Taking those next steps…

fujiSo, I’m just about to start my third week of my Japanese challenge. I set this month aside to simply secure N4 grammar and around 500 Kanji using the ‘Basic Kanji’ book 1. Both of these are books I’ve used in the past, so technically I’m not learning anything new but rather becoming aware of things I’m confident with and things I need to review more regularly. In terms of both of these books, I’m on target to completing them by the end of this first month. Yet, that’s simply only completing them. What to do with those grey areas of knowledge?

Kanji
Here I’ve been noticing compound Kanji but I have forgotten the meaning of some parts of them. To help me further with this, next week I’ll be using a range of Kanji books (which I have a far few)  to see which is the best to clarify such difficulties. I’ll review on this next week.
N4 Grammar
There are a few grammar points which I’ve forgotten, am unsure of how to use or they are similar to other grammar constructions (just what are the nuances?). So, what do you do about this?
1) Forgotten grammar points
Writing practice – I’m in the process of writing sentences which I will post on LingQ or iTalki.
2) Confusion or uncertainty
This requires clarity from someone who can easily explain the points. In two weeks time I’m going to seek out my past tutors on iTalki for clarification. I think this is important otherwise I could end up learning them incorrectly or even just ignoring them completely.
This, then, leads to the problem of speaking. It’s so easy to tootle along with a bunch of books, jotting down sentences in my notebook (always good to write by hand as it helps secure Kanji practice) as I go. But speaking!!! Never one of my strengths as I don’t have daily contact with anyone who speaks Japanese. Also using iTalki can be difficult because of the time zone difference. So naturally this is a compromise on my speaking progress.
Solutions?
I’m going to try to do shadowing practice and post this on LingQ. It’s not really for people to check my pronunciation but more that by posting it will make me more committed to doing it. Also it will hopefully have the advantage of secure more natural patterns of language. For this, I’m going to be using the mini-conversations found in textbooks. I think when doing anything with the language, it’s good to try to secure as many skills as you can within a single practice session. Whilst for grammar practice, I will write out by hand on square paper (secure character shape and stroke order) my own sentences using the N4 book (secure grammar) with words from my ‘Basic Kanji’ book (secure Kanji knowledge and stroke order). So, I hope to do the same with speaking. Here I hope to secure grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and intonation. This is going to be an extra mini-goal for me for the next two weeks. After the two weeks I’ll review the books I found useful for this, my schedule to do the practice and the feedback I receive. Will I feel more confident to talk to my tutor?

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