Chotto and other things
I am fascinated by the use and application of the word "Chotto" in Japanese.
From what I have read so far it appears to have a similar function to the word "just" in English.
Chotto can be used to soften the intent of a sentence, or conversely be used to harden the meaning of something. Among other uses.
"Just" does something similar. "He is a student" "He is just a student" ("just" deminishes the value of student) "I can't understand this!" "I just can't understand this!" (Bad example, but just sort of accentuates and hardens the frustration. Right?).
What do you all think?
Secondly, I am wanting to create more structure around my Japanese language studies. Right now I am just doing duolingo (new nodes, and revisiting old nodes). But I want to sort of make my learning more structured and formal ie. This week I am going to study blah. and by the end of the month I want to be able to do XYZ...
How have you learners structured your studies? What approach have you found to be most effective for you?
Due to the varying definitions of 'just', I would avoid asserting this correlation. The 'just' in 'Just a student' is different from that of 'I just don't understand'.
It is an ambiguous expression, which means it defies simple direct translations in favor of context-based translations. http://maggiesensei.com/tag/chotto/
ちょっと as I understand it means “a bit”. I’m not entirely sure on this but I think it could be used, 日本語がはなせます、ちょっと to say I speak Japanese a bit. I’m not confident this is correct so maybe someone further along can clarify or correct if this is wrong.
Adverbs, like ちょっと, generally do not go after the verb in Japanese. It would sound better like this:
I think すこし sounds more natural in a situation where you would want to say that you spoke little Japanese. But I don't know so dont take my word as being true.
Regarding your second question, I'm a self-learner and I don't really have much structure to my approach, but I do try to set concrete goals and objectives to keep myself focused and motivated. I think it helps when I write things down and lay out both long-term, intermediate, and short-term goals to give myself a sense of accomplishment. Learning Japanese is a very long-term objective, so chunking it up into more bite-sized pieces makes it easier to see that I'm actually making progress and doing something tangible with my time and effort.
For example, I'll try to reach a certain level on DuoLingo or LingoDeer by a chosen date. Or aim to read one chapter of a book on Japanese each night. Or do a certain number of reviews every day on Anki or Memrise. Sometimes, I'll just spend an hour watching YouTube videos or listen to JapanesePod101 on my commute. I do many different things that keep me thinking about and using Japanese on a daily basis.
I also will occasionally sit down for a moment and consider my weak points. Right now, I feel okay with my grammar knowledge, but I've been letting my kanji studies slide for a while so I think I'll spend some extra time on kanji and get back into a kanji-memorizing routine so I can feel more confident about that aspect of my learning. I also would like to do more practice reading to brush up on my word recognition and practice the grammar that I've learned. I have a couple of graded readers, so I might make it my objective to read one of those books this week.
The equivalent of ”just ”would be different than ちょっと。 彼は学生でしかありません。Would be "he is just a student" But really grammatically, "He is only a student." might be more correct as a translation.
ちょっと can be used like "a little bit". But maybe saying "ちょっとだけ” is more "Just a little". Which may be why you felt "just" is an equivalent for ちょっと。
But ちょっとalso has another usage like "hey, hey!" ちょっと！ちょっと！。 ちょっと。何考えてるの。"hey, what are you thinking?"
And many times when it is used alone, ちょっと is used and the rest of the phrase is implied. This is frequent when the respondent to a statement does not want to spell out the reply clearly. Spoken Japanese can be very ambiguous.
ちょっと is useful word. "Where are you going? ちょっと（そこまで） ”Why are you late?” ちょっと This use of ちょっと would be understood that you don't want to say specifically but you are polite enough to answer.