Questions about learning

So… it has been around 3 months since I seriously started learning Japanese. I realized it isn’t as hard as I thought it was if you just sit down and dedicate a few hours a day (why didn’t I realized that 7 years ago orz)
While studying I noticed I did some things involuntarily and wanted to ask about that.

  1. Listening practice
    My only source of listening practice at the moment are the Genki CDs.
    So when there are questions and I listen to a text trying to find the answers I’m kinda translating what I hear into English in my head. That results in me taking notes in English, thinking about the answer in English and translate my answer back into Japanese.
    I don’t know if that’s a bad thing?
    I could take notes in Japanese, but I can’t write fast enough and when I try to get the kanji right while writing I kinda lose track of the listening part. Or is it better to not take notes at all and just listen to it multiple times?

  2. Learning words in context
    I’m using iKnow to learn vocab (although not regularly like WK). What I like about iKnow is that there’s audio, pictures and sentences integrated into the learning. WK has that too, but it’s integrated as in you have to click buttons to make the audio play and scroll down for sentences etc.
    Anyways, there’s the question mode that gives you a sentence with a gap in it and you have to find the right word. But after a certain amount of repetitions you just know what the sentence means and think like “if sentence a then the answer is word b”. So for the sake of speed, I just read the first few words, look at the picture and know the answer.
    What I want to say is that I know which word is used in one specific context, but it doesn’t help me if the word is used in a different context. Does anyone have similar experiences and share their thoughts?

  3. Vocab and Kanji / Kana
    So… this is a question that comes up quite often. How do you learn vocab outside of WK?
    I understand that vocab in WaniKani is a way to fortify kanji recalling and the order is questionable because it’s based on when you learn which kanji so many common words won’t appear until later levels. So I’m learning vocab from other sources but I’m struggling with new words when they’re using kanji that WK hasn’t teached yet.
    In that case, do you only learn Kana <> English? Or do you try remember the exact Kanji (or the general shape of the kanji) too? If new words are compounds do you look up the individual kanji or just try to remember the word as a whole entity?

So yeah, I’m open to any opinions, questions whatsoever

1 Like

For listening practice you can go to NHK Web Easy or Satori Reader. Also watch lots of Japanese films and series.

I checked out Satori Reader a while ago and it’s really nice. But unfortunately I can’t subscribe to it because I don’t have a credit card :frowning: I haven’t checked how much of its content is free but I assume it’s not too much.

As for NHK easy, I occasionally read random articles. I haven’t tried using the audio option though, I’ll keep that in mind.

I haven’t watched any japanese series yet (not counting anime and web casts). But that’s just because I have no idea where to start and where I can watch stuff, preferably for free but I don’t paying if it’s good and not too expensive.
But then again, when watching series with random content, I need to learn vocab to understand what people say which leads to problem 3 in my original post x_x

I subscribe to Netflix, they have lots of Japanese series.

See if your local library has Japanese DVDs or Blu-rays that you can borrow.

  1. Hello.
  1. That’s bad.
  1. That’s normal this early on and it’s because of 2.
  1. That’s also because of 2.
  1. Anki.
  1. Both.
  1. Entity.

Learning a language is a whole lot easier, faster and more fun when you surround and immerse yourself in that specific culture.
It is not mandatory but it’s the main reason a hobbyist learning Japanese will wipe the floor with a professional translator whose sole motivation was that well paid job that required Japanese.
I’ve met a middle aged taxi driver with no qualifications that spoke English better than two professional translators with college degrees. Now, while I am certain if you were to present all three an official document, the professional translations would be better than the amateur one, when it came to listening and speaking he trumped both of them. You hardly would’ve guessed he wasn’t a native and it turns out he was self taught. The reason his English was so well developed is because he enjoyed playing RPG games, reading original novels and watching all kinds of shows, so naturally, he “practiced” it everyday.
The first bit of advice I would give you regarding your listening practice is to, surprisingly, listen. Listen to a lot of Podcasts (this and this), watch a lot of Japanese shows (only one apparently), listen to a lot of Japanese music (this and this and this and this and this and some others), watch a lot of Japanese youtubers or youtubers that are in Japan and give you a sneak peak into their day to day life and Japanese culture (this, this, this, this, this and this), watch a lot of ani- WAIT! Be careful when watching anime and listening to music or if watching any medieval/sci-fi/supernatural shows because the language they will most likely use is different from standard Japanese (people don’t speak in real life like they do in anime). You’ll have to document yourself more on the subject. The show I’ve recommended, however, uses day to day language.

As far as listening, then translating, then formulating a response, then translating… It’s natural in the beginning, however, because you haven’t immersed yourself in the language, you haven’t developed any actual “feel” for it.
To give an example, I’ve heard いたい so many times I’ve forgotten how to say it in my native tongue. It all comes from immersion. Feel the samurai within yourself! Yell at the checkout lady 急げお前!
Also, the more you’ll encounter a word/expression “in the wild”, the more you’ll know how and when to use it. Experience comes with experience… or something.

If I find words I don’t know I add them to my Anki deck of “personal vocabulary”. I’m sure you’ll figure what and how to use Anki if you want to.

Good luck!


Perhaps you could email them? They might be willing to accommodate if you’re willing to pay for a while in advance. Obviously that depends on whether you’re willing to pay for a year or so immediately, but if you do, it could be worth looking into.

Moved topic to Japanese Language category. (So people who avoid Campfire will see it :wink:)


Yeah, the immersion part is important i guess. It’s probably just my personal problem, but I kinda want to have a foundation first before immersing myself. The biggest problem though is finding the right material for my level, and I’m sure that’s a problem many people have.

Recently I’ve tried playing a game in Japanese. It was an RPG with a quite elaborate world and story. I ended up spending more than half the time looking up words and after finishing the prologue after about 8 hours (-> maybe 3 hours of actually playing) I looked back at the words I looked up. There are words I looked up multiple times but altogether it was around 450 words i think? That was kinda overwhelming and I put the game back to the shelf. I mean I could finish the game like that but I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.

As for music, most of the time I listen to music because I like the tune. Although I listen to Japanese music a lot I rarely pay attention to text. Sometimes when I really like songs I look up their lyrics, but then I try to get the meaning by reading the lyrics rather than from actually listening.

Those podcast links look quite nice. Probably that’s a good direction I should go for when looking for new material. As for Youtubers, do you know ones that primarily speak Japanese? I already know some of the ones you linked and they mostly just just speak about Japan in English so that doesn’t really help. It’s interesting, sure, but doesn’t really help understanding the language.
I think I can try and poking around Netflix during the free 1 month trial period. I’m not really series watching person though

But yeah, this kind of immersion probably helps with vocab to some extent, since I can learn new vocab my listening and don’t have to deal with kanji I don’t know.
If you encounter new words composed of only kanji you don’t know, do you actually bother to look up the kanji individually? Or do you just stare at the word until you think you can kind of recognize them again?

When you read a word in English, you probably read it word-by-word rather than staring at the individual letters and going one-by-one. If you read a word like 自転車 you want to do the same. This isn’t something that comes right away; you have to see the word used many times before 自転車 becomes a single word and not 自 + 転 + 車.

I think no matter what level you are at, there is going to be a sizable gap between what you are studying and what is “real-world” usage you read in books or see in media. As I have attempted to do so multiple times, I think the only way to bridge this gap is to keep jumping in over and over.

Here’s my method when approaching reading and listening to “real world” language - I don’t look to understand everything, but try to pick out as much as I can, both vocab and grammar. I am using this as a metric to see where I am. I won’t understand most of a song’s lyrics, but I can pick out 私の心 or お前を見る. Many times I’ve gone back and recognized words or lines I didn’t before. I think over time you can get better and better.

1 Like

I second what @baggykiin said. How do you pay for subscriptions like WK currently? :thinking:

Could I suggest a (maybe not so simple, yet tremendously effective) different aproach?

I was using the Core10K Anki deck as library to create my own deck of known vocab in Anki. I would activate any card in that deck once it actually came to my attention. That saved me from doing most of the cards, though I do still probably 10% of them. But basically I only added words I have heard, learned the kanji and are comming in WK, or heard in some show repeteadly; so there’s some context to grasp new vocab.

After that I do this, and that brings both the context thing and all the routine to a whole new level. Keeping it all graded to my knowledge.

The sentences from that routine (that come from the shows I’ve watched, I’m watching or will watch soon enough) become later my listening practice, and ultimately my shadowing practice… so I recycle a lot, and even if I know the word and the whole sentence after some months I keep making use of the cards… eventually I will suspend them when no longer useful.

Anyway. I think it’s a great, free and highly customized way to learn, keep yourself motivated, and get yourself acquainted with immersion, if your still doubtful of actually immerse yourself just yet.

1 Like

That looks really nice but it looks like a lot of work to set up.
Did you make everything in one go and how long did it take? Or are you adding new stuff as you go?
I know I’m a lazy person and I prefer using existing material although I know it is more effective to make my own flashcards :c Though I might invest time into it when I’m through intermediate grammar and have more time at hand. And if I can find anime with Japanese subs.

took me one afternoon to setup Morphman. And before that one afternoon to setup Susb2SRS (installing a Virtual Machine to run Windows).
And all this before anyone made any post explaining the process :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

This before I was aware of the blog with all those made decks (the one from Full Metal Alchemisy it’s about 14,000 cards :sunglasses:).

Anyway totally worth the time… you might try some premade deck, specially from a show you have watched or are into. :+1:

Sorry, I think I wasn’t clear. I meant how long does it take to make the Anki decks, not setting Morphman and Subs2SRS up.

But yeah, I think I’ll give some premade decks a try. Maybe I’ll like it so much I’ll just jump into it and make my own decks.

Subs2SRS decks usually take 5 mins per episode or something like 30-40 mins per season *(each 20-30 min episode will bring 180-270 cards), a season… well 1800-3000 cards.

So if you imagine Core10K (or iKnow for that matter) with all the media, image, sentences… and then doing that in an automated way with the content and sentences you’ll actually be listening or you’re already… it’s like… :exploding_head::exploding_head::exploding_head: (or was for me anyway).

(*) though If you become more and more into it you will strive for shows an series that require the extra effort of looking for and syncing subs. But then again, there’s lots of shows with subs ready to go.

EDIT: if you mean the vocab deck… well, that’s always growing (3000 by now)… exposure dictates how much. I’ve put myself 20 new vocab a day (that counts the ones coming from WK). The main thing it’s vocab that It’s not ramdom or unused. Even the ones from WK come to use when context sentences using those are found in my shows.

Do you have any goals or plans of going to Japan for any longer periods of time (Study abroad, work, etc)? I found that listening practice at home wasn’t super useful compared to how much you can pick up while in Japan. If you know you’ll spend some time there it would be beneficial I think to focus on everything except for listening and speaking, and not worry about them too much because while it’ll be challenging at first in Japan, you’ll improve those two things really quickly.

Nope, no plans as of yet.
I’m mostly learning Japanese out of a hobby. And even then it’s more about reading and listening rather than writing and speaking.
I do plan to visit Japan for a few weeks but I’m not sure yet if I can really pick up a lot in that time, considering it’s more of a trip so interaction with Japanese people is rather limited.
Since I have a stable job and I don’t think I’ll go back to uni for a master degree I don’t think I’ll get a chance to go to Japan for an extended period of time unless something unexpected happens.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.