Not Sure What I Should Be Doing (Any suggestions would be appreciated)

I think im a bit stuck as to what i shouol be doing. I am a couple months past my second year of Learning Japanese and im not sure what my level is or what I need to be doing right now to improve.

My ultimate goal is fluency to the same point that I speak English (my native language) but that is many, many years down the road. Currently, my proirties list are:

  1. A high speaking level/ listening
    I want to be able to speak and converse in a basic way. It seems like all the words i know either leave my head when i got to speak or i trip over the sounds as i try to pronounce them. Since i plan to travel to Japan this year (If the money and logistics work out) i would love to be able to use Japanese speaking in a basic sense to talk with people.

  2. A high reading level
    I dont think my reading level is super bad but it can still be a stuggle for me. At this point, i know about 700ish kanji, which makes reading a bit easier because if i know a few kanji in a sentence i can guess its meaning, even if i dont know any of the kana words.

I just feel uncertain what I should be doing at this point or what my level even is. I have a few friends that i can speak Japanese with for a few times a week but its always hard for me to use my Japanese because it takes me forver to make sentences and they are normally wrong. I hate making people wait, even if they are patient friends and i worry i may not be leanring anything by taking 5 minutes to make a broken sentnece and then not remembering or being able to write down their correction.

I suppose my question boils down to 2 parts:

  1. How do i figure out what my current level is (and how much does that effect what i should be learnring)?

  2. what exercises and methods should i employ to improve my speaking level?
    I see people sometimes suggest emulating sentences native speakers say but i worry i may not learn well that way. Should i be trying to write/speak Japanese to a native speaker for an hour a day and just try to implement corrections until they stick? would it be better to brush up on more grammar and try to absorb the structure or Japanese from reading?(some of the book clubs on here look a bit fun but it does seem a bit overwhealming)

I suppose i feel a bit bummed as its been 2 years of leanring but i still can barely speak in a comprehensible way, which i believe is the skill I want most. I know i need to be patient and everyone learns at different rates but i would really love to be able to speak in just Japanese and hold a 15 minute conversation at normal speed by the end of my 3rd year.

I know leanring everything is important but any strategies or suggestions you all employ to learn besides wanikani would be appreciated as im a bit stuck.

Thank you for your time and consideration

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I don’t know how to determine proficiency level—heck, I’m constantly underestimating my own level in reading—so I can’t answer to that, but:

I don’t know if shadowing will help you get the grammar and words into a part of your memory that you can more easily recall and implement them while speaking, but it should help you with the feel of the language in your mouth. The best way to get better at speaking is by speaking, and this seems like it would be the easiest way to practice the actual speaking and pronunciation part even on your own, even if it doesn’t end up helping you with the production part

Since your primary goal seems to be production, reading won’t exactly hurt… it just won’t be the best for improvement in speaking. Reading is still engagement with the language and the exposure to various grammar and words will help you internalize them, but what reading helps most with is reading. In the same vein, listening helps most with listening, writing with writing, and speaking with speaking. They are all interrelated, of course, but they’re all very different skills

Maybe you could try writing? Even just short, simple sentences at first. Writing is still output, but it allows you more time to think than speaking aloud, and without the pressure of needing to compose your thoughts quickly, that could make it easier to recall the knowledge you need for it, and the practice writing should help you get that knowledge to where you need it in your memory to easily access it while speaking. Input relies on both passive knowledge (can recognize but not necessarily produce) and active knowledge (can recognize and produce), but output requires active knowledge

For that matter, you could try composing sentences in your head. Some people recommend narrating to yourself what you’re doing as a way to get used to using the language, and it’s closer to speaking than writing

Brushing up on grammar isn’t a bad idea, either, especially if you feel it’s something you struggle with. If you aren’t already, you could try making your own sentences for each grammar point you learn/review to help cement them

I wish you luck!

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The only way to learn to speak is to do it. If you aren’t willing to impose on friends, find a tutor or a group of Japanese learners to practice with.

It also helps to simplify the task, especially at the beginning. This is why Japanese textbooks start with simple dialogs where you only need to fill a few words into a defined pattern. (“My name is Kate. I am a student. I am from Boston.” sort of thing.) Free-flowing conversation at native speed is HARD.

Listening also helps. Lots and lots of listening. Listen while your Japanese friends talk to each other. Listen to podcasts. Listen to videos. Listen to recordings of things you know how to read.

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Have you tried practicing speaking and listening separately?

For speaking, maybe something longer, about a book or some inputs? Or write first, but aim to do something like impromptu speech. Anyway, you might need someone to correct your output.

Anyway, I might start with sound recording rather than writing.

Then, actual conversation also need practicing, but may be easier after some priming.

I’m a big fan of watching Japanese content with Japanese subtitles. This YouTube channel:

has stuff for absolute beginners, beginners, and intermediate learners. Watch some of the videos, starting with the absolute beginners, and read along with the subtitles.

If you can’t keep up in a level with either listening or reading, that’s roughly what you’re aiming for, so keep watching and reading until you can. If you can get through all of that without any problems, then you have a reasonable level of Japanese input and I wouldn’t worry about it, just keep learning.

For speaking, you need practice & repetition. Whether that’s with a tutor, a friend, shadowing, etc. I talk to the dog in Japanese, which is great because he doesn’t care how bad I am at it and it gives me practice constructing sentences:

ああ、犬さんおはようございます、元気ですか?僕と一緒に散歩できますか?行きましょう!

犬さん!昼休み!犬さんは牛肉が好き、それとも鳥肉が好きですか?牛肉方がですね。

I guess it’ll be useful if we ever get a shiba.

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If he starts to understand 散歩, that’d be fun.

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Thank you everyone for your suggestions. I greaty appreciate them.

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This channel looks like it will be very helpful. Thank you.

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