Making the learning curve easier

I’ve noticed a huge difference in terms of difficulty between the lists I’m making from Kanji in Context and the list of vocabulary I gleaned from an anime episode. I can learn (cram) the vocabulary from the anime episode pretty well but doing it on Skritter is a whole different experience. Not all, but several of the words have kanji that just will not come to mind. They’re not necessarily hard to write I just blank completely. I’m loathe to just stop studying this list because I have made some headway but I kind of groan when I see a word come up from it and think daring. I was doing so well too.

My new plan of attack is to get through at least the “easy” words and kanji from kanji in context before bringing on words from the wild so speak in Skritter. I’m curious if other people have found the same thing and how they dealt with it. It’s a lot of fun to learn vocabulary from stuff you’re reading/watching but thanks to the difficulties of kanji that just isn’t a practical way to study for me (yet). (My level of Japanese is almost N2 level so studying anime isn’t really that difficult for me otherwise).

I think a good tactic is to ban the writing prompt for any of these words just temporarily until you feel you’re ready to tackle them, that way you can still study the reading/definition prompts without being burdened with the writing prompts, and then later on you can unban the prompts. It sounds like they might be leeches!

It is for this reason that I’ve mostly given up studying lists, and almost entirely focus on studying characters/words I find in context of TV/reading/whatever. I (try to) keep track of what I’ve watched/read/heard, go study the words/characters I didn’t know, and in the mean time watch/read/listen again from time to time to keep the context fresh.

The only studying from lists I do is when I don’t have enough input to otherwise keep my queue going. I know I’ll have to get through HSK somehow since my teacher wants me to take the tests, but the effort spent to commit words/characters to memory without context is just not worth the return. On top of that, my teacher is constantly having to correct my use of words that I learned without context, i.e. I’m having to re-learn some things.

What I do for HSK vocabulary that I haven’t come across in reading, is to search for example sentences (ChinesePod and nciku are good for this for Mandarin - I’m sure there are similarly good sources for Japanese). I look for a few different uses, if there are. Then I read those sentences a couple of times every day, and then start studying the individual words. This gives much better results than simply learning words on their own, and I find learning characters in this context, they are much easier to remember.

There’s a lot of resources for Japanese. I’m currently mining sentences from kanji in context. There’s a ton of vocabulary. It has lists and a lot of example sentences.