It was nice to read your thread, Naevyah. I’m at a similar stage on trying to get off of my machine translation (“MT”) dependence on producing output.
I have been trying to write every day on Hello Talk and asking the natives to correct my writing. I’ve been doing this for about a month. (currently very MT-dependent) Their comments are so good, I have to keep a word file with what I wrote and their comments.
I STILL feel like I’m having a hard time with Japanese output. It’s a small percentage of the time (because I’m always in a hurry) that I FORCE myself to at least TRY to compose my sentences in Japanese before I paste my English idea into MT, review, edit and post.
One thing that’s also actually been helping with my output is that I’m forcing myself to record myself saying the Japanese whether I post or comment on posts of Japanese natives. I’m learning Vocabulary from their posts and my own comments (what I had wanted to say that MT had spit out). It’s painful, and I don’t sound good, but in a month, I can tell that I’m improving.
One Japanese teacher says recently “we are fluent in what we know”, which means that it’s easiest to produce output using what you already know. So I advise “riffing” off your lessons, making similar sentences and using Vocabulary that you know it are studying.
So far, I still can’t do more than 10 sentences in an hour
Ganbarimashou!! Good luck with your studies!