Read Japanese think Japanese

How can I avoid thinking in english instead of Japanese when reading Japanese. Ofcourse when I read neko to inu I understand cat and dog, so understanding complex sentences will happen naturel when voc and grammar is increased?

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Step 1. Don’t worry about it too much.
Step 2. Read as much as you can about things that interest you. Thinking in Japanese basically means
you’ve used it so much as a tool and a medium through which to learn that it’s become a part
of your subconscious.


Personally, I found that I wasn’t able to think fluidly in Japanese until I moved to Japan and I had to keep up with the pace of conversations around me. It was sink or swim. Reading didn’t necessarily help me with thinking in Japanese in the earlier stages either because I found myself translating sentences into English to check my comprehension.

So my advice to get to thinking in Japanese is to go out and have conversations in Japanese.


The answer is massive use, primarily extensive reading. This might be impossible at lower levels, but as you go on, just consume and use Japanese as much as possible. That worked for me learning English, and when I read/speak English, that’s the language I think in. I plan to do this with Japanese as soon as I can.

If you’re eager to map some concepts to Japanese sooner, try some picture flashcards. It probably won’t work for well known words like 犬/picture of a dog, but for new words it could. It’s easier to just take the other approach though.

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The only thing I can relate this to is my english. At one point that was a new language to me aswell. To be fair I started learning english when I was around 12. And used it a lot because of movies and online gaming.
I think the thinking in Japanese will come when you extensively use it on a daily basis.

I got there in French pretty quickly, but for me Japanese is going slower. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because the grammar is so different. For the first time, I think, today I read a sentence in a manga and didn’t stop to translate, I just laughed at the joke and moved on!

My best advice

  • read a lot, listen a lot
  • don’t think/worry about whether you are translating it or not.
  • keep it interesting, whatever interesting means to you, that will give you a desire to move forward quickly and really take in the story/information.

It’ll come to you overtime with exposure, no need to sweat it. As pretty much everyone mentioned already, keep reading. If you can do immersion, it’ll greatly accelerate the process.

I’m not one to advise on Japanese as my ability in it is quite low at the moment. However, I learned English as a second language when I was younger and has since become my main way of communicating. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume that this rule holds the same for all languages and that thinking in them comes at a later stage of fluency. So just as the others said, don’t worry about it too much and just keep at it. It should come naturally at a later stage.

Yeah I can remember playing mmo’s using english reading and writting to understand what to do. This was when I was around 6-8 year’s old, only later when I was 14 I could watch english movies without subtitles in my native langauge.

When I’m reading I try to blitz through the article first focused only on translating the text into sound. Then I take a minute to see if I picked up any context/meaning from the article. I make sure the first pass, I don’t give myself the time to transliterate. If you’re in a conversation you generally won’t have the time to translate individual fragments of a sentence so you need to get rid of that crutch.

After the first pass I’ll go in slower and start looking at the kanji/vocab i don’t necessarily understand. Eventually I’ll come across it enough where I associate the text with the concept it’s conveying and not the equivalent English text.

^^That sounded dumber than I envisioned it.

I agree with everything idiomargot says. I would also add try speaking Japanese as much as you can. Using your mouth muscles will ingrain Japanese speech into your brain.

Great topic!

I am slowly getting some words so ingrained I use them even in my head rather than the english equivalent… for instance, frustration with inept drivers usually makes me think "苦しい“.

Great tips here - I feel the same (very beginner level for me). Feeling like you are just swapping out the words back and forth between your languages so cant make sense no the fly.

But when a word comes up that I am reading in a manga or watching a show and I understand it without the translation dance than I take that as a little win. Those victories help.

Immersion does seem to be the popular opinion.

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