Sunday, October 17, 2004

Kanji Gold: The Yellow Brick Road to an Easy San-Kyu in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test

Those who know I lived in Japan for fifteen years of my salad days or who have heard me make small talk in Japanese often fall under the misimpression that I am “fluent” in Japanese. This could not be further from the truth. I am merely functional. This December I will be taking the 日本語能力試験 (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), and just like most of my fellow ALTs, I will be attempting a modest 三級 (Level Three). I have found that working hard and doing well in English language institutions of higher learning has not made me any more diligent in the study of 漢字 (kanji) than I was in elementary school. So naturally I have sought out the most painless way of building up my Japanese vocabulary and kanji base. The free software Kanji Gold, when used correctly, makes studying almost as effortless as watching television reruns. Choose your grade level (probably grade 1), set the delay constants (under “Options”) to a comfortable 5~8 seconds, and then click either “Pop Kanji” or “Vocab” → “PopCompound” depending on your mood, then vege-out. Failed to concentrate today? Don’t worry; you can always do the same thing again tomorrow. No need to focus or anything. Hey, you just finished university. You owe it to yourself to be lazy.