Cgsmith2’s Reading & Listening Goals for 2020

I’ve recently begun to think about my new goals for Japanese in 2020, and as I’ve just taken the N5 a couple weeks ago, I know what I really need to focus on the most is listening. That being said I really want to focus on my reading as well.

However, here’s my problem: I can’t figure out a tangible/obtainable goal that would be measurable. It’s easy to do this for grammar resources (i.e. Finish Genki 1 & 2 by January 1, 2021), but I’ve been struggling with finding a measurable way of pacing myself with both reading and listening.

With reading, I’ve kind of thought of a way, although I feel like it’s a bit shaky. My process I’m thinking of is starting with NHK Easy articles, moving on to children books, and then move on to something like light novels. I think this could work, but if anyone has a better suggestion, please help if you can!

As for listening, I have no clue what I’m doing. Any and all suggestions will be helpful.

Thanks in advance if you feel like helping!


I’ve been looking for ways improve reading and listening as well.

I think writing a could help a lot, so I’ve been trying to write something every day.

I looked up some tips online and read this article.

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I’m going through listening and reading practice at the moment, so someone more experienced might want to weigh in at some point.

For listening, I’m listening to a few podcasts (Nihongo Con Teppei for Beginners and JLPT Stories mostly) and watching Terrace House in Japanese whenever I have time. I also do the Genki listening practice in the workbooks.

I’m much more interested in reading, and right now I’m trying to read a lot of manga. NHK Easy is a really good resource, but I don’t really like Japanese children’s books. I’m much more comfortable with kanji than long strings of hiragana, and I’ve found that children’s books don’t have much kanji. I’d recommend starting with some graded readers before going into NHK Easy, and definitely doing some manga before going into light novels.


Children’s books are a good start, and the lack of kanji teaches you how to mentally parse sentences (which is a good skill to have for when writing style comes into play). I could probably recommend the Japanese Graded Readers series if you’re not planning to use it already.

From children’s books, you can try books aimed primarily towards middle schoolers. They’ll have a lot of furigana for easier lookup. If you have the time and patience, you can also try picking up a book with no furigana and burning through that slowly. For low-mid tier reading, I think Aoi Tori and the Kadokawa books with green around the edges are a decent start.


Here are the steps I’m taking to improve reading and listening:

Reading and grammar:
I see a native Japanese speaking tutor once per week to work through grammar concepts in the Genki textbooks and to practice speaking and listening; it’s helpful to have someone to speak with. I’ve also switch the language on my phone to Japanese, and while I don’t understand a great deal of what I’m looking at, I find that most times I can comprehend the gist of what things mean, which though it isn’t much can be great practice at grammar in action.

Also for grammar: The Japanese Grammar Index

Apart from listening to my tutor, I’ve also subscribed to JapanesePod 101 and find their podcasts incredibly helpful when it comes to listening practice. During the conversations they have you will also pick up some cool colloquialisms that you can add to your SRS deck (if you have one).

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I hadn’t even thought of doing writing. That’s a great idea, thanks!

I feel like this would be a good place to start for me. Revisiting the Genki listening exercises would probably be a better idea than jumping straight into podcasts.

Hadn’t thought of that. Probably would help with the hiragana only vocab too. Thanks for all the suggestions as well. I really appreciate it!

I really want to do this. I assume you found your tutor on italki?

Glad that it’s been working for you! I’ve always been interested in subscribing to JapanesePod101 but for some reason I never have. I do think it might be a better listening practice for me at this juncture in my learning. Thanks for the suggestion!

I found a tutor local in my area on Wyzant. I find that I learn better when physically looking at the material together; for example, my tutor pointing at parts of a page in the book. Something about online tutoring feels strange to me. I pay more for in person lessons vs online but you know better than me what would work best for you.

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Tangible goals for reading and listening can be a bit tricky. I’d recommend maybe find something you want to be able to read or listen to, and make that your goal. For example, being able to read a specific light novel, or a specific book. For listening, maybe you want to be able to watch a movie without subtitles.

With reading and listening, for me at least, it’s very easy to get demotivated when it feels like I’m struggling way too much. I’ve made it a goal to read at least 1 NHK easy article a day and listen to at least 1 podcast episode a day. This way, I get in regular practice, and I don’t get overwhelmed. I’d recommend doing something similar.

As for content, I’m about halfway through Genki 2 and I just started regularly reading NHK easy. I find that the articles aren’t easy, but they aren’t super difficult either. I can usually get through an article in 15-20 minutes and have understood 90% of it. If you find NHK easy a bit too hard, I recommend checking out Watanoc. You can filter articles based on your JLPT level, it’s really helpful. You could also check out Hukumusume which has a bunch of children’s stories, though they’re a bit harder than NHK easy in my opinion. Once you find those sources getting easy, you could move on to manga and light novels.

As for listening, I recommend listening to jlpt stories podcast. They’re very short and there are only about 7 N5 ones. I listen to them over and over again, and have been trying to shadow them. Also check out Nihongo Con Teppei Podcast. The one I linked is for beginners, and he also has an intermediate one. Also check out Erin’s Challenge. This one is pretty difficult as a beginner, at least to me, because the skits are at native speed with a ton of background noise, but it’s really useful practice. And it’s set up with a lot of tools to help you listen. For passive listening, you could try Hiikibiiki. This podcast is quite advanced, but for passive listening, it’s useful because it’ll help get you used to native speech.

One thing to note with listening is that it’s something that really does take a lot of practice before you get good at it. No matter what you’re listening to, it’ll probably sound difficult and intimidating at first, and it takes a lot of practice to develop listening skills. You could work on Genki listening exercises before jumping into other materials, that may help you get used to the sounds of the language, but the jump to material at native speed will still be really difficult. Don’t get discouraged if you’re struggling, that’s totally normal with listening.


Hey thanks for the reply and thank you for all the resources!

This is pretty much what I was thinking already. Tangible goals are definitely not easy when it comes to something like listening which is hard to measure. Although, I still think having at least something to work for will work.

Again, pretty much what I was thinking. I want to take it slowly because I burnt out really bad last year and part of it was I was pushing too hard all at the same time, so the goal is to eventually work my way up to that.

I’m right there with you. Part of my problem is that i was finding it hard to keep up with reading, grammar, and vocab studies. I know these articles aren’t too difficult, but it’s a time/motivation thing. But that’s what I’m looking to change this coming year.

Anyway, thanks for all the advice and resources. I’ll be sure to check a bunch of those out! Especially the listening resources.

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An easy way to start reading is to put on Japanese subtitles when you watch anime/dorama.

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