In a fit of procrastination, I’ve decided to start a language learning log here, for my Japanese, Mandarin, and Cantonese adventures (read: motivate me to start learning Chinese again)
I don’t really know how to organize this, so might update this in the future.
I “started” learning Japanese way back in middle school-ish after finding some VNs that were not really translated into English, and went through the whole rigamarole of setting up a text extractor. I tried to read it by looking up everything in the dictionary, having only learned hiragana and zero grammar, so as you can guess, I didn’t make it very far.
I still watched a lot of anime and read a lot of manga. I even dabbled in typesetting for a scanlation group, but didn’t do that for very long. It was pretty fun though!
2017 - 2018
My next foray into Japanese was in college. I took a year, going through Genki I, and then stopped, because I was also learning Chinese at the same time. Despite the short learning period, I think I got a pretty solid foundation in N5 material, because I only needed a bit of review when I went back to it later on.
2019 - 2021
I continued with Japanese on and off with Duolingo, a bit of WaniKani and Bunpro, but never seriously until now, because I always thought, “if I’m going to be learning a language, I should learn Chinese because heritage reasons”, but as a result, I didn’t learn anything at all. When I found WK and the book clubs there around 2021, I was excited, but then quickly burned out. I did manage to review all of the N5 grammar points on Bunpro in around a month, though, and started a bit of N4.
I continued with Duolingo on and off, but kept feeling like I wasn’t learning anything, and my time would be better spent actually reading things. I didn’t act on it though because I had a ~400 day streak and I didn’t really know where to start. But then, in October, I went to Japan and bought some manga and found Natively, and decided to learn Japanese again, because why not?
Anyway, I dropped Duolingo. I don’t think Duo has tracked me down yet…
Chinese 普通話 / 粵語
I’m a heritage Cantonese speaker, but I am far from fluent, because I only speak it with my parents and we don’t really talk about anything other than simple daily life things. I figured I should improve it so I could have deeper conversations with my family and took ~4 years of Mandarin in college. Well, my Mandarin got better, and so did my reading, but I didn’t take it in traditional Chinese nor did I actually improve my Cantonese speaking skills. Who woulda thunk?? (insert surprised pikachu face here)
I also briefly tried conversation practice in Cantonese with italki teachers, but I found it quite awkward. Might give it another go sometime…
I’m bad at goals so this is mostly just current planned activities.
Currently, I’m working my way through N4 grammar points in Bunpro and slowly building up my vocabulary. I don’t feel like learning from a textbook or doing Anki, so I’ve been just reading a lot with the dictionary + some jpdb.io for upcoming book clubs. A lot of the books (mostly manga) I want to read are around N3 level by Natively standards, which seems doable, so I want to try to get to the point where I can do more extensive reading with fewer lookups.
I also signed up for way too many book clubs next year (children’s book, beginner light novel, ?jojo?), not to mention the ABBC and BBC book clubs (though those have been very doable so far). I might drop some of them so I don’t burn out.
I guess my current goal for Mandarin would be “read (anything at all)”! And start learning traditional Chinese. I’m currently stuck in the intermediate (??) plateau but I really don’t feel like reading children’s books, so I might just dive into some easier webnovels and spam the popup dictionary. Better than not reading at all!
I also got some graded readers in Pleco, so I’m planning to work my way through those as well.
I keep saying I want to learn to speak Cantonese better, and therefore should probably get more 1:1 conversation practice, but that’s… stressful and intimidating. For now I want to find a decent thing to watch or listen to and just be more consistent about it. I have a couple of podcasts and YT channels that I should check out more often.
I wish there were more Cantonese-subbed content that I could watch since my reading skills are decent, but unfortunately a lot of Cantonese content is subbed in Standard Chinese (Mandarin). Not a big deal since there’s shared vocab, but does make it harder to look up words…
Next year I am restarting my job search (currently between jobs due to burnout) – as I’m in software engineering but haven’t interviewed in a couple of years, I have a lot of studying to do. So I probably will have a lot less free time for language learning. We shall see!
I will probably be using this log to track my weekly and/or monthly activities across all three languages and figure out what’s working for me, and maybe put some fun misc things that I’ve run into and want to share.