Finding a pace with WK and grammar learning

Hello everyone:

Even as the progress on WK moves (albeit not that fast or anything), there has been a big focus on grammar and on Bunpro in particular. There were times when there were just too many reviews there in a day because I was not learning the grammar properly from the start and I was doing a lot of studying there - making mistakes on conjugations and specific meanings.

Even though WK has suggestions for when to start reading, my leveling pace here isn’t anywhere close to a 10 day interval (and Bunpro and some kana-only words are playing a big part in that), are there similar suggestions or ideas for grammar if any such benchmarks are even possible? Is it a good idea to have a good amount of, say, N5 grammar down before attempting to read books for first graders or N4 grammar knowledge for second/third graders?

Perhaps it’s just a personal concern of going too fast with grammar, and not memorizing it that effectively, in conjunction with finding reading materials that fit some reasonable timeline.

Thank you and feel free to ask any sort of question you wish of course!

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Hi @KaiMiang!

I have BunPro too and I am following the Genki I path in there. Mucking through the forums, I read somewhere that level 10 is a good time to start Genki, well here I am at level 18 and I only have gone through the first few chapters :sweat_smile: I am still a low level at BunPro as I have been doing “study” there as I learn the concepts from Genki.

I think graded readers will be your friend. There are several threads that focus on this so type it up on your search button and you will find valuable information in there. I personally have not started reading yet but I probably should. I am hoping to finish at least the first Genki book and then attempt to start reading.

I will let the other more experienced users address you in more detail as I can only speak to what I am doing. Hopefully some level 60s can chime in!

All the best and I hope you keep up on this journey!
:nerd_face::steam_locomotive:
choo-choo! keep chugging along!

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I started reading manga after learning all the N5 grammar and little to no N4 grammar. There are a few key N4 grammar points that are helpful to learn ahead of time, but if you don’t they’re common enough that you’ll have to learn them anyway. Once you learn those basics, join the Beginner Book Club here on the forums and read a manga with a group. Know that it’ll be slow and hard at first, and be willing to ask for help.

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This, basically. I did all of Genki I, then finished up the remaining N5 grammar points on Bunpro before starting to read manga. It was slow at first, and it probably will be for anyone reading their first ever volume, but it’s so much easier now. I’m about 4 chapters into Genki II now, but I’m also adding grammar points that I see a lot while reading into Bunpro (mostly N4, some N3) and reviewing that, so my grammar is kind of all over the place.

Also, when taking notes going through Genki I, I would find out how to casually say the grammar Genki was teaching. Textbooks generally teach polite sentences, but manga (from what I’ve read so far) doesn’t use these forms too often.

I also second trying out some Graded Readers. They’re good reading practice, but they’re also specifically made for Japanese learners instead of native speakers.

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Don’t forget, there’s also the Absolute Beginner Book Club! (And I’m not just saying that because the current BBC book is beating me up on a daily basis.)

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Thank you everyone! Sorry about the long delay as life seemed to win and feel asleep before being able to correctly and thoughtfully reply.

So at least there are a lot of options available which is good (thank you for the information about the ABBC and BBC as well), but if I may ask, would it be a good idea to read something that I haven’t read in English (if I were to choose something like Chi’s Sweet Home)? It sounds like some of these manga/books would be possible to start once there is a better and more consistent grip on the N5 grammar. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to decide on a book to start with just yet but that’s fine since it’s a journey and there are still quite a few Graded Readers!

I’m still only an advanced beginner (despite a few years of “lazy” learning :sweat_smile:), but I do read a bit. Personally I prefer not to read in English first - it takes away the joy of discovering the stories and the pride that goes with figuring out stuff :blush: If I already know what happens, I don’t seem to be as motivated to push through with it, or I tend to pay less attention… but that might not be the case for you!
Also Chi’s Sweet Home might be a bit boring in English…(it’s cute in Japanese though, but you have to imagine a childish voice to understand it)

The graded readers are really great for getting used to actually reading - they’re designed for that purpose. And reading helps grammar stick… There are some nice little stories in some of them, and going on to a simple manga after that is less scary/tiring!

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Thank you very much! It would be nicer to start on something new, but balance that with starting on reading material that one enjoys, which in this case is still cats. :cat:


I’ll still keep taking a look for specific Graded Readers and see what is out there because there is a lot and that’s great, but since I’m still not doing as well with N5 Bunpro reviews (or at least not answering them that quickly at times), combined with the fact that I’m not even familiar with the many various ways to say “yes”, “ya”, “no”…perhaps it would be best to wait a bit more :slight_smile: .

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You might not enjoy the graded readers in terms of content, they’re more like training wheels to get into reading stuff outside a text book :slight_smile: But they’re worth a shot if you want to dip your toes in gradually instead of diving straight in the deep end!
They’re kind of expensive, but you might be able to borrow them from a local library or language learning association.

Totally get the cats thing, I’m trying to level up my kanji so I can read a couple that I picked up on holiday a couple of years ago – ふくふくふにゃ~ん and ねことじいちゃん (no furigana, so I need more kanji knowledge :sweat_smile:)

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My approach to Bunpro is not so much to know it all by heart but simply to be able to recognize it when i see it during reading, and most of the time i get something wrong on bunpro and see the solution i go “ahh of course”.

Bunpro is a little tricky since no one has made a system or a plan for you, so you gotta come up with your own.
I have used number of ghost reviews to pace myself, if i have less than whatever amount i decided on (currently 48) i am allowed to do lessons that day, but only 5. This way i limit the influx of new things according to how many items im currently working on. (Im currently past my limit so no new lessons :pensive:)
After that its just a matter of adjusting those numbers to something that feels like a good pace.
I have selfimposed rules on how much help im allowed to use at different levels meaning the higher the level an item is the less help im allowed to use it does require some selfcontrol though.

I think one should just jump into it and start reading whenever, slow at first, but you can see improvement very quickly.
It is definitely easier to read something you allready know in english, but im personally not a fan of repeating stories, so i dont do that much.

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Take the word “who” as an example: https://jisho.org/search/誰

The Jisho page says this enters your WaniKani path at level 43 (i.e. 39 levels away from where I currently am). How frequently do you think you’ll come across this word in your studying efforts, regardless of which mediums you choose?

The basic Japanese Rosetta Stone course, as an example, introduces this almost immediately in the first set of lessons.

The point I want to bring across is that WaniKani, IMO, should be the supplementary tool, and it’s up to you what the primary tool is. I would start learning from that tool straight away, whether it be Genki, Japanese for Busy People, Netflix, games, books, BunPro, Bunpo (an app with similar name), etc. Study long and hard and dip in and out of WaniKani in the meantime. I used Japanese for Busy People, it was ok but I don’t know what Genki is like and I hear good things.

Learning the kanji is a disadvantage (in the short term) for learning Japanese that you won’t find with traditional alphabet-based languages, so for this we need a means to get it under out belt (WK). That other hard work you’d have to put in to learn French, Spanish, Greek, Italian… we still have to do that too, and it’s 98% of the work! It takes a lot of time, so just need to make sure you:

a) Have fun (choose something that stimulates you)
b) Practice every day (if it stops becoming fun don’t be scared to try another medium)

TL;DR; choose anything, don’t be put off by starting straight away. Naturally it will come together as long as you feel like it’s fun.

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Thank you all! All of this advice doesn’t give an impression that I’m learning grammar at too fast of a pace then overall but this said I clearly admit I was going way too fast at the beginning (levels 2-3).

I would like to start reading something soon but confess that there are still a few more N5 level items on Bunpro to finish yet (about 15) and with just starting to work on the radicals/kanji for this level, on top of not knowing exactly what to start reading, that waiting a week or two more would be for the best. There is plenty to learn and many of the manga choices sound fun or interesting - I’m just not sure what choice would be best to start with yet but I do feel closer to being ready for it! :slight_smile:

The main tool I’m using right now is pretty much Bunpro (and a combination of the links it provides with Tae Kim and Imabi), and this topic has put thoughts about doing grammar too quickly right now to rest. It also made me just add another “who” word into my kana pile just so I get some practice with it.

While sadly it’s not clear whether double posting is an acceptable or liked practice, I did want to say that I will be starting my first book soon but won’t be part of an active Book Club…yet (even though it is an Absolute Beginner Book Club book so there is likely going to be a lot of resources here at this awesome place for this!)

There is another question though that has to do with pacing between WK and Bunpro (at the least). Are there books in the Beginner Book Club stratosphere that kind of require N4-ish grammar knowledge but not so much needing an N4 vocabulary, or should be aligned together? For a specific example, is Yotsuba something that you would want to be level 10-15 at WK for first? Would a better metric for some of those books be a G2 level understanding? I don’t mind it being hard or slow at first, but I would like to keep going as well. :slight_smile:

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Real books kinda just do whatever they feel like. Don’t be surprised when you’re reading a manga which uses a lot of N5/N4 grammar and suddenly some N2 (or rarely even N1) grammar point shows up.

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That is pretty reasonable - the author will write the story that they want to write (what a novel concept). Thank you again - let’s just see how it all plays out and what book clubs will be going strong in a month or so! :smiley:

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yotsubato I feel like is one you can start reading almost straight away as there is very little kanji (I don’t think I’ve actually seen any kanji in yotsuba’s speech, just kana). However, they speak almost entirely in colloquial japanese and so you can say goodbye to most of what you learned in a textbook with its formality. The kids especially slur their words so you have to rely more on the pronunciation of the words than them being written correctly to guess what they are (off the top of my head 言う for example gets slurred to ゆう).

She does have kanji in her speech in volume one, but the author switches her to kana only fairly early on. Really helps give a feel of her youngness.

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