The path of learning

I’ve been working my way through the からかい上手の高木さん (Teasing Master Takagi) series and おじさまと猫 (A man and his cat) mostly at the moment. They are about perfect for my level, in that I can follow the story while only looking up one or two words. That doesn’t mean I understand everything else, but I only look up words I don’t know if they are integral to understanding the plot. Likewise with grammar points.

I tried よつばと! (Yotsuba to!) and にゃんにゃん探偵団 (Kitty Detectives) about six months ago and found them a little hard at the time, they might be OK for me now.

You’re at a difficult spot right now where even the simplest manga will be difficult, although there is some graded reader material here I was able to follow quite early on. I’m not sure there is a good solution other than struggle on until it get’s easier, there’s unfortunately just not a lot of content at that end of the spectrum. I’d recommend looking for stuff where you only need to look up one or two words per page, but at the early stages that might not be possible. For now look up whatever you have to in order understand the story/narrative. If it’s every second word then so be it, but try to do it as little as possible; it sucks the joy out of it and makes it harder to keep motivated IMO.

I also don’t recommend putting all the words you look up into SRS/flashcards, the workload builds up quickly and it’ll start to feel like a chore. I have a couple of core vocab decks that i’m going through on Kitsun; and will very occaisionally add an interesting word that I’ve come accross if I want to remember it. Otherwise, if a word is common enough to warrant remembering it you’ll pick it up naturally over time

For me things got easier at around WaniKani level 25 and N4-ish level grammar. At that point there is a fair amount of reading material available and it feels (at least to me) that things start to snowball and learning through immersion becomes more realistic. So now I’ve slowed down my kanji and vocab practice to focus more on grammar, reading and speaking/listening.

I also use this Bunsuke newsletter. They send a short (2 or 3 lines) excerpt from a book every day, along with the translation. Most of it is far above my level, but I like to try and read the passage (without looking anything up), have a guess at what it says and then look at the translation and see how close I was.

I’m usually pretty far off the mark but I think it’s good practice.

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Late reply, but I’m not sure about that, I think I wouldn’t mind working in japan in a foreign company, but I’ve heard a lot of things about Japanese work culture that don’t sound like they suit me

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I am doing WK, RocketLanguages.com, Japanese from Zero and their website with the videos, and I also watch TV Japan. I started grammar early on with Rocket and JFZ. Every time I learn new vocabulary and grammar points, I hear them on TV Japan, which is really reinforcing and encouraging. The Japanese subtitles they have on most of the programs is one way I get reading practice. One TV Japan program I like is Chatty Jay’s Sundry Shop, which is a children’s program, but I am beginning to understand quite a bit of it. That is really motivating! I also early on bought some graded readers, which I can understand more all the time. I still need to do more speaking and writing, but time only goes so far. The most important thing is to never give up. Japanese is hard, but just keep working. You’ll be surprised how soon you start to see results. These forums are a good help, so stay in touch.