Goals are essential when learning a language.
Template downloads can be found near the bottom of the post.
If you have been following my blog then you may have read my Learning Japanese Diary series.
In each post I discuss and breakdown diary entries that I made during the 18 month period to Japanese fluency.
The main reason for originally writing the diary entries was so that I could see my own progress, and it helped a lot.
Learning a language using immersion is a tough challenge. I had a few moments when I lost all confidence in what I was doing but being able to look back on the progress I had made via the diary and videos I had made, managed to bring me through.
Now I’m not saying to go out and do exactly what I did, nor am I saying to write 4000 word essays every month about your progress, but I do recommend at least tracking the basics.
I actually kept track of all my statistics in a separate document which I called “Japanese Goals”. It was just a basic text file with milestones and dates of when I had completed them. I highly recommend that you take a look at the example below and download the templates so that you can make use of this great technique yourself.
To make this as simple as possible for you, I have decided to share with you exactly how I went about tracking my progress.
When it comes to learning a language via the AJATT method, there are specific things that you should be doing such as: constant listening, as much reading as possible and SRSing using software such as Anki.
The two easiest things to track then are “hours of listening” and “sentences learnt”. You can also track reading as well but it is much harder to do. Instead I would suggest to also work out your “comprehension percentage rate” every couple of months instead.
Examples of my SRS sentence flash card goals
This is straight from my “Japanese Goals” document.
Learn first 1000 sentences
COMPLETE N/A (Can’t remember)
Learn 2000 sentences
COMPLETE / 25th of November 2015
Learn 3000 sentences
COMPLETE / 22nd of December 2015
Learn 4000 sentences
COMPLETE / 11th of January 2016
Learn 5000 sentences
COMPLETE / 3rd of April 2016
Learn 6000 sentences
COMPLETE / 4th of May 2016
Learn 7000 sentences
COMPLETE / 5th of June 2016
Learn 7500 sentences
COMPLETE / 9th of June 2016
Learn 8000 sentences
COMPLETE / 30th of June 2016
Learn 9000 sentences
COMPLETE / 24th of July 2016
Learn 10000 sentences
COMPLETE / 13th of August 2016
An example of Kanji Goals
In this example you might notice that there are goals for not just learning the Kanji but also memorizing them. I never bothered doing this for sentences as I felt it was too much work but you can do it if you want to.
You can use Anki‘s statistics section to find out how many cards you have “learnt” and how many you have “memorised”.
Learn most common 2000~ kanji
COMPLETE / 30th of September 2015
Memorise 2000 kanji
COMPLETE / 10th of April 2016
Learn extra 1000~ kanji
COMPLETE 5th of April 2016
If you have the Japanese Support Plugin installed then Anki will also show statistics for Kanji which you can view by clicking on Tools -> Kanji Stats. This will tell you how many of the jyouyou kanji you have seen in your sentence deck. This can be quite useful too.
Learn at least 1 reading of each of the 常用漢字
Grade 1: 80 of 80 (100.0%)
Grade 2: 160 of 160 (100.0%)
Grade 3: 200 of 200 (100.0%)
Grade 4: 200 of 200 (100.0%)
Grade 5: 185 of 185 (100.0%)
Grade 6: 181 of 181 (100.0%)
JuniorHS: 934 of 934 (100.0%)
New jouyou: 196 of 196 (100.0%)
Here are some examples of the goals that I used to measure comprehension in different aspects of Japanese.
When it comes to actually trying to measure comprehension, sometimes it’s good to just go with a guess as to how good you are.
For example, I never bothered to fully work out how good I was at reading a dictionary, I just sort of reached a point where I could manage to read it relatively okay and marked it as complete.
On the other hand, I really wanted to know just how much of my favourite TV shows I understood so I took Sword Art Online (Amazon) and ran a comprehension test.
I converted the entire two seasons into Anki decks (using the method found here) and then ran through 2 random episodes 1 sentence at a time, counting how many sentences I understood out of the entire episode (by using the subtitles after hearing the audio).
This then gave me a rough idea as to how much I understood.
You may notice the added section “Duration ______”. This is to try to push you to get the goal completed in a certain time frame. I believe that this is a great tactic to keeping the process of learning a new language efficient as it pressures you to get each goal completed quickly.
Started on 1st November 2015
Be able to read a Japanese only dictionary with 60-100% comprehension
Duration 1~3 months
COMPLETE Finished on 3rd January 2016
Started on 11th November 2015
Be able to understand 70-80% of any Sword Art Online episode without subtitles
Duration 1~2 months
Test of 2 episodes (tested on 2nd and 3rd of January 2016)
1: S1. EP. 22 87.28% comprehension
2: S2. EP. 11 83.28% comprehension
COMPLETE Finished on 3rd of January 2016
If you want to measure your reading comprehension then do the same thing as I did with the listening test but use a document that has been translated into your native tongue to test your accuracy.
Creating other goals
Now of course, everyone has slightly different goals in language learning.
Some people want to reach fluency, others just want to learn some basic phrases for travel, others want to pass their exams. Therefore my goals that I have used may not suit you or your style.
Instead you should make goals about what you want out of your language skills and create goals based on that.
Here are some ideas that you could use:
Started on _______
Be able to do most of my university reading in Japanese with 90%+ comprehension
Duration 1~6 months
Finished on _______
Started on _______
To be able to speak conversationally with friends
Duration 1~3 months
Finished on _______
I hope you found this post helpful and remember you can use this for learning just about anything! Keeping track of your progress and goals is a great way to keep you motivated when learning something new as well as providing great insight on how to make the process more efficient.
Definitely give it a try!
Thanks for reading.
北海道札幌市 – 2017/10/01
Here are some of my favorite tools and sites for learning Japanese
Thank you for reading this blog post, which I hope you found useful for learning Japanese. Here are some of the most useful websites that I’ve found for finding Japanese content to use for immersion as well as some really useful learning tools to help you through your Japanese studies. Some of these are affiliate links which just means that if you decide to use these sites by clicking the following links, then I will earn a commission. But honestly speaking, these are the sites that I use and recommend language learners, even my friends, to use anyway.
Anki Tools: To get started, I really like Migaku for Anki. By itself, Anki is already a super useful tool for language learners but Migaku allows for integration with websites like YouTube and Netflix, allowing it’s users to create flashcards from the shows and videos that they are watching, as they are watching them. If you use my link you can get an extra month for free.
Speaking Practice: For this I absolutely love iTalki. There are thousands of Japanese teachers on the platform that are available at all times of the day to have conversations with you, in Japanese. Some teachers take a more traditional approach while others are just there to chat, these are the ones I would recommend if you are looking to improve your conversational Japanese. Lessons start from just $5 and there’s no long term commitment, I highly recommend them.
Immersion: I’ve used a lot of different earphones / headphones over the years but by far the one that has come out on top is the NENRENT S570. This is a singular in-ear earphone that matches your skin tone to keep it discrete, meaning you can listen to the language you are learning while at work, or school. For a full list of tools and gadgets I recommend for maximizing your immersion time, check out this blog post.