Setting a personal goal for year's end

So I’m trying to set myself a specific goal to aim for. I’m currently working my way through Wanikani at level 3 (obviously) and also working my way through Bunpro. Still fairly early in N5. For my goal, I would LIKE to be able to play through Pokémon Sword and Shield (which I’ve never played) by the end of the year and not have too much difficulty. I DO NOT expect to know every single kanji or bit of vocabulary, nor every single grammar set I encounter and I’m sure I would have to keep a dictionary handy.

That being said, is this a realistic goal or should I consider adjusting it?


I don’t know about Sword/Shield specifically, but I managed to play through Omega Ruby a while back without having too much trouble understanding most of it. I started studying Japanese last August, so assuming those games have similar difficulty levels, I think it’s certainly a realistic goal. :grin:


I assume that is bunpro right?

Yes! Sorry. Fixed

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No problem

Mainline Pokémon games are generally easy to brute-force one’s way through. This you can do even if you set it to a language you can’t even read (let alone understand).

Some considerations:

Kana Mode vs Kanji Mode

Pokémon games let you choose between kana only (no kanji), or with kanji. There’s no furigana option, so if you go with kanji, you’re going all-in. (You can change this setting from the menu.)

Chances are the kanji used will be generally similar to Alpha Sapphire, which I’ve done a kanji analysis for:


(I believe this was based only on dialogue, and does not include PokéDex entries.)

Once you complete WaniKani level 20, you should be able to recognize about 80% of the kanji used. However, some of those kanji will be in words with other kanji you haven’t learned yet.


You mentioned you’re early on in N5 grammar, but there’s something very important to know about grammar:

Simply learning grammar won’t get you very far.

In order to get good at understanding grammar when reading, you need to read a lot.

If you don’t read a lot before you start playing Pokémon Sword/Shield, that’d like reading a book on how to play chess, then entering a tournament without ever having played the game. You may know the data on how the pieces move, but you won’t be familiar with all the patterns the pieces tend to become arranged in.

Intensive Reading and Extensive Reading

Reading is hard early on because you don’t know a lot of words, and you aren’t familiar with the grammar yet. Between now and year-end may not be enough time to build up reading skill.

But that’s okay! You can decide to let Pokémon be your first foray into reading.

You’ll find there are two ways you can generally approach reading: intensive and extensive.

With intensive reading, you’re looking up every word and (most importantly) every grammar you don’t know as you come across it. This can result in learning a lot of various grammar, including grammar outside the N5 and N4 areas (which is good!)

With extensive reading, you’re only looking up things now and then when you’re not understanding what’s going on. But if you get a vague idea of what’s happening, you don’t worry about looking up words.

(These are very rough explanations of the two, and there are many different ways to go about them.)

What’s nice with Pokémon is that you can actually use both methods. Maybe in each town, or once for each hour of gameplay, pick one NPC to talk to and intensively look up their dialogue, until you know all the words (even if you forget them soon after) and you’re familiar with the grammar (even if you forget it soon after). Do this long enough, and you’ll start to recognize the same grammar as you’ll see it come up often. (And a lot of common vocabulary words will show up, too.)

Vague Goals and Clear Systems

I recommend keeping your goal vague. But focus on making your systems as clear as possible.

What are systems? They’re tasks you do every day (or so many times a week) to continuously improve yourself (or continuously make progress on a task).

Here are a few systems you may wish to employ on a daily basis:

  1. Complete all available WaniKani reviews in the morning, afternoon, and at night.
  2. Only do WaniKani lessons if the number of Apprentice cards is under 100. (Otherwise you might end up with too many reviews.)
  3. Watch one CureDolly Japanese from Scratch video (with subtitles turned on).
  4. Complete one battle in Pokémon Sword/Shield. Screenshot every line of dialogue before, during, and after the battle. Then intensively analyze the vocabulary and grammar from the screenshots.

Note that with a system like this, you can start Pokémon today.



I should mention also that the first thing you read through will be extremely difficult. Just like you need to train before you can be comfortable competing in a triathlon, you need to train at reading Japanese before you can be comfortable reading.

It will be hard.

And by the end of the game, you may feel as if you still can’t read a random line of dialogue.

But so long as you’ve kept up learning grammar and words along the way, and you keep reading (whether it’s books, manga, or playing another Pokémon game in Japanese), you will improve.

Don’t let the early difficulty dissuade you. It’s okay it you keep at it for a whole year before you start to feel you’re getting your footing. You have to learn to crawl before you can run in the Olympics =D


Very nice reply and I appreciate it! Regarding the systems you mention, I have been quite obsessive about reviews and lessons up to this point. In fact, I oftentimes find myself counting the minutes to the next review window even if I only have a single review. Currently sitting at 42 apprentice. I understand it will get more difficult as I get higher in level though.

I’ve heard of CureDolly but not familiar and haven’t watched any videos. I will certainly give it a try.

For doing reading, I am planning on starting graded readers once I get through N5. Don’t even care if they are meant for preschoolers. I’m not overly prideful.

Oh I should also mention that I’m working through Genki as well.

As far as brute force is concerned on the game, I’d rather avoid that as much as possible.

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Enjoy it while you can =D

I just finished a bunch of reviews earlier, then a few minutes later 10 more popped up. I haven’t done them yet, so my future self is going to hate me for it when I’m staring at a bunch of reviews to do before bedtime…

Some people do really well with graded readers. I never really gave them a try, but I’ve definitely worked my say through some preschool-level picture books (which can be deceptively difficult at times!)

Good luck on your learning journey! If you ever feel like you’ve hit a wall and are having trouble moving forward, you can always seek advice here on the forums.


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