Force translating everything I read

Hello everyone,
I finished both Tae Kim and also both Genki’s text books and have started to read manga’s and also visual novels (whilst keeping up my Wanikani reviews) but I have noticed that I am force translating everything from Japanese to English and this is on instincts. I try not to do it, but I constantly do it and if I force translate everything even to the particles I then eventually get confused and frustrated.
This has affected my enjoyment in the things I read most of times. Am I able to get some tips please thank you.


Try reading entire sentences, and see if you can understand the general idea before you translate it word for word.


Maybe it would help to read out loud, and not pause until the end of the page. I think by doing this you give yourself less time to actually translate everything.


Is Japanese the first foreign language you’re learning?

I haven’t reached that point with Japanese yet, but with English, it just took some time and some practice and eventually it snapped into place. So I wouldn’t worry too much if I were you.


That’s ok. You have to do it that way at first. The more you read the more your brain will start to cut out the middleman.


Translating into English is normal at first, especially since Japanese structure is so different. You’re still trying to figure out what’s going on in each sentence you read. What I found helpful was focusing on breaking down sentence structure. That is, I would ask myself what the particles indicated (e.g. ‘Here, is で a location marker, a means indicator, or the て-form of である?’) and what was modifying what. I would identify what each element did in the sentence. Over time, I stopped needing to translate as much because my brain was able to piece together what was happening based on the sentence itself.


The more you read, the most familiar you’ll become with grammar patterns, and the strong your pattern recognition will become. (Likewise vocabulary words.) When that happens, you’ll start to recognize meanings of portions of sentence without putting them into English. If you’re not there yet, it means you still need more exposure. Keep reading, keep learning new grammar and vocabulary, and you will get there!


This is how Genki, Tae Kim, and WK tend to instruct. And it is instinctive anyways.

I agree with this suggestion, as it may also help with training your speaking muscles.


Am I the only one who didn’t get what “force translating” is and why it’s a problem?


I think it’s this sense of being unable to understand a sentence without translating it into one’s native language, as opposed to being able to work the sentence out without having to translate it in full. I personally think that we move from one end of the spectrum (translating everything) to the other (translating nothing or almost nothing) as we become more fluent.


Ah, In that case it’s just a case of not enough practice. @anon70208943 I don’t know how long you’ve been studying Japanese for but it seems you need to get more exposure.

Besides, I think Genki gets you to N4 grammar. N3 grammar is very common in manga or other literature. And sometimes you see N2 qnd N1 grammar points. And I qm not even mentioning vocab and kanji. It’s only natural to struggle in the beginning.

Like with every skill, keep practicing and and after a while you’ll be laughing at how difficult some manga seemed back then compared to your current level.


Aye, agreed. I remember years ago watching a vlog where they explained that a げんかん was the entrance to a house where people would take off their shoes.

At this point I’ve probably watched hundreds of videos with people coming through the げんかん and by the time I got to 玄関 on Wanikani, seeing the English translation of “entranceway” seemed weird.

In my mind, a げんかん was a げんかん. :wink:


Haha, same! I knew exactly what you meant by げんかん. I guess I just imagined the concept.

Another tip would be to focus on listening because you can’t stop and think, your brain will start skipping the translation step to keep up.


Haha yeah it’s definitely the familiarity of it. Now I get annoyed when someone tries to explain what it is and I have to sit through it. :joy:

I do this with songs. Singing along with the lyrics forces you to go as fast as the song does and most of the main streaming apps will auto scroll for you.

Level 1

Level 100 :joy:


I’ve been slowly building this skill and transitioning into understanding things in Japanese instead of converting it to English, so I can speak from some experience. My advice (and also what CureDolly on Youtube recommends) is reading or listening to the source material without pausing or slowing down. This (theoretically) forces your brain to skip the middleman because it simply doesn’t have time to convert it into any other language. Only read/listen to the material once on your first pass. Don’t rewind it or re-read the passage. You can do that later on a second pass when you allow yourself to translate for full comprehension.


I actually got that. (I am suprised i did)
I learned it couple weeks ago on N5 vocabs deck

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Yeah, there’s a couple of words where I have just added the Japanese reading as a custom synonym in Wanikani because I know what hanami and tachinomi are, for crying out loud, but I really don’t want to remember how tf Wanikani tries to describe these in English

(also, Mango Languages decided to translate “sashimi” as “sliced raw fish”, as in “this sliced raw fish is tasty”, every single time the word comes up, but apparently “sushi” can just stay untranslated and it’s driving me nuts.)


That would drive me nuts. lol

I guess sashimi isn’t widespread enough to have made it into the lexicon outside of maybe Hawaii.

I do like the fact that the kanji is stab-body :wink: 刺身

Technically yes, I know Chinese too, but I didn’t “learn” Chinese. I technically picked up Chinese from my family.

Thank you for the encouragement, indeed Tae Kim/GENKI brings to N4 and many visual novels and all that, you must need at least N3 grammar, but I am currently struggling to understand the most basic crap when reading native stuff, I was doing Tobira but I was very frustrated because I didn’t understand the vocabulary in there.

I have been using a highlighter translator (Rikaikun/Nezaka) and plus Textractor and a clipboard thing and because of my limited vocab knowledge I have to always look things up constantly. So “not slowing down and pausing” is kinda unuseable here because I am forced to pause in order to look up words and whatnot.

Wait, is sashimi an uncommon word in the states? We use it here all the time (then again, literally no one translates any japanese food’s name here, with exception of maybe noodles, but noodles are not that popular lol).