Community Advice for listening/reading Japanese consumption

Just wanted to reach out to the community and see if my current plan is a good one.

As of the current date, I have been studying Japanese since march 2021.

I have been studying the cure dolly grammar lessons (on about video 45/90~ish) and (as you can see) level 12 in wani-kani.

I am trying to branch out to consume some actual Japanese material in the wild but I am not exactly sure of the best approach. My goal is to learn to speak, read, and hear Japanese(I have no practical interest is writing Japanese at this time). I would like to get there in about 3 to 4 years(that’s just my idea of having a timeframe. im not really sure ho long its gonna take).

Currently I have been watching an anime called Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san (Skilled Teaser Takagi-san) and I am on episode 3.

My process is that i watch it with only Japanese subs the first time and just try to listen and pick up what i can. Then i re-watch it Japanese and English subs and try to see how each sentence breaks down and to try and catch all the things i missed.

The unfortunate part of my strategy that has not panned out is when it comes to adding new words to my anki deck. Its hard for me to add new words when i come across them because most of the common words in the anime are either kanji or kanji-hiragana words. Either i already know them from wani-kani or i dont have a good way to memorize them. its hard for me to store kanji in my brain without breaking them down into radicals and using mnemonics(which is something I have used for my entire life, long before i started wani-kani)

My question(s) breaks down to this, is this a good strategy for learning the Language? I feel like without the ability to learn new words, I am sort of only getting reinforcement of the words i know, which isnt bad, but i wouldn’t mind a better way if there is one. Should i switch to an easier, more low level show or perhaps read graded readers and start with just reading first?

Also, when would be a good time to try and start speaking? I know some kanji and hiragana words at this point, and have studied the grammar, but i really have no clue on how to put sentences together in my mind and then say them aloud. Is there a way to practice that isnt going to stress me out about all of the things that i feel like i dont know yet? I really want to learn the listening/speaking component and get it to my English level (which is my native and currently only language) but i am uncertain if i even know enough to start trying yet.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated as my language journey has just been sort of just making it all up as i go along. Im not really sure how far along I am in progress but i am sure i must know more then when i started in March 2021. If anything I have said is unclear or needs more clarification, i would be happy to elaborate.

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Have you tried making audio vocabulary cards, with the audio of the vocabulary word (such as from Forvo) on the front, and the word written out with kanji+furigana and English counterpart on the back?

By the way, we’ve read through volume one of the Takagi-san manga in the Absolute Beginner Book Club, and are currently up to volume 5 in an offshoot club. If you’re any bit interested in trying out the manga alongside watching the anime, feel free to stop by!

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I think it is a good strategy, but only after you know more kanji. Personally, I’d recommend holding off on learning kanji-based words from outside of WaniKani until you’re at least level 30 or so. It’s difficult (as you’ve seen) to learn kanji-based words when you don’t already know the kanji, at least until you have a very strong kanji foundation. I think you’ll probably have more success with this approach later. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you stop watching anime with Japanese subtitles, just that you stop adding them to Anki for now.

Honestly, Takagi-san is a relatively easy anime (emphasis on “relative”). I watched about 20 anime with Japanese subs in the last year and Takagi-san was among the top 2-3 easiest to understand. There may be easier anime if you look specifically for shows targeted at kids, but if you’re looking for teen to adult demographic shows, you may have trouble finding many shows easier than Takagi-san. Whether or not you’re willing to watch a kids show to learn is up to you. Some people are okay watching/reading things they are less interested in for the sake of studying, while others would rather struggle through something harder which they at least enjoy in other ways.

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The unfortunate part of my strategy that has not panned out is when it comes to adding new words to my anki deck. Its hard for me to add new words when i come across them because most of the common words in the anime are either kanji or kanji-hiragana words. Either i already know them from wani-kani or i dont have a good way to memorize them. its hard for me to store kanji in my brain without breaking them down into radicals and using mnemonics(which is something I have used for my entire life, long before i started wani-kani)

Have you thought about adding hiragana flashcards? Then you’ll learn most of the Kanji through Wanikani.

Should i switch to an easier, more low level show or perhaps read graded readers and start with just reading first?
Highly recommend graded readers. They’re the true Absolute Beginner Book. Takagi-san is considered to be a low level reading level but I feel you really should have a solid foundation of of N4 grammar first otherwise it’s a slog.

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Hello! I really emphasize with “making it up as you go along” because I’m also trying to figure out the “mix” that works for me. When I lived in Japan I only learned survival Japanese so I understand phrases more than grammar and can’t speak or read well yet. My current goal is to build a more well-rounded platform of reading and understanding natural spoken Japanese. Like you, I also want to consume some “real world” material and have felt challenged finding stuff at the right level.

I didn’t know cure dolly or Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san. Thanks for the recommendations. I am watching Doraemon and One Piece using a similar method to yours.

I recently started working through a JLPT N5/N4 graded reader with simple stories. It’s beyond my level as far as grammar is concerned, but I feel by reading each sentence and figuring out the structure, it helps me remember the kanji for the vocabulary I already know and introduce new words naturally in context. When reading on Kindle, there’s an integrated translate function, and this helps a lot. This particular book has audio available (by a non-native speaker, alas), and I also listen to the audio while reading the Japanese text and try to repeat each sentence aloud.

I also like the audio book “The 2000 Most Common Japanese Words In Context.” A native speaker says the word, a context sentence slowly and at natural speed, and then says the sentence again in English. As I listen, I try to guess/remember the words and repeat the context sentences. I don’t have a scientific method for how often I use it. I tend to do a half hour or so as a break when I am tired of other kinds of studying or as I’m falling asleep at night.

This is just my current path, I’m interested to hear from other people on this thread.

@ChristopherFritz Thank you for the suggestion and i think i might try to check out the book clubs again. I had tried reading manga before but it just felt so far beyond my understanding that i wasn’t sure it was the best thing to do at the time. To be clear, i want to read, but i am still getting used to past/present/future tense, helper verbs, etc and one of the books just felt overwhelming. I might pop in and try to give it another go and try to read Takagi-san.

@seanblue I think you make a valid point. I might hold off trying to have new kanji flashcards until my kanji base is stronger. Also, you mention easy shows to understand in Japanese. I wouldn’t consider myself above reading children’s books to study but i think i certainly enjoy watching (teen to adult) anime, even if it a bit of a challenge for me. I would love some suggestions if you had any for when i finish Takagi-san. :slightly_smiling_face:

@modboy Its not that i didnt want hiragana flash cards, but its just not how my set up works right now. i think i might be able to reconfigure yomichan to work with anki to get it generate hiragana flashcards but im just not exactly sure of how to change it. I also worry about having hiragana cards for kanji words because, while i would know the words, it might impact my reading ability if i am not attaching those readings and understandings to the kanji itself, since it seems like kanji are so common in subtitles and manga. I do appreciate your suggestion though.

@Vida_Local I wish you luck with One Piece. feels like quite the beast to try and tackle. i fear most of the dialogue would go right over my head. I do wish you luck on your path and i hope that if we work hard that we both get to where we want to go. This may not be the proper place but i would love to hear about your time in Japan as i have not met many people who have ever been or lived there.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and reply. I do appreciate your time and your suggestions.

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