Aria is really calling me more and more…
Had a similiar situation to yours (and still kinda have). Was level 15, had N5 and N4 grammar all covered and wanted to start reading. Graded Readers were way to easy, though. These are suited better for levels 10-15 imho (lvl 4 GRs are an okay first choice i guess). Slice-of-life manga like yotsubato and flying witch were actually on the doable, yet not too easy side. But they were kinda boring (i´m more into fantasy stuff), so i dropped them. Then i went on to NHK easy and since then it has been very beneficial for my reading! Currently going through 4 articles per day, and i don´t even need 5 minutes for some of them. I swear, these corona virus articles are so frequent, i feel i´m almost reading them at native level at this point lol. Thing is - this, too, is becoming way too easy just like the GRs, so i tried Satori Reader, which is an alright help. A bit hit or miss, though, when it comes to useful vocab and interesting reads i assume.
My next step is learning via video games. From what i´ve seen, Ace Attorney in JP looks challenging but doable, so it´s in a good sweetspot i feel like. Lawyer vocab is interesting to me as well, so that helps!
So what you can take away from this: NHK easy (mainly for reading speed) and generelly stuff you´re interested in (visual novels seem like a good choice, if you´re into that). The beginning is always the hardest part.
After finishing genki 1 I have started in of the absolute beginner clubs and I am right there with you in regards to understanding nothing! I have to plug most sentences into a word by word translator and put the pieces of the puzzle together that way. I think its pretty useful though, you get to see more “natural” sentences as opposed to ones created specifically for your lesson like in Genki. The book clubs on here are definitely a big help to beginners, as they have experienced people tweaking your translations.
I jumped in with NHK Easy News. Short articles, furigana, word definitions, audio, etc. Very practical.
Still took a while to get used to - at first there were a lot of words I constantly had to look up. But the more you practice the better you get.
Seconding starting with graded readers! I started them while I was going through Genki I and found them easy to read. Once I finished Genki I and level 1 of the graded readers I was using, I jumped into manga. I’d really recommend starting with a simple manga that you’ve already read before in your native language. I’m reading 黒子のバスケ which I watched the anime of years ago when it came out. You don’t have to worry about getting lost because you already know the story, but it’s good reading practice with something you already know you like.
My first experience is the absolute beginners book club, we are currently reading なぜ？どうして？科学のお話. I just started, and although its difficult and there is a lot of google translating, japandict or seeing other’s translations in the thread it definitely helps. For example some vocab just gets ingrained in you like I learned the word part(部) before encountering it in WK.
I think just do it, and join a club.
Can I recommend the “Free Online Resources” tab of this thread?
You will find there such wonders as free graded readers (already mentioned by others), PIBO, Wasabi, NHK News Easy, Watanoc…
You can read a certain amount of the content on Satori Reader for free.
I got started out with some random bilingual books, and then I read Flying Witch (pretty slowly) on my own, and then I joined the Beginner Book Club. If you find an eBook that we’ve read in the past available free from BookWalker or wherever, the vocabulary sheet and historic grammar discussions will still be invaluable.
If you are interested in manga, there is a few free issues on here. helps to have a visual aid sometimes. it has chapters from some popular manga like One Piece, Assassination Classroom, and others.
The problem though: you can’t highlight text, so looking up words would be a bit hard.
You might want to check out kindle. Most of it isn’t free, but most (if not all) books/manga have free samples, which will give you a good idea of how much you will understand before you have to pay. The in app dictionary is also pretty helpful (though it sometimes fails to recognize conjugated words, particularly in kana).
Have you checked your public library?
At least in the US, public libraries in major cities have a good amount of non-English material. Languages will depend on the local demographics, but if you’re in an area with a lot of native Japanese speakers you may find there’s a decent selection.
Hi there, it seems we are about the same WK level, although you grammar is probably better than mine. And I too just got some more free time and was thinking of reading something easy.
b-but what about the Manga Book Clubs?
I just took the opportunity to try one and did it in less than 10-20 minutes (my first reading やった！), so @EndOfTheGlory go for it. The one I chose was the 「ちょっと」, I thought they had more words…Or maybe it was because it’s a level 0, I’ll try level 1-4 before calling them too easy.
Anyway, the only ”issue" was that there was too much furigana, it hampers my kanji recognition and makes Ke disappointed with me.
skims through the comments
“wait did I just read…”
goes back one line
“…yes I did!”
Ahahah panda lover? Or somewhere else? Anyway I wasn’t expecting someone to admit to that here. Warn us before dropping a bomb like that
I will admit the thought has crossed my mind…
Finally, what was this about??
Amateur…Not sure about which book you are referring to, but in not mine experience, as long as it’s not something too localized, there is always a restaurant offering free meals…
You just need to ask グーグル様 the right questions.
Finally a small advice, collect the words you learn while reading and put them in a txt or something. Then you can add them to Anki or learn only those words from the 10 k (or the deck you are using) by suspending everything and unsuspending those. It would be a pity not to. I just added こしょう to my list. Vocabulary they say is the biggest factor when trying to read.
Yeah they get longer and more complex as you go. Level 0 is just to get you eased in as an absolute beginner.
I also feel that graded readers just aren’t very interesting for some (at least for me). Being easier becomes a moot point if you’re not excited to pick it up.
Like where I’m getting them? I buy off of OtakuRepublic usually, but it’s probably (?) cheaper just proxy shipping. I didn’t know reading doujin was a bad thing They’re not all NSFW, if that’s what it is.
I say just go for it if you really want to. They’re usually pretty short (10-30 pages), unless you buy an omnibus or something. The only thing is that they don’t usually come with furigana.
Indeed. Haibane Renmei started life as a doujinshi.
Ah, sorry… just my ignorance then. Thanks for clearing it up before I made even more embarrassing mistakes in the future. I had found the word only with NSFW images in the close proximity so I assumed they always had those genres. Never looked it up
Apparently Tofugu has written a whole article about them…I should probably spend more time on their site.
Also never meant to say NSFW was bad, just that our society/societies generally considers certain things embarrassing/immoral (or even plainly illegal in certain Communist countries) so someone saying it randomly like that would have been quite surprising
Oh boy. My first attempt at reading was, idk, about a year into my Japanese studies. I already knew a few hundred kanji from WaniKani so I thought that would be great to begin with.
I figured I’d try to read one of my favorite manga, 月刊少女野崎くん, in Japanese. Considering I was already familiar with the characters, and the setting, I thought it’d be a breeze. I was wrong.
I had jisho.org open the whole time, and had to look up unfamiliar words every sentence. Looking up unfamiliar kanji was also extremely tiring. I don’t think I even managed to finish the chapter at all, it took hours to just go through a few pages. At that point I just dropped it and gave up.
Months later, I found this site: https://sai-zen-sen.jp/comics/twi4/ by accident (must have been linked on Reddit’s /r/learnjapanese I guess, but I can’t remember) and it was the best thing that happened to me. So what this site does, is host daily webmanga from various authors, and you can read it for free.
The authors usually update 1 page per day, so it wasn’t a big deal to keep up (even if reading was hard). I started with トモちゃんは女の子, reading 1 page per day. That’s been my routine for at least 4 years, and it’s the best thing I did to increase my fluency. What used to take an hour, not I can do in a few minutes.
Of course, it’s hard to get started, you’re very likely to encounter unfamiliar grammar, and looking it up is hard. If I found anything unfamiliar I’d just try to google it and hope something came up. If it didn’t I’d post about it on Reddit, or just try to guess the meaning in context and move on.
It definitely gets easier the more you do it.
Even though I’m not using Bunpro for SRS at the moment, it’s very helpful for looking up grammar. It’s especially helpful for short or patterned (e.g. ~も~も) grammar that can be hard to google for.
Along the same lines, have a look at Japanese Twitter. I have a few Japanese friends and follow them, but of course there’s a whole range of media, celebrity, etc. accounts, too. The character limit ensures that, no matter how difficult it is, you’ll be done soon. You can either look everything up word-by-word, or just try to get the gist and then compare with Google Translate (which Twitter helpfully provides), depending on how much time and motivation you have.
The problem with that specifically is that there’s usually a lot of slang, which is hard for beginners to understand.