>>2017.09.29: still a WIP >>


Online university degree (Japanese major) from Högskolan Dalarna in Sweden. Don’t need Swedish language (it's taught in English) or residence in Sweden to get the degree.

└◆ Official Class List
└◆ 95% dropout rate
└◆ Free for Europeans or residents of Europe (spouse or work VISA; not student VISA)

1 full-time semester = 30 credits = 20 weeks
└◆ 3-5 hours of class time a week
└◆ including expected self-study time, equivalent to a 45 hr/wk job


★ Started with 200 students; ended with 50 after the 1st 10 weeks, 30 after the 2nd.

∇ 1st 10 weeks: Japanese I: Basic Proficiency (15 credits)

Genki I, ch 1-61 chapter per week.
└◆ Homework: Audio/reading quizzes, forum & handwriting tasks once a week. Occasional recording tasks. "Forum tasks" are just 1-2 sentences. "Do you like dogs? I like dogs."
└◆ Bonus PPT presentations about ourselves/our countries to Spanish students also studying Japanese.
└◆ Final essay: 400-500 letters about "your best memory".
└◆ Final exam: verb conjugation, single kanji writing, single kanji reading.

∇  2nd 10 weeks: Japanese I: Language Proficiency (15 credits).

Genki I: ch 7-end1 ch/wk
└◆ Homework: same as previous class.
└◆ Final essay: 400-500 letters about "something in Japan", I wrote about dog cafés.
└◆ Final exam: same as previous class + simple Japanese questions about our essays. "Have you ever been to a dog café? Do you own a dog?".

Genki I = JLPT N5 level
└◆ You don't even know all the basic verbforms and can't understand any "real Japanese". In English terms, "I... dogs" level.
└◆ You can self-study Genki I from start to finish in 1-2 months.
└◆ 1st year uni studies in USA, France, Germany. 1st semester in Sweden.

Study/Practice Recs:
└◆ N4-N5 anime
└◆ N4-N5 grammar
└◆ 二ノ国 (Ni no Kuni: NDS, not PS2), has furigana & voice-acting.
└◆ とびだせ どうぶつの森 (Animal Crossing New Leaf: 3DS), has furigana.
└◆ Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal (GBC), or Sun/Moon (3DS), other Pokemon games are harder. SM has optional kanji mode.
└◆ BOTさん (short stories with pictures)
└◆ Go Nihongo (culture stories)
└◆ Go Nihongo (short stories)

★ Pokemon SM in kanji mode ("Even if a policeman's weak, it's fine! 'Cause Alola's peaceful y'know!"):


★ Ended with 20 students. At least 6 had visited Japan for long stays, were living in Japan, or had Japanese parents/girlfriends etc.

Θ Japanese IIOral Proficiency, Written Proficiency (30 credits)

Genki II: ch 1-end1 ch/wk.
└◆ Homework: same as previous semester + forum tasks graduate from sentences to paragraphs.
└◆ Final essay: 1,000 letters; I wrote about family/marriage relationships.
└◆ Final exam: instructions are in Japanese. Reading paragraphs aloud; reading and translating sentences. Questions on our final essays are asked in English ("I didn't understand what you meant here, why did you write that?").

Genki II = JLPT N4 level
└◆ You know all the basic-polite verbforms (no archaic, very formal, informal or slang forms). Classmates said that when going to Japan at this stage they felt like they knew "no Japanese at all". "I like dogs" level.
└◆ You can self-study Genki 2 from start to finish in 1-2 months.
└◆ 2nd year in USA. 2nd or 3rd year in France. 2nd semester in Sweden.
└◆ The average exchange student (world-wide) begins their exchange with Genki II knowledge.

Recs: Same as Genki I.

★ After 2 semesters you're officially able to study abroad but still can't understand daily conversation, read the average manga etc. Class hasn't taught informal language yet and your "respectful language" (keigo) is almost nonexistant. I heavily recommend you take 3rd semester as well as self-study until you reach JLPT N2 level before going on exchange.


★ Ended with 14-17 students. 4-5 had been living in Japan for at least a year, or had Japanese parents etc. 3 had never been to Japan (including me).

Λ Japanese III: Language Proficiency (15 credits)

Tobira ch 1-71 ch/2 wks. Tobira's 90% in Japanese and instead of a "textbook" it's more of a "learn by immersive reading" book.
└◆ Class is taught 90% in Japanese. We start learning informal speech.
└◆ Homework: info is given out 90% in Japanese. Kanji reading quizzes/grammar worksheets every 2 weeks. 5-minute recordings & PPTs, 1500-1700 letter essays, 1-2 paragraph forum posts 2-3 times in the semester. No kanji handwriting (and none for the rest of the degree).
└◆ Class activities: Reading aloud, discussing, summarizing, finding info in nonfiction paragraphs. Learning how to complain, ask questions politely, say "your own" opinions.
└◆ Final essay: 1,500 letter research paper + 5-minute PPT on a topic within the first 7 chapters of Tobira. Mine was "Do Japanese people think about their religion on a daily basis?" (Answer: no, even if they do "religious" stuff they don't see it as "religion").
└◆ Final exams: 10min kanji reading (type in answer); 20min grammar worksheet (mostly multiple-choice). 70% = passing grade.

└◆ Learn N3 and N2 vocabulary ASAP.
└◆ Translate reading passages before they're taken up in class so you can remember the contents better.
└◆ Tobira explains things "lightly" at first, then much better 5-10 chapters later. I recommend starting at chapter 15 and going backwards to chapter 1.
└◆ Do grammar homework the same day as that grammar appeared in class so that everything is fresh in your head.

└◆ N5-N3 anime
└◆ N3-N2 grammar
└◆ .hack// original 4 PS2 games, they're voice-acted. Parody mode that unlocks after you've beaten normal mode is easier to understand.
└◆ Sims 4 (computer game)
└◆ Let's Plays, Vlogs (especially "meal times", "testing out products")
└◆ Drama CDs with matching manga panels; look on YouTube and NicoNico

Sims 4:

Λ 1st 10 weeks: Japanese III: Short Stories (7 credits)

太宰治の海 (In class I understood 70% with a dictionary; at JLPT N2 without a dictionary, 99%)
林芙美子の絵本 (In class 40%; N2 xx%)
芥川龍之介のトロッコ (In class 20-30%; N2 xx%)
林芙美子の蛙 (In class 30-40%; N2 90%)
岡本かの子の愛よ愛 (In class 20-30%; N2 80%)
└◆ Class is 70% in Japanese.
└◆ Homework: 1-page book reports (in English), easy reading comprehension worksheets (in Japanese) every 2-3 weeks. "What happened in the story, and what are your thoughts about it?".
└◆ Class activities: Reading aloud, translating sentences. The teacher points out dialectal stuff, kanji differences (木 vs 樹; 聞 vs 訊 etc). You can read your answer directly from the text instead of answering from memory.
└◆ Final essay: 1,000-1,500 letter book report (in Japanese).

└◆ Learn N3 and N2 vocabulary ASAP.
└◆ Translate the entire story as best you can before it's taken up in class. Your translation'll be full of errors but still helps a lot.
└◆ The in-class PDFs are unreadable. I used two computer screens. Some people printed out the stories and read them from paper.

Λ 2nd 10 weeks: Japanese III: Reading Manga (7 credits)

Textbooks (beware of scans: missing pages, out-of-order chapters!)
ドラえも1 Fujiko. F. Fujio ISBN 4-09-140001-92
落第忍者乱太郎1 Amako Sobee ISBN 978-4-02-275001-33
ちびまる子ちゃん1 Sakura Momoko ISBN 4-08-618115-04
ゲゲゲの鬼太郎1 Mizuki Shigeru ISBN 978-4-12-204821-8

└◆ Homework: understand basic plotpoints (usually "almost" understandable from the images alone). Weekly worksheets, sometimes with 300-letter answers. 5-10min PPT on a topic the teacher chooses (mine was "school events in Japan", ex. cultural festivals and sports days).
└◆ Class activities: No reading aloud. The teacher asks questions about the basic chapter contents, if we know a word/cultural reference. Read directly from your homework to say your answers. In the last few weeks we start learning informal Japanese.
└◆ Final essay: 1,200 letters on "how is manga good for learning Japanese?".

└◆ Learn N3 and N2 vocabulary ASAP.
└◆ Watch the anime, listen to the drama CDs, read the scanlations  (those I found were full of huge errors) before reading in Japanese.
└◆ Do the homework as you read in Japanese. Read through the chs a 2nd time the day before class.

Tobira = JLPT N3 level
└◆ After finishing Tobira you'll understand 30-90% of all modern Japanese (30% = war, political, legal or dialectal talk; 50% = daily conversation, shounen manga; 90% = shoujo, yaoi, porn or slice-of-life manga). "I like dogs and I had a dog when I was a kid" level. A good enough base to start living in Japan with.
└◆ You can self-study Tobira from start to finish in 2 months.
└◆ 3rd-4th years in USA; 3rd-4th semesters in Sweden.
└◆ N3 is the average (world-wide) level of a finished Bachelor's Degree.
└◆ The average exchange student (world-wide) returns from Japan with N3-level knowledge.

In 2nd semester (Dec to Jan) I self-studied Tobira from start to finish, until then I had been more or less purely studying from books. Started using Japanese on Twitter, watching anime with Japanese subs, reading manga etc. every day. In 3rd semester the few classmates I asked still weren't studying in summer or reading manga in their free time.

Jan 29th, 2017 (beginning of 3rd semester), took the J-CAT:
 • Vocab: 41 / 100 
 • Grammar: 50 / 100 
 • Reading: 47 / 100 
 • Listening: 40 / 100 
 • Overall: 178 / 400 
= JLPT N3. 201 or higher would've been N2. Some of my classmates had around 130; others (living in Japan) had over 201.


June: The amount of kanji (not "words") I didn't know in an 80's scifi novel (Cyber City OEDO 808):

July 2nd 2017 I took the JLPT N2 (with 3 months to prepare). Right after the JLPT I completely stopped studying from textbooks/lessons, instead just read manga, watched anime at animelon and wrote to people online. Got my test results August 23rd:
 • Vocab, Grammar: 27 / 60 (19 to pass)
 • Reading: 23 / 60 (19 to pass)
 • Listening: 30 / 60 (19 to pass)
 • Overall: 80 / 180 (90 to pass)
= Failed by 10 points.

August: I was securely in JLPT N2. I could more or less understand job ads, livestreams, non-political radio talks (ex. voice-actor interviews). News articles, dialects, archaic speech ("crazy monk-talk" etc) were still too difficult. Was using Japanese 4 hours a day on average.

September: Moved on to "real life Japanese": if I wanted to know a recipe, info about VISAs to Japan, etc. I googled in Japanese first before English; set my computer to Japanese etc. Started watching anime and documentaries even without Japanese subs. With Japanese subs, I understood about 60-70% of N1, 80-90% of N2, 99% of N5-N3 shows without looking anything up. Without subs, 40-50% of N1, 70-80% of N2, 90% of N5-N3.


October 3rd, 2017: Went to Japan for the first time in my life, from Högskolan Dalarna (Sweden) to Miyagi University of Education (MUE, 宮城教育大学, Sendai) for a year. Here's my English exchange blog, which has extra info like how much it all cost. Here's my Japanese one, which I didn't edit much after writing so you can watch my Japanese level grow.

★ After WWII the USA reformed Japan's education system, so Japanese uni is like American uni. Instead of 2-3 classes per semester, 3-5 hrs/wk on degree-focused topics like in Nordic unis, you have 7-8 classes on various topics 5+ hrs/wk.

Σ MUE: (Autumn 2017)


JLPT N2: You start learning lots of slang, archaic & dialectal stuff. Japanese starts to click and feel natural. N4-N5 level stuff doesn't even require brainpower to understand. N2 has, overall, the most useful vocabulary and grammar for anime and manga. "Y'know, I had dogs when I was a kid, and they're really cute so I like them" level.
└◆ N2 is business-level, the lowest "professional translator" level, and the level of a finished Swedish Bachelor's Degree.

└◆ N2-N1 anime
└◆ N2-N1 grammar
└◆ Easy fanfic (on Pixiv)
└◆ Visual Novels (Dating SIMs etc)

N2 anime: "Parasyte"

Hunter x Hunter


Ω  MUE: (Spring 2018)


JLPT N1: You can even read scifi novels and newspaper articles without a problem.
└◆ N1 is the standard "professional translator" level, and the average level of a finished Master's degree (world-wide).

└◆ N1 anime: however instead of looking for "N1 anime" you should ignore level and watch ANY anime that you lack vocabulary in, etc. doctor shows for  medical vocabulary. If you're only see "molotov cocktail" twice in 40 episodes it means you won't end up learning it; that's how most N1 vocabulary is if it's not a themed show.
└◆ N1 grammar

N1-level anime: "Psycho Pass"


★ A "degree thesis" is a long essay/research paper you write in your last semester to finish your degree. You're not supposed to take any real classes at the same time as it.


★ You can never be too far ahead. I was supposedly a full semester ahead of the class in both 2nd and 3rd semester but felt like I was barely hanging on.

★ If you don't understand the grammar, skip it, revisit it later — and read tons of manga. You'll see it 500 times in manga compared to just 5 times in your textbook. I've learned way more grammar/vocabulary from anime/manga than I have from any textbook.

"Read the Kanji"

• Learn 3-5 words, read a single manga/book/fanfic page or watch 1 minute of a TV show, then learn 3-5 more words. That's how I could keep up my motivation and study all day long. When reviewing, review 10-25 words, read 1 page etc.

• Use black background with light text to save your eyes; this can be done with Stylish and CSS on your computer, or changing the font type and inverting the colours on your smartphone.

• Set sites/apps to authentic-looking handwriting fonts. Below is "Seafont" (海フォント) on the Memrise app. You can get handwriting fonts at a site like this: http://www.freejapanesefont.com/category/handwriting/

"Honyaji Re" (ほにゃ字)

For practicing handwriting, you can read something random in a handwriting font and copy down the whole text by hand.

• Break each word into its kanji (meaning + 2 most common pronunciations), then its compounds, then the full word. Ex: for 子犬 (koinu, puppy) memorize:

子 - offspring, small thing
子 - (Japanese pronunciation) ko
子 - (Chinese pronunciation) shi
犬 - dog
犬 - (JP) inu
犬 - (CN) ken
子犬 - koinu
子犬 - "child-dog", puppy

• It's best if you memorize vocabulary using a language that's NOT English; my retention rate is 70% if I use English but 90% if Esperanto (English is my first language). Your brain simply has an easier time if you're memorizing "north, opposite-north" instead of "north, south".

• Replace the roots of words in a text with matching kanji. This works much better with Esperanto, Swedish etc than English because with English you can no longer tell 私 is a noun, 好 a verb, 黒 an adjective:

I like my black dogs —> 私 好 y s
Jag gillar mina svarta hundar —> 私 好r a a ar
Mi ŝatas miajn nigrajn hundojn —> 私 好as ajn ajn ojn

English also has ex. "I like him", "he ran like the wind", "it was like, almost too big": 好 only means the first (=Esperanto and Japanese use 3 different words where English uses 1).

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