When I first considered learning Japanese, I was told that many people give up at kanji. I feared it from the getgo. But then I began learning, and stumbled upon WaniKani. Learning kanji was a breeze.
I’m now close to Level 20, and WaniKani is just amazing. It has made what’s probably the most difficult part of Japanese the easiest part for me.
But my problem is, I feel like I overcompensated, haha. I’m striving for JLPT N5, and I feel like I’m still lacking very much in the vocabulary and grammar departments. In fact, the lack of kanji made reading more difficult to me. On the other hand, I can already read most N4 kanji!
I see something like 家族 on WaniKani, and my mind immediately goes “Yup, that’s read as ‘kazoku’ and it means family.” But encountering かぞく spelt in hiragana in the wild, I’m like “Damn, what did that mean again?”
(I am still so, so embarrassed about not having recognized the word いしゃ…)
I don’t even want to get started on how poorly I perform on listening exercises!
But yeah… I guess it’s time for me to shift my priorities around a bit, and get started on learning the stuff necessary for N5.
Don’t forget Kaniwani is your friend for practicing WK kanji in the opposite direction (i.e. english to hiragana/kanji). It is also free.
I’m still trying to remember to use it more myself, but it is an invaluable tool and gives extra reinforcement as well.
For grammar if you like SRS programs Bunpro is available with a one month free trial and is only $30 a year ($3 a month I think) subscription if you like it after the trial expires.
For general vocab I’ve seen a lot of options like anki decks. I’ve mostly used Memrise (which is also an SRS program I believe). As far as I’m aware it’s also free but with paid upgrades. Any of these programs seem to have lots of pre-made vocab decks available if you look around.
As for listening and reading joining the book clubs and anime clubs and following along seem to be a great help. But there’s lots of recommendations around the forum for youtube channels and media. I’m going through Comprehensible Japanese right now.
I have this exact same problem, but I also suck at kanji too LOL (In the beginning I found it super easy, but as they got more complex I find myself getting worse at it…)
Anyway, listening often enough and getting exposure to tons of example sentences has helped with 平仮名 only text
Your brain just starts to pick up on patterns. For example you may hear つく and go “wtf it could mean many different things” but mostly I’ve been able to figure out meaning through context…
Still though, some easy words I forget if I hear them or see only hiragana for them
Congratulations, you’ve reached stage two of Japanese reading ability.
Stage one is “Why are there so many kanji!?”
Stage two is “Why are there so few kanji!?”
Because oh boy, reading kids books as an adult can be far trickier than it ought to be, because the lack of kanji can sometimes make it quite difficult to actually figure out the meaning of a sentence.
Oh, I really feel you. The other day I saw the word にっこう and I could still remember that the first kanji was 日 but it took my brain a hot minute of whirring through an imaginary rolodex of kanji with reading こう until I finally arrived at 日光 and could figure out the meaning I’m focusing on listening practice right now to hopefully get over this problem in time for the JLPT
Like some people already mentioned, focusing on listening practice is what will help you a lot in order to overcome this. It basically just means that you have learnt how to associate kanji with meaning and now just have to learn to recognise those words without kanji as a crutch. I had the same problem but after listening a bunch the gap slowly closes.
Oh yeah, this speaks volumes to me. I fail all of my kana-only verb reviews in Anki and reading children’s books to mine vocab is sometimes a massive pain, because it feels like reading dog sounds instead of actual words .
Oh, believe me, I get you: I’m a native English and Chinese speaker, I’m preparing for the N1 now (gonna take it next year because I missed registration for Dec 2021, and frankly, IDK if I’ll be ready by then), and yet… I feel like I’m blind when I’m thrown a bunch of words without their kanji, especially when they’re native Japanese words (i.e. kun’yomi only) that I don’t see or hear very often.
It does get better over time, but I guess you just have to get used to going in the other direction: ‘Oh, look at this reading! Hm, what do I know that sounds like this…?’ Eventually it’ll become more natural.