I'm learning in book 3 now, and I must say I've come pretty far by now. I can make sentences and know quite a bit of words. Also, grammar is going better each day. What I'm starting to notice though, is that this big "mass" of things I learned so far, is like a moving "mass". For each time I progress forward by learning something, I forget something that I learned way back. The basics of course stick better, but words and (hard) grammar from course 1 and 2 keep getting lost in my head when I learn so much new stuff. It is like it is becoming to much information that I have to "force memorize".
I guess it wouldn't happen that much if I would speak more Japanese in general, but it is hard for me to find a sparring partner in Japanese (Don't got any Japanese friends). I've already tried connecting with HelloTalk to meet some Japanese people. But since very few Japanese people are trying to learn Dutch (my native language), it is hard to find a buddy.
Does anyone have any experience on this issue, or had the same issue and was able to solve it? Any advice would be more than welcome!
Think Out Loud in Japanese! As someone who's studied abroad in Japan quite a bit, I don't think there will ever be a better substitute for speaking with native Japanese speakers on a daily basis, but something that helped me quite a lot after returning to America is thinking out loud in Japanese. Basically, anytime you're around the house or walking outside, any thoughts you have or comments you would've said out loud to yourself, instead of thinking or saying them in your native language, try saying them out loud to yourself in Japanese. "I really need to go grocery shopping later" for example. Even if you can't do the whole sentence, just say what you can at the time. It really helped me remember vocabulary I would have otherwise forgotten. Words like オートバイ(Motorcycle) or かべ (Wall) for example, become easier to remember, even though they don't get used in conversation very often.
Thinking Out Loud! As GrimAnims told, thinking out loud that way is the second best thing you can do. Talking to japanese persons alaways comes first, ideed. But since you start doing that, do not bother if people think you`re crazy or something, because I think that by being here learning japanese is already crazy enough! ;) After sometime you`ll feel more confident. And what you think you lost, is just hidden on your mind. As long as you use it (think it!) it'll all come back. Auf wiedersehen!