I am in my second month of learning Japanese, which I almost exclusively do via LingQ. Katakana and Hiragana I learned almost completely, some Kanji I can write and I seem to know about 60 words or so, according to my stats here. (Hey, don’t judge me, I go verly slowly :)… I re-read and re-listen the lessons, then wonder off to Jisho dictionary to see how some kanji is written, then practice writing for about half an hour and the time just flies by).
Before I ramble on too much, my concern or question I guess, is:
will this ever become a bit easier?
Easier in a sense that I can easier “get” the sentence structure? This language is so removed from any of the western languages I speak that my brain just goes numb after a while of studying and It seems to me that I learned nothing at all. (Which is not true because after a day or two or while listening to something, I surprise myself how much I already actually recognize.)
I can’t tell you I’m over the hump yet but some of the basics just roll by for me for me, common greeting, concern, help cry and some others.
I will say for comprehensible input…do you play video games or like any Japanese medium in particular?
Well, I’m not really big on gaming, I do try to read as much as I can but eh… that’s diffiult for the time being. I just finished first 8 lessons here on LingQ (the starter ones) and my first mini story about Mike the waiter.
I try to watch a lot of YouTubers in Japanese (Onomappu, Ammo Misa, Yuta, …).
I’m just wondering if that time when I’m over the hump as you called it will come 'cause it’s so darn hard to believe it ever will :))
I will preface for me it was through a lot of Japanese classes but I definitely remember the help cry(dasukede, sorry for the Romanji as Japanese text input on here isn’t enabled) through a Japanese horror movie. Doesn’t hurt it’s my favorite Japanese movie.
I will say I felt a relief or click and am feeling comfortable enough with Portugues. Japanese I need to get back into input but I think for Portugues it helped having the same writing system and a decent bit of input but strangely not a crazy amount. This being said Japanese will be a lot more input. I give this example in that I think what you want to achieve is totally possible.
So then do you watch J-Drama’a or Anime? There are some pretty great shows of the former, they’re just more minimalist vs. the K-Drama’s.
For books there are a number of famous authors. Don’t sleep on Manga’s too.
The grammar does get easier, like everything else you practice for a long time. Just keep soaking your brain in the language, and it’ll come. What’s cool is when you know words so fluently you don’t even realize they’re Japanese when you hear them. They’re just meaning in your mind without even having to think about it.
And don’t feel bad about it taking a long time. My first attempt at Japanese lasted a couple years, and I never got past JLPT N5. So I think I got all of you beat for slowness. But yeah, I remember feeling like I had to think backwards just to understand a sentence back then.
I really like the “Comprehensible Japanese” courses from Yuki Sensei. Give them a shot and see how they work for you. I’ve been curious how effective they are for people very new to the language. They should be a lot more accessible than the mini-stories, at least:
Actually, I don’t watch anything yet as it’s really really tough to understand. I have been going through the beginner lessons here (the introductory to LingQ ones) and just about scratched the surface with mini stories :).
I started Romanian on LingQ about three months ago (I spent A LOT of time in these past 3 months so don’t get discouraged if it takes longer for you.) I’ve been writing down in a journal how I feel about the language every week or so. I remember writing after a month of spending like two hours a day that “I only understand the word asta and este (very basic that and is) I think I’ll never learn the language or understand even how to read a sentence” Romanian grammar is very divorced from the English I was raised with. However now I feel much more confident in Romanian, sentence structure clicks better and I don’t spend like three minutes figuring who is doing what and where and when.
I’ve also spent the past 3 years “learning” Chinese in school only to struggle with basic sentence building. I believe mainly because I never put enough time or effort into it. As I only study Chinese in school and not daily or anything. My sentences are never grammatically correct however now it’s slowly starting to click because I’ve forced myself to rethink. So in conclusion I think it varies, if you actually stick with Japanese DAILY and set a goal of reading 3 ministories per day. You will be fine. The first month I had only read the sixty mini stories. I barely understood them. I forced myself to read Haruki Murakami’s “Beloved Sputnik” in Romanian, and after finishing it. I rarely read a sentence and feel like I don’t get what’s happening.
I suggest you really power through every single mini story. Continue writing Katakana, Hiragana and Kanji by hand. This is amazing, and 30 minutes a day is great! (fun fact a lot of Chinese youth are struggling with Kanji/Hanzi because they don’t write by hand enough.)
After that try some very simple yet interesting enough books. I think that Sputnik by Haruki Murakami would be a great read for you, I started with zero knowledge in Romanian and managed to finish it after about another month. It cemented the basics.
This is a playlist of 93 videos by someone who I think was a linguist. The way she explains Japanese grammar makes a lot of sense to me, and she teaches it from a Japanese language perspective. Her claim is the reason the grammar seems difficult to westerners is because it’s taught using western language paradigms. It’s actually a lot more orderly than you think. This series might give you a good foundation before you dive into the deep end.
@jf999 i completely agree about the ministories, and frankly its irritating LingQ doesn’t do more to guide you to the right things. I wasted a lot of time looking for resources. Steve talks about the ministories all the time but they are really for a more advanced beginner to get to low intermediate, not to start with. In fairness I think they are listed as Beginner 2 not 1, but even the B-1 stuff is often too difficult. The fully supported languages usually have much better stuff than the ‘welcome to lingq’ lessons for a complete beginner.
Ahhh well there are games that have basic Japanese grammar are the “Boku no Natsuyasumi” series. Sorry if I seem to be pushing but these are fairly relaxed Japanese vacation exploration games where you roam the Japanese countryside. What I mean by the grammar too is they follow Japanese conventions, nothing radical.
As a general rule of thumb though I strongly suggest getting a Nintendo DS to get “Kanji Sonomama” which is a Kanji dictionary. It has a library of many Japanese dictionaries in it and you obviously write the Kanji with a stylus.
THANK YOU so much for referring me to the Cure Dolly course on YT! This is the most inceredible, totally attuned to the way my brain works, course. I understand that these explanations might be a bit “out there”, some of them even slightly incorrect… But I believe it is sometimes better to teach wrong, if it will make the student “get” the broader context and if things will click. Later, down the line, fix what’s wrong.
This is spectacular and has helped me tremendously with the most complex sentences.
Glad you like it! When I first started listening to her, I had a lot of doubt in my head about how right or wrong she was. I mean, she even teaches it differently than how it’s done in Japan, so maybe she’s just a crackpot. But then I figured, if it works, who can criticize. I wound up reading one of her books, too, and 'm pretty sure she was a linguist, and she wasn’t just coming up with that grammar in a vacuum, either, so I finally just stopped worrying about it and accepted it on her terms. Like they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
i found i was banging my head against the same 300 odd words for months, i kinda stopped trying to make those stick before i moved on, I pushed on and branched out, trying loads of apps, loads of vids etc , usual stuff, most i didnt understand, then words started to stick, i could recall loads in that sea of confusion. I realised that after 9 months the ones that were now acquired were the ones i learnt at 3 months … At a year the ones i first studied at 6 months were now sticking…
So my eventual point is, for me, there is a 6 month buffer…
so keep pushing on with anki and everything, but dont keep working over the same old stuff as i will probobaly take 6months of exposure to that word …before it sticks…some will just stick right away.