How do you guys learn vocab and grammar efficiently?

I’ll second the “get more exposure” comments!

You don’t need to understand everything when you read/listen, just as long as you’re picking some things up. Even if all you remember about a word/grammar point is that you’ve seen it before, but still need to look it up to check the meaning, that’s still meaningful progress!

You can also try to use some resources to “scaffold” off of rather than going into a text completely blind, here’s some potential strategies:

  • read something you already know the story to well.
  • read in parallel, referencing an English version of the text after trying it in Japanese to see if you can understand how/why it was translated the way it was
  • reread stuff you’ve already tried in Japanese, more things probably stuck than you think from your first attempts
  • frontload vocabulary by frequency specific to that text using something like jpdb + mokuro or something of that nature to make it easier to read that specific thing
  • use a tool like natively to help gauge the difficulty of what you’re interested in reading and make appropriately difficult picks (the easiest "native content’ is generally around level 15/16, ちいさな森のオオカミちゃん seemed to be pretty popular with the new new readers in the ABBC)
  • try reading something that has already been read by a book club here on the forums! The absolute beginner book club and beginner book club picks generally have vocabulary sheets and lots of discussion about any confusing passages, and lots of more experienced readers are still watching/tracking the threads, so you can even still ask questions and people will help you out!

Lastly, Japanese is one of those things that really just takes time. Like a lot of time. Like a lot of lot of lot of lot of time. Even if you’re studying an hour a day every single day, it can still just take years before you’re a truly independent language user.

I’d take these specific numbers with a grain of salt, but Japanese is a real long term endeavor! Keep with it and eventually you’ll get to taste the sweet sweet fruits of your labor