Just a rant about wanting to be able to read

I am loving wanikani so far, and can already recognize more words in my book without furigana.

For me, reading real books is the #1 way to acquire this language. Seeing words and grammar in context is the most efficient way for me to learn words and comprehend meaning.

THAT BEING SAID… kanji - without furigana - of course makes this difficult. I’m sure wanikani will help with this, and I hope in around 6 months ~25ish I can start to really accelerate my reading abilities. I am around the N5 - N4 level now.

Does this timeline sound reasonable? I am a very dedicated learner with Japanese and use Wanikani daily. I dont see myself getting burnt out because my desire to read japanese is pretty strong. Thanks!

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If you start to read early and find enough material at your level with enough motivation you can go quite a way in 6 months. But no, you won’t likely be “fluent” and you won’t be able to read entirely without a dictionary, understanding everything.
But if you keep at it, you will certainly get there, don’t give up and be happy with small gains. They will stack up in time! :slight_smile:

Also you don’t need WK to recognize and read words, learn vocab and all that. It can help if you want to have a deeper understanding of the characters, but it is by no means mandatory!

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I totally agree with what @Sadia さん (not to be confused with @Saida さん) has said!

Also, if you want to start reading as soon as possible there is a great resource called

It’s not free, but it is a great reading resource for beginners.

Here are some free reading resources:

https://tadoku.org/japanese/free-books/

https://drdru.github.io/twc.html

Anyway, best of luck with your studies! wricat

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You’ll find a lot of good resources about beginners and reading on the forums, if you’re interested.

If you keep finding material that you 1) enjoy and 2) are slightly above your current ability, you’ll definitely be on your way to fluency. However, your timeline is quite wide, and I would echo @Sadia’s words about small gains. What does fluency mean to you? Sometimes a manga or book can seem easier than it actually is, but diving into it, the “reading” is more like studying & analytical translation, where as in your native language, the reading just flows. When I encountered this, I had to reframe my understanding of just how this whole reading thing was going to go – for now. I would personally suggest setting goals of reading 1 page of a manga, or one NHK News Easy article, etc etc, to get some small accomplishments under your belt, and go from there. You know (or will learn) what works best for you.

Persistence is key. Anytime I feel like I’m personally struggling with reading content, I’ll pull up a Tadoku reader, and that is something I’m actually able to flow through effortlessly at this point. Sometimes it feels silly, but it can be a huge confidence boost to remind you that while you’re not where you want to be yet, you’ve still made huge strides.

Best of luck, and join us over at the Book Clubs sometime!

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If you’re not on it already, Learn Natively is also a great way to find new level-appropriate reading material. They’ve got book clubs as well, including a few beginner-focused ones. You’ll need a bit more studying under your belt before joining one, I’d say, but you’ll be there in no time! (LN has got a good list of graded readers as well, so I highly recommend checking them out!)

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I’m also new and have seen my reading increase so much in only a month, though progress is relative and I’m still at the very beginning stages.

I see Tadoku and NHK News Easy have already been linked. another good resource for beginning readers (that’s free) is Watanoc. It has a variety of articles ranging in difficulty from N5 (easiest, very few kanji) to N1 (hardest). A lot of the words will have explanations that you can click to open.

The articles vary on topics from everything from food to community events to pop culture, and there’s more articles available than there are books on Tadoku reader, so you’ll have a lot of material to choose from.

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You can find texts for beginners on the site Mosalingua. All the texts are registred.

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If you’re like me and you hate reading news articles and simple texts you can also just dive into the deep end if your desire to read Japanese is strong. Just make sure that whatever you choose to read can keep you engaged despite the lookups for unknown vocabulary and grammar. You will be doing this a lot in the beginning. Just use Yomitan together with the guide on how to set it up on TheMoeWay or Animecards. You can use つっ for reading eBooks.

The end result will look like this and you do not have to worry about furigana anymore as you can literally look up everything in 0.1 seconds (text is from 吾輩は猫である, it’s in the public domain):

This method is also free as long as you can find eBooks for free somewhere. If you are dedicated you do not have to worry about the “level” of the text, read what you enjoy. Reading things for longer that you enjoy will benefit you more. If you apply this approach, just keep reading and with time things will start to “click”. If you spend 10 hours enticed in a story and are completely absorbed in the process it’s going to benefit you far more than 30 minutes of intensively studying a 1000 character news article. I personally logged my progress and you can see it in my post history. I started below N5 level at WaniKani level 10. I would suggest against reading books written before the second world war though, since they contain vocabulary which is not included in English-Japanese dictionaries. (Sadly these are also the easiest books you can get for free since they’re in the public domain…)

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Yes and no. You should prioritise stuff you enjoy; but most people can find things they enjoy at a spread of different difficulty levels, and something you enjoy reading that is easier to read is going to be a better experience than something you enjoy that is harder - if only because for most people wading through a text doing a ton of lookups and not understanding half the grammar structures is not much fun. (For example, 吾輩は猫である is a very tricky text because the cat never uses a common word if an obscure one is available and it’s stuffed full of references to Japanese, Chinese and Western literature and history. I strongly recommend reading a version with explanatory footnotes… There is much easier Soseki out there, let alone easier by other authors.)

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I agree, I tried to make it clear in my post that it is important to choose something you like. I edited my text a bit to make this clearer. The lecture I referenced also heavily emphasizes this based on studies done on school children. I did mention that readings texts before the second world war is not something which I recommend, 吾輩は猫である is just what I am (trying) to read at the moment. Also, it’s in the public domain (I am not sure if posting full pages from copyrighted books is legal).

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Are you already trying to read novels that are full furigana? They can be a decent way to read before you know more kanji

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Thanks! I will check out that 2nd resource. I am already familiar with satori reader and NHK easy. Thank you

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This is great. I appreciate it

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Woaaah this is awesome. I’m already using yomitan on some websites but reading books is my goal, so I’ll check this out

They make full furigana novels for native speakers? If so can you point me to a resource to purchase? Thanks!

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They’re usually aimed at the younger age group market, so how useful this is depends a bit on your tolerance for children’s and young adult fiction, but several publishers have full furigana imprints:

You can buy them from any of the usual places (eg cdjapan for physical books or bookwalker for ebooks.)

For instance the Intermediate Book Club is about to start a book (セーラー服と機関銃) which has both a “normal” and a full furigana version.

Some manga also is full furigana, again depending on the age group being targeted.

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In addition to the publishers supplied by pm215, you might also be able to find other books by searching “総ルビ(の小説)” or “総ルビ版”

Btw I had no idea Mirai existed. And they’ve been around since 2011, too

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That’s sort of what I did (mainly with videogames at first).

Be sure to calibrate your expectations however:

  • At level 25 you’ll still encounter unknown kanji every other sentences. Expect something like 80% kanji coverage for your average videogame or shounen manga. The good news is that, knowing the vast majority of the kanji you’ll encounter, you’ll be much more likely to recognize and remember these kanji in context if they come back often. There are many kanji and words I learned that way, like 込む, 闘, 壁 etc…

  • You’ll probably also get to a point where you find that kanji are no longer the main limiting factor for your understanding. Kana vocab and grammar started becoming the main difficulty for me as I got through the 30’s on WaniKani. Bunpro and (nearly) daily reading practice helped with that.

  • More generally expect a lot of your reading early on to be more like solving riddles than effortlessly skimming through text, even for relatively easy material.

Note that when I started WK I was at N-nil, I had basically no understanding of Japanese besides わたしはsimiasです in November 2022.

Looking at my anki “mining” deck I started playing Final Fantasy VIII in Japanese in late February 2023, which was 4 months into my studies around WK level 16, but I want to be clear that at that point I had to feed every other sentence into deepl because even when I looked up every single word I would often still be unable to make sense of the full sentence. I also remember going through tough dialogues with the footage of the English version from Youtube on my 2nd monitor because I was struggling too much.

I remember that I felt like I made a first breakthrough in summer 2023, about 8 months into my studies. At that point I felt like I could read simple dialogue without having to look up every other words like before. I started being able to actually read the text and not have to go symbol by symbol as if it was a complex mathematical equation. I would still have to look things up all the time though.

Since then progress has been steady, every month I feel distinctly more comfortable reading than the last, but there’s still a looong way to go before I can claim anything resembling fluency. But at least I can improve by doing things I enjoy instead of just going through mind-numbing SRS reviews every day for months on end.

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Super helpful, insightful, and motivating. Thanks!!!

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Oh and I should add that you probably want to start with material you’re already familiar with. Final Fantasy VIII was pretty good for me because it’s a game I played a ton as a kid (in my native language) but hadn’t touched in maybe 15 years, so I still remembered the broad strokes of the plot but not individual dialogues or minor interactions. So I was never completely lost because I always had a broad idea of where we were and where we were going, but I actually had to work to make sense of a lot of the dialogue and minor plot points I had completely forgotten.

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