When I’m not learning Japanese, I’m actually a college professor. I’m going to give you the number-one advice that I give to each and every one of my students whenever they want to learn any skill: give yourself permission to suck.
When you’re having trouble, just tell yourself, “That sucked, but I’m going to do it again.” Then you do it again. And again. And again. Then one day you wake up and a friend tags you in some total stranger’s post and asks, “@crmsnprincess89, you’re good at this. What do you think?” Then you say to yourself, “I’m good at this? Are… are you sure?!”
I’ve been having a heck of a time with WaniKani and Bunpro (and my own Anki deck) too. I’ve been getting a lot of wrong answers. But I’m doing great at all the words that I couldn’t get to save my life a week ago.
On a neurological level, learning hurts. The learning that doesn’t hurt is ephemeral or already acquired. This isn’t a platitude; it’s real neuroscience: when you’re frustrated, you’re learning!
That’s absolutely normal. I took five schoolyears of Japanese and even I start with broken English before I try to weave it together in an English-sounding sentence. I know Tae Kim’s caught some flack for having mistakes in his lessons, but that’s one thing he does right.
You’ll discover as you get further that literal translations aren’t necessary or desirable. If you’ve ever played a video game with an overly-literal translation (like Illusion of Gaia or the Zero no Kiseki fan-translation), you’ll notice it sounds choppy and unnatural in English. Don’t worry about flow for now.
In fact, don’t even worry about translating full sentences. See how much of the gist you can get and see if your intuition can fill in the rest. Don’t be afraid to use Google Translate to get you by for now. If a sentence totally stumps you, move on to the next sentence and let context fill in the blanks. It’ll take a long time but it’ll happen.