Freshly-minted Level 60 - Humbly seeking guidance re: next steps

Hello all!

A few weeks ago, I hit Level 60 after a little over a year on WaniKani and wanted to make the obligatory レベルアップ post. In skimming through forum posts I’ve noticed that for quite a few users, the very first forum participation takes place at around the 60 mark. I’m following suit largely because I’m very impressed with the signal-to-noise ratio displayed here by the WK Community!

Thanks in large part to WaniKani, I’ve gone from next to zero knowledge of the Japanese language (Feb. 2022) to upper-intermediate / JLPT N2 - level (for reference, I’m reading fluidly at around the L25 mark on Natively, with L30-L32 being a manageable challenge). Listening, however, presents far more of a challenge (even for sentences that I can read fairly effortlessly), though I haven’t hit a plateau per se and continue to see some small improvement despite the relatively low amount of effort I put into that aspect of training. I attribute this difficulty, of course, to the high level of phonological overlap between words (which is alleviated by the disambiguation provided by kanji when reading).

I would love to hear any advice Community members might have as to “where to go next.” Obviously, this depends on my goals, but I haven’t got anything too specific lined up. I just want to become a well-rounded Japanese user (both written and oral domains) someday. I don’t necessarily intend to move to Japan, although having the option wouldn’t hurt. My job is in academia and I’d like to be able to eventually participate in written discourse at that level.

For the time being, I feel very confident in sentence processing from a grammatical standpoint – the big hurdles I’m facing in the written domain are due to vocabulary breadth. Aside from attempting to challenge higher reading difficulties, my main practice tools are:

-Bunpro (approaching completion of the JLPT N1 material, some of which seems like it would be arcane even to native speakers) which I feel gave me a HUGE head-start into reading early on
-Various Kitsun decks (especially the 10K optimized deck, where I’m at about 25% completion [I don’t skip words I already know from WK because I want the additional exposure for faster auditory recognition] – plus the “WK Missing Levels: 60-70” deck and the Japanese names decks are also turning out well)
-Continuing to work towards burning the entire lot on WaniKani

You will likely find this a bit sad, but I’ve yet to have my first conversation in Japanese!

In any case, thank you for reading/commenting. よろしくお願いします‼

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Congrats on getting to the end! :partying_face: :tada:

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congrats! I hope to be there soon.

Also considering my options for SRS tool when I hit 60 here, still dont know which one to use.

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Read more and listen more as the wise say. Native content you shall consume!

Getting a teacher is something I cannot stress enough either. Consuming native content and being able to replicate Japanese is one thing, but understanding the why behind certain phrases/words and when to use them is something that I believe requires a tutor.

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Welcome to the reached-level-60-but-never-had-a-conversation-in-Japanese club!

Congratulations, by the way!! :birthday: :confetti_ball:

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Since you are a Kitsun user, feel free to check out my deck list here if interested, separated by study focus (Grammar, Conversation, Reading, Vocab/Expressions, Kanji/Writing, dialects and other)

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I do find it interesting that you have gone from zero to a fairly advanced level over the course of less than a couple years, while I have been “learning” for what feels like forever, and I’m only at an advanced beginner level in my studies. Yet I have had many conversations in Japanese over the years.

I do think that listening comprehension comes ahead of being able to produce output - perhaps some might disagree, but at least for me that was a necessary step. I’ve used a combination of listening to news (NHK TV Japan, mostly) and entertainment and variety show broadcasts, and dramas, and lots and lots of anime with English subtitles. All of those have helped me with acquisition of vocabulary and a feel for how to structure sentences and an ability to mimic the sounds of the language as spoken by native speakers.- to the point where people think that I have a much better command of the language than I actually do (because evidently my pronunciation is better than that of a typical ‘advanced beginner’).

But actually speaking, thinking of what to say, organizing it silently in my brain, and then actually saying the words out loud, is difficult. I have had some classroom learning and private tutoring, but that was many, many years ago. But in a class environment or with a tutor there’s no escape from having to actually produce the language, and so I’m quite certain that that is key.

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