I continue to have really mixed feelings about my progress in Japanese. In some ways I know that I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I was before – I can actually have a coherent – but basic – conversation, and I know quite a few more kanji and jyukugo than ever. And even more, I’m able to start making connections between kanji and words that I couldn’t previously – actually sounding out jyukugo and being right half the time on how to pronounce them.
Which is probably already better than many gaikokujin living in Japan now!
But it’s still hard. I’m at the point now where I kind of have an inkling of what I don’t know, and it’s a lot! I know about maybe two hundred kanji to varying degrees of proficiency, but there are about two thousand more. There are many more readings, and thousands of jyukugo to learn. And that’s not even including the new grammatical structures I need to internalize.
I found an app called “kanji tree” (only available on Android for now) which has been really helpful. I’m learning all sorts of different words and kanji and it’s helping me to remember them. I’m not quite there yet even with those things, but it’s giving me a good foundation, and the spaced repetition is helpful. If I were to be honest though, right now the on-yomi readings are the most intimidating things about Japanese. It’s easy to learn the kun-yomi readings, for the most part, but since on-yomi readings are rarely if ever used in isolation, it’s a very intimidating prospect to learn how they’re all put together.
It feels like I’ve climbed one mountain, and reached high enough that I can see a much taller mountain in the distance, and I have to climb that one too. It’s, honestly, a little discouraging. It feels like I’m hitting a plateau, even with the lessons, and I’m not sure I like that.
But maybe that also means I’m in a good place. I guess I’ll find out.