From about 2007 until 2009, I set a goal to learn all the standard kanji (written Japanese characters adapted from Chinese) to put me at a 3rd grade reading level.  Combined with the ones I already knew, this would make about 500 kanji*.  I made flash cards for each one, with each card containing the most commonly used words.  Some cards only had one or two words, while others had close to two dozen.  But after I finished making the cards, I fell out of practice and forget nearly everything. 

In the summer of 2011, I started reviewing them again, at a rate of three cards a day, but I was not retaining anything from the cards that had more than just a few words on them.  So, I decided to pick only one (sometimes two) of the most important words on each card to review. 

And now in February 2012, I have just finished going through all those cards again!  Next goal: rather than starting over and learning a whole new set of words from each card (since I’m sure I still have not retained everything I learned in this most recent review), I want to compile an index of sorts of all the new words that I can keep handy and try to:

  • work them into the few Japanese conversations I get to have
  • recognize them in Japanese magazines or hear on Japanese TV
  • work them into Japanese-related projects I do (there were several words in Japan’s song for JSC that I should’ve known but had to look up anyway)

*At that time, there were 1,945 standard kanji you needed to know to be functionally literate; in 2010, the number was increased to 2,136.