Considerations of a fresh Level 5

I just got to level 5 this morning (even if I’m probably not touching the lessons until tomorrow), and I thought I’d finally drop by to say hi to the community and annoy you all.
First of all, have some stats:

A bit of background: I’m Italian, even if I consider myself at least sufficiently fluent in English to study other languages in it. I know a smattering of words in German and French (basically enough to man a bar) and studied Latin and Ancient Greek back in school (remembering them successfully is another matter entirely).

I started Japanese back in 2017/2018, trusting in the Wise Green Owl of Duolingo, but… well, progress just didn’t feel like progress. It felt like I was learning random chunks of stuff and just memorizing without rhyme or reason instead of actually learning things - I tried it with languages closer to what I already knew (again, French and German) and the process did feel like it was working closer to how it was probably intended.
But with Japanese it simply didn’t click.

Then I stumbled on WK did the free levels. I didn’t exactly have the most stable of jobs, so I skipped on the subscription - instead branching out to a bit of Anki (I’ll have to confess to trying the WK deck here) and Lingodeer.
I also played around with Heisig’s method, but learning just the meaning of Kanji didn’t work for me.

And then I did nothing for about two years.

In 2021 I finally decided to pick things up again, actually got the lifetime subscription on WK and reset everything. I’m currently managing to have some Crabigator time in the morning before work and some after dinner; if things go as I’m hoping one of those slots will be replaced by something else (probably Lingodeer) in a few levels and I’ll add KameSama to the routine as soon as I begin burning stuff.
I also just started some kana writing practice in the spare time (Write Japanese app, but I’m pretty sure those aren’t uncommon), as I’m not convinced I’m actually reading them instead of just playing a good guessing game.

Finally, the considerations!

  • Learning as an ESL (and as an European) is rarely a problem, but manages to be annoying from time to time, occasionally for cultural references (I did have to google Tosh.0 for 年 - but on the flip side googling it proved to be enough effort spent that I actually started remembering. Fingers crossed) and occasionally for pronunciations: I’ll freely admit that I speak a worse English than I write and when examples use words I pronounce wrong the problems compound.

  • I’d need to discuss the topic with natives of other languages to be sure because it might just be bias, but it feels like coming to Japaese from a syllable-timed language (like Romance ones) is marginally easier than it would be from a stress-timed one (like English). And it also feels like the pronunciation of Romaji is closer to how I’d pronounce consonant-vowel pairs in Italian than English, but once again it might be bias - and it’s not always a one-on-one mapping in the first place: hello, ら.

  • Occasionally stumbling on vocabulary you already know due to passive exposure to Japanese is an absolute delight.


ma frat sei livello 5 perché hai ricominciato prima di resettare quanto eri

Finite le lezioni del terzo livello ma non abbastanza materiale a Guru per il quarto.

English-ing things up for anyone curious:
Q: What level were you before resetting?
A: I finished the level 3 lessons but didn’t get enough material to Guru for the fourth.

okok bello bello buona fortuna in questo viaggio in mezzo alla lingua giapponese frat :raised_hands:t2: :raised_hands:t2: :raised_hands:t2:

english: just wishing good luck

as a german-speaker i find that japanese vowel pronunciation aligns much better with german than with english. i only have a little italian, but it does seem to apply to italian too ^^

english on the other hand only has a vague idea what each vowel is supposed to sound like anyway :rofl:


Yeah, from what I remember German is a very What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get language, even if it can go a bit too wild on compound words for my tastes. xD

Any particularly hard to match sounds? I’m keeping my vote on the ‘R’ kana group.

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i still don’t know how to do the R sound. and i’ve been practicing!

i’m just kind of resigned to having a foreign accent in japanese. but then, i’ve been living the multilingual life for so long that i have a foreign accent even in my mother tongue :sweat_smile:

I would have expected all romance languages to have an easy time with the ら sounds. This is interessing! Do you guys not have that soft r sound in italian?

Eh, it’s… somewhere between our ‘L’ and ‘R’ sounds. The classic, not-so-vaguely racist generic Asian caricature in popular culture speaks with 'L’s replacing all the 'R’s.
Easy to approximate, near impossible to get right. (Just like how we butcher the ‘Th’ english sounds with straight ‘Z’ ones)

Also @Mrs_Diss
Well, I mean - village in the Swiss mountains? That’s already like three languages to be confused by to begin with, so I’m not surprised xD

what’s more, a very multicultural village. well over a quarter of the residents are foreigners.

which is still less than geneva, where i went to university. some 47% of residents there aren’t citizens. it’s great, because you get exposed to a continuous flow of changing languages and cultures ^^

Hah, yes. I have a friend who’s there pretty often for university-related work, and he speaks of Chinese people more often than he does of locals.
Then again, he also speaks of random sudden… deers, I think it was, more often than he speaks of locals.

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