Immersing early can be frustrating as there are lots of unknown words and grammar. What methods did you use to keep on immersing?
I did two things early on that I think helped me a lot.
- Read with book clubs. By reading with book clubs here on the forums, you have a support network and a schedule. The schedule keeps you reading every week no matter what, and the support network helps you through the hard parts. There are often vocab sheets to help with word look up, and of course people ask questions about grammar and how to break down sentences. I participated in book clubs for both manga and kids books early on, and found it incredibly helpful.
- Read something you like enough to push through the frustration. Even while reading with book clubs, I did read a little bit on the side as well. For me, this was ご注文はうさぎですか. This manga was much harder than the manga we were reading in the beginner book club, but since I like the series so much it was worth the extra effort. Of course, over time and with practice even ご注文はうさぎですか became easy to read. What was once a struggle is now something I can read on the couch and enjoy an entire chapter with (usually) just a few word lookups.
I think doing both of those together is helpful. With the book clubs, you may not always be reading something you like for the story, but it’s worth it for the practice and the support network. With the personal reading, you should find something you like enough that you want to continue reading despite the difficulty.
You’ve probably seen this, but just in case:
Two huge things you can do.
Easiest thing hands down is really finding something you care about and want to consume.
Hardest thing hands down is changing your attitude and looking at unknown words and grammar as an opportunity to learn and grow. You learn a lot more than it may feel like.
Well when it comes to reading, the difficulty is the whole purpose (for now) so it doesn’t bother me. I stick to book clubs and binge Cure Dolly. Reading right now would be about 100 times less productive without a book club. However the majority of immersion time for me is (relatively) more passive and more retention focused listening “”“practice”"". Practice is a weird word for me to use for watching 2+ hours of Vtubers daily because I was doing that before I began studying Japanese initially anyway.
My holy trinity of principles are to find content which:
- is enjoyable even with minimal comprehension (ie. Korone screaming 危ない and 待って at Sonic Adventure for the last 7 hours and counting.)
- is within an appropriate skill level (ie. Korone screaming 危ない and 待って at Sonic Adventure for the last 7 hours and counting.)
- provides thorough and persistent visual context to help frame the Japanese so you aren’t flying blind trying to comprehend it (ie. Manga, Anime… or Korone screaming 危ない and 待って at Sonic Adventure for the last 7 hours and counting.)
I was watching Korone for 3 hours today and I noticed that for the first time… I was fully understanding her statements more often than I wasn’t. That’s new for me and it was only possible thanks to those 3 magic principles. As soon as one of those is gone things become very frustrating and confusing very quickly.
I’d really like to be reading non-fiction, seeing what this anime jazz is all about, and gaming with native speakers, but until I level up that would violate all 3 principles and be an unfun and unpleasant mess.
I’ve been reading some manga, but I think I want to include audio with my immersion. I want to beat two birds with one stone.
Does anyone know of some good anime for beginners? I don’t care about the vocabulary usage(I have a texthooker, so new words are only a good thing), but the speed at which characters talk could be a problem.
Seconding the above; those are the biggest for me.
Another one that I can think of sounds counterproductive but kinda works for me: don’t translate everything. If you can’t figure out the exact words, figure it from context or skip entirely.
Look up in a dictionary only if:
- Important to the story and hardly understandable from context
- You’re interested enough that looking it up is effortless and doesn’t break immersion
This mostly helps me for stuff I’m not that interested in, since it speeds up the process and prevents me from getting bored.
しろくまカフェ is a good start. I watch it on Amazon.jp
ドラえもん is also a good choice, although some of the voices can be hard to understand due to overacting.
I used to enjoy 君に届け. The main character certainly speaks slowly ( due to social anxiety which is the theme of this anime ). But it left Netflix Japan, I don’t know where to find it now.
Among the anime I’ve watching with just Japanese subtitles (only a handful so far), I found からかい上手の高木さん to be the easiest. Pretty typical language usage most of the time. Be willing to pause and rewind a bit, but don’t turn a 25 minute episode into an hour if you don’t have to.
With regards to that second, harder thing: I look at immersion as studying and not as reading, playing games, listening to podcasts or whatever. If I am trying to read a manga, and I only manage to understand one panel in an hour, and only then after looking up a bunch of words and grammar points, well, that would be a terrible reading experience! However, if I am trying to study a manga, and I manage to read one panel that I couldn’t read before because I learned new words and new grammar points, it feels extremely satisfying. And eventually, through study, things do get easier.
That said, it’s nice to have something that you can read alongside something you have to study because studying is hard and draining, no matter how satisfying, but it takes a long time to get to that point.
Pretty much this. Generally best thing is to move away from “achievement-based goals” like read 10 pages or watch 3 episodes or finish this book.
You want to move to more action-orientated goals like “read until you learn 10 new words” or “gather five sentences you don’t understand then ask about them online.”
The goal with frequent immersion is not to watch X, it’s to get better at the language. Goals based on pages read and whatnot encourage sloppiness, because nowhere in there does it explicitly say anything about learning or understanding well. Furthermore, they can be discouraging. If your goal is to read five pages a day, and you encounter a particularly difficult section, suddenly these new words and grammar structures are obstacles, not opportunities to learn.
I believe that website isn’t legit with regards to copyright, so the mods would frown upon it being mentioned here.
Really sums up the issue I think a lot of people have.
You aren’t immersing to be able to say I finished x,y, and z. Youre immersing to say I learned x,y, and z.
That can change later on when you can really get into extensive reading and stuff, but for the start thats really the mindset that you should have. Its very easy to get the wrong impression though since everyone is always talking about all the stuff they have read.
My two cents, though I’m pretty sure it lines up with what most people have already said:
- Immerse yourself in something fun i.e. something you enjoy
- Don’t try to do anything that’s too hard for you, and more importantly, don’t try to do anything that frustrates you too much
As an example of this, I was watching Konosuba around the time I started learning Japanese. Words like 私、あなた、です、おはよう and ありがとう aside, I honestly didn’t know much about what was going on. What I did, however, was to simply listen out for words I knew or that I could figure out while enjoying the series, because it really made me laugh back then. As a result, I picked up a few words, and my Japanese listening (or more accurately, syllable recognition) ability shot up. I really would have liked to understand more full sentences, but I didn’t really care at the time because it hadn’t been too long – so I had few expectations with regard to my proficiency – and I was enjoying myself too much to bother. When I had the drive to do so, I paused videos and looked words up, and I continue to do that now. However, when I couldn’t be bothered, I just kicked back and relaxed. I also didn’t spend too much time on trying to do things that I found too difficult: when I realised I was taking forever to get through the character introduction pages of the Konosuba light novel, I naturally became less motivated. Was I frustrated? Yes. What did I do about it? I decided to postpone trying to read light novels. There’s no shame in giving up on something that’s not suitable for you at this point: the key thing is not giving up on immersion entirely. As long as you look hard enough, you’ll always be able to find something that you can learn something from. Something which you can understand most of is ideal, because it’ll let you learn from context, but if you can’t find something like that, don’t worry: just pick something you like that isn’t too hard, and then focus and enjoy.
- Teasing Master Takagi-san
- Spirited Away
I agree with this! This is one area where Japanese pro wrestling has been really helpful to me, because I got into it before I could understand really any Japanese, and even with such a low level of understanding, the way wrestling works, you can still enjoy watching matches and get most of the story even without being able to understand what the wrestlers and/or and commentary are saying. It’s done a lot to help me get over that intimidation and fear of complete immersion because I’ve realized that I don’t need a perfect understanding in order to still enjoy it. It also provides a benchmark to measure my progress, because already, I understand a lot more than I did before I started actively learning Japanese.
Wrestling is also good because it forces me to immerse myself in the language, since a lot of it never gets subtitled or translated, so I have no choice but to watch/read in Japanese and either decipher it on my own or just let it pass by without being too concerned about understanding everything.
Granted, all of this is still very passive immersion for me, since I’m not far enough along in my studies yet where active immersion is really productive. But it has helped make me a lot braver with active immersion as well. I’ve spent the past few months trying it with Spanish (which I’m much more proficient in), and having had some passive immersion through exposure to lucha libre twitter and wrestling shows in Spanish has made it much easier for me to motivate myself to try active immersion and read books in the language, since I’m not nearly as intimidated by a full page of text in Spanish as I used to be.
So, I would recommend finding some form of immersion that you can enjoy passively even with very low comprehension (vtubers, sports, and pro wrestling are all pretty good examples), and pair that with active immersion alongside tools like koohi.cafe and WK book clubs (choosing materials that are an appropriate difficulty level for where you’re at) to minimize the frustration of unknown words and grammar. If active immersion is still too hard for you or you’re too intimidated, then starting with passive immersion might help make it less intimidating, because it’ll teach you that you don’t need to have perfect understanding in order to still enjoy what you’re reading or listening to.
Lots of faith. Just holding onto the hope that it is all worth it.
If anything I’ve become more comfortable with listening and looking at content without understanding it.
When I do understand something in the wall of unknown I’m quite happy.
Oh sorry misread the post a bit.
I watch movies and anime without subs and try to read a book. I only look up words if I think I have seen them before. If I try to look up everything it is so draining.
When I listen to talk radio I try to guess the topic. Oh they are talking about corona or the weather.
Something that I don’t think others have mentioned that I don’t think others have is that you should count it as study time, force yourself to go a certain amount of time everyday, and treat it seriously, making sure to look up things to make sure you fully understand.
I say this because I think a lot of people struggle because they want to think of it as something that is going to be fun, but no matter the material is, it’s going to be exhausting. Eventually this will decrease and you can do longer sessions and get more progress, but that will take quite a while.
- Find your right level of immersion
- Probably start with something you already watched or read in other langauge (For example, Dragon Ball Z would be nice)
- Let it goes
Honestly, I’m doing the opposite lol. I just let it goes. If I don’t understand then I don’t understand. It’s fine for me since I already know the story. However, it would be different if it’s a brand new shows that I’ve never watch before.
The interesting part is I know my Japanese progession along the show I starts from don’t have a clue of what are they talking about, and now I understand like 70% of them.
I’m not saying your method is wrong though. I think there is no best approach in learning a langauge. It’s up to the learner to find the one that’s right for them.
I found that for myself, learning new words through WaniKani and using the Japanese Core 10000 on WaniKani was essential for immersion. I made sure that I use them whenever I messaged my Japanese Friends on HelloTalk or on Line to get it down pat. Eventually, as you climb up the levels in Wanikani, reading will definitely get easier and easier.
For listening though, a good vocabulary foundation is also essential to get the gist of what they are saying. Without having one, you’ll find yourself having to look up the dictionary every few seconds just to try and understand what the speakers are talking about. I tried listening practice when I was in my Level 10s and it was a chore to do so. Once I was in the Level 30s, I was able to listen to lower-intermediate level conversations while understanding the gist of what the conversation is getting at, and by the time I reached my Level 50s, I feel like my listening ability has improved exponentially.
Mindset is everything.
Lots of new words and grammar just means many opportunities to expand your knowledge of real use of the language! If I read a passage and find ~10 new words, that’s 10 more than I knew yesterday. I view it as humbling with how much there can be, and I just try to view it that way than let a feeling of frustration get to me.
Listening is the real challenge. I’m a big fan of books like the one below as they start simple and build up gradually, and include transcription and translation for reference. It’s legit pace of native speech.