Can you hurt your learning by studying over +1

Ok. I just ordered yotsuba 1 in Japanese and I think it might be at the +1 level for me. But at the same Time I ordered the light novel version of Majo no Takkyūbin and I think this might be too advanced for me.

So is there any real harm in studying material that is too hard for you? Should I just consentrate on Yotsuba and leave Majo no Takkyūbin for now?

Other than demoralization and kinda wasting your time looking up things which is (currently) better spent on learning basic grammar / vocab. I don’t think it can hurt your learning.

I would definitely recommend going for Yotsuba and leaving the other one for now (I tried that one and it was pretty intense).


I agree with neicul. I don’t even think you’ll learn much from something too difficult, because you’ll be taking in too much for any of it to stick, but it’s not like it will hurt your learning other than being an inefficient use of time and demoralising.

I’ve also read Yotsuba and am slowly starting to trundle my way through Kiki, and the difference in difficulty is huge - it’s not just +2!


Yeah, if Yotsuba was +1 for me, Kiki was more like +3 at the beginning. Though I still read the whole thing, the first few chapters were pretty painful.

@JarPas You have the original novel of 魔女の宅急便? (I don’t know of a light novel version.) Feel free to post a link to what you ordered. If/when you do read it, make good use of the book club’s vocab sheet and discussion threads. :blush:


I think +1 it’s the way to go. Motivation will increase gradually and you won’t likely be faced with an unclimbable wall ot text.

I’ve also starting reading my first japanese book, it’s from the 10分で読める伝記 series, so far it’s well suited for my level.

I think an important part when starting to read it’s finding your +1 material. After graded readers and textbooks it feels you’re on your own for choosing anything that will fit your “somewhat higher level in the japanese learning realm, but then all too basic for real material” status :joy:
A good resource for me has been EhonNavi. An online store with a lot of titles that you can 立読み . This blog explains the how to for signing up. It’s organized according to age, so you can find the ranges of ages you are confortable with and use it as a reference for further readings :+1:

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You are correct. I orderd The orginal novel version, used hardcover. I don’t know why I thought it was a light novel. Well no harm I suppose :grinning:

Thank you all for your answers. I will start with Yotsuba and then try the Majo no takkyubin. If it’s too hard then something else…maby Yotsuba 2.


shameless plug incoming

I’m trying to gather together resources for getting into reading in one thread to help people out, and am just wondering how you’ve found reading children’s material like that? I’ve always struggled with the lack of kanji in children’s books, but I guess they may be the best option available if someone wants native material rather than going the (expensive to boot) graded reader route.

You could even post about it in that thread if you like :wink:

sorry to go off-topic, JarPas, but maybe you’ll find something in that thread helpful?!


Question from someone that’s stupid and only reads stuff that’s either too easy or too hard: What exactly is my level +1?
If I have to look up 1-2 words while understanding all grammar?
Or if I know all words but there’s unknown grammar?
Or I know both grammar and word but still have to actively think about how everything works together?
I assume if I have to look up multiple words and some grammar that’s already too hard?

I just occasionally take a peek at raw chapters of fantranslated manga and web novels with manga generally being to easy and web novels generally being too hard.


If it makes your head explode it’s probably too hard. :wink:

I don’t have an actual answer.


That might be different in my case. :thinking:
I learned Latin in school so trying to decipher a single sentence in 10 minutes actually doesn’t make my head explode :upside_down_face:

Is there a term for “reading things at my level +1”? I threw a bunch of search terms into google but didn’t get what I was looking for.


If it’s harmful to your learning just depends on if it will demoralize you. If you can handle the frustration, you’ll learn plenty from it. That’s the approach i took and im more than happy with the results.

It’s sorta a loosely used term. My idea of it is that whenever you come across something you don’t know, you at least have a reasonable guess for what it is. That means that you understand the current situation for whatever youre reading and probably the rest of the sentence. You just need to know that one thing to complete your understanding.


The “+1” thing comes from Stephen Krashen’s Input Hypothesis if you want to explore how linguists / language teachers approach it…


“You should know 80% of the material and then it is +1.”

Personally I think it varies from person to person. But that seems to be the ground rule.

And this is the system that wanikani utilizes. You need to guru 80% of the radicals and kanji to get to new level, which is then +1 to your level.


Thanks, that’s pretty much what I was looking for!

Maybe it’s just my approach/understanding that’s wrong here.
If I’m missing one thing but still get the meaning of the sentence in my mind it’s “Ok, I understand this sentence, let’s move on”. Do I actually learn anything from that? Rather than learning it feels more like reinforcing knowledge by putting what I learned to practice and subconsiously getting a feel for how something works without actually knowing it. Like seeing how a specific verb form is used without having learned that verb form before.
What I thought +1 means was basically I have to look up something that I didn’t know and (formally) learn that. Basically active knowledge rather than passive knowledge.
Like learning from a textbook, but replacing the textbook with something interesting :joy:
God, I’m more confused now than before I asked my question :upside_down_face:


If you just read the sentence and move on, it probably isn’t helping you grow, but it may be helping you become a faster, more confident reader.

If that novel conjugation or application of a verb is something you think about and consider how it changes your previous understanding, then it’s helping, but still not really +1-territory unless you’re at a point where you have enough vocab and grammar for nuance to be highly important.

If you see an unknown word or grammatical structure and feel like you should look it up, but you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it means from context, then it’s in the +1 domain. But you’ve still got to make yourself look stuff up occasionally or else it’s just good material used ineffectively.


So basically:

“I know what this means” - too easy
“I think I know what it means but better look it up to make sure” - just right
“i have no idea” - too hard

What if the sentence itself isn’t hard but I just don’t know any of the words?
Is it worth looking up all the words, learning them and carry on or read something else first?
There was an instance where I looked up 400-500 words while playing a game for 5-6 hours (probably 2 hours of actual play time and 3-4 hours of looking up words)
In fact, I’m struggling with vocab way more often than with grammar.


You’d, ideally, not want to be looking up a word in every single sentence, but if you’re reading for ten minutes without anything new appearing, it’s likely too easy to learn from. But that also means you’ve learned enough to read that material for fun, which is kinda the point of all this studying.

If the sentence is just a string of incomprehensible kanji, but it’s an exception, I typically note it or take a picture and try to assume meaning from context, then start looking up the unknown bits whenever I have some time. If it’s just one word in a sentence, I’ll usually wait 'til I finish the page (or, in the case of a game, when that character stops speaking) to check my assumption.

If I can’t make sense of the grammar, I typically stop reading for the time being. If that’s above my level, it’s likely just a matter of time until the vocab is way over my head, too.

My ideal pace is to have around one lookup every five minutes. At most, one per page in manga. Anything more than that and I’m not going to retain any of it. But that’s highly individual. And it would not have been possible to achieve when I was just starting out.


I think there’s a place for different levels in your routine. I want to stay mainly in the +1 realm, but there has been situations that I’m reading bellow or above that and proves to be a great experience too.

When reading graded readers I felt that around 5 new words per page count was my +1 point, but then I started fresh with another collection (from the very basic stories) and I realize that without the stopping every minute thing there’re other abilities that you practice as well when reading, an with grammar and vocab under control you can realize that… besides it’s cool to not feel as an illeterate gaijin from time to time :sweat_smile:

The same happen when I tried a few pages of 夏子の酒 … it was clearly above my level, but understanding something I really aim to read eventually was a very pleasurable activity… struggling as I was… but pleasurable for sure.

There’s a video about this :+1:


Thanks for your answers. At least I know what’s good reading material now. Finding stuff in that level is a whole different matter though :stuck_out_tongue: