Immersion, i+1, and mining

Hi everyone,

Introduction

My main account (level 15) has around 1300 burned items, around 100 in Apprentice, and roughly 200 in the remaining categories. I am progressing steadily, at around 8 days per level. In addition, I am learning Japanese grammar via Cure Dolly, Genki, and Imabi. I am not particularly interested in pitch accent.

I have had a number of stops and starts in studying Japanese but I am finally really motivated to see this through to a level whereby I can hold a conversation and read to an advanced level. My question, and problem, is to do with seeking appropriate immersion material (whether that be reading or listening).

My problem with i+1

I have noticed in a number of places that people often say that you should go for i+1 or something akin to this; where the material you immerse in is just above the level one is at. I have always found this to be quite a frustrating concept for a number of reasons. On the one hand, material like this (excepting Tadoku graded readers and the like, perhaps) does not seem readily available and the concept itself seems a little ill defined. On the other hand, I often find this material incredibly boring and actually lose motivation trying to trudge through stories which I find a little inane.

I would much rather spend an hour or two trying to delve into material understanding particular grammar and vocabularly which is far above my current level because the subject matter is much more interesting to me. Even if I only make it through 10 minutes of a film, or half a page of a book, this is infinitely more satisfying for me. To be clear, this does not necessarily mean academic papers or the like; even something like Ace Attorney, or Arrietty the Borrower would suffice.

Questions

Of course, this alone would make for slow progress so my primary question is; if I were to work through WaniKani, acquiring knowledge of kanji and vocabularly, and simultaneously work through Genki, Imabi, and Cure Dolly for grammar, does this seem to be an inherently bad idea to anybody?

Secondarily (sorry for the length of this post), does anyone have a clear description of what mining should look like? Of course, I would adapt this for my own means but of those I have read (including the one on Refold), there does not really seem to be a clear sense of what it actually involves.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I appreciate any and all help you could provide!

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I would highly recommend reading what interests you. Last year I read through the first 300 issues of Naruto, and I loved it. I missed a lot my first time through, but going through from the beginning again, my grammar, and my “feel” for Japanese have greatly improved because of the time invested in native content.
I also always recommend using Satori reader because of, interesting stories, audio for every story, handy srs tools, and grammar explanations that teach you grammar as you go in each story.

i+1 is great, but hard to truly find, the bigger takeaway from the i+1 concept is to not get hung up about all the i+7 stuff on your page that you don’t understand yet. Rather, keep reading and tolerate the ambiguity. As you continue to read, you’ll glean the few i+1 items on each page and continue to grow until eventually you come back to that i+7 stuff and find it is now i+1 or you already learned it somewhere else in the book.

Don’t give up!

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The only limiting factor for doing all of those things is time and energy/burnout. However, it might be better to minimize the overlap when you can.

+1 for Satori Reader. There’s a free trial and it’s something of a middle ground between textbooks and native material. Similarly, don’t worry about skill appropriate resources too much. Finding things consistently near your level is going to be nearly impossible in the long run. What matters more is that the media you consume is engaging and encourages you to continue learning the language.

Are you talking about tools and procedure? The popular free workflow is using Yomichan + Anki (or similar tools). Vanilla made a nice demo post with the base mining method link having details on other forms of media.

You could even go with handmade flashcards at the end of the day. The specific details are more like tips and guidelines, just do whatever works for you in the end.

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No, not at all, but the question is… do you have enough time and motivation to get through all of that? What I’m thinking of in particular is the fact that Imabi can be really detailed and generally doesn’t feel like it’s written for beginners. I’d honestly expect Genki to do a decent job of covering the basic grammar that appears in its texts and dialogues, and so I would personally leave other resources for later unless I’m confused by an explanation in Genki. That aside, honestly, once you know enough to start breaking down breaking sentences, your time is probably better spent checking a dictionary while reading or listening to something you really enjoy than just studying pure grammar. I mean, I’m writing a grammar series on Twitter right now, but I fully expect people to only use it as a quick aid to understanding the structure of Japanese grammar that they’ll encounter elsewhere. Grammar without context is really dry, in my opinion.

First of all, I have no idea what i+1 content looks like concretely, most likely because I’ve never been exposed to it in any language other than my native languages. And honestly, who knows? It might be a myth: I think we’ve all had moments in which we just couldn’t understand a set of new words until they were broken down in terms we already knew, and that was probably true when we were growing up talking to our parents or teachers.

As for why there doesn’t seem to be a clear description… maybe it’s because how exactly mining is done really differs from person to person? I don’t think there’s really a single correct way of doing it, just maybe a bad way of doing it, which – in my opinion – would be picking something you don’t understand at all beyond the general topic and looking up every single thing you don’t understand in the dictionary. That’s going to be exhausting, and probably not productive because you’re not likely to be able to retain everything.

What I can do, I guess, is to explain how I do mining? I pick something that interests me, be it a text, a book or an anime, and get a dictionary ready. I like to be able to see the words I don’t know, so if possible, I find myself a transcription if I’m going to be working with audio. (For anime, as I’ve said many times before on WK, I just google ‘[anime name in Japanese] [episode number]話 あにこびん’, and if the anime aired after 2013, it usually comes up.) When I didn’t know as much Japanese as I do now, I used bilingual dictionaries like https://ejje.weblio.jp (some people stick with Jisho, but I think Weblio’s site is better because it offers multiple dictionaries and a ton of translated example sentences); now I use monolingual JP-JP dictionaries, primarily on the sites Goo辞書, Weblio.jp and Kotobank. (If I can’t find the information I’m looking for, I may even use all three sites for a single word.) I then decide on the intensity of mining I’m going with: if I’m watching a show for the first time, I’ll most likely just enjoy it with my knowledge of Japanese and the help of the subs, and I’ll only look up words that really pique my interest. If it’s the second time, I’ll probably pause the video a lot more and look up almost everything. If I’m working with text, unless I’m tired or have no time, I look up everything. From there, I look up whatever I don’t get within the intensity level I’ve set for myself, and I do my best to understand it thoroughly. I may also make an extra effort to make it as memorable as possible if I feel that’s necessary. I also greatly enjoy writing and calligraphy, so I write out whatever I study, at least with a finger or by visualising the movements. Afterwards, I stop and move on to the next word.

How do I memorise these words or revise what I’ve learnt? Simple: I don’t, beyond perhaps making up mnemonics for specific words. Maybe it’s just that my memory is a bit above average or I’m just lucky that my mind sometimes throws me random extra memorable ideas, but a lot of things tend to stick fairly well. I don’t remember everything the first time though. However, because I put a ton of effort into understanding everything I look up – especially by reading example sentences and getting a feel for how something’s used – it tends to have a big impact on me. In truth, most of my revision happens because I continue my immersion and mining: I keep watching the same show, possibly repeating episodes, and even if I don’t, if a word is actually common enough, it will come up again soon enough. Is this ‘no revision’ method for everyone? I guess not. A lot of people prefer to have something to help them schedule revision on the side, like Anki. If you find that helpful, by all means incorporate it into your mining. It’s just that I can’t provide any suggestions with regard to that because I don’t use it.

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I think this is an excellent idea, especially the “simultaneously” part. If you are not a superhuman with infinite resources of time (and brain), this will probably slow you down wrt WaniKani, especially in the higher levels when you get lots of reviews from the lower levels on top of your daily load. But that’s okay because I believe that you will get a lot more out of your Japanese studies when focusing on all parts of the language at the same time (at least grammar, vocab and kanji).

For immersion, it’s a frequent complaint that the materials geared towards early learners are quite boring. Therefore I second what others here said and what you also said: Learn from what interests you, and you will get a lot more out of it, even if it’s more difficult. If you are looking for inspirations on what to read, here are some suggestions:

  • We have a 📚📚 Read every day challenge - Winter 2022 ☃❄ where people frequently share what they are reading, and there are lots of beginners among the ranks who read cute manga or ghost stories or whatnot. Technically, the Winter challenge ends next week, but you are still welcome to hop in straight away. We will start the next challenge on April 1st, I guess (we run this for 2 months and then take a 1 month break so that everybody can catch some breath in between).

  • We also have book clubs! Depending on how far you are into your studies, you might be interested in the Absolute Beginners Book Club // Currently reading Mitsuboshi Colours or in the Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: Death Note.
    Those clubs already read lots of books and produced a wealth of discussion threads and vocab lists, ready for you to consume. You can find the list of past book clubs in the clubs’ main pages.

  • If you don’t know how to acquire books and other reading material, there is the Resources for Starting to Read Japanese Content

  • There are also some threads out there regarding listening, and some people are currently forming an Anime club, if I’m not mistaken. But I’m not involved with this so I’ll leave it at that.

Happy studying!

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I think this might be a misconception, or at least multiple people are using this term in different ways. The way I see i+1 (and to be honest even here I’m a proponent of being somewhat flexible) is that it operates on the individual sentence level. A sentence without too many unknowns is great for learning, and particularly mining from. But when I started reading, and even up to now, it’s exceedingly rare for a native Japanese work to not throw a ton of unknowns at me, which often clump together in sentences. That doesn’t mean I’ve chosen a bad thing to read or watch! It just means that, while I do make an effort to work through that sentence because I’m grumpy about gaps in comprehension, it’s a much more mentally taxing source to try to learn from, and occasionally I just can’t. But there are always those nicer sentences SOMEWHERE around the corner. This is essentially what @kokopelli121123 was getting at, I believe.

Since you mention Ace Attorney, I’ll just say I played through it myself after first doing some volumes of manga and Satori Reader, and I found it to be a great early step out into Japanese native materials. I was using Game2Text though, and I’d probably recommend having something like that – while the game has a tendency to put a lot of words in katakana, you’re going to be hit with unknown furigana-less kanji for sure, especially early on.

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That sounds like a fairly busy schedule :grin:. Picking different resources is definitely a good idea. However, it’s fairly easy to overload oneself. It might be a bit of an unpopular opinion, but doing WaniKani is not mandatory in any way and you can probably get good exposure to kanji through Genki as it also has a kanji section in both parts. And then through reading texts with furigana and/or with the help of Yomichan. The upside of this is that you will see kanji appropriate to your current proficiency level.

If however immersion is your goal, you can go for a different approach: grammar with Cure Dolly, Tae Kim’s guide and then reading + Yomichan + Anki. You might not learn about different grammar rules, but you will learn how to use different expressions and sentence structures through exposure.

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Thank you very much for your reply and it is reassuring to know yourself, @ccookf, @Jonapedia, and @NicoleRauch would advocate regarding reading material which is engaging to me. I was a little concerned that I might be doing the ‘wrong’ thing by focusing on material which was far beyond my level.

Thank you also for recommending Satori Reader. I did try a book of theirs and quite enjoyed the material, despite it being somewhat simplistic and if you (and @ccookf) would vouch for their premium material, it would be worth having another look.

I will keep going with it, thank you!

@ccookf With regard to mining, I think it was more to do with what exactly mining might involve (as in, I know some people only extract sentences where they understand most things, others make multiple cards on the same sentence, where they understand little) but thank you for that guide!

@Jonapedia I think that’s a good question, and I do wonder if it might eat up too much of the time that I have to study Japanese. Ultimately, I usually spend about an hour on immersion, about half that doing WaniKani everyday, and then perhaps an hour or so on grammar and this is pretty manageable for me. I take your point about Imabi but actually I really enjoy the fact that it goes into such detail; it makes me much more confident approaching material in the wild, so to speak, later because I feel I have a better grasp of the fundamentals underpinning the sentences or grammatical structures I may encounter.

Thank you for the link to your grammar series. Unfortunately, I do not have Twitter and after a little scrolling, it prevents me from seeing any further but I would be happy to read bits and pieces here and there, if they are reposted elsewhere? No problem if not though.

Thank you also for your comprehensive explanation of how you mine in Japanese. I would certainly agree that looking up every single thing in a sentence is probably counterproductive, and I think I would really like to incorporate parts of what you have suggested here into how I mine. I think what I have been doing up to this point has been a far less structured form of your own method so this really helps, thank you. I had been using Anki up to this point, but I think given that I also try to look up words in a similar way, it might be fine to go without, and I would much prefer that as well. Thank you again for your thorough advice!

@NicoleRauch Thank you! I was thinking just mining or immersion might not get me very far and, as @Jonapedia mentions, strict learning of just grammar can get a little dry. I think you are correct that it may slow me down. I was sitting on level 12 for around a year, not motivated to do new lessons but still continuing with reviews. That has helped a lot because almost half of my items are burned now. All the same, I’d accept the slow down for the reasons you mention. Thank you also for the links as well, the resources page will be especially useful and I might join the book club or reading challenges at some point!

@Daisoujou Thank you for the clarification and it is reassuring to know someone else would agree that a lack of comprehension in places does not necessarily mean the material in question is bad to learn from. I also appreciate you mentioning Game2Text, I will have a look at that or other text hookers to use when I get to Ace Attorney and I am glad to hear that it is a decent first step into native materials.

@Iinchou Haha luckily I am able to fit it in! I have thought about not using WaniKani although I quite like the way it is being taught so far so I think I will stick with it. I will try to really ramp up my reading now though and encounter more of these as they appear in the wild. Thank you for your comments!

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At level 17, I’m just starting to be able to read native content that isn’t completely boring and juvenile. I highly recommend tracking down material for Japanese middle school and junior high school students. Simple grammar, still has furigana for all or most kanji, but kids that age are starting to be interested in the larger world, so the material is MUCH more interesting than early reader books.

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I understand that sentiment, and I like detailed things very much myself, but perhaps I should explain myself further:

The short version is that I think this Reddit question sums up my thoughts pretty well – Imabi explanations are so detailed that they may make things seem more complicated than they are or need to be. Also, they often get very technical, and while I have a fair amount of linguistic knowledge from learning three languages to fluency and tackling three others (Japanese included), I honestly find some of them hard to read.

The long version of why I'm concerned about using Imabi, which might explain why I've never used it myself, including an objective error in it that I discovered within the past half an hour at the intermediate level, never mind what I disagree with at the beginner's level

The long version is an expansion on what I was saying about those explanations: it’s very possible – even practically certain – that the author of Imabi knows more about Japanese than I do. However, here’s the thing: what are the author’s sources? One does not have to cite a source for every single statement one makes, but particularly when one goes into such detail, how can anyone else know whether one is correct without a source or relevant credentials? I know that I dive very deep when I explain things, and you may have seen some of my posts on these forums, but I’d like to think that I very frequently substantiate my points and make them as logical as possible. I also make frequent reference to Japanese sources such as dictionaries. Imabi does not do this very often, and some of its claims are controversial (e.g. the idea that が can be an object marker is expounded upon to a great degree, whereas most Japanese dictionaries only identify that sort of function for a very limited number of cases), even if they are potentially helpful from an English speaker’s perspective. That aside, perhaps this is just my pride and preferences talking, but I tend to be suspicious of anything that splits hairs on a given topic without seeking some sort of central thread to tie everything together. To me, this is exactly what Imabi does on certain topics, like by using the idea that が marks an object to explain how AにはBがある (which can be translated as ‘A has B’) works: it’s true that 大辞林, for example, says in its definitions of ある that it can have a possessive meaning, but considering that it’s not uncommon for Japanese dictionaries to prioritise meaning over preserving grammatical case, this does not prove that が is an object marker here. It marks the object of verb ‘to have’ in the translation, not the object of ある in Japanese. Why not refer to how specialists in Japanese understand their own language, particularly since if the same thing with the same origin is used for two different functions, it’s often because those functions can be traced back to some logical commonality that existed in the past and may still exist.

If you want further proof of the importance of having good sources or credentials when writing about such subjects, here’s an example of an actual error on Imabi, in the article explaining the usage of しか:

いつしか is not an example of しか particle usage: it’s いつか with し added for emphasis. A quick Google search followed by a glance into a monolingual dictionary in the results with an etymology would have revealed this.

My impression is that Imabi’s author is generally conscientious and takes pride in what’s been accomplished on the site, but I find it hard to trust unsubstantiated explanations this complex that make unnecessary distinctions instead of helping the learner to unify knowledge acquired over time, particularly now that I’ve spotted an error with my own knowledge (and as always, I checked the dictionary to be sure that I wasn’t about to slander the author).

In essence, I advise caution, and I think that using multiple sources is ideal if you have the time, though just a few trustworthy ones will suffice if you don’t. Additionally, I think it’s a very good idea to confront whatever you learn with experience (e.g. I have no clue why the author of Imabi decided to parse いつしか as いつ + しか=‘the restrictive particle that usually appears with negative forms’ – why not analyse the sentence, break it down, and see if that interpretation makes sense?) and to structure your knowledge as you go along. Make up your own theory, even, provided the facts (and more informed sources than yourself) support it. Expand and adjust that theory as you discover new things, and replace whatever you discover is wrong. That’s how you’ll ensure you reach even the highest levels with a relatively coherent body of knowledge in your head.

That’s unfortunate. First of all, though I don’t know if Twitter locks out unregistered users beyond a certain point, these Tweets are actually all under the hashtag #AAPgrammarJP on Twitter. Scrolling through that from the oldest to the newest Tweets should allow you to see everything. However, if that’s not something you can view as an unregistered user, well… I do have a PDF that I used to prepare screenshots for certain Tweets. It’s incomplete, of course, because I’m writing things as I go along, but it does cover the entirety of what I call ‘Part 1’, which was about the underlying structure of verb and adjective forms, minor edits I made on Twitter notwithstanding. I could post it on the original thread if you’d like to see it. Would that help?

I can completely understand if you don’t want to create a Twitter account just to follow one person, so I’ll leave the choice up to you, but I don’t think I’ll be posting PDF Tweet anthologies regularly on the thread, partly because Part 2 (what I’m currently tweeting almost every day) is likely to be extremely long (since I’ve given it a very general title, and I haven’t decided exactly what will go into the next section) so it won’t be compiled any time soon, and partly because I intend to transform this content in some way in the future (e.g. use it as the basis for videos providing more in-depth explanation, turn it into an e-book or a website etc.). In any case, it might be a little complicated to maintain regular updates across multiple platforms, and I’d like to minimise the number of things I have to update manually until I’m a little more organised.

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I think I may do that in places. I am not against furigana per se, although much of the shonen stuff doesn’t quite capture my interest, unfortunately. That said, I would happily read anything that is at this level if it were. Would you happen to have any recommendations? I prefer mystery, sci fi, or police dramas and things like that. A lot of the seinen mangas appeal to me but I would be happy to read any material targetted toward a younger demographic.

Thank you for a link to that thread. It is a little troubling that Imabi has an error, as you point out (and I appreciate you taking the time to investigate that as well) but I wonder if this is just something endemic to any free material regarding Japanese grammar. Of course, Tae Kim’s guide is replete with them, or so I have heard. I am not particularly fond of Genki but I recognise its authority as a textbook in teaching Japanese and am happy to use it as a reference guide, at times. I was waiting for the 2nd volume of Tobira’s beginner’s textbook but it is as of yet unpublished. Actually, I have found the most enjoyment (and retention) from using A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar. I suppose, apart from the textbooks many use, would you happen to know of any material that is a little more structured than DoBJG but not so rigid as something like Genki? No problem if not. I found Wasabi mentioned in the thread you linked but was wondering again as to its credentials.

It is odd that this was not picked up at the time of writing. I do know that the writer of Imabi is conscientious about errors and will correct them if picked up on these issues, but that does not resolve the philosophical position of not citing works. I do think what you say rings true in constructing one’s own theory and I think I may do just that, writing notes as I go along to refer back to.

That would help me greatly, thank you. I did try to search the hashtag and go to the account but unfortunately, it locks out any unregistered users in both instances. No problem regarding subsequent parts not being available as a PDF; the first alone would help in solidifying a base to work from! Thank you again for that.

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That’s pretty much it. And even the ones that are conscientious about documenting original sources don’t have the advantage of professional editors and proofreaders that you get with paid, published material.

I think the main reason is that once you’ve advanced enough to pick out the errors you no longer need the material. One thing I’ve noticed is that there’s a plethora of materials to get you through the beginner stages, warts and all, but the authors don’t seem to be interested in anything past that.

I guess that’s understandable since the vast, vast majority of their audience never makes it past that stage.

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That is interesting and I suppose I hadn’t thought of it in that way. It could be quite fruitful if someone quite explicitly focused on just the basics and deliberately did not go further so as to mitigate against mistakes, feature creep, and other issues that might arise from, as you say, not having professional editors or proofreaders.

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I’ve nothing to add, just wanted to say how much I appreciate spelling and using “pique” correctly (pet peeve of mine). :grin:

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Fair enough. And I mean, presenting things in a way that’s believable to the beginner, regardless of how accurate it is in the target language, can help them to stick, even if unlearning certain habits might be necessary later on.

Most of the material I currently like using is entirely in Japanese, and I find it often goes into greater depth than most English sources while (frequently) being more concise. If we’re talking about resources in English…

I think there’s another book that gets compared to the Do~JG series. It might be this one:

@ekg I’m sorry if I’m tagging the wrong person, but are you one of the people who use this instead of the Do~JG series? I might be remembering wrongly… either way, from what I know, some people do prefer this book, particularly since it’s all in one (more or less), and is apparently easier to use than the Do~JGs.

I don’t really have any other ideas as to structured resources. I think Maggie Sensei is great and very detailed (though it usually doesn’t touch on fairly advanced, fine points of usage), but it’s not necessarily very structured. Wasabi is good from what I’ve seen, and I think its articles are fairly well organised, but I haven’t used it a lot. You could check out YouTube channels like Japanese Ammo with Misa and Real Japanese with Miku if videos help you. My own material is presently very brief because it’s designed for Twitter, though I’ve done my best to keep it structured.

Speaking of which,

Here’s a link to the PDF on the main thread:
https://community.wanikani.com/t/twitter-japanese-grammar-series-announcements-feedback/55545/36?u=jonapedia

(I can’t upload PDFs directly, but it seems Google Drive links work.)

It’s really not very concrete and just provides a very general overview, but I hope it helps anyway. The things I talk about are based on a mix of Japanese grammar for foreign learners and traditional Japanese grammar. My hope is that it’ll help people avoid atomising their Japanese knowledge too much and start noticing the commonalities across forms.

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I recently bought this one. It’s very comprehensive, but I haven’t yet gotten into the habit of using it efficiently.

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No. I did start reading a book. I forget the exact title now. But I didn’t get very far. I guess I’m not really using any textbooks or handbooks for Japanese. :sweat_smile:

I guess I might have mentioned the book I tried on my study blog (which I now realize I haven’t updated in ages. sweats bullets! :sweat_drops: )

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Thank you for the reference to that book. I will give it a look and the reviews seem to suggest it is as good as the first two of the Do~JG series and hence significantly cheaper.

I have had a look at Maggie Sensei and I do like the depth of content although, as you say, it is not quite structured, in a sense. I think this would make for good reference material though when (or perhaps if) the DoBJG fails me. I did like Japanese Ammo but it felt a little slow at times. Perhaps it would be worth looking into that again or the other channel you mention.

Thank you, yes, this does actually help a fair bit, not just in its content but also in how I may lay out my own notes on Japanese grammar going forward. Thank you again for sharing that.

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If you are still looking for other textbooks there are two others I can recommend. Both are divided in JLPT levels though:

First is the Try! series of books which I find pretty solid. It gives a good overview over one JLPT level but everything is only covered briefly. It’s way less about University vocabulary and pretty varied with all kinds of topics. Has included short quizzes for your understanding (including audio quizzes). Audio CD and Answer Key are included.

Second the Shin Kanzen Master book series. It is divided into the different topics: Reading, Listening, Grammar, Vocabulary, Kanji for each JLPT level. You can pick and choose on which ones you need yourself. The grammar book is very, very dense and has a structure which I like. It introduces the grammar according to topics (e.g. Expressing opinion, Negative answers etc) and does a wonderful job in contrasting the different related grammar points with each other which makes it easier to get a good feel of when to use which grammar point. In the higher levels it is completely in Japanese. Answer key for the plethora of test questions in the book is also included.

Theres a third one you can look into. It’s called Sou Matome. Many like it but I’m not a big fan since I think their explanations and examples are a bit lacking :frowning:

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I can’t recommend anything like that specifically, but I’ve found some “children’s encyclopedia” resources that are really good. These are one-volume “visual history” books:

And these are collections of one-page articles on a wide variety of topics:
https://books.rakuten.co.jp/search?g=001&pname=齋藤+孝&l-id=item-c-author-book-01

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