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how to do some reading and listening practice

#1
I'm at a level where I can read some words in kanji(my retention of core 2000 is around 90% and increasing) but I find that except podcasts from japanesePod101 and core sentences I can't read or understand much. I see that my vocabulary is still lacking (a lot) and the transition to manga or anime to practice listening is difficult. I tried to read the latest one piece chapter in japanese and I understood really little. It didn't strike me as really difficult but it's true that as a language learner just the lack of vocabulary and the slow speed in reading katakana make my progress painfully slow.
Also I should try to use sub2srs to break an anime in manageable units, but that seems less time efficient than core sentences if my vocabulary base isn't so good. Maybe after going through core 6000 I should be able to do the transition more easily. I just want to avoid to waste a lot of time because I'm trying to do stuff that is more difficult that I can manage but at the same time I know that if I don't leave my confort zone my improvements won't be really good.
So is core + grammar enough at this point? or should I try to make the most of my listening by really learning all the unknown vocabulary i hear in anime, like by making cards for the whole first season of mirai nikki and trying to learn all the vocabulary there?
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#2
My first manga was Yotsubato!, and I read the Japanese version, while following along with the English version (basically, I would read half a page in Japanese, then read the English version, then go over the Japanese version again).

At the time, I was below your level (I had a lot less than 90% of Core2K retained), and it was still a somewhat enjoyable experience. It took about half an hour to 45 mins. to get through a chapter. That's not fast, but it's not too painfully slow either.
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#3
I think either using Core6K or creating your own cards works just fine - what works better for you depends largely on your learning style. 

I think what's more important than what deck you use is finding and attempting to read/listen to new materials every week. Anki's usefulness comes in giving you a foothold into the language by allowing you to become somewhat familiar with words you previously didn't know at all. But you really need to couple it with intensive and extensive reading/listening to see how these words are used in context, and to reinforce their (in many cases multiple) meanings over time. Anki will help you understand, e.g., what the base definition of words like あげる and かける are; but it's not until you see these words used in practice hundreds (or thousands) of time that you get a solid understanding of their meaning and use in multiple situations. 

If you go the Core6K route, I'd suggest supplementing it with vocab from source materials you're currently studying - NHK News Easy, anime, graded readers, etc. Set your Anki leech threshold really low (mine is about 3), and don't be afraid to suspend cards you don't think are currently useful for your studies; you can always re-enable them later.

Re: Subs2SRS - I found it useful in the early stages, but easily got bored by having to listen to the same sentences over and over. You can use J-subs to study the vocab for an anime or drama and add the unknown words as individual cards if you prefer, then use the original episode for listening practice on the go.
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#4
(2017-03-20, 4:43 pm)Akira00 Wrote: I tried to read the latest one piece chapter in japanese and I understood really little. It didn't strike me as really difficult but it's true that as a language learner just the lack of vocabulary and the slow speed in reading katakana make my progress painfully slow.
Well, One Piece is one of the hardest manga to read that I know of, really. It's not generally super difficult dialogue... although sometimes a character will go into a pages long exposition monologue that can get pretty heavy. Still those parts are perfectly manageable.

No, the difficulty with One Piece is that all the characters have 'interesting' ways of speaking, and there's a ton of slang that's obscure or is just plain made up for the character, a lot of misspelled words to reflect the sound of the characters manner of speaking, etc, etc.  Also the occasional exchange that doesn't make a lot of sense but is included for the punch line which might be some kind of pun or some kind of situational humor or both. Anyway, understanding these things means being familiar enough in the first place with speech patterns to recognize them when reading written dialect, to understand both meanings when words are puns... and ideally recognize when made-up words are being introduced, although as a foreign reader you may never be sure. (It helps to read from the beginning and in order though, since such terms are likely to be explained when or soon after being introduced.)

I mean, you'll run into all of these things reading manga generally, but it's a lot to take in all at once especially as your first manga reading attempt. You'll *never* (probably?) find a manga that is completely free of slang and written dialect, but you can at least find ones where it's only relatively standard contractions and the slang terms are common enough to be in the dictionary. (OTOH, one piece *does* have the advantage of furigana.)

There's also a general trend when reading - the first chapter of a novel or the first volume of a manga is always hardest. Every author has their own writing patterns, tending to use the same vocabulary and expressions no matter what, and of course the setting of a story also causes certain terms to come up over and over again. (Which in one piece is mostly ways of describing one's resolve to beat the living tar out of another character. Also some stuff about ships and oceans.)

Anyway, you might try reading another manga first. I second Stansfield123's suggestion of Yotsubato! , that's certainly one of the easiest manga I've read... and also it made me smile a lot. A lot of people also start with Doraemon (sp?) ... anyway, I've never read it, but it seems to be pretty accessible. If you really want to read One Piece in particular, then I'd at least start at the beginning so that you can get used to the setting-specific terms and individual character speech patterns as they're introduced.
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#5
I agree with SomeCallMeChris, One Piece is actually quite difficult as manga goes. It's my all time favorite and I certainly wouldn't discourage you from trying to read it if you love it, but for all the reasons mentioned, it will challenge you. Even now that I am much more fluent than I used to be, it takes me longer to read a chapter of One Piece than most other manga.

I haven't read Yotsubato in Japanese, but it's delightful in English, and a lot of people here recommend it.

When I first started reading manga, I barely understood a word. You can stagger through quite a ways on very low comprehension, but if you're looking for something that is only just slightly above your current comprehension level to build your confidence, something like Yotusbato would be better.

A manga that I find useful for reading practice is Detective Conan. However, it does have a fair bit of detective vocabulary, so that might still be tough for you as well - I think of it as good N2 level practice.

I don't know if you like shoujo - shoujo is often easier to read than shounen, probably because girls are expected to speak more politely. My friend who was a huge Fruits Basket fan said that one was on the challenging side, very dense with lots of dialogue, so shoujo has a range of difficulties as well. I find Kimi ni Todoke very accessible.
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#6
I just wanted to throw out the suggestion of looking of very (or most) unknown words in the first few pages of whatever you start reading. It makes the subsequent pages somewhat easier to read as you will have covered a lot of the idiosyncratic vocabulary for that book or series.
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#7
Akira, from my personal experience, subs2srs helped my listening cause it allowed me to train up to hearing the entire 1 hour drama with near 100% comprehension. Even if I didn't know every word, that did not matter because it was about training hearing phrases and native speeds and conversations. The trick was not to treat these as flashcards to be marked wrong. Instead, they were just reminders to ensure you got the sentence's meaning and could parse the audio. Nothing to test, instead just listen, recite the audio, then read the sentence out loud. During the initial learning, you'll look up meanings of words and phrases if the English subtitles didn't do it, but beyond that it's just listen/repeat.

It's hard to explain the event that clicks as your brain just understands lengths of dialogue and you anticipate and repeat alongside the show. It positively impacts your listening and even speaking abilities by the second hour of drama you pick up.
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#8
(2017-03-20, 4:43 pm)Akira00 Wrote: [...] but that seems less time efficient than core sentences if my vocabulary base isn't so good. Maybe after going through core 6000 I should be able to do the transition more easily.

I feel like it's a bit easy to lure yourself into a comfort zone there. "I'll just learn a couple of hundred or thousand words more and then it will be so much easier to consume native content!". The thing is, yes, it will probably be a bit easier than now, but there will always be words you stumble upon that you don't know. And the bigger problem is parsing the mess you hear into the words you are supposed to know from your flash cards and understanding them properly in time. That's nothing that will just magically happen once you know 6k words either.

When I think about reading, I'm still not there yet for novels aimed at adults in Japanese (been working on children's stories though) but I very distinctly remember how I gave up a couple of times reading English books as a learner because I wanted to look up each and every word and get every sentence. But doing that made it way less enjoyable and I couldn't force myself through it. But I don't think "just learn more words" from generic lists really helps with that problem either.

If your goal is to read and listen to native content, always putting it off for later is probably not going to work. When you start out it does make sense to focus on building your vocab and grammar base that's true, but that doesn't mean you have to neglect the other part completely. I think in an ideal world, you'd probably start out with 99% "dedicated study" using learners materials and 1% immersion and then over time transition into the opposite direction. I guess for immersion you'd also ideally start off with easier material (that you hopefully can still find enjoyable) and progress from there on.

Sadly, this is not an ideal world though and there are a couple of problems with that. What you actually want to read might be way out of your reach. You might have a hard time finding material that roughly reflect your level and suddenly spend a lot of time searching. The material you do find might not really be enjoyable to you. Or you don't get stuff even in the material you were told is comparatively easy.

So, uh I think in general there are many different ways people usually go about this. Let's say you are watching this anime and don't get some of it. You could a) just ignore the stuff you don't get, try to get as much as you can and then move on. b) look up stuff after the fact, you might find scripts out there (I kind of like http://anicobin.ldblog.jp/ though I usually don't bother looking through the whole episode, but I do sometimes read through the first couple of minutes or so) or you could look for people voicing their opinion about it c) you could watch shows you are already somewhat familiar with (because you already read the manga, or watched the show beforehand with subs or something) which makes it not hurt as much if you miss some stuff and also lets you focus on hearing the words d) you could watch episodes more than once or strip the audio and listen to it in the background and see if you can pick up some more e) you could go through the show with subs2srs, going through it line by line and building your understanding from there on. you might actually be able to find some premade decks, or you could try to make your own. f) probably any combination of the former and probably many more ways.


For reading there are also different approaches, e.g. extensive and intensive reading and anything in between (I think there are a couple of thread on this on the forum already). You could also see if you can find some word lists of what you want to read, so you can study them beforehand (or if you have the text electronically available you could make your own list). Starting out with material you already know in your native language also usually works out rather well. You could also read online and enjoy the luxury of Rikaisama or Yomichan to easily look up stuff and make flash cards. Also if you are not reading on your pc, I recommend starting out with something with furigana. I find it's much easier to get through texts with furigana at first because it doesn't feel like there are blanked out words and stuff...

I personally am very much in the easygoing crowd. To be honest, I don't like putting in too much effort and looking up words is a hassle Tongue For anime I'm usually lazily watching them with subtitles at first and then listen to them a couple of times in the background. I'm usually surprised how I can pick up more each time I'm listening to them. And I do get overly happy if I recognize a word I just learned in my textbook or one of the core decks and it's nice reinforcement. In general I don't really count that time as "learning" it's more like I'm enjoying myself and there just so happens to be some learning effect involved. For reading I'm still figuring stuff out, but so far I didn't really enjoy reading manga in Japanese (can't really explain why). Reading stories aimed at children seems to be more up my alley. (I started out with 10分で読めるお話し stories and am currently trying to tackle 黒魔女さんが通る)

So uh, the post is already long enough. Reading through it again, I think the tone sometimes is a bit harsh, sorry about that. I didn't really mean to criticize. I can definitely understand the feeling of "I don't understand enough" and wanted to share my thoughts and ideas regarding that, I'm sorry if that sometimes came across a bit strongly. In the end everyone has to figure out for themselves what works for them and your approach might be entirely different from mine Smile

Good luck with your studies!
Edited: 2017-03-21, 2:21 pm
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#9
(2017-03-21, 2:10 pm)sumsum Wrote:
(2017-03-20, 4:43 pm)Akira00 Wrote: [...] but that seems less time efficient than core sentences if my vocabulary base isn't so good. Maybe after going through core 6000 I should be able to do the transition more easily.

I feel like it's a bit easy to lure yourself into a comfort zone there. "I'll just learn a couple of hundred or thousand words more and then it will be so much easier to consume native content!". The thing is, yes, it will probably be a bit easier than now, but there will always be words you stumble upon that you don't know. And the bigger problem is parsing the mess you hear into the words you are supposed to know from your flash cards and understanding them properly in time. That's nothing that will just magically happen once you know 6k words either.

I can confirm very much from first-hand experience that pounding more vocab through Anki doesn't magically teach you to actually parse sentences in native content. That being said, core6k is not a bad place to make the transition from (but it'll still be hard).
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#10
I really don't know who started this "Core 2000 is enough to begin transition to native materials" or "Core 2000 is the really useful stuff" meme, but it's totally misleading and I would consider it flat out false.

You probably don't need the full Core 6000, but you need so much of it that by the time you have had enough, you might as well finish the whole thing while you start on native materials using SRS and the like, because you're gonna be past Core 5000 at that point. I finished Core 6000 over a year ago, and have been chugging SRS juice since before that, and I'm still struggling with anime I haven't seen before, and only partially understanding those I have seen.

I also do not accept that by the end of Core 6000, the frequency is down so much that the value has diminished. My personal experience is that I still felt huge gains from using Core 6000, and while studying it, encountered vocabulary I had just studied from it continuously. Including as I made the transition to also studying subs2srs decks, which frequently served me sentences with words I'd just studied in Core 6k.

Although I should note, that after about 4-5k in, I transitioned my Core6k study to direct sentence study, rather than vocabulary with sentence examples.
Edited: 2017-03-21, 6:40 pm
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#11
(2017-03-21, 6:39 pm)NinKenDo Wrote: I really don't know who started this "Core 2000 is enough to begin transition to native materials" or "Core 2000 is the really useful stuff" meme, but it's totally misleading and I would consider it flat out false.

Well, I've recommended that at the 2000 vocabulary mark (combined with basic grammar), one can consider venturing into native material/sentence mining. That's not the same as "you only need 2000 vocabulary". It's that instead of drawing from a preset list of words, you're drawing words from material you find engaging and entertaining. 

It doesn't have to be a 100% switch. What I've been doing is a balanced mix of grammar sentences, vocabulary words/sentences and native material at roughly 10 study hours in each group. That native material via subs2srs works so well for me that I'd say it's essential at that point.
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#12
(2017-03-21, 6:39 pm)NinKenDo Wrote: I really don't know who started this "Core 2000 is enough to begin transition to native materials" or "Core 2000 is the really useful stuff" meme, but it's totally misleading and I would consider it flat out false.

I can testify from personal experience that it's not. In fact I transitioned to native Japanese materials long before i learned 2000 words.

Furthermore, I speak a few languages besides Japanese, and I learned them by using native materials very early. Long before I knew 2000 words.

What is your opinion (that 2000 words are not enough to start using native materials to study a language) based on?
Edited: 2017-03-21, 9:08 pm
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#13
Consider that in Greek and Latin courses, students are routinely thrown into Herodotus or Plato, or Caesar or Vergil, with a textbook vocabulary of no more than 1000 words - and that's if they're lucky and remember all their textbook vocabulary.

As with everything, it's a sliding scale. If you start reading native material with a vocab of 500 words, you will be looking up nearly everything (or understanding very very little), but you will still gain some benefit from being exposed to the flow of native material; the closer the material is to your vocab level, the greater the benefit (so, at the earliest stages graded readers are usually more effective than completely unedited material).

That just keeps scaling up. At 2K, you will be able to read, but very slowly and with dictionary, or with low comprehension. At 6K, you should be able to read more, but there will still be words on every page you don't know. Currently at about 11K (maybe as much as 15K depending on what vocab test I go by) I can read light novels without using a dictionary, but almost every sentence still has a word that I have to guess or that I just accept that I don't know and move on. At every one of those stages, I have considered tackling native material worth while.

I still have fond memories of trying to read one of my favorite fantasy manga when I hadn't yet made it through a first year textbook. (I think I had learned what plain form verbs were... maybe.) I transcribed page after page of text, copying all the kanji, writing out a romaji version, and then trying to look up words. At one point I spent hours with five or six kanji dictionaries deciphering why a certain character's name was written with an archaic version of a kanji. None of my dictionaries would tell me what a 結界 was (it is a magical boundary). It was weeks before I figured out why nearly every sentence ended in n da. My first year Japanese textbook didn't tell me about that. Worth it? Totally.
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#14
If you want to be able to read One Piece, watch the first 49 eps of One Piece with Japanese subs and use sub2srs, and learn the words. With that much exposure, you should be able to understand at least 90% of what's going on in the manga. Diving into manga with a low vocab known % can be tedious if you're not quick with your tools, and have experience parsing the common speech patterns. Also, use the Japanese Text Analysis Tool and analyze One Piece's subtitles to see the top words you're missing. If you learned, say, the top 200-300 words in One Piece that you don't know, you'll probably hit 85-90% comprehension at the point you're at.

I actually have a similar goal myself, so I started learning a bunch of One Piece words recently.
Edited: 2017-03-22, 10:56 pm
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#15
(2017-03-22, 10:55 pm)vladz0r Wrote: If you want to be able to read One Piece, watch the first 49 eps of One Piece with Japanese subs and use sub2srs, and learn the words. With that much exposure, you should be able to understand at least 90% of what's going on in the manga. Diving into manga with a low vocab known % can be tedious if you're not quick with your tools, and have experience parsing the common speech patterns. Also, use the Japanese Text Analysis Tool and analyze One Piece's subtitles to see the top words you're missing. If you learned, say, the top 200-300 words in One Piece that you don't know, you'll probably hit 85-90% comprehension at the point you're at.

I actually have a similar goal myself, so I started learning a bunch of One Piece words recently.

Good luck! It's a worthy goal. I have timed Japanese subs for the first ten or so episodes (retimed them myself, although I had only sub2srs-ed 5 eps before I shifted my study focus elsewhere), timed to match the US DVDs (which I own and ripped to my computer). Raw subs for I think at least up to 46 after that. Might need to run them through the tool that removes sound effect information (someone posted a link to it recently, I've misplaced the link). PM me if you need them.

I love Usopp to death as a character but trying to figure out what he is saying can be really annoying.  Tongue
Edited: 2017-03-23, 8:49 am
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