Japanese and French: goals and progress

So much good news lately, it’s time to balance things out with some bad news.

So while progress in Japanese has been solid in most aspects, I recently became aware of the importance of pitch accent and how my current knowledge of pitch accent is lacking. For those who don’t know what pitch accent is, it’s probably best explained by example. Compare the pronunciation of the word convict as a verb to that of convict as a noun. You see the difference? It’s the same in Japanese. The difference though is that in Japanese the pitch accent isn’t 100% predictable. You simply have to have heard the word or you need to look it up in a pitch accent dictionary. Having said that, I’m currently in the process of cross referencing all my vocabulary against a pitch accent dictionary to ensure that my pronunciation is correct. I’m also now including a color notation to denote pitch accent in all of my Anki cards.

I also posted a question about it here to get further input.

Unfortunately, this is a major time sink, but it’s necessary. :disappointed_relieved:


I posted this on HiNative to assess the damage, and it turned out much better than I thought. I spoke several sentences which were basically representative of my speech in Japanese and then asked for a critique (inflection, pitch accent, etc.). The results were surprisingly positive. Yes, there were errors, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. And soon all of those errors will be gone anyway.

Also, I further refined by pitch accent notation to differentiate between a flat pattern and downstep (underline):


Things aren’t as bad as I originally thought, although I have had to take a break from my textbook to focus on pitch accent.


Studies of pitch accent are going really well. I’ve gone through about 1,500 words so far, scrupulously notating each. It’s taking a long time, but it’s well worth the effort. Ultimately, I want to sound passably native, so pitch accent theory is essential. Nouns are static, but pitch accent often changes with verbs based on the conjugation, so that further complicates things. Here’s an example.

French and Spanish are also going really well. I recently uploaded some recordings, and I got very positive feedback for both. If you’re curious, you can find them here:



Done!! It took longer than I expected, but I’m finally done notating all the words in my Anki deck. I also feel like I memorized roughly 95% of them, so I’m happy about that.

This is the second overhaul I’ve done in Japanese. The first was when I took a break for several months to learn the kanji. I wish I had studied like this from the very beginning, but at least I’m on the right track now. To anybody who’s considering learning Japanese: Study pitch accent and kanji from the very beginning. You’ll make life easier down the road.

Anyway, having taken that detour I no longer have enough time to finish the textbook on Japanese grammar before going back to school. It’s unfortunate, but it’s all right. I’m going to continue to practice the pronunciation of all the words I know until they’re second nature. I’ll also be uploading some new recordings to HiNative to get more feedback.

At this point I need to start positing myself for a maintenance routine that I can use over this upcoming semester. I’m thinking that basically it’ll consist of 3 parts:

  1. Writing on HiNative to practice grammar
  2. Core 10,000 vocabulary deck to practice listening and expand vocabulary
  3. Current vocabulary deck to practice pronunciation (pitch accent)

All my other languages are already in a good position for maintenance, so there’s not much to change there.


wow, so much good stuff thank you so muhc for sharing, will come back for future updates guaranteed. well done !!!


This whole thread is super helpful thank you! Planning to start learning japanese and want to use it for a massive memory project, Trying to find a way to get a 1000-5000 word list with hiragana or romanji or katakana (i dont mind its just so I can read it phonetically) but also with pitch accent so I can memorise them all perfectly from the start but this has proved very difficult. Thank you for the pitch accent advice I had never heard about this before, or at least realised it was a big deal

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You’re welcome, ericam. :slight_smile:

To mcnallymemory: Yeah, no problem. From what I’ve read, it seems like pitch accent isn’t emphasized as much as it should be. Although Japanese is officially atonal, the tonal aspects are important enough that neglecting them can pose a real barrier to communication, or at the very least give you a really bad accent.

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What do you do when a word starts with a vowel like ashita? How do you use the ben method for those?

how do you use the ben method if the word starts with a vowel sound like あ in あした?

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