So I have been really studying hard in Japanese grammar but I am always just left frustrated by the end of my session since 70% of my time is spent searching for vocab and kanji meaning. Also, in the end most kanji and vocab I searched for will sooner or later be forgotten since who knows when will that particular word will appear again, so it seems very inefficient(yes, I do keep a notebook). So I am considering that I should stop studying grammar for now in order to keep myself enjoying learning Japanese. I have also thought that when we learned our own respective native languages we were first taught how to recognize letters and how to recognize different vocabularies. However, as a curious person I would like to ask you guys if whether this is a wise decision? ADVANCE THANKS FOR YOUR INSIGHTS!
I’m waiting until at least level 10 for grammar.
If learning grammar right now is causing you not to enjoy something else like studying kanji, then that is a major thing to notice right now. At the very least, taking some time off of adding new grammar items to the cue sounds like it will help. I also went through N5-some N4 grammar way too fast and it ended up costing me a good bit of time even to this point.
This said, I personally would not advise waiting that long to get back into new grammar points. By the time you finish all of level 6 and start learning level 7 kanji, you can really start learning grammar and more easily notice enough verbs and time words to really get into a groove. You can wait until you learn the kanji of level 8 possibly, but it is better to learn grammar and to see kanji in use earlier rather than later.
If it helps, it will also help you learn vocabulary more effectively if you begin to research and understand the concept of “ichidan” verb, why “can’t be helped” is spelled the way it is, the exceptions to word patterns so you get less readings wrong because you believe a word is a verb instead of an adverb, etc.
I am of the belief that its never “either/or”, i think its a lot more about the distribution of learning aspects which change throughout the journey.
Prioritizing WK untill lvl 10 is not necessarily a bad idea, but i wouldnt entirely ditch the other aspects, just tone it down a bit. I also started out with a lot of WK and then slowly transitioned into increasing the other aspects, but i didnt wait with doing them as its also nice to see how you progress in the other areas as you improve one.
Personally i started with grammar and native input right away but didnt do a whole lot. Nowadays i spend a lot more time on getting native input and not so much WK or grammar
It’s hard to say which distribution is optimal at what point in the learning process, but just having some distribution is IMO better than doing only one thing. Focussing on one thing works in some subjects, but language is such an intertwined discipline that it doesnt make sense to entirely separate things.
I would say its a little off the mark, no one learns to read their native langauge before they can already speak at some level so in that sense we’re all doing it different than children learns their native language, meaning they already sort of know most grammar intuitively when they learn to read. Thats obviously not going to work for adults since we dont have all day to try and communicate in a language we havent learned yet.
Hey! You didn’t really mention anything specific about your grammar studies. How exactly are you learning grammar (that you run into new kanji all the time) and how far along are you in your grammar studies? Have you finished Genki 1? Have you finished all of N5 grammar on BunPro? Are you using something completely different?
If you’re studying online I’d just get the Rikaichamp plugin - that way you can quickly see the meaning of new kanji and concentrate on the grammar. WaniKani teaches kanji in such an unconventional order that even if you wait until level 10 there will still be a lot of common kanji you won’t know.
If your grammar is on N3+ level though then yeah, I’d concentrate on WK for now instead. And maybe join a bookclub to help reinforce that knowledge.
I started learning grammar on level 7. I’m learning grammar from みんなの日本語１, so I can learn and memorize vocabularies before I jumped on certain chapter.
Along the way I figured out that learning grammar is an opportunity to learn “real deal” of Japanese language. You can learn how to tell times, calendar system, how read long price tag, new vocabularies, etc.
Until this point (level 12) I have to admit that I encountered a lot of kanji that not yet covered on Wanikani. Wanikani structures your lesson based on it’s radical, and it’s not in synced with your grammar vocab. I think admitting that you will always encounter new kanji along the way and keep going forward is a big step in understanding Japanese.
So, be friend with Jisho Maybe for now you spent 70% of your time to find the kanji reading, but I believe that this will getting easier along the way you leveled up. And I’m expecting to use Jisho forever, just like my English dictionary
But this depends on you, is it worth the effort to do grammar now with this struggle, or focusing on Wanikani level.
No. Go for it.
I used to do this for French. All I can say is that it will eventually stick, though I guess we each have different natural inclinations for remembering things. You might want to try to make whatever you write down memorable somehow (e.g. mnemonics, writing down the context in which you saw it), or at least casually flip through the notebook every once in a while.
Personally, I think that there’s no point studying grammar until you’ve memorised kana to a certain extent. However, once you’ve done that, I don’t think it’s a good idea to ‘cut out’ grammar entirely, for the simple fact that you need grammar in order to know how to use Japanese, even if you’ll need the writing system and vocabulary in order to know what to use.
As some other people have asked though, the real question is, how are you studying grammar? I personally think that if you try to learn about grammar using JLPT sites or grammar guidebooks that are basically rules, structures and lists of example sentences detached from all context, then you’re definitely going to hate it, especially because it’s impossible to deduce what’s going on from context, meaning you’ll be left to flounder as you wade through endless sentences you don’t understand because of a lack of vocabulary. On that note, I really don’t think grammar should be taught in such a way (even if it’s true that Japanese does seem to have a few more ubiquitous set expressions and structures than other languages), for the simple reason that there are common themes and reasons why certain advanced structures mean what they do; there’s no need to memorise them if you know the nuances of the components. On the other hand, if you’re using a textbook that gradually introduces grammar along with vocabulary and which provides you with context (e.g. with a natural conversation), then there’s really no reason either thing should cause you trouble, and you won’t feel the need to cut grammar out so you can focus on vocabulary and kanji.
PS: as a Chinese speaker, while I was usually taught individual characters first, after a while, we were mostly taught character pairs, which allowed us to deduce the meaning of individual kanji because of similarities in meaning between multiple kanji pairs that shared one kanji. I really think there’s no reason to rush to learn most of the kanji meanings for a certain text before reading it, unless you think you have a coherent, easy way to remember those meanings. I personally use kanji components to help me by deducing the entire kanji’s meaning from them, or use common kanji pairs to remember meanings via association. I’m not sure if those strategies will work for you, but I thought I’d just leave you a few ideas.
I guess I am on the N3 Level-ish(grammar) finished N5 and N4 Level on BunPro and Going through the Matome-san N3 Grammar Book(3/4 done). This frustration comes from the Kanzen Master Series where the entire book is on Japanese and it does not shy away from using Kanji. I’ll try using your tips and I’ll be back for an update! Thanks!
For grammar I would also definitely recommend following a textbook at the start (like Genki or Minna no nihongo). These books provide you with way more useful vocabulary compared to WK as well, since WK’s vocabulary tends to be all over the place in terms of usage.
With a book you learn essential vocabulary and the basic grammar together and each lesson builds upon the last. The problem with using online resources for grammar is that each resource can’t know which vocabulary you already know and which you don’t, so you’re forced to look up words yourself. In comparison, a book will never throw new vocabulary at you during a grammar lesson.
Which Kanzen Master set are you studying from? Most of their sets (N4 and up) have a Kanji book that should cover most of what you need to know for the other books in the set, while reinforcing your grammar. I know some people feel that any additional “Kanji practice” outside of WK is redundant, but I find the Kanzen Master Kanji books to be fantastic at helping you understand the context that vocab should be used in, and making you differentiate between similar Kanji during the exercises while simultaneously reinforcing your grammar.
Either way, I recommend against stopping grammar studies. I’m trying to imagine how one could get to N3 level grammar without actually developing the vocabulary to understand the situations in Kanzen Master N4/N3. I guess that might be a side effect of Bunpro, which I have tried but quickly realized that it wasn’t for me (I get flash card fatigue, and also desire to be tested in a more detailed manner to ensure that I really understand a grammatical structure). Kanzen Master is probably the most rigorous Japanese language resource I’ve used so far, and I can say that it has measurably improved my Japanese when paired with something like the Japanese Grammar Dictionary set.
I switched from my phone to my computer so I could type this out since my thoughts on this were getting a bit long. I think once you get past the Genki I/II level and are learning intermediate grammar, the approach to one’s language studies need to change. I remember being frustrated after reaching the “intermediate plateau”, because I became spoiled with “express Japanese learning” products like WK and the various introductory grammar books available. Once you hit intermediate level, things will slow down, but I think it’s basically unavoidable. When you’re first learning Japanese, a lot of resources take a “wide and shallow” approach, and for good reason: there’s a lot you need to get accustomed to in order to be able to express basic ideas across a reasonable set of topics needed for an adult.
Once you hit intermediate level, you need to slow down and go deep. The grammar is more nuanced and situational, sometimes being closely dependent on certain types of words / vocabulary used with them. Sometimes for a single grammar point I will easily have two pages of notes and example sentences detailing the nuances. This is where a lot of the vocab and kanji gets reinforced in context. I then make a conscious effort to use those words and grammar structures in verbal or written communication. No matter how far you get in WaniKani, if you don’t do this it won’t “stick” in a useable way.
I think we sometimes get so focused on “speed and efficiency” that we lose sight of “efficacy” (how effective something is). We’re already to the point where if we properly apply our resources, we could get to an extremely competent, professional level of comprehension of Japanese within a few years. That’s pretty crazy to think about.
It’s no big deal, but never stop studying grammar. I was there once, and I waited for level 10 or so, too
In that case, you might not want to stop practicing grammar but to slow down on learning new grammar points and focus on getting confident in producing discussions / notes that make use of these grammar points. My suggestion would be to take part in the Japanese only section or the One Sentence a Day Challenge, in case you don’t already do
I also want to second both of these comments.
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