@mansen, so far, so good! I think I mentioned in one of the previous threads that I’ll probably end up reading this whole series, so I’m definitely enjoying it! Seems like just the right amount of challenge for right now. Definitely considering picking up a light novel at some point in the next month or so and seeing how I do there. Not sure exactly what I want to read just yet that is attainable, though.
I would love to read Oregairu, or 天気の子, but not sure what the difficulty levels would be on those just yet.
Yeah this and Takagi-san are definitely quite approachable for me now
I’m currently working on my first prose book, 時をかける少女 (the Tsubasa Bunko version specifically because it has furigana which is helpful for me with less kanji learned for looking up words to add to my SRS). It’s slow going, but I’m sticking with it - I think it also has a Beginner’s Book Club but I’ll admit I haven’t really looked at it as of yet
I haven’t had the chance to read more than a few pages of the new chapters yet, but can I try to pose a general question about learning from reading? It might also be a bit of venting, and long, sorry, heh.
Recently I’ve finished Genki 2 and I’m trying to transition to learning from reading (and listening, but listening to almost anything remains so difficult). To ease that a bit, I’m using Satori Reader and trying to sentence mine from there because it’s convenient. That part is…fine, although the rate at which I come across suitable sentences (and not more like i+3 or 4) is a lot less than I wish it was.
Anyway, recently I’ve had to be away from the PC for a few days, away from home, so I’m doing reviews but not trying to add cards. Figured I’d take this time to just dive into Yotsubato, this week’s reading, and try Dragon Quest 11 (which is predictably way too much for me but it had furigana and wasn’t going to leave my mind till I saw what it was like.
Anyway, reading is getting… kind of exhausting in a way that worries me because I’m kind of paradoxically wanting to do it more and to avoid it. I did see gains getting over the very initial hump of just tackling real grammar for the first time. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but the idea is you continue and it gets easier, right? After focusing a lot on a volume and a half of Yotsubato, it feels like it’s getting harder, heh.
More to the point, I guess this depends on one’s personal proficiency, but maybe I’m misunderstanding what the goal is in reading right now. I always hear vocab is 10 times easier to learn in real context, but I find my mind so busy puzzling through sentences or looking so much up that the word poofs out of my mind in an instant. Then I come across the same thing later and it’s annoying how brand new it looks. Maybe I need to slow down and consciously try to commit stuff to memory, but it feels like I’m below some threshold to get that value, and far below the level where you can start recognizing and internalizing the patterns.
So… what should I be doing? Do I just, as much as my energy allows, try to “solve” each new panel and just trust that even though I don’t think I’m learning a thing, somehow it’s going to open up eventually? I mean, consciously besides good practice splitting up where the words actually are, all I really can feel like I gain is some small collection of memorized colloquial shortenings: yu for iu (sorry for romaji, haven’t gotten a Japanese keyboard on my phone), toko for tokoro, etc. And those still had to be looked up and this isn’t the most efficient way to pick up those small bits of info, heh.
Don’t mean to complain too much; it’s just been a somewhat rough time recently (probably both in and out of Japanese but I wouldn’t say other stuff is getting in my way mentally when I try to read, usually). And I guess I’m trying to either get affirmation that it’ll just feel awful for a long time, or some advice to tweak my approach. Cheers
This is where it’s good to keep yourself on a schedule. Make sure you’re doing a satisfactory minimal amount of reading, just to keep the habit.
Eventually, you may work things out where you have some series you are reading more intensively (looking up many things) and others more extensively (only looking up a few unknown things). But it can take a long time to get to that point (especially for those of us who’ve reached our 30’s and beyond). It’s something that takes dedication and discipline to keep at long enough to reach that point.
It can be difficult to find. I probably know over 3,000 words by now, and still often struggle to find i+1 sentences when reading manga. It often seems as if mangaka just can’t use a word I don’t know without also including one or two other words I don’t know in the same sentence!
Compared with Takagi and Soredemo, Yotsuba tends to have longer chapters that at times have a lot more dialogue taking place (especially if you get two or more adults having a conversation). You’re also seeing a different writing style (whereas Takagi and Soredemo = same author).
I went into Yotsuba volume one already knowing a lot of vocabulary and having read a few other manga volumes. I’d gotten a fair amount of grammar figured already (thanks in part to participating in book clubs), but I still wasn’t used to reading and to recognizing all the grammar patterns I’d already learned yet. I think it wasn’t until volume 3 that I started getting a little comfortable with reading Yotsuba. And even then, I was still looking up words and grammar all the time.
What you’re describing is normal. I think I looked up 現れる every week for several months (or more) when I was reading through Sailormoon, because it kept coming up again and again. And every single time I didn’t remember the meaning. Honestly, I don’t think I recognized the kanji either. I think I would see the furigana and think “I’ve seen this one before, haven’t I?”
I highly recommend watching this video from MattVsJapan on the role of SRS:
Spoiler: Creating a flashcard for a word to review is like creating a mental dictionary entry. At this point, the purpose is not to learn the word, but rather to trigger a recognition of the word itself when you encounter it while reading. From there, the more you see it while reading, the better you’ll come to understand it.
If you see a word that you know you’ve looked up before and forgotten, chances are you’ll see it again later. In this case, my recommendation is to create an Anki card for it, add a simple sentence from https://tatoeba.org/, add an audio clip of the word being spoken by a native from https://forvo.com/, and add a simple word translation in English from Jisho. (You can also find an Anki extension set under the name Migaku that helps automate bits of this.)
Sometimes I’ll fail at recalling a vocabulary word on WaniKani again and again for months, and then I’ll see it in a manga, seeing how it’s used and what it means in context. Then when the card comes up in WaniKani, I recall that scene from the manga, and recall the meaning with ease.
This doesn’t always happen, but it’s happened enough to clear out a few long-time leeches over time.
Yes. Over time, you’ll get better at recognizing a lot of common grammar (because your brain’s pattern recognition will have gotten the idea that it’s important to know and to be able to access quickly). And this will alleviate some of the energy drain from reading. This frees up your mental energy for working more on vocabulary.
Side note: When I say “this will happen” and “that will happen”, mostly I mean “this is how it happened for me”. However, much of this I’ve seen others say the same on.
Sounds just like me going through the first volume of Yotsuba. I was still working on getting used to all those little things.
Hopefully it’s not feeling too awful. But it can be a bit of a drag early on as there’s so many things you don’t know yet, making everything you try to read a wall of unknowns. And even then, once you do reach a point where you feel you’re comfortable, you’ll repeatedly encounter more cliffs to scale. I’m still not even comfortable looking at a book with no pictures, and manga without furigana is straining even if I do know most of the kanji.
I don’t have any words of wisdom a la the noble Fritz or potential other smart people, but as a perennial “ghost member” (who marks “I’m reading along” every week but never… actually… participates…) of this and also previous book clubs, I just wanted to throw out: I understand exactly what you’re feeling. It’s something I’ve been struggling with for the past two-if-not-more years.
Specifically this one. I get that. I feel it so hard. It’s like, am I really reading if it takes me over an hour to figure out the meaning of a sentence? Does that even count when half the time the meaning I’ve “figured out” is apparently wrong?
Like I said, I have no advice. I don’t know what to do either. But, to be completely honest, reading your post spilling out the exact thoughts I’ve been having for so long was incredibly uplifting, strangely. And I hope that doesn’t come across as “Good, I’m not the only one” in a sort of negative way, because I really just felt so much solidarity there. I dunno, it made me feel good to know I’m not alone, so I thought I’d write this probably unwarranted diatribe to hopefully tell you you’re not alone too? Yeah. That’s it. Literally. Sorry I can’t offer anything more, but thank you for sharing, and I really wish you luck in getting past this some day.
And to make this post have some connection to the topic at hand: Chapter 9 was my favorite so far. For no particular reason. I dunno. They’re so cute, y’all.
Nah, thank you so much, I really appreciate having someone join me here. Especially because I think you stated the kind of thoughts I have that I left unsaid. “Read more” always appears to be the internet’s advice to eventually get through this but reading itself is an enormous spectrum from what a native adult does to emptily making the sounds of words in your head, haha. I try my hardest (and, for that, will probably return with questions in a few days when I can get to my computer) to be properly engaging with it all, but sometimes it’s hard not to wonder how you get to the point of something you and I would think of as closer to true reading and worry about wasting efforts.
We’ll get there one day I hope. Thanks so much for chiming in.
@ChristopherFritz - And as always, your advice is greatly appreciated. I need to step back a little from making myself feel too overwhelmed above all else. Just good to know I’m not too far off the mark, and I’ll check out the video when I can, absolutely.
Ah looks like I’m in exactly the same boat as you! I’ve also just finished Genki II, I missed out on the start of this book club now so thought I would have a little peek at the most recent entry while I catch up
As for the issues you have just described, this is pretty much exactly what I experienced when learning English as a kid (and what I am experiencing now in Japanese!). Unfortunately, what worked for me then and what I hope will work for me now is just sheer volume of input. I feel like even if I memorise a word with WaniKani / Anki or learn a grammar structure it takes a few times of seeing it in the wild before I can recognise it on the fly (and who knows how long before I can use it in a sentence myself lol).
So my current solution is watching a mountain of anime with Japanese subtitles, and try to understand roughly 60% of it (after looking up words with Jisho etc.) If a sentence seems too difficult or is taking me longer than five minutes to decipher I will move on. I’ll then rip the audio and have a playlist that I have constantly running on loop all day. I’m using the Genki dialogue in that playlist as well. You would be surprised just how much better you get at recognising words and grammar structures that way, it’s certainly helped me a ton so far. And of course this will carry over in your word recognition in written material too.
In any event, my level of Japanese is probably absolutely nowhere near at the point where I can be qualified at giving advice lol so take all of this with a pinch of salt, but at the very least it seems to be helping me! Best of luck!!
To add to what I wrote above, here's an example of how I'm personally using Anki.
Right on the first page of this week’s reading, here I’ve marked in red that part that I have no idea what’s being said. (Keep in mind, I’ve read this volume and looked up words in it earlier this year already.)
I know I’ve seen 浮 many times in reading manga. I always never remember it.
I’m not certain how often I’ve seen 足取り.
I know つけて in general, but have no idea what it’s doing here.
This is clearly not an i+1 sentence! It’s an i+3 sentence, meaning it’s not suitable for sticking on an Anki card. But it’s really bugging me that I know I’ve seen 浮 a lot and I’ve looked it up a lot, and I don’t know it.
First thing I like to do is seen if WaniKani teaches the kanji, and at what level:
Phew, I’m on level 29 and this is level 30. That’s a relief, because just imagine if it was a kanji I’d burned and I didn’t recognize it!
For some people, being one level away means “I’ll wait until WaniKani gives it to me to learn.” But I’m over 90 days into level 29, and I’m not yet halfway through it. So adding 浮 to Anki can help give me a head-start.
By the way, when I saw “float” on WaniKani’s page for 浮, I immediately said to myself, “Oh yeah, I remember finding out this it what it means before. Multiple times.”
Next, I like to get a list of common words that use the kanji. I actually have my own texted-mined frequency list, but you can search for the kanji on Jisho, and look for words that are marked as common:
Based on my personal frequency list, I’ve settled on these are my target words to make Anki entries for:
浮かべる (potential form of 浮かぶ)
Starting with the first word, I look it up on Tatoeba. I actually am not finding any good example sentences for this one in context of the manga panel, but for the word in general, this first result will suffice:
Just to second this - a sentence not being i+1 itself doesn’t mean you can’t gain anything from it. Taking singular vocab and making a card for that can work just as well. Adding a sentence to that card if you can can help, but you don’t absolutely have to if you can’t find anything good (just keep a look out for sentences with said word in that might be useful as you continue)
And I agree that the solution is more reading. There’s many unknowns in reading, but if you start picking out the high frequency stuff, you’ll start finding them elsewhere and then you can just focus on looking up the uknown less common vocab. Another thing to try, if you haven’t already, is a pre-made deck of common vocab. One I’ve tried and see recommended often is the Tango N5 vocab anki deck - it contains a bunch of sentences with some common vocab and expressions. That might give you a nice base of vocab to work from (plus what you’ve already got from WK and whatever you’ve picked up from reading etc already) which can make reading slightly less daunting
I always hear vocab is 10 times easier to learn in real context, but I find my mind so busy puzzling through sentences or looking so much up that the word poofs out of my mind in an instant.
yeah i feel you on this part.
honestly what i’m just doing is putting most of my energy into speeding through wanikani and only adding words to anki, which only have kanji that i learned in wanikani already, everything else just doesn’t really work for me when it comes to learning vocab.
when reading i mostly try to understand the grammar as much as possible, look up the words i dont get once and leave it at that.
but honestly my motivation comes and goes, sometimes i’m able to binge 12 episodes of anime with japanese subs no problem, look up all the words and grammar and other times i barely scrape by enough motivation to read the bookclub chapter and be done for the week.
the only constant is wanikani for me.
As someone who’s trying to read his first native manga I’m feeling all of this. Especially the “is it really reading” part.
Like, is it really reading if I have to look up every 3rd word? Should I learn more vocab before attempting this again? I’m still busy with Genki 2, Genki vocab on Memrise, Bunpro and an Anki 2K deck - I don’t have the time or the mental space to add the new vocab I find in the manga to Anki on top of everything else, so is there any point to this?
With chapter 7 I tried asking questions about literally all details I didn’t understand. This was super helpful and I learnt a ton of new things (thanks for helping me so much, folks!), but it was also pretty time-intensive, intense and tiring. And I’m still not done with chapter 8 and we’re already in the next thread.
From chapter 8 on I wanna try to be a bit more relaxed and stress less about not understanding something perfectly. I’m not sure yet how I’ll select what to ask questions about and where to just be like “Well, I don’t understand every bit, but I think I get the meaning and that’s good enough”, but I’ll see where this goes.
I could very well be wrong, but this is how I understood it after looking things up.
pg. 79 (unless I miscounted)
So, 浮かない is the ない form of 浮く. Jisho lists “to be cheerful” as one of the meanings.
I also found the phrase 浮かない顔, which (according to Jisho again) means “looking depressed”.
So 浮かない足取り would be a “not cheerful (or depressed) way of walking”.
つけてきました is 付ける + てくる.
I would translate this as “I came to join”.
So, all in all, I believe he is saying that he saw her walk around, and decided to join her, because she looked depressed.
I have now finished the chapter, or at least, the first pass where I was stopping often to add words to the vocab sheet. Honestly though, that helped immensely with making sure I comprehended what I was reading, and I’m pleased to say that I only had to look up one or two things as I went. Between WaniKani and doing more reading and watching Japanese media (Vtubers, anime, etc.), vocabulary expansion is happening much more quickly in the past couple of months than I really would have expected (though of course, I do find myself looking up words that I should know fairly often (ones which I have supposedly burned), or I come up with a similar English synonym that I know has a different nuance and sit there and struggle to come up with the word stubbornly before finally caving and looking it up only to get annoyed with myself when I read the word).
The only question mark remaining on Chapter 9 for me is on this panel:
This is a case of knowing the individual words, but not really understanding how they fit.
ダメになる = to spoil, or to ruin, I believe
逆に = conversely
Putting them together, I would get, “Conversely, I’ve been spoiled.” Though this also flips around the order that it’s actually read in (and assumes the subject as herself), which is part of my confusion.
If you drop it into a translator, such as DeepL or Google Translate (I try to avoid using either. They are my tools of last resort if I really don’t understand a sentence at all despite knowing all of its parts), in the order it’s read, you just get a flat, “On the contrary”, as if it were ignoring the ダメになる entirely.
I guess my question comes to this: is ダメになる逆に a set phrase on its own that means “on the contrary/conversely,” or does that “to spoil” also have the same connotations as English when you “spoil” someone, where you are not literally ruining them, just lavishing them with praise/gifts/etc.? I somehow doubt that the latter is the case, but the panel has me a bit thrown, in general.
The “on the contrary” following the previous panel (skipping the one where she stutters on the ダ), where she seems to say, “I’d say I’m fine,” (perhaps this is the source of my confusion, and I misread that sentence entirely?), sorta seems out of place, though I guess the argument there would be that she is thinking that she really isn’t fine now. She’s no longer depressed, but she is certainly beyond embarrassed (she handles compliments about as well as I do, to be honest. Just freeze up and not sure what to say, ha).
I’m not sure. I’ll wrap up my insanely long ramblings there, and just ask y’all’s thoughts!
This chapter was super sweet. I was smiling the entire time I read it. As usual, I’ll catch up with the other chapter tomorrow (likely, it will be the same for Takagi-san, as I’m a little busy this weekend, and I’m running right up against the clock of when I need to start doing what I need to).
Just as a bit of a heads-up for the next two weekends, I will be still be reading along with both book clubs, but I likely won’t be as active in the forum as usual (definitely not during the weekends). My long-distance significant other and I are both fully vaccinated at this point, and are going to finally be able to see each other in person for the first time since the pandemic started. Since she’ll be flying in on the 20th and staying through Labour Day, my time is going to be more heavily spent with her. I’ll likely still post questions if I have them, and if I can answer some quickly during downtimes (I’ll still be going to work during the weekdays, so I’ll likely still check in during my breaks when I’m procrast—… finished with my reviews. ), I will do so!