Best use of time

Hey guys, I hope everyone’s studies are going well during these crazy times

I’ve been particularly motivated lately and have been spending a lot of time studying, but I’m not sure if the hours are necessarily being used the best right now. Just wondering if anyone has advice for what to work on for improving and utilizing my time

I just finished Genki I in April at University and I’ve started self studying Genki II at about 1 chapter every 1-1.5 weeks.
I’m using WK, Kitsun, and Bunpro daily for about 1.5-2 hours to review kanji, grammar and genki vocab. (was using Kaniwani for a bit but its just too much SRS for me)
I’ve also started using iTalki once per week to get more conversation practice
I spend some time listening to NihongoconTeppei podcast while cleaning/walking
I am willing to cut down on SRS stuff if it means I will improve in other areas

I guess the struggle right now is I feel my speaking and listening are far below my reading skills. I really have trouble coming up with the words I need when speaking, and I am missing a lot when I listen to other people speak. I’m sure more grammar will fill this in a bit, but a lot of words I can read just don’t pop into my head when I’m talking to someone. Another issue is I feel like my pronunciation is really poor.

I have heard a lot of people talk about shadowing, but I’m not sure what the best method would be.
Some people also advocate reading more to help their spoken Japanese

Had anyone had success specifically with training their pronunciation, listening, and speaking other than just speaking with Japanese people?

Thanks for reading

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As I understand it, language learning isn’t really done out of a textbook or any sort of study necessarily. You learn a language by immersing in it. So, consuming podcasts, shows, books, media, what have you… native material of course. Don’t get me wrong, study is important. It helps build the structure which allows you to actually understand what you hear and read.

But that’s just a theory I subscribe to and not actual, helpful advice. So spiel over, now for practical stuff.

(Disclaimer, this is just what I do and have found useful but YMMV. I hope it might give you some ideas… Apologies if I get carried away)

Listening
Obviously, the best way to get better at listening is to, well, listen. And do a lot of it. I started immersing in a lot of content a little while ago and already my listening comprehension has increased noticeably.
Before I started, I could barely keep up with the Genki Workbook audio comprehension clips. Now when I’m watching a fairly basic Slice of Life anime or Youtuber, I can pick up on a lot more and get the general idea of what’s going on. Of course visual cues help too. But it’s the same with podcasts.

Reading
Often times I’ll watch content with Japanese subtitles and read that. As well, I like to read NHK news easy and a few other sites around. One thing I’ve noticed is that my reading ability is leaps and bounds better than my speaking and listening, as you have as well. I definitely credit WK with this. Aozora bunko is an online library of Japanese content that is past copyright so it’s free to read online. As well as Bilingual manga, which you can quickly switch b-n English and Japanese.

Grammar
I would highly recommend watching Cure Dolly’s Japanese from Scratch series on Youtube. I just finished it up a few weeks ago and it was incredibly enlightening. I have been studying Japanese for a decent while now and the way she presents Japanese as the logical language that it is filled in a lot of gaps that textbook learning had left for me. The series is around 75 videos long, but I just listened to it at 2x speed and watched maybe 2-3 videos a day. It might take some getting used to the Android gimmick (you’ll understand if you decide to watch them) but the content is fantastic.

Speaking
This one I’m not really sure how to approach. I, in large part, subscribe to the Mass Immersion Approach (MIA) / AJATT method (although not nearly as extreme) which basically says that speaking early on only serves to develop bad habits and it’s unrealistic to assume a native speaker would correct you constantly, much less if you even have access to one to speak with. However, I’m planning on studying abroad in Japan next semester, so speaking is something I’ll definitely have to do. At the moment, I’ve not really found a good solution to this. I’ll let you know what I come up with :slight_smile:

My day looks something like this:
I try to actively immerse at least 3 hours a day (1 hour of audio, 1 hour of reading, 1 hour of SRS w/ native audio) Usually I do more, sometimes I do less, it just depends on how much schoolwork I have. When I’m doing schoolwork, usually I just throw on a podcast in Japanese or listen to some of the audio that I’ve ripped off of shows I’ve previously watched. I finished up Cure Dolly, so now I’ve started watching Nihongo no Mori’s N3 series on Youtube, which is actually taught in Japanese. To my surprise though, I’m able to understand it fairly well. So far I like it, but I’m only a few videos in.

Anyway, that’s my spiel. Take it with a grain of salt of course. I’m by no means an expert. But so far I’m happy with how it’s been working out for me. Like I mentioned, I’m planning on going to Japan soon, so I’ve been going ham on my studies. Especially being a student in quarantine, I’m blessed to be in a situation that affords me time to focus on my studies. Again, apologies for rambling. And best of luck to you in your studies!

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How do you get good at anything? With practice.

For as good as services like WaniKani are, it’s developing your passive memory for recognition but it won’t give you practice in actively using the language. You need an outlet for that, be it something like HelloTalk or keeping a journal or whatever.

Listening likewise is something you need to practice. I think shadowing books / audio can be useful here in listening to native speech, seeing the transcription, and listening to it again until you can pick out all the words.

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Thanks both of you for the input. I guess I need to spend more time engaging with native content as much as possible

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My routine is similar to yours (WK, BunPro, Kitsun, italki…). By no means an expert here but I subscribe to improve output, you have to practice output. For speaking I prefer using the Eng->Jp as much as possible for all flashcards in Kitsun, it has started to make a difference for me and I wish I had started sooner. For grammar, writing out the grammar I want to use (and thoughts to convey) and having an italki tutor/native check helps me too. I can get some of the new BP content to come out during conversation (which is great) but the grammar points I’m challenged with I just have to practice slower outside of conversation. Natives correcting my writing has help with 1) getting rid of trying to be too literal with translation and 2) learn to be more concise and will go into my speaking in realtime much easier. For pronunciation, you can ask your tutors to help correct you since you are paying them. I’ve also sometimes recorded my reading aloud (listen, repeat, correct…try to shape to what I want to here).

When you sing in the shower, sing in Japanese, not English :stuck_out_tongue:

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Exactly this, constant use (and failure!) is key.

Fail, Try again, Fail again, Fail better.