The Japanese regimen
Since my return from Japan last year, mayn people have what I do in order to keep up and imrpove my Japanese language ability. Honestly, not as much as I should. Most of my practice these days is reading and writing, with very little aural practice.
One of the most frustrating things when I started to learn Japanese was the speed, or lack thereof, at which I could read hiragana and katakana. Back around 2007, it would take me a good 30 seconds to read ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu, or thank you). Now I can read it at what is probably close to a normal speed. This made my Japanese class rather painful for me when I’d be called on. Having a sentence like こんにちは!私の名前は田中です。にじゅうななさいです was almost unbearable. (Hello! My name is Tanaka. I’m 27 years old.)
My improvement didn’t come overnight, I’m sure, but it sure feels that way. I believe moving to Japan was the catalyst for improving my reading speed. It’s not because I actually lived there, but because I had to read it all the time. Don’t you remember how slow you read English when you learned to read? How many times you tripped over your words? I do. I remember reading out loud from a textbook in the living room while my dad watched TV. He wasn’t overly critical, but he would point out words I’d pronounce wrong, and when I would get bored and intentionally read slowly in a monotone voice, he would give me words of encouragement. Basically, reading more (and even out loud) will get you to read faster.
I try and read all types of things. Even if I don’t undestand most of the kanji I come across, I still try and read what I can pronounce. Whether it’s hard news, video game news, manga, it doesn’t matter to me.
For learning kanji, I’m using the awesome series “Remembering the Kanji.” I try and learn at least five new kanji a day, then immediately afterward, I review them using Anki. Around 2009, I tried to use the book, and I never got more than 70 kanji in. Now I’m approaching the 350 mark.
In regards to vocabulary, again I use Anki.
And then there are the textbooks (using the Genki series). I have two textbooks, and a few other small grammar books to help me. Of course, the internet is always an option for many things.