I’m barely level four, lol. I’d like to read your experiences. At what level should I start practicing my reading so I don’t get discouraged by all the words I still don’t understand? Also, could you recommend some easy books to start?
Has WaniKani been your only source of learning Japanese so far? If so I’d recommend getting some basic vocabulary and grammar under your belt first, or reading is going to be a very frustrating experience (if definitely educational). In terms of vocabulary, keep in mind WaniKani doesn’t necessarily teach you the most useful words first - some of the most common ones don’t appear until much later. You’re much better off relying on other sources for common vocabulary. I personally used Torii for vocabulary and BunPro for grammar, but using multiple SRSes can quickly become overwhelming, so be wary of that.
As for what to start with, graded readers might be a good thing to try. They let you start with simple little stories that don’t rely on complex grammar or vocabulary, and sometimes don’t even feature kanji at all, and gradually let you work your way up to increasingly more complicated grammar and vocabulary with more and more increasingly difficult kanji as you progress.
Thank you, actually it’s not my only source I started with LingoDeer, and I’ve been watching Japanese Ammo with Misa’s Youtube channel for grammar and more native-like fluency. It’s so hard though! I feel like I’ve been studying forever and can’t move past the baby-beginner stage, lol.
I definitely second the extra vocabulary practice. I believe Torii also lets you filter out any WK vocab, which is nice. I’d also recommend you take a look at the Absolute Beginners Book Club. If you start vocabulary practice and reading early on, you’ll definitely get ahead
I second this - reading as well as writing in the Japanese Sentence a Day thread and researching every grammar point I needed until I could halfway express what I wanted to are the fastest ways I’ve ever learned. Starts out hard, but you do make very noticeable progress fairly quickly, both in terms of vocab and grammar.
That will happen anyway, I’m afraid. WaniKani teaches only enough words to cover most common kanji readings. Some of these words are common and useful (case in point, when starting Tobira, most of the “new” words there overlapped with WaniKani), many are not.
What WaniKani will give you is kanji recognition and the ability to look up stuff much easier in a dictionary. For vocab you either need to do sporadic mining using kanji from WaniKani you’ve learned already or start reading early on (manga like よつばと or books aimed at children, or later the EASY articles from NHK News).
But to read, meaning assemble the context and understand nuances, you also need grammar. Preferably something around N4 or a little above. Many resources like Cure Doll’s videos, Tae Kim’s guide to Japanese or Genki 1 + 2 should get you far enough . If you want to go further, Tobira is a nice all-rounder that focuses primarily on reading comprehension + some grammar sprinkled on top.
What comes later is up to you ;). When reading, sticking to one source or one author might be a good idea, because then you will get used to their writing style and at least that will become less of an issue as you continue.
This is exactly how I felt before I started reading. I definitely second the Absolute Beginner Book Club.
The first time you start reading manga, it will be extremely difficult. You’ll be looking up a lot of grammar and vocabulary, no matter how much you’ve already learned. This is normal and to be expected. The more you read, the better you’ll get at it, and the easier it becomes.
My favorite thing about doing WaniKani and reading manga daily is that I’m constantly seeing words in manga that it seems I just learned in WaniKani.
When I was level 4 I was really desperate to start reading, that was one of my main motivations to start learning, but at the end of the day I’m level 11 now and I still have JP light novels and manga sitting on my shelf that I can’t read. I don’t go for beginner books or what not, I just read what I want so that definitely could be part of the reason, but I’m seeing my main issue is that I lack vocab knowledge. I sometimes try and read a chapter, I read some panels and understand some, and then the rest of the chapter is bits and pieces, mixed in with some unknown kanji here and there.
Personally it hasn’t demotivated me, in fact I felt quite proud that I managed to read that much to begin with. At the very least what I do all the time, is try and read Japanese tweets on twitter, so even if you can’t really read anything right now without searching things up, it’s still a good idea to read whatever you can when you see it
First off, I would say it is normal to feel like you don’t know many words even after studying a language for years. It is possible to be discouraged even after a long time. I’m not bringing this up to scare you or make you feel bad. It is something that just needs to be understood and accepted as part of any language learning journey. So, no matter what, just focus on the positive and what you are able to understand!
That said, in my opinion I think people should start reading as soon as they learn the kana. Even for people a bit shaky on the kana, read OUT LOUD to yourself. Reading aloud and not just in your head is important. For this particular exercise it does not matter at all if you are able to understand anything.
I also think it is important to read things that you can understand, things like graded readers. Start reading these at a level that challenges you, but that you can still understand most of. If you are looking for more resources this thread likely has you covered: