feel any improvement in my Japanese?

Actually, yeah. It’s probably mostly in terms of confidence, but in general I feel more comfortable talking to people, especially new people, at the moment.

I also have a much clearer idea of my weak spots now because talking to different people brings up such wildly different topics and forces me to look at what words/phrases I can use quickly and comfortably. I think I’d gotten into a bit of a comfortable pattern with my two long time tutors and switching things up was good for me.

I think also, just forcing so much output routinely starts to make your brain want to produce Japanese. I’ve noticed sometimes my thoughts just…shift to Japanese. That has happened before, but this frequency is new.

Through this challenge I basically doubled my conversation hours for the year, while still falling short of my goal :person_shrugging: :joy:

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I feel like most people will say that they are at a certain level once they start studying materials at that level while others (me included) consider that they’re truly that level only once they start being able to study materials at the next level. Likewise, some people say that they’re a certain level but don’t consider that all 4 skills (reading, speaking, listening and writing) need to have reached that level at least.

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Yep, until I have the vast majority (90%+?) of the B2 ‘can do’ for speaking/writing down, I’ll probably still consider myself B1. To say otherwise feels like I’m giving a false idea of my abilities and having someone think I’m better than I am and failing to live up to that makes me feel all kinds of icky :joy:

This one is a bit tricky for me. My reading and listening are vastly better than my speaking/writing, so lacking any true CEFR test I tend to just state my general level for them separately. It’s mostly just a shorthand for ‘this is what you can expect from me’ though. I think reading in particular I’ve overdeveloped in relation to the other skills, as whenever tutors say a word I don’t know they’re like ‘oh you’ll know it if I write it’ and the moment I see the kanji it clicks :joy: I don’t see this changing anytime soon, though, I’m too much of a bookworm to read any less.

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Yeah, same here. Especially for Spanish, as much as I can read just about anything, my speaking is just so much behind because I’ve barely spoken it in the past 4 years. So sure, I can have a conversation about again, anything, but the grammar is just not there anymore.

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I made this using a template on Canva (I have a subscription for some side projects). Probably the last year I can make anything pretty for Japanese with all the books I read as I hope to read even more next year and this was already unwieldy.

Anyways, fun to look back on how I spent my time this year. Some definite gems in there.

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Man, that’s a really pretty visual. Brings back good memories of reading some of those books myself.

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I’m a week into learning Swedish and tbh I don’t feel like I’m learning much of anything. I only have 173 words/phrases introduced in Anki though, so this is expected. My Anki deck is also pretty terrible as I suspect the frequency list being used is based on newspapers (why else would Labor Party be one of the first words introduced?). I also need to make a plan for how I want to work through the grammar book I bought.

I admit my enthusiasm for Swedish is fairly low given the challenge last month re-interested me in really working to improve my Japanese output and my abundant physical TBR needs attending to :melting_face: I’m going to limit my book club participation to only books I own already and put heavy focus on reducing my physical pile so that I can potentially sell or give them away ahead of moving next year.

Anyways, sharing something new-to-me. If you have ebooks in Caliber you can install a plugin called Quality Check and use it to search all your books at once. This is helpful as some of my anki cards lack example sentences, or the ones they have are awful. So, with 実施 as an example:

I can look at the log to see which books might have a good example sentence, then open that book to grab it and put it in my card.

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That’s awesome!!
I’ve mostly given up on Anki in favor of immersion, but that’s a good thing to know about if I ever get tempted into flash cards again. :joy:

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I have a love/hate relationship with Anki so I get that :joy: This is 2023 for my main deck…

I’m currently back in full swing with Anki but I may fall off again at some point :person_shrugging: So long as I’m still engaging with the language it’s not a big worry for me.

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I definitely get to a point where I’m spending way more time fussing with cards that I am actually studying. And I have noticed that as I’m reading a lot more I am seeing words come up again and again.
I’d probably pick up my cards again if I was studying for something specific, but I think just for my vague goal of “get better at Japanese” that immersion is good enough for now.

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Neat resource I found:

I really wanted to watch a slow Swedish video with both English and Swedish subs as right now my vocab is only around 200 words and that parallel text experience is a major help. I was able to get the subs and pop them into Notion (whatever app will do, though) and had fun marking up new words that made sense to me due to the parallel text and listening along.
image

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I cleared Swedish 1 on Memrise. Still need to do reviews of course, but no new items. I would describe this stage as ‘the sounds and logic of the language are starting to make a mushy sort of sense to my brain’.

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Some of you already know this, but I got fed up with Memrise due to its heavy focus on output and also just feeling kind of ‘meh’ about multiple choice answers, so I went back to my horrible anki deck and reworked it. I’m sure I’ll delete more cards as time goes on, but currently as things stand I’m down to 10,080 cards in the deck from 10,703 when I first downloaded it. Further, 143 are ‘suspended’ cards because I didn’t want the output focused side of the card but can’t (so far as I know) delete it without deleting the recognition side as well. Fixed! See below posts for the help I received :slight_smile: Any card without audio was deleted, as were any duplicates (I’m not done with the dupes yet I’m sure…).

I also standardized all the templates because having wildly different styles was distracting for me while doing the reviews.

Now the cards all look like this:



with some, which came from a deck with example sentences and pictures, having a back that looks like this:

If anyone would like the templates I’m using they are below. For full disclosure I cobbled my template together from one or two other templates I found shared online, I think from medical student subreddits? But it was quite some time ago as this is also what I use on my Japanese decks.

Front
<div id="container"><div id="content"><div id="front">
<div class=meaning>{{Swedish}}</div>
</div></div></div>
Back
<div id="container">
{{Swedish}}<br><br>
{{English}}
<br /><span class="alts"></span>
{{#Part of Speech}}<br /><span class="attrs">({{Part of Speech}})</span>{{/Part of Speech}}
{{#Gender}}<br /><span class="attrs">({{Gender}})</span>{{/Gender}}
{{#Example}}<br /><span class="attrs">({{Example}})</span>{{/Example}}
{{#Image}}{{Image}}</div>{{/Image}}
{{#Audio}}{{Audio}}</div>{{/Audio}}
</div>
Back - 2 column version
{{FrontSide}}
<div class=expression></div>
<div style='font-family: Arial; font-size: 14px;'>{{2nd_form}}</div>

<div class="parent">
<div class="div1"> 
<div id="container">
{{English}}
<div class=pic>{{Image}}</div><br>
</div>
</div>


<div class="div2">
<div id="container">
<div class=swe_example>{{Example1_swe_audio}}{{Example1_swe}}</div>
<div class=eng_example>{{Example1_eng}}</div><br> 
<div class=swe_example>{{Example2_swe_audio}}{{Example2_swe}}</div>
<div class=eng_example>{{Example2_eng}}</div><br>
<div class=swe_example>{{Example3_swe_audio}}{{Example3_swe}}</div>
<div class=eng_example>{{Example3_eng}}</div><br>
<div class=swe_example>{{Example4_swe_audio}}{{Example4_swe}}</div>
<div class=eng_example>{{Example4_eng}}</div>
</div>
</div>
</div>


<div class=discrete>Flash Card ID: {{Flashcard_ID}}, Word ID: {{ID}}</div>
CSS
.card {
 font-family: arial;
 font-size: 20px;
 text-align: center;
 color: black;
 background-color: white;
}

 .header {font-family: "Calibri (Body)"; font-size:30px; color: #5a5a5a }
 .normal {display: }
 .meaning {font-family: "Calibri (Body)"; font-size:30px; color: #5a5a5a }
 .expression {font-family: "Calibri (Body)"; font-size: 30px; color: #053ac1;}

img {

width: auto;

height: auto;

max-width: 225px;

max-height: 225px;

}

.parent {
display: grid;
grid-template-columns: repeat(2, 1fr);
grid-template-rows: 1fr;
grid-column-gap: 0px;
grid-row-gap: 0px;
}

html {
 position: relative;
 min-height: 100%;
 width: 100%;
 display: -webkit-flex;
}

::-webkit-scrollbar { 
    display: none; 
}

body {
 margin: 0px;
}

.card {
 font-family: Century Gothic;
 font-size: 12px;
 text-align: center;
 color: black;
 display: -webkit-flex;
 min-height: 100%;
 width: 100%;
}

.cloze, .cloze b {
 font-weight: bold;
 color: #a55dba;
}

b { color: #305287; }

#extra {
  color: #3977a0;
  font-style: italic;
  margin-top: 1em;
}

/* YOU CAN CHANGE THE BACKGROUND HERE */

#qa {
 display: -webkit-flex;
 -webkit-flex-direction: column;
 -webkit-align-items: center;
 -webkit-justify-content: center;
 position: relative;
 -webkit-box-sizing: border-box;
 min-height: 100%;
 width: 100%;
 background-image: url("swedish-watercolor.jpg"); /* BACKGROUND IMAGE FILE */
 background-size: 100%;
}

/*STYLING OF CONTAINER*/

#container {
 background-color: #eaf9ff;
 background-image: linear-gradient(to bottom left, #b3e9ff, #eaf9ff);
 padding: 0.5em;
 min-height: 50%;
 width: 90%;
 display: -webkit-flex;
 -webkit-flex-direction: column;
 -webkit-align-items: center;
 -webkit-justify-content: center;
 border-radius: 8px;
 border: 1px solid #a5d5f3;
 font-size: 20px; /* CHANGE FONT SIZE HERE */
}

/* MOBILE NONSENSE */

.mobile .card {
  font-family: Helvetica;
  font-size: 16px;
}

.mobile #container {
  min-height: 40%;
  width: 80%;
  font-size: 16px;
}

.mobile #extra {
 display: inline-block;
 align: center;
 text-align: left;
}

.mobile button {
 font-size: 1em;
}

/* NIGHT MODE */

.nightMode #qa { background: #5f6060; }

.nightMode #container {
 background: none;
 color: #caddf7;
 border: none;
 border-radius: 0px;
 width: 100%;
 margin: auto;
 padding: 0;
 font-size: 1.3em;
}

.mobile .nightMode #container { font-size: 1em }

.nightMode .cloze, .nightMode .cloze b { color: #debcf2 !important; }
.nightMode b { color: #85b4f7; }
.nightMode #extra { color: #939393; }

/* BELLS AND WHISTLES */

#content {
 width: 90%;
}

#front {
 margin: auto;
}

button {
 margin-bottom: 0;
}

img {
 max-width: 100%;
 height: auto;
 align: center;
 margin-top: 5px;
}

ul, ol {
  /* center left-aligned text on card */
  display: inline-block;
  align: center;
  text-align: left;
  margin: auto;
  max-width: 40em;
}

.list {
  display: inline-block;
  align: center;
  margin: auto;
  max-width: 40em;
  text-align: left;
}
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iirc, you can delete the output card type… somehow … without losing the rest of the card types. I’d have to poke around in Anki to verify how to do this.

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I would absolutely back up before trying it, but in browser → card types → pick the card type from the drop down → choose remove card should do it.

edit: ugh, I just noticed that I was hovering over rename card type in the image :sweat_smile:

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Took me a moment to figure out what screen you were in (I haven’t updated my anki in ages because I swear every update breaks at least one plugin) but it worked! :tada: Thank you! Very minor thing, but I do like not having suspended cards that I don’t intend to ever unsuspend.

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It would drive me completely batty as well :joy:
Glad it worked!

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I have just under 500 words learned in theory and just set my new words to zero for the next week in preparation for going on a trip (I’m bad at doing reviews while traveling, but if I have <50/day instead of 100+ it’s manageable) so doing a quick update.

I started using Cats Love Youtube | pnlpal for YouTube videos with both English and Swedish subs. Much more convenient than downloading the subs myself. It’s from the same developer as Dictionariez which I plan to use more once I start reading Swedish content.

For the moment though I’m pressing hard on associating all words with their sounds and so I’m sticking exclusively to Swedish subbed content and flashcards with audio.

Yesterday I decided to look at Netflix’s Swedish offerings and found Pokemon Concierge has both Swedish dubbing and subbing. It’s not CC for the dubs so imperfect match, but it was close enough that I could generally follow the sounds by using the Swedish subs. Of course, I only understood maybe 10% (largely single words rather than sentences) and so I rewatched it in Japanese. I’ll probably watch it again in Swedish soon now that I know what is actually being said.

It’s kinda fun to watch something in Japanese for understanding and then in Swedish for learning! :smiley:

I also started using an Anki set with HP 1’s audiobook clips put together with the Swedish sentence and the English one it was translated from. Definitely far above my level but still very helpful to push meaning deeper into my head. I’m finding some subsections of longer sentences are beginning to make sense which is cool.

I’ve also been watching a few YouTube videos on Swedish grammar, and still haven’t cracked open the grammar book I bought :sparkles: :upside_down_face:

Still firmly A0, but entertained.

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I successfully studied my Swedish flashcards every day while traveling, but now that I’ve been back for a bit I’m finding that words just don’t feel like they’re sticking. Something I didn’t keep up with while traveling or get back into when I came back was watching Swedish (learner focused) youtube videos.
I usually watch these with either dual Swedish/English subs or only Swedish subs (if easy enough) and they are immensely helpful at making my brain internalize the words.

I suppose another thing is that my deck lacks example sentences on most cards, which I’ve been trying to remedy but at 20 new words a day that was so time consuming.

So. I’m changing things up again.

  1. 5 new words a day in Anki, not 20
  2. Minimum 15 min day Swedish youtube goal
    2.a. Yes, I know 15 is low but Swedish is still new enough to be brain-melty for me. I can work up from here.
  3. Nuke all un-introduced cards without example sentences (this will dramatically shrink my deck…)
  4. If/when I run out of cards, start pulling in ones I make using Dictionariez, with Forvo for the audio

Or that’s the plan anyways. I’ll give it a whirl and see if I like it and if I’m noticing results. It’s a bit harder to track progress this way compared to just ‘number of learned words in anki go up, weeee’ so I have to trust the process a bit.

I’m also going to try to work in some Swedish reading practice soon, plans still a bit vague. Trying to find the right resource(s) at the right level which I can plan a few weeks of practice around.
If anyone knows any good up-to-A2 level written Swedish sources (preferably with human audio!) please let me know. If you can personally vouch for them being worth it (even in another language) that means a lot. Most audio+text sources I can find are paid subscription models and I don’t want to waste money trialing out lots of different things.

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Are news interesting to you? Probably super basic recommendations but there are a few sources for news in easy language. That’s what I used. And I watched Pippi Longstocking on SVT with subtitles. SVT actually had its own app for learning Swedish that I used back then, but apparently it has been discontinued? But they still have some programs of it in the SVT library? But I really can’t remember what that was and if it’s useful: SVT Språkplay | SVT Kontakt

Here are easy news:

Otherwise, I use Bookmate on off for Serbian and Croatian, they also have Swedish. They often have books and audiobooks and aren’t too expensive and at least for Serbian/Croatian lots of kid’s books and kid’s audiobooks. You can also lookup things, although it’s not terribly useful: https://bookmate.com/

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