The standard advice is that you become better with practice. But as an old teacher once told me practice doesn’t make perfect it makes permanent.
Having recently completed Tobira, Read Real Japanese and the N3 section of Bunpro I decided to start reading a light novel entirely in Japanese and vowed to not look at an official translation at all and just go through it armed with a dictionary. Read through the first few pages and realised hey this isn’t so bad. Curiosity got the better of me and I looked up an official translation and realised there were a number of sentences I completely misinterpreted and would’ve continued making the same mistake if I hadn’t look at the official translation.
Looking at the Reading threads everyone seems to go at it with just a dictionary but how do you guys know you’re not just making the same mistakes again and again unless you look at an official translation (if it exists) or ask a native?
Is attempting to read Japanese armed with just a dictionary not really a viable strategy?