Hoping for some guidance

Hi All!
I’ve just reached level 11 (woot) and I’m hitting a wall when it comes to reading. I’ve tried time and time again to pick something up and read it, and what usually ends up happening is this:
“I know that word and that one, and hey! that one too! I know all the words in this sentence… I still have no idea what it means…”
It’s really frustrating. I tried reading the News Web Easy article today about the Emperor abdicating, and while I feel that I got a lot of grammar points and vocab right (with help from jisho, of course), I often found that I still didn’t know the “feeling” of the sentence. I’m not even trying to literally translate anymore, I’ve gotten over that. I just feel like no matter what I do I’ll never know Japanese Secrets :slightly_frowning_face:

Anyway, any advice? What am I missing to understanding the meaning/feeling behind what a text is trying to say?

In general, I think every learner feels this at various stages of their learning. At this point I’ve read two books and several volumes of manga, and I still run into sentences where I know all the words and grammar and still can’t make sense of the sentence. This happens less and less as I read more, but it does still happen.

My advice for you:

  1. Make sure you have a decent foundation in grammar. I’m all for reading early, but if you know too little grammar, it can be a real struggle. In my opinion, it’s best to have a strong understanding of the N5 grammar points, as well as some understanding of at least the most common N4 grammar points before trying to read too much.
  2. If what you’re reading is too hard, try something easier. Maybe a graded reader (though I have no experience with those). You want to find that sweet spot where you’re challenging yourself, but where you don’t want to bash your head against the wall.
  3. Join one of the book clubs here on WaniKani. These are basically support systems for reading, where we all help each other out when we run into sentences we don’t understand. As long as you’re willing to ask questions, people will always be there to help.
  4. Most importantly, keep reading. Regardless of what approach you choose (from my above suggestions or otherwise), the best way to improve is with practice.

Getting the “feeling” of a sentence isn’t something you can have right from the start, so don’t worry about that right now. Just do your best with the help of jisho to understand what you’re reading for now. Do it enough for a given grammar point, word or whatever and it starts to sink in. That’s when the “feeling” comes :wink:


What helped me most personally at that stage was joining a Japanese chatroom and lurking. Talking seldom, but mostly reading what people were saying and asking questions when I did not understand.
Also reading Lang8 articles as many of those are written bilingually. It helps you get what people are trying to say.

Seanblue has also given some solid advice. I have always found graded readers boring though. But they are a good start.

thank you all! i appreciate the help :slight_smile: hopefully i can find some material in that sweetspot that seanblue mentioned. I definitely need to work on my grammar, too. Again thank you so much!

Good advice @seanblue. By the way, you are almost lvl 60. My preemptive congrats for you!



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