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What should I learn after learning grammar, some kanji characters, and some words?

crocket

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I read Japanese Grammar Guide | Learn Japanese twice and still remember most of it.
At this point, I can understand modern japanese sentences with simple kanji characters.
But, when I read NHK news articles, I encounter a lot of kanji characters and japanese words that I don't know, and the news contents are boring. I like manga and anime, but reading an untranslated japanese manga at my level is still a big pain.

It's difficult to find learning materials that are fun and relevant to me and match my japanese level.

I remember the same feeling when I tried to bootstrap my english.

Right now, I want to improve vocabulary, listening comprehension, and writing. Grammar is not a bottleneck. Speaking is not as important as vocabulary and listening at this point.
What should I try to learn from now on?
 
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Kraise

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First, grab a text book, don't assume you have all the grammar you need already just because you've memorized(?) Tae Kim's guide.

Not all of your japanese studies will be necessarily fun, you'll have to find motivation to make it to the point where you can read and watch anything of your interest and learn from it.
 

Mike Cash

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It's difficult to find learning materials that are fun and relevant to me and match my japanese level.
This has always been a problem with getting started learning Japanese. The difference, perhaps, was that in decades past we didn't expect it to be fun or relevant.

You have three variables there: fun; relevant; level appropriate.

You can change your idea of fun or get used to the idea that learning sufficient kanji and vocabulary is going to be a hell of a lot of work.

You can broaden your interests to make more material relevant, you can put more effort into searching for material to your liking, or you can get used to the idea that sometimes you're going to be going through crap that just doesn't interest you but which will be educational anyway.

You can increase your Japanese level, which is what will do the most to alleviate the problems presented by the other two variables.

=======

Some people here enjoy using the series of graded readers which provide reading material that has grammar, vocabulary, kanji, etc. matched to learning levels. You could try googling Japanese keywords for topics that interest you; you'll probably find more results than you could read in a lifetime. (Everybody complains they can't find anything to read and I will never understand how that's possible in the internet age).

When it comes to learning kanji and vocabulary, quite frankly you're just going to have to realize it is a never-ending task and that it requires work. I started learning Japanese in 1985 and so far today I have spent about an hour with pencil and paper learning kanji and vocabulary. I don't expect to be finished this side of the grave.
 

crocket

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You can change your idea of fun or get used to the idea that learning sufficient kanji and vocabulary is going to be a hell of a lot of work.
Actually, I realized that I am ok with going through a lot of kanji and vocabulary as long as I could track the progress. It would be painful to not know how many japanese materials I can understand after learning hundreds of kanji characters and japanese words.

At this point, I can think of a few ways to learn kanji and words.
  • Find any material that I have enough patience to read, and learn kanji characters and words in it. Repeat the process.
  • Read through graded readers that provide grammar, vocabulary, kanji, etc. matched to learning levels??????? What is graded reader?
  • Go through WaniKani, a kanji learning application by Tofugu. Read japanese materials occasionally to track progress.

When it comes to learning kanji and vocabulary, quite frankly you're just going to have to realize it is a never-ending task and that it requires work. I started learning Japanese in 1985 and so far today I have spent about an hour with pencil and paper learning kanji and vocabulary. I don't expect to be finished this side of the grave.
I agree with learning any foreign langauge to the grave. According to some tests, I know about 15,000~18,000 english words, and I still need to look up a lot of words in dictionaries when I read scottish SF novels. Except when I read scottish SF novels, I only need to look up new english words occasionally. Even though I still need dictionaries, I don't feel frustrated when I don't have to look up words often.
 

Mike Cash

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You can find the graded readers here: Reading Material – White Rabbit Japan

I believe they are also available through Amazon, and some are available as iPad apps.

Quite frankly, I think any attempt to "read" material that you find interesting and for which you don't already know most of the kanji will just be an exercise in frustration. Give it a try if you like, though.

There are several approaches to learning kanji. I found it convenient to learn them by the same groupings used in Japanese elementary school. Some people learn them by JLPT level groupings. You can use books, websites, apps, flashcards, etc.
 

madphysicist

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It is difficult to suggest some materials that might be fun or interesting to you when we do not know anything about you.

For example, I really like to watch figure skating so I often watch or read interviews with Japanese athletes - for whatever reason the Japanese are extremely good at and enthusiastic about figure-skating so there's tons of material. Because I'm really interested I can often get past the fact that I can't understand every single thing that's being said, as long as I can understand most of it. But I don't imagine most Japanese-learners would find this material fun or relevant.

So you know... choose an interest of yours and then seek out materials about that. A good thing about Japanese TV is that quite often what the person is saying in an interview is written on the screen, so it's easier to look up a word you don't know.

If the problem is that you just don't have good enough Japanese to get through a long text even with a dictionary, there are some "parallel text" books that have the English translation on the opposite page and a dictionary on the bottom of each page. For example I used this book:
Breaking Into Japanese Literature: Seven Modern Classics in Parallel Text: Amazon.co.uk: Giles Murray: 9781568364155: Books
These stories are not written in very modern Japanese, so maybe this particular book is not what you want, but there are other "parallel text" books available. That book does have free audio recordings you can download though which is pretty handy.
 
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WonkoTheSane

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Just a note: Although I like the graded readers, it's worth mentioning that I have not found them an effective way to greatly increase kanji. It's based upon extensive reading, which closely aligns with comprehensible input methods of language acquisition, so one doesn't get a lot of new kanji per book. Instead, they use a few new kanji per book and it gets used quite a bit. It's good for reinforcing and contextualizing.

As a side note, I *really* wish they wouldn't use furigana for repetitions of the word. The first time a word is introduced it's fine, but after the initial usage I think they ought to leave it out because I catch myself just glossing over the kanji and reading the furigana.

The only thing I've found to increase my kanji so far is studying kanji. Which I'm not very good at. Much like studying anything else involving Japanese. It's no fun for me... But that doesn't negate my need to sit down and study kanji if I want to learn kanji.

If you want to know more about the concepts underlying extensive reading and the graded readers:
NPO多言語多読
 

crocket

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I think I'll spend an hour on kanji and words and another hour on graded reader everyday.
Are there free graded readers on the internet?
 
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