Getting into immersion as a beginner?

Hello everyone,
School has started for me again, and I’m homeschooled so I am probably able to spend a lot more time studying Japanese than most people. I have been following Tofugu’s guide to learning Japanese, so I already learned hiragana and katakana, and I am currently using wanikani (obviously.) I am going through Genki I and studying the vocab for it with kitsun.io.

This is all really helpful and I have learned a lot, but I feel like I’m missing an immersion aspect. I feel like I should be reading books in Japanese, so I’m thinking of starting with graded readers? I started shirokuma cafe a while ago but that is way above me right now lol.
And for speaking, is it worth doing Pimsleur or something similar? Or should I just talk to people in Japanese. I’m in a discord where you can talk to people in Japanese but the problem is I dont know enough yet to really have a conversation. So should I be learning some more grammar somewhere else?

I hope this makes sense, sorry if its really confusing ;-; if you have any questions about my learning then please ask, and any suggestions for what to do are welcome (^o^)

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Hi, in also getting into immersion.

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I also found the bookclubs too tough, so am in the Graded Readers Club - no deadlines / time pressures, just help if you need it and motivation as others report their progress. I’m just transitioning between lvl 0 and lvl 1 readers now (just got some new books of assorted levels :grin:). Most of the books have audio, so I practice my listening and speaking with that at the moment. Some people are lucky enough to have the readers available at their local library, so have a look because the sets are rather expensive (but worth it, IMO).

P.S. One of the reasons I have not joined your Genki I group is that I am prioritising reading over grammar at the moment - I’m doing grammar, but at a slower pace so that I can do more reading.

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Right at the beginning it doesn’t make sense to launch into immersion. Once of the advantages adults have over babies when it comes to learning languages is that we can look up grammar points and understand sentence structures. The trouble with doing immersion outside of Japan is that it can get really expensive too- here I can go to the library and read children’s books or buy them second hand very cheaply. Outside of Japan they can rack up fast. I believe there is somewhere online you can read Japanese children’s books for free; there was a thread about it in here.

For beginner grammar, I have found Misa’s videos on Youtube to be the absolute best. I speak along with them and take notes and all the grammar points she teaches me seem to stick much better than from any other sources.
Misa’s beginner playlist:

I also really like the app Lingodeer for teaching grammar. Especially when they get onto the Japanese 2 lessons, there’s a fantastic range of useful grammar points there and you can record yourself speaking.

Once you’ve learnt some grammar, try reading along with the voice on NHK News Web Easy. My method is to read along with the voice, go back and look up words I don’t understand, then read along with the voice again.

If you really want to try immersion from some native material, try this Pocoyo playlist. It would be better if it had Japanese subtitles to read along with, but alas. I have to watch it at 0.75 speed to catch everything.

Hope this is helpful to you!

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I also recommend Misa’s videos. She has helped me solidify grammar that I had trouble with and she makes it easy to understand and grasp.

Also, don’t be afraid to jump into a manga that might be above your level. I recommend one with furigana. When I first came to Japan I only had a year of Japanese at university and I jumped into reading アオハライド and オレンジ. Both I didn’t understand a good chunk of them but I started picking up words through context and practicing my Japanese reading skills.

Finding a Japanese music artist that you enjoy is also a great way to get some listening practice.

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P.P.S. You can access assorted free graded readers here - there doesn’t appear to be audio for these ones, but you can get some reading practice, apply some of your Genki grammar, and it will let you know what level you’re at if you choose to purchase graded readers.

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If you have the capacity to add something else to your study routine, I’d recommend Pimsleur. Genki is fine for beginner grammar, and Pimsleur would reinforce that with more listening and speaking (something self-learners sometimes have a hard time getting enough of). If you do the writing exercises from the back of Genki and look up additional vocab that’s relevant to your life, by the time you finish Genki 1 you should have more that enough grammar to hold simple conversations, so that might be a good time to try jumping into the discord group.

There’s Pimsleur thread here, too:

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I know that it is somewhat of a running joke, but I found anime quite useful. I just started watching raw anime, and did so for quite a bit of time (at least half a year, not quite sure). The only other thing related to japanese I did at the time was some Remembering the Kanji. I did manage to go from understanding very little, to actually getting most of what was happening in some simple slice-of-life stuff.

Last year, when I decided to go ahead and take a JLPT, I found a teacher on iTalki, who I then worked through some preparatory books with, like 日本語総まとめ and 新完全マスター, but I found that I was already aware of most of the grammar points in there. And I was able to immediately start talking in japanese with them, even if it took a lot of concentration at the beginning.

The main point to consider with something like this is that you have to find some way to have fun with the show, even if you have no idea what is happening :slight_smile:.

As an addition, it’s done wonders for my listening capabilities. I passed N3 reasonably easily last summer, and for N2 in winter listening was my best section with 60/60.

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Watch Terrace House on Netflix. It contains regular repetitive dialogue that together with formal grammar and vocab studies and WK both accelerates your learning and gives you some base to compare your understanding against.

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I totally second this recommendation! :ok_hand::ok_hand::ok_hand:

I’m watching the “Opening New Doors” series of it at the moment (with English subtitles because after a couple of episodes without any subtitles, it got too frustrating for me to not know what was going on :joy:) but the next series that I watch, I’ll watch all without subtitles, as “proper” immersion.

It’s a great way to hear real Japanese people speaking to each other, similar conversation topics crop up again and again as people move out/in (how old are you, where are you from, etc), and with the 6 people in the house and the in-between sections of the 6 presumably well-known people commentating, you get a good selection of accents and manners of speaking.

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Immersion as a beginner might seem really daunting, 'cause, well, you don’t get almost anything, so if you expect it to be some graded to your level experience you are sort of bound to material that is super basic and mostly oriented at toddlers, which can conflict with the fact that most likely you aren’t into that stuff anymore.:sweat_smile:

That been said two good alteratives I bumped into when looking for something similar where basically, simple shows with basic plots and somwhat easier on the dialogues (in my case those tended to be slice of life shows) and then action shows where the visual component was super strong, so it provided a strong support to the understanding.

Basically you develope some tolerance to not understanding every little bit, while still enjoying the shows. This gets only better and better, and every couple of months I did watched those earlier shows again, and it was like watching them all over again, getting so much more. Until a point where going line by line is something that became fun. Given the unkown vocab is much lower these days, picking shows for the content alone now has taken out most of the unmotivating issues I was having with this learning routines.

Another great method I did was watching some of my favorites movies dubbed in japanese (LoTR, Matrix, etc). The plot was never an issue so I could pick up words easily given I knew the original lines almost by heart. If that got tiresome I could always space out and forget about the language learning part. :grin:.

In any case you have to start working in unsderstanding by actually listening hundred of hours, so make shure you use something that you actually like and keeps you motivated.:+1: … Of course these routines can be mixed between each other, used with other more formal methods too, so you might just try them :wink:

EDIT: by the way, since you will want to look for a lot of material for immersion to tryout (specially for the dubbed content) I must say that outside of Japan a VPN service and Netflix is the best investment I ever did related to this. If I have to compare it with books, language learning payed websites, even some tandem partners :sweat_smile: , VPN + Netflix has beaten most of the other sources I have met.

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This is a hugely helpful resource! Thank you for pointing it out :smile:

I’m still personally trying to find more resources that can also me to practice basic listening comprehension. Is there any resource purely for beginners?

EDIT: Whoops, turns out if I read a little more, I could probably figure it out myself. Sorry! I’ll check out the other forms of graded readers.

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