At what level one could start reading easy japanese books

i guys, i’m still a beginner japanese learner, i’m currently at level 3 here on wanikani and i’m at half book 3 of japanese from zero (George Trombley’s one) and half Genki I book. and i of course i think that is still too early for me to start reading japanese material or starting a chat on Hello Talk. at what level do you think one can start reading easy book with kanji and can have a small conversation on hello talk ?

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Your ability to read is very dependent on you grammar level as well. In the following thread is a curated lst for starting to read Japanese!

Resources for Starting to Read Japanese Content

For conversation you can start anytime, I think, but you’ll find ourself confronted with unknown words and grammar very quickly. In that case you can say things like:

すみません、「???」は何ですか? What is “???”?

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thank you so much :blush: :heart: :

For reading, you want to have a bedrock of basic grammar in place. This will allow you to make at least some sense out of what you are reading.

Next is learning vocabulary words. You can focus on learning vocabulary words via WaniKani, or you can also use other resources. You don’t need to learn a lot of vocabulary words before you start reading, but the fewer words you know, the more you’ll have to look up.

In order to understand the grammar and to remember vocabulary, you need to encounter them in a meaningful way. This is where reading books comes in. (As well as other activities, such as conversations with others.)

I often recommend the Absolute Beginner Book Club. It’s a great way to discover simple books. The discussion threads have questions and answers about the grammar, and understanding the material. And there will often be a vocabulary list to help with looking up what the words mean.

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thank you, this is so useful

With Tadoku Graded Readers you can basically start at WK level 0.

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Make sure that you learn grammar as well as doing WaniKani. Saida is exactly right about encountering unknown grammar patterns; from what I’ve learnt, many on WaniKani suffer from this issue and have kanji knowledge and a vocabulary that far exceeds their knowledge of grammar. I suffered from the opposite affliction, hence why I am doing WaniKani now, but it works both ways.

Balance is key, if you focus too much on kanji and vocab, your grammar will fall behind; if you focus too much on grammar, your kanji and vocab will fall behind. Reading exercises all of these things you have learnt, therefore, in order to read at a consistent level you need to keep them all going.

I don’t have any clue how Japanese from Zero is on grammar. I used the ‘Kanji from Zero’ book before WaniKani, however I did not find that very effective for memory retention. If you find that ‘JfZ’ is working to keep your grammar on par with your kanji and vocab, great; if not, here are some excellent grammar resources that really helped me:

  • Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide; some say it’s overrated, I disagree.
  • Imabi; I didn’t find this as useful near the beginning, but as I progress I find myself using it more and more.
  • Maggie Sensei; terrific, slightly obsessed with dogs.
  • Tofugu; pretty sure you’ll already know about them because you’re using WaniKani, thought I would mention it nevertheless.

And here are some other grammar resources which I don’t personally use, however I have heard great things about:

  • Cure Dolly; far too creepy, I’m sorry!
  • Bunpro; Never used it, some swear by it, others say they’re simply reselling links to other grammar resources with an SRS attached.
  • Bunpo; an app, not to be confused with the aforementioned ‘Bunpro’, haven’t used it but hear it’s a great starting point.
  • Genki; Genki just didn’t work for me, I don’t know why. I struggled with it at a language school for six months before finally looking elsewhere. (Btw, don’t be afraid to do that: if something isn’t working for you, just find something else. You’ll know when you find a resource from which you are actually learning).

Anyway, sorry that was so long, I hope it helped. Just remember to keep the balance; don’t fall into the trap so many (myself included) have fallen into! Good luck with your future studies, keep at it.

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It is basically this, yes. Personally, I use it as retention for things I should already know rather than for learning new grammar points. That is, once I’ve learned a point from a book, or elsewhere, I find the equivalent in BunPro and add it to my study list.


And this is probably the #1 Most Important Thing in learning anything, but especially a new language. So, I’ll quote @Maulrus again, and put it in bold, because I so love this advice:

There are far too many “language gurus” out there that claim they have found The Way, except all they have done is found their own way. We’re not Mandolorians (or at least, I’m not. I don’t judge. :joy:)


To answer the main question, though, about when you can dive into native material: This really depends on how much awkwardness and discomfort you’re willing to hold.

For some, the level of discomfort of interacting with native material after half of Genki is “low” enough to do so. For others, that discomfort only drops low enough after going through an entire set of lessons for beginning Japanese. (For me, personally, I still don’t feel comfortable [enough] to speak with natives, but I’m willing to write. I had to go through most of Genki before that happened, though. [I’m taking classes specifically for talking, now, as it’s what I need to lower that for me.])

It’s important to note, though, that this discomfort will not go away from studying alone. Discomfort from lack of experience can only be removed by gaining experience.

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I think this will entirely depend on your level of dogged determination and patience.

I read NEWS WEB EASY every day. I started at level 9, and I think I was level 10 when I parsed my first headline without having to look anything up. Now, at the heady heights of level 16 I try and get through 3 whole articles a day. It is very tiring and takes quite a long time, but it’s getting easier over time. I have Yomichan installed, so looking up words is easy. As everyone has said, grammar is as important as vocabulary, but also reading is an excellent way of learning grammar as long as you have a grammar guide in parallel.

Reading books is a slightly different matter, because you can’t install Yomichan on paper, so looking up kanji is much slower. I actually use a kindle linked to amazon.jp for reading but the kindle 和英 dictionary is poor and hard to use compared to web tools.

I’m still working my way though it, but it’s to the point, has decent examples, and it’s free.

Hah :smiley:

Today I was trying to work out what だって meant, spent a while confused, and then searched for a Cure Dolly video on it, and whaddayouknow:

The presentation is… odd… but the content is so clear I think it’s worth getting past that.

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Thanks for linking this, was looking for something like that!

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oh i see, thank you very much. jfz is great for grammar (a bit slow though, and probably too “gentle” for someone) that’s why i use Genki too, honestly the problem with Jfz are the kanji, that’s why i’m here :blush: :

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i totally get what you say, i really feel this “discomfort” and sometimes i get really uncomfortable (i know that it’s an heavy word for this situation) when i learn a new concept and i feel that i’m not able to fully utilize that concept. for example i learnt the japanese ~tai form (the form for the “want”) a couple of days ago and i feel like i will forget how to conjugate some verbs into this form or that i need sometimes to recall the correct conjugation. anyway thanks for all these sources :heart:

at what level is your grammar?

By the way, you may want to consider the discount on the lifetime subscription at the moment. It expires in 3 DAYS, so thought I should let you know; if you’re enjoying WK, definitely hop on it.

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7.3 / 100?

So… a lot of the things that I keep being told about Japanese grammar being difficult turn out to be not true. は vs. が seems pretty trivial, SOV is also just a matter of familiarity.

However, with this sentence, I really struggled to work out whether 72% had not got a carrier bag from the shop, or whether 72% had not taken a carrier bag with them:

1週間以内に買い物をした店でレジ袋をもらわなかった人は、約72%いました

I think maybe the problem is less grammar, and more semiotics. Perhaps with a 90% understanding of grammar, that sentence would have been obvious, but maybe with a 50% understanding of the Japanese way of speaking it would also have been obvious.

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oh i see, thankyou so much

Many great answers here already I will just give you a short piece of advice that helped me get started.

Don’t feel like you can’t even open a book before you hit some sort of pre-requisite. There have been a lot of links to great “graded readers” material here and I would have a look right away if you want. If it’s too much, go back to the grammar books then come back and you’ll get the amazing feeling of understanding something that you thought was incromprehensible a few weeks/months ago.

I am level 10 here on WK, went through Japanese from Zero1, Genki 1 and a bit of 2 and I can get through 二年生 level books and I recently finished よつばと!1 with my trusty dictionary next to me. Is there grammar that I don’t understand? Yes ofcourse but I can look that up and I’ve learned a ton from joining the bookclub here and had a lot of fun doing it so don’t feel scared to open a japanese book :slight_smile:

I always draw the parallell of playing an instrument since I play the guitar, I would never tell someone to learn a specific amount of chords before they could pick up the guitar. Learn a few, then play, learn a few more so you can play more advanced stuff. But the act of playing is paramount to actually getting better. I think it’s the same for languages and actually reading/listening to the language in practical use.

This was not a short piece of advice, I lied…

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wow this is really inspiring, thanks buddy

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I absolutely love this! I put off reading for ages too, but once you start it really helps naturalise the language.

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i’ll start as soon as i’ll finish genki and Japanese From Zero 3