Know too little to read, but

I find myself in a position where I know too little to read Japanese, but still want to learn as much as I can. The problem is that I don’t know where to look or what to do to improve my knowledge in Japanese. (For context I am level 2 on WK)

Question: What should I do to improve until I know enough kanji to read basic Japanese?


Just keep on doing lessons and reviews, check out this site for some really basic short stories to practice reading: Free books – にほんごたどく

I can read a lot of lvl 1 ones, and I’m only level 5 on WK. Shouldn’t take too long! Grammar is important too so yeah check out some youtube videos, BunPro, etc


Honestly, grammar is going to be the biggest hurdle for reading, more so than kanji. Of course, the more vocabulary you have, the easier it is to piece together grammar, but getting a good starting basis with some grammar resources will get you in a better position to start reading. What are you doing on that front?

A good place to start reading early on is to tackle graded readers. They are designed to let you try reading from day one, but even they usually require at least some basic grammar study.

We do have book clubs here on the forums, like the Absolute Beginner’s Book Club, which doesn’t really require kanji knowledge because we always try to make sure we have picks that have furigana for easier look-ups. The benefit of using this club is there is an active community of people who are willing to help you no matter what your level, but the drawback there is since it is natural Japanese (that is, Japanese content intended for Japanese natives), the picks aren’t going to be as easy as a graded reader or textbook Japanese, and grammar is usually the biggest struggle (at least early on).

Grammar resources like BunPro, YouTube channels (Japanese Ammo with Misa, CureDolly, Comprehensible Japanese), or Tae Kim (with a grain of salt that some of his descriptions aren’t perfect) would be my biggest recommendation to start, and then once you start feeling a little bit like you have a good basis, joining the book clubs here to get the pattern exposure that will be necessary to cement what you are learning.


In addition to doing something to learn grammar and starting to try and read some graded readers as mentioned above, I would recommend using a tool like yomichan. It can provide mouse-over dictionary entries while reading digital text, which greatly helps reading texts for which you know some but not all words.


Keep pushing on WK, knowing the first ~1000 kanji is going to help tremendously with reading. Try to get your grammar to around N4. That’s where I am right now and while reading Japanese is far from comfortable (I have to look things up all the time) with enough dedication I can read simple Japanese, the kind you find in videogames and manga. NHK easy is also approachable now.

At this point I find that kanji is the least of my worries, I’m more often confused by grammar and vocabulary/idioms than raw kanji knowledge.

Graded readers could get you started even earlier since some will target very basic Japanese levels, but I personally don’t care for that type of content, I always find it too tame and uninteresting. If you don’t mind that however they’re a great tool.


dont put the horses in front of the wagon,

patience is key here, specially with SRS

Started same as you and then without even noticing I was in lvl 11 and then started reading nhk easy news, a thing to this day I do daily and even in that lvl I started struggling knowing the words and today is a breeze.

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When I reached lvl 60, honestly, I could not read much because my grammar knowledge was around Genki 1. Even after Genki 2, I could not read the material I wanted to read (fiction short stories). Only after digesting most of JLPT N3 grammar, reading became pleasurable.


These have been posted above, but here the natively link for the Tadoku stuff, sorted by level.

A lot of it has MP3 audio to accompany them, and the basic stuff is really basic.

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