My next big hurdle | Forgetting, listening, conjugations & immersion

Hello once again WK community. I’m here to vent a bit and ask YOU about some stuff in hopes of perhaps finding some advice that could help me.

It started back around… The end of Level 7 I think.
I had felt like I got over a big barrier, Kanji felt easier to remember, and so did vocab.
I was actually feeling pretty good, and on top of that I had been slowly learning some very handy grammatical concepts. I found myself at a point where I could hold VERY basic WRITTEN conversations with some Japanese pals (of whom do not speak any English) and be understood as well as sometimes understand what they are saying without needing a translator or dictionary.

And then something happened half way through level 8, I started to feel like everything I was learning was flying over my head. Sure I can recall the meaning and pronunciation of the Kanji, but I’m just not sure how to describe it- the more complex looking the Kanji was, the harder it became for me to remember it when I saw it in a vocabulary word. Even worse, the stuff I had learnt the past few levels was slipping from my brain! I would hear these words or see them and my brain would know of them, but fail to make the connection (if that makes sense).
What’s worse now is that I’m being introduced to what feels like a ton of vocabulary with very similar, but slightly different meanings now… I feel like I’m actually STUCK on level 8 because I am mixing up or struggling to truly understand words like 入場、入所、反対、対立、間 etc… I am limit myself to 5 lessons a day because I am spending time trying to study these words and understand them/their nuances.

Then the listening part, I can also tie in conjugations (you’ll see why in a moment) here as well to keep this as short as possible. I’m finding it REALLY hard to understand spoken Japanese, even like simple news videos, I hear the word, and then if a Japanese subtitle pops up and I see the word I will usually at least recognize it. I think to myself “wow… I should have known this word, but if it weren’t for the subtitle I’d have no clue what it was that was just said”.
Conjugations are making this even harder for me… Less so for polite form because this is what I spend 90% of my time learning as well as communicating (verbally with my tutor and written online). Informal form is a huge struggle for me (I should mention I have gone through and studied it, past, negative, potential, let’s, etc). I found a website that you can practice informal conjugations with, and I have also started to practice informal form with my tutor, I’m at a point where it’s easier to identify informal speech when written (and ultimately understand the word) but with spoken Japanese it’s still extremely difficult, if not impossible for me to understand.

Now to end this with immersion, I feel like I need to be immersed in content that is close to my current abilities to maybe try and overcome all of these hurdles.
The problem is I have found NOTHING to immerse myself in that is my level, I guess I am an extreme beginner?
The people I talk to online all write WAY above my ability, unless they are talking with me (which I am thankful for). I can’t seem to find any way I am able to immerse myself that is actually useful.
In just about everything I try (news articles, videos, music, personal posts) I find myself understanding a whopping 1-5% of the content… It’s so frustrating. I haven’t a clue how any of you guys have book clubs :stuck_out_tongue:
To give you an idea of where I am at grammatically, I would say the level of someone who finished Genki 1 (I almost finished it but ditched it after chapter 10 for 80/20 Japanese, which I have found infinitely more helpful than Genki but that’s a opinion/thought for another time. For those who have used 80/20 Japanese I’m on Chapter 10, noun phrases).

Thanks for reading… I’m sure everyone has been in this position before. What did you do to keep pushing forward and not give up? How did you approach this barricade? Listening, remembering similar meaning vocabulary, and helpful immersion is really hard!
I’m also wondering if you guys know of anything I could use to immerse myself more? Particularly very basic content, stuff that a first grader would be able to comprehend. That’s my guess of where I am at right now…

Thanks again :slight_smile:


People have all sorts of different ideas about this I’m sure, but in my opinion one of the most important things is to find something you want to immerse in. The initial dive into immersion is going to be difficult no matter what; even “basic” material is going to have plenty of vocabulary and grammar you won’t be familiar with, and that’s totally normal!

In my experience, trying to work through something more difficult that you’re actually interested in works way better than forcing yourself through something simpler that you don’t care about. This varies from person to person of course, your mileage may vary, etc etc.

I tried watching stuff people recommend for beginners (stuff like Shirokuma Cafe and Chi’s Sweet Home, in case you’re interested!), tried reading random simple short stories and things, but I could never get myself to actually stick with it :joy: I just got bored with it, felt like I was only doing it to “study” which really isn’t the best mindset for immersion.

Once I tried reading and watching stuff I actually cared about, though? HUGE difference! Sure, it was slow and difficult, but I was actually enjoying myself so it didn’t matter!

Anyway TLDR: immersion is going to be hard even with “beginner” material, so you’re definitely not alone. What the best method is for you really depends on you and your learning style, but in my experience trying to consume content you care about makes the whole process much more rewarding and less frustrating.

Good luck, whatever you decide! You got this :+1:


“Simple news videos” is still a category of listening that is on the advanced side of things. Unless you’re talking about something far more simple than I’m imagining, like, content not made for natives.

The content of news stories is quite unlike any other kind of listening. They use “difficult” kanji compounds far more frequently than other forms of speech, because precision and brevity are important in a news report. They don’t hesitate, rephrase, or go on tangents. A normal person talking about the same story would use very different phrasing and vocabulary.

That being said, it’s something you can just improve with practice, like anything else.


Ahh! As someone who just passed level 8 I can say I also hit a huge road block on the kanji and vocab for this level. I had been progressing from levels 4-8 pretty steadily in my opinion, but then I hit level 8 and my percentages plummeted from around 80-90% correct to around 50-60% for each review, and I noticed I was failing the same kanji and vocabulary repeatedly. Frankly, I just paused my lessons for a couple weeks and had to focus on getting my reviews down. I think I’d just accumulated such a big review log that it got a little overwhelming each day. After I started just focusing on reviews for a couple weeks, I was finally able to start hitting some of my burns and reducing my overall review count and eventually I finished off my lessons and passed the level. So that’s what worked for me for getting through level 8.

As far as immersion, I’ve also struggled some with even the beginner level book clubs on here. For one thing, the books that were at my level I wasn’t super invested in so I didn’t stick with reading too much, or the ones that I was interested in were too difficult and I struggled too much. I’ve actually started following japanese-speaking artists on twitter for some fandoms that I’m in and reading their short 2 page comics has actually been much more helpful for me, since I can quickly read bite sized pieces and I’ve actually found that I’m able to recognize a decent amount of what I’ve been reading. At least kanji/vocab-wise, some of the expressions/phrases I do still need to lookup but I’m happy when I’m able to recognize about 30-40% of the dialogue. Weirdly enough, I also downloaded the Todai app for Japanese news and the app has been super helpful for practicing reading since it color-codes all the articles by percentage of vocab for each level. I can pick the ones that are “easier” to read and it has helped me practice seeing vocab and kanji around.

This is just where I’m at with my reading practice and where I’ve struggled and what has been working for me, so I hope it offers you some perspective and possible ideas!


It’s funny you say this… I have two LoveLive Sunshine fan books and I was going through one of them trying to understand it and actively looking up stuff I didn’t understand. It was weird cause I was reading at such a slow pace but it was fun to go translate the bits I didn’t know and put it all together… Maybe I’ll try doing some of that for a bit every day.

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I make sure I do all my reviews so I have never had more than 60 reviews at once :crazy_face:
That said, I will look into that Todai app you mentioned… Thank you :slight_smile:
Best of luck on our journey to level 10 :smiley:

I only want to mention immersion into “too easy” material might be as bad as “too hard” material
You will hardly learn anything in both cases. What i recommend is taking up slightly above your level. Something you enjoy.


Yes, the difficulty curve climbs a bit as the kanji get messier. You’ll adjust in time.

Uh, well, yeah. You haven’t even burned anything yet (unless you’re going VERY slowly). Some forgetting is completely normal.

Also normal. Parsing native speech is HARD. And you, frankly, probably don’t have the vocabulary for it. Learn another few thousand words and see how you do.

Conjugation comes with study and practice.

Your level is, like… example sentences from beginner textbooks. Maybe the lowest level graded readers.

I gave up. Then I went back to it, but with less enthusiasm.


For improving listening comprehension, I recommend the following.

Choose an anime/TV show/movie/etc. you enjoy in Japanese. Watch through, it looking up things as necessary to understand what’s going on. You don’t need to understand every detail, just enough to have context for what’s happening.

Record the audio of whatever it was you watched and turn it into a MP3. Any program that can record your speakers output can do this (like Audacity).

Listen to this MP3 whenever you’re doing something that doesn’t require much focus, like dishes, cleaning, exercising. You already know what’s happening so you don’t have to figure out what’s going on, but having only the audio makes it all you can focus on to follow along.

Slice of life, comedy, or anything conversation heavy are more useful for this method compared to action oriented media. That said, something you enjoy is the most important factor. You get much better results that way. Good luck!

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Immersion isn’t fast but I believe it is effective. If nothing else, it has helped me feel more relaxed listening to Japanese and not understanding it.


Stop worrying about nuances and trust the SRS: Fluency in Japanese Comes from Quantity, Not Quality


Everyone already said very helpful stuff, and I agree with @natarin that all material is going to be difficult and will all have unfamiliar grammar and vocab - so I feel like you’d have more fun if you immersed into something you actually like.

I do have a suggestion for listening practice - if you have Spotify, try “Nihongo con Teppei for Beginners.” His podcasts are easy to follow and he really enunciates/slows his speech down on new or complicated words. It’s also all in Japanese so it’s full immersion. Even if you don’t understand everything, it’s still good listening practice for pitch accents and natural speech. It’s also very rewarding when you do pick up words you know. :slight_smile:

Good luck!


This sounds like exactly the conundrum Cure Dolly has mentioned. I recommend giving these a watch:

Having studied Spanish, which has quite extensive and irregular but also very traditionally western conjugation, I completey understand why Dolly refers to Japanese conjugation not as conjugation, but as " " " " " " “conjugation.” " " " " " " asterisk

I haven’t tried those yet and idk if it’s for me so I’m not speaking from experience but… I’m pretty sure that’s the point. Everyone can discuss the material and help each other understand.


forgetting stuff is just something which happens. we’re trying to cram thousands of new items into our brains, it’d be weird if all of it just staid stuck on the first go. for items you forget, review the mnemonics, maybe improve the mnemonics, and trust the SRS. it works!

it seems to me like you’re doing fine on your listening and grammar. as others have said, it just takes the time it takes. i don’t know how long you’ve been learning japanese, but i’d say just keep doing what you’re doing ^^

as for immersion, i agree strongly with the people saying to immerse with something you do for fun: for me, i’ve started reading the manga on which some of my favorite anime are based. in some ways they are too advanced for me, i am constantly looking up stuff on the computer while reading, without that they wouldn’t be accessible to me yet. what i am not doing is studying: i’m not making vocab lists, or anki decks, or looking up grammar usage. instead i’m just kind of soaking it up. immersion isn’t studying: learning is a side-effect of immersion ^^


Just wanted to thank everyone for their advice and stories… I’m feeling a bit better about it. :slight_smile:
I also want to thank RushianAgent for the videos he posted… Incredibly useful channel, especially the 15 minute “conjugation” video!

I think I’ll just keep on doing what I am doing, but I will start to try and deviate into “interesting” things to immerse myself more. I plan to use the aforementioned Todai app, the books I have, and I am interested in the listening exercise mentioned by Rihn as well…

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You might want to look at this thread: Feel like I’m getting “worse” the higher level I go?

It seems to be a common problem right around level 8-10.

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