Holistic Japanese Learning Advice Thread

Some of this has already been said, but…

The important thing about learning anything is to make manageable sizes of information for your brain. Some people need to move through more (or different) steps than others. There is a learning theory called i+1, the idea being that you can understand language that contains the information that you know (i) + 1 new idea, or about 1% new vocabulary, in a listening or reading context. And context is a key word; memorizing kanji meanings and readings will not help you to learn the other important aspects of a word’s use, like its collocations, etc. Part of learning is memorization - words, idioms and set expressions, verb conjugations - but the other part is using it and practicing it. To practice, you often need a supportive community, which is the point of these forums. Almost no one can learn a language by memorizing a dictionary. Don’t beat yourself up for knowing only one aspect of the language and then not understanding full-on native speech. And for the best retention, focus first on the ideas that you will need to use often.

Working in an office? Focus on saying “ohayougozaimas-” when you come in and “osakinishitsureishimas-” when you leave, “sumimasen” for basically everything, “onegaishimas-” or “kudasai” when you need something, and “arigatogozaimas-” as thanks.

Working with kids? Get familiar with command form - “te o aratte, kudasai!” “kiite, kudasai!” “issho ni renshuu shite kudasai!” etc.

You know best what your job expects you to say regularly - so I’d start there.

For holistic/balanced language learning, choose a way to work on each of these skills at a manageable, comprehensible pace for yourself:

  • Reading (e.g., easy stories for Japanese learners, Duolingo translations, BunPro stories, something from this Wanikani forum list, etc.)
  • Writing (e.g, Duolingo’s sentence building, handwriting practice sentences to drill grammar or vocabulary, this daily challenge, etc.)
  • Listening (e.g., example sentences on BunPro, YouTube learning channels, anime, radio, Duolingo, etc.)
  • Speaking (e.g., practicing with your wife, limited practice on Duolingo, making friends in town or in online learning communities, signing up for community classes - this one is the hardest in the era of COVID)
  • Vocabulary (e.g., KanjiTree, Wanikani, Anki, Duolingo, kanji stroke order practice, this Shiritori game, etc.)
  • Pronunciation (e.g., YouTube channels, feedback from your wife or friends, Duolingo’s new feature, etc.)
  • Grammar (e.g., BunPro, textbooks, Duolingo, self-practice drills of a new structure, etc.)

You will see on this list that some programs can help you with more than one skill, if used to its full benefit. Have you perused the full list of Japanese learning resources yet?

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