Well, what with all the global challenges it seems worth celebrating the fact that the JLPT exams are going ahead in London in July 2022. You can book your exam via SOAS.

Originally I had grand plans of doing N4 – but since I won’t finish Genki II in time I’ve decided to go with consistently hitting my Japanese learning goals, rather than potentially feeling about down if I fail N4.

In preparation for the exam I’ve also redesigned my study approach – again 🙂

New Approach

To help improve my speaking ability with my iTalki teacher, I am back to learning three new words per day, and then link kanji in those words to daily sentence writing. Writing 2-3 sentences per day using these words and kanji may sound simplistic, but this helps me with remembering the vocabulary and also use of particles. And depending on your ability the writing part can take a while – since its challenging to know if what you’ve done is correct. This means validation with your teacher (don’t abuse friends as language tutors!) or with tools like HelloTalk.

To help those pesky new words stick, my memory castle technique is also being pulled out the archive again. Lets see how long this lasts this time. I’ve tweaked some of approaches from Magnetic Memory, but still need to give this due diligence I believe to make it truly effective for me.

As an example

Use your memory castle.

To remember ‘I am thirsty’ – or the literal Japanese phrase ‘throat is becoming dry’, のどが渇きました – I use a memory castle based on a hotel in Copenhagen that I once went too. I ‘pin’ the phrase to a specific place in the hotel lobby, which had a bar area and was across from a motorcycle dealership (Kawazaki). I remember the bar tender nodding (のど) his head to people ordering beer (they were thirsty), and I imagine them drinking the beer sitting on a motorbike (渇 – first portion of 渇きました) which is the Kawazaki part linking to the motobike dealership.

This may sound like a complex way to go about learning an easy phrase, and in the beginning I was not convinced this could be useful technique when a language has an infinite amount of phrases and words to try and recall. Additionally, I was not sure that the ‘long way’ of walking through the memory castle would be fast enough for language usage in real-time. BUT – I’ve come to understand that once that connection is made using the castle (or if you prefer, palace) – that link is instant, and you do not need that more complex series of links to recall the word or phrase.

I also only use this technique for those few bits of vocab that for some reason just won’t stick easily.