The Dragonball Litmus Test 1

I read this LessWrong article the other day and I got to thinking that, while I was studying more and experiencing more overall Japanese on a daily basis than I had been all year, I still wasn't improving as fast as I could be, or even as fast as I was at the beginning of the year. And because the article was well written, I could see exactly where my problems were: (b), (h), and to a lesser but still annoying extent (f).
  • (b) Ask ourselves how we could tell if we achieved it (“what does it look like to be a good comedian?”) and how we can track progress;
  • (h) Use environmental cues and social contexts to bolster our motivation, so we can keep working effectively in the face of intermittent frustrations, or temptations based in hyperbolic discounting;
  • (f) Focus most of the energy that *isn’t* going into systematic exploration, on the methods that work best;
(h) is mostly hereditary, in the form of my pap's short temper. I'm working on it. (f) is something everyone deals with, usually in the form of mindless Facebook surfing. I also have a hard time not checking Newser.com at least at the beginning and end of every day, but that's really the last of a long process of whittling down fun-but-useless English distractions off of my free time.

But (b) is something I stopped thinking proactively about a while ago, probably mostly because I tend to look at the handful of popular language tests available in Japan like an old man looks at these damn kids these days what have no respect. (As in with grumpy contempt, in case that metaphor wasn't clear.)

But I missed the point about tests being a useful indicator of how you're advancing in a given subject. (And uh, sorry to my friends who said those exact words to me any number of times over the past few years while I nodded off.) So I got to thinking how I could measure my language ability in a way that I would deem appropriate to my methodology (e.g. fun) and effective (e.g. evaluating a real skill that I would use in my daily Japano-life).

So I've come up with a reading test so far; hopefully speaking, reading, and writing will follow. I'm going to evaluate myself with Dragonball. The manga series has dozens of volumes, the themes are consistent throughout, and I can evaluate my both my average reading speed and vocabulary comprehension.

I reckon doing one of these reading tests once a month or more will be an interesting experiment.
I just finished my first text, in fact. I set a timer for an hour and opened up vol. 6. (I finished vol. 5 a few months ago and hadn't touched the series since.) After an hour, I'd gotten through 63 pages and had to look up 42 words. My iDictionary lets me bookmark all the words I can (quickly) look up in a Dragonball folder, so I'll be able to keep track of whether or not the average number of words I have to look up in a session goes down or stays the same over time.

I reckon it'll be an interesting experiment. It's already turned out to be a good reason to restart my blog, anyways (^_^)

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