にゃんにゃん Reading Group -- Getting the most?

Y’know, I haven’t really done videos yet. I’ve seen a couple from Japanese Ammo, but haven’t really dug into to any of them. I think I’ll try it and see what happens.

FWIW, I’m keeping up on my WK lessons and reviews, no matter what else. So, the kanji and (to a lesser extent) vocabulary work is coming along. What I mean by “switching my focus to grammar” is more “driving my work from grammar, instead of driving it from trying to read way above my (current) skill level.”

Thanks, all, for the advice and support. It really means a lot.


Do you mind if we use your thread for all such discussions? For example, a discord has just been set up for the group and it would be much better to discuss that off the main thread too. Would that be okay?

On the topic of getting the most out of it, I would be down have discussions about the book over voice chat (in Japanese of course), if anyone else wants more speaking practice.

It doesn’t have to be a full on discussion – we could always ask each other slow, simple questions or something.
(there is a voice chat in the discord server)

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I completely understand feeling like something is way over your head. I have been studying Japanese off and on for many years, beginning with classes in college. I’d say that my understanding at this point is situational, but growing. I restarted WK and have been doing it very slowly. Sometimes I can manage to read にゃんにゃん and get the gist of it, other times I’m looking up every word in the sentence. I could and probably ‘should’ look up more grammar points as I go, but that’s just too daunting. Right now I’m just focusing on getting a feel for what’s going on. Since the pages are so short I don’t mind rereading them. Each time I feel like I’m absorbing a little more. Sure, some of it is directly from the discussion thread, but in a few weeks I know my reading will greatly improve. Is my way the most efficient? Definitely not. But it is what works for me. As long as I keep reading I’m getting something out of it, and my studies are moving forward.


Of course!

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Anything that teaches you, and does not discourage you, is good.

I mean, you could grab a Japanese copy of 1Q84 and crank through it a sentence at a time if you wanted. Each one would be a giant mountain of vocabulary and grammar, but if you can do that without getting discouraged, then knock yourself out.

The advice to wait before trying to read is based on preventing that discouragement. According to learning best practice, the most efficient way to learn reading is when 80% is familiar, and 20% is unfamiliar.

Personally, I’ve got most of the vocabulary in にゃんにゃん探偵団 down cold, but I’m woefully lacking in grammar. And so I’m using each new sentence to each me a bit of grammar I didn’t know before. Hey, turns out の is a nominalizing particle. I didn’t know that! Now I do. Learning.


Thank you so much!

Hey there @ccprince, I understand the frustration you’re going through and the seemingly insurmountable mountain that learning a new language–especially one as different from English (or any other Romance language) as Japanese is–can be. I would like to encourage you not to take too grim a view though. Your assessment of needing kanji to learn grammar… I don’t know if that’s really accurate.

I’ll relate my own experience and maybe it’ll help you. I started learning Japanese for a year in high school then moved away and my new school didn’t offer Japanese or any other language I was really interested in. So I shrugged and moved on with my life. Then, this year, about 15 years later, I suddenly decided I wanted to get back into learning Japanese. I’ve always loved the culture and I really want to go there someday soon but I’d love to be able to actually communicate with those I meet there (and I love anime and manga and hate relying on subtitles and translations).

So I found WK, Duolingo, bunpro, Tae Kim, and all the other wonderful resources that are available with the Internet now. I study every day and have my notebook full of bunpro lessons (finally through the N5 stuff now!) and I work full time and am a father of 3. It’s not impossible. It can feel slow. I’ve found that learning the grammar, especially from Genki and Bunpro (bunpro is great because all the lessons link to other sites where you can learn more detail about the lesson) makes the Japanese come much more easily and the vocabulary begins “fitting” more easily. I can remember adjectives and adverbs, verbs and nouns, and understand some of the odd sayings WK includes because of the grammar lessons I’ve been taking.

I guess my point is this: don’t give up because it’s hard. The whole language is hard. Try readjusting your perspective and approach. I’m willing to bet you probably understand more than you think. Try taking some of the other users’ approaches and noting down what you don’t understand and looking it up. You can definitely do this.


[quote=“ccprince, post:12, topic:31601, full:true”]

Yes, I also wanted to learn Japanese in order to get a real sense of what’s being communicated because there are a lot of words, phrases, etc that can’t be translated into English. I’m a big Japanese movie fan and as I’ve watched them over the years, I also got the feeling that a lot of the English in the subtitles was lacking something. So although listening is not a priority for me right now, I could see it becoming more so in the future.
And as far as Japanese manga and fiction is concerned, there’s so much out there that’s not even translated into English to begin with. So yea I get what you’re saying.

So looking at reading being the priority, you’re at WK level 17 so you know a lot of vocabulary and kanji already but if you’re going to drive your work from grammar and you dislike grammar textbooks like some others, there are other ways to learn grammar other than a textbook as others have already pointed out. I’d also recommend trying Youtube as @LucasDesu suggested. @marcusp is a real good example of someone who hates grammar textbooks but has still been able to learn a lot of grammar through other ways such as asking questions in book discussions groups. It’s amazing to me how much his reading comprehension has advanced in such a short period of time. So I know you’ve tried the NyanNyan book group and have gotten a little discouraged which is understandable but I hope you wouldn’t give up on being a part of some online group or one-to-one discussion with someone completely because I think it has the potential to be really helpful. I think it’s just a matter of finding the right one.

As far as conversational Japanese, I’m not sure how much conversational you know already but if you’re at a minimal level now and you want to use it for travel around Japan I’d recommend trying Mango Languages. It’s very interactive and is used by a lot of schools/businesses for practical everyday topics which would be useful for travel. It uses native speakers so what you’re listening to sounds authentic. It assumes you know absolutely nothing and begins from scratch.
At your level, you could just skip the beginning sections and move to the other levels. There are lessons on different topics like getting around, shopping, ordering food, banking, etc (even one on dating!) They’re even some lessons on how to use onomatopeia and mimetic words in your conversation if you’re at that level already.

If you have a public library card (or can get one), you can to sign up with Mango Languages for free if your library is connected with them. Otherwise, it’s $20 a month but there’s a 2 week free trial period. They also have an app.
Fortunately my library is connected with them so I don’t have to pay the monthly fee.

Even though Mango is geared for conversational, I think it may also help your reading as well.

Of course Youtube may be helpful for conversation but it’s not interactive.

And also of course joining a Japanese conversation group online or in-person as someone I think had mentioned is another way but you probably already thought about that or don’t have the time.

For you, the motivation is already there so I think you’ll have no problem eventually reaching your goals. It’s just a matter of not limiting your options for learning.


I thought exactly the same thing! No matter how many times I look at grammar in textbooks or apps I’m not retaining it and there is so much hiragana I have no idea what’s being said. Thanks for asking the question

I don’t even know what a nominalizing particle is!

There seem to be a few of these, which would you recommend? Hikoichi? KLC? Or these ones? I honestly get overwhelmed by where to begin, then try something like NyanNyan because it seems like more fun but then find it is too hard

I read those one :

The content is really good. The stories are varied and engaging, and the gradation is very well done. I also really liked that there is a nice selection of folk-tale and other famous story that are part of Japan cultural backdrop. One of my biggest holy shit moment was reading the story of わらしべ長者 (from level 2 volume 2), just to having it mentioned casually by a japanese speaker in a conversation a few days later, I guess the same way an english speaker would use “Big Bad Wolf”, for example.

There is one big issue tough : the pricing is insane :confounded: I was lucky enough because my school had them in its library…

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I think you just have to bite the bullet and start with a book that interests you. You don’t have to stick with it forever, but give it a good shot. (Ideally, all the while also studying other stuff too).

The advantage of using にゃんにゃん is that as well as having a growing vocab list for the book, there is also a community of people reading the book right now waiting for your questions!

I know that for a graded reader might be good. But having an online community reading in real time does loads to keep my studying and keep me active. I don’t want to fall behind!

But good luck to you with whatever method works best for you!


Thank you. Yes I think Nyan Nyan will be better despite the hard work, at least it wont cost US$400+! The other Graded readers I’ve found are $5-15 each and a little harder than I expect the Level 0 would be but still useable.

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I totally agree. I memorized all N5 Kanjis quite easily but then I didn’t know what the words in hiragana meant so I started hating sentences written in kana. And my inexperience didn’t even notice the grammar in it. So now I try to keep everything balanced, although the grammar is the most annoying part to study.

  • Grammar on Bunpro and physical book
  • Vocabulary on Wanikani and Memrise
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I don’t want to clutter the main thread, but I hope lots of people will see this, so I’ll ask it here if I may…

Before we started にゃんにゃん we had a poll asking if people are interested and 155 people said they were. And I imagine that a great many of those people actually bought the book. But in the thread now there are just a handful of active members, and I wonder why.

Perhaps some people found the book too difficult, or too easy, or not interesting enough, and just gave up? Or perhaps there are lots of people reading along with the thread, but who just don’t have the time or energy or inclination to post?

It would be interesting to hear from people how it’s going with the book, and the thread, so far.

I’m behind in the book due to lack of time. I’ve only made it as far in the thread as I currently am in the book. Right now I have company visiting, so my reading and Japanese time is very limited. I hope to catch up before the next story.

@trout - I think we both came up with the same question (about how many people are still reading the book) at the same time! Perhaps this will help?

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Thank you so much @Talena! I’m wondering if our pace is too fast at 2 pages a day? Perhaps it should have been 1 page a day? But thank you so much for letting us know you are still reading along! That is so good to know! Thank you!