Immersion Troubles as a Beginner

Hello there dear reader!

I want to ask what level of wanikani you started finding immersion (either written media or video) enjoyable? I know around 1200 words in kana only and 150 kanji and have read through tae kim a coupe of times to get the idea of the grammar. I find it mind numbing immersing with video because I dont understand the plot at all, and I find text overwhelming because if i want to understand whats going on I have to look up nearly every word.

I have entirely free days until september when I restart university and I want to get a good level in that time so when Im forced to reduce the amount of time I have to spend on non-academics I will still have a good level. Like maybe I can go to the Japanese/Anime clubs and be able to talk to natives conversationally by that time? Wanikani is taking around 20 mins a day right now spread throughout when the reviews come up, and I feel like I could be doing so much more to increase my level in my vast spare time.

Ive tried watching anime without english subtitles and I understand zilch of the plot and I dont feel like im learning anything even though thats what the MIA/AJATT/Refold people say is the right thing to do.

Any tips and experiences with immersion and wanikani levels would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you for reading!

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Depends on you, but one thing will always be true. Regardless of whenever you start, be that 1 level in or 60 levels in, reading at first will be painful. We often say, that at first it’s less like reading and more like solving a puzzle,

Kanji, funnily enough, is less important in my opinion when first starting out. Most manga you will want to start with will in fact have furigana, and anime of course pronounces the words, and with that, kanji only acts like a helping hand when entering the words into a dictionary. Our general recommendation instead is to try to get the basics of grammar itself down. Specifically, if you have a rough and incomplete understanding of the N5 grammar points, you are already way better off. There are tons of methods to achieve this with, some free, some paid. You can go through an established textbook, like Genki. You can also opt for the free online equivalent, Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese. Or you can choose a video series, like Cure Dolly, or Japanese Ammo.

Once you have that down, personally I’d recommend starting with reading instead of watching content. This is simply because if you pick up a book, you can take your time internalizing every single sentence. Even if you go with anime instead, I’d recommend turning those Japanese subs on, I don’t see a world where you can learn anything from continuous speech without having experience with it.

Here on the forums we have book clubs you can join, there you can ask questions, read about others’ questions and you are even provided with a vocab sheet for the given book. It’s a decent spot to start from. We just started reading “Shikimori-san isn’t just a cutie” 2 weeks ago, so that will go on for quite a while still, but we tend to have a new book every 3-4 months: Absolute Beginners Book Club // Now Reading: Miss Shikimori is not just cute!

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IMO immersion should be based on grammar level, not WK. I completed Lingodeer Japanese courses I and II before I started reading. It took me 3 months and got me to N4 grammar and also gave me very common words. Immersion was doable because I had a grasp on how to parse sentences apart. Was it enjoyable? Depends on the material, and since I had interesting material at the time then yes it was enjoyable for me even though I looked up every other word.

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Maybe look up every word if you have to, but try to read a little almost everyday.

Around Level 20 maybe, native things start to get easier, but then I also tried everything else before – Minna no Nihongo, graded readers, listening, writing.

After then, grammar became a big stumbling block. I can’t really deny the important of grammar.

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Following the Refold method, you should be watching easier material [1], and you should be continuously learning grammar alongside it [2].

If you haven’t already, I recommend reading/skimming through the first three stages of Refold’s simplified guide. It’s easy to get caught up on what people say the MIA/AJATT/Refold method is, which is often misleading due to missing necessary details outlined in Refold’s guide.

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As others have stated, reading native content will always be a struggle at first, basically regardless of how much you have studied with your textbooks and SRS. It’s like learning to ride a motorcycle by reading Wikipedia articles and watching Youtube videos, you can learn a lot that way but the first time you actually sit on the saddle it’s not going to feel natural.

One thing that helped me bridge the gap is this anki deck: https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/911122782

It’s an “n + 1” deck based mostly on anime snippets that covers most of Tae Kim’s grammar and contains a bunch of vocab. This will cover a lot of things you’ll find in your average manga/anime/videogames and I like that it uses “real” Japanese and not sentences made specifically for foreign learners, it feels more authentic in a way. Note that by default this deck displays the Japanese in roumaji but you can easily tweak it to display Kanji instead, see here: Guide for Beginners - Japanese like a breeze

After that personally I moved on to videogames and manga. As @Gorbit99 points out, you can easily find those with furigana but I still think that getting decent kanji knowledge helps a lot with memorization and guessing the meaning of words. The first ~30 WaniKani levels are well worth doing fast IMO.

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