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Getting Nihongo Jouzu

Gorilla Drip

Well-known member
Joined:  Jan 7, 2023
For those of you that have actually learned a good bit of Japanese (around N2-N3), how many new words per day would you suggest? Right now, I've got the app I use (Renshuu) set to fifteen new words per day, and then I'll review about a hundred. Might increase the latter, and just review everything I have, but that would end up taking a lot of time after a while.

If I can keep this up long-term (doubtful, but I'll try), I figure I'll be N1 in 2-3 years. 330*15=4950, assuming I skip about a month's worth of days per year. N1 is 10000 words and 2000 kanji.

On a related note, would you say that Japanese gets easier to learn as you get further into it? It feels like it would, since you can start actually reading/watching media after you learn a certain amount, which will allow you to learn new words and phrases through context.
I'm not sure where I'm yet but I'm at a very similar pace to yours. I set my mining deck to 15 cards/day maximum (more and I'm literally unable to comprehend anything anymore) but I usually mine a bit less. I do suggest you review everything you have and reduce instead the new words per day, because you'll be messing with anki's algorithm if you're not reviewing the cards when they're due. Do consider you'll be able to pick up quite a few words from context after a while, and many more will be decently clear from the kanji alone, so you don't really have to rely on the numbers. Plus, you're not getting tested on all of the words together but a part of them (some of which you're bound to not remember, or you might get lucky and get the words you have ironed out). I think reading comprehension and listening might be more important, so I suggest you follow yuckyyaki's advice and try to understand the concept of what you're immersing with.

I do think the studying gets noticeably easier the more you watch a same show, and even in general the more you study. You pick up stuff easier and are able to parse faster. At a certain point (this happens to many when studying english) you don't even notice you're studying but you're just enjoying yourself. Of course grammar books are still gonna be a pain, much like they are in your L1.

Btw if you're on FSRS (I've explained how it works in my previous posts) you can reduce your desired retention to lower your workload organically while still doing all the due cards.
 

Banana Hammock

Born to Sneed
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Joined:  Sep 9, 2022
I'm not sure where I'm yet but I'm at a very similar pace to yours. I set my mining deck to 15 cards/day maximum (more and I'm literally unable to comprehend anything anymore) but I usually mine a bit less. I do suggest you review everything you have and reduce instead the new words per day, because you'll be messing with anki's algorithm if you're not reviewing the cards when they're due. Do consider you'll be able to pick up quite a few words from context after a while, and many more will be decently clear from the kanji alone, so you don't really have to rely on the numbers. Plus, you're not getting tested on all of the words together but a part of them (some of which you're bound to not remember, or you might get lucky and get the words you have ironed out). I think reading comprehension and listening might be more important, so I suggest you follow yuckyyaki's advice and try to understand the concept of what you're immersing with.

I do think the studying gets noticeably easier the more you watch a same show, and even in general the more you study. You pick up stuff easier and are able to parse faster. At a certain point (this happens to many when studying english) you don't even notice you're studying but you're just enjoying yourself. Of course grammar books are still gonna be a pain, much like they are in your L1.

Btw if you're on FSRS (I've explained how it works in my previous posts) you can reduce your desired retention to lower your workload organically while still doing all the due cards.
I actually use an app called Renshuu. Couldn't really get into Anki. FSRS looks interesting, though, so I might look into it. Don't want to sabotage my efforts by switching back and forth between different apps and such, though.
 

Banana Hammock

Born to Sneed
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Joined:  Sep 9, 2022
Just saw someone posting about this on Twitter.


Language Reactor is a powerful toolbox for learning languages. It helps you to discover, understand, and learn from native materials. Studying will become more effective, interesting, and enjoyable! (formerly called 'Language Learning with Netflix')
Looks pretty cool.
 

MornLurker

Asylum's lurker
Early Adopter
Joined:  Sep 12, 2022
Just saw someone posting about this on Twitter.



Looks pretty cool.

Side note that it only works with VODs and not livestream, also as with like every MTL out there it's not 100% accurate
Still a good tool to use especially since it can show kanji-romaji though
 

Banana Hammock

Born to Sneed
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Joined:  Sep 9, 2022
You know, when I started learning, I thought that the hardest part would be the kanji, not the grammar. Holy shit do I fucking hate learning grammar.

Edit: Huh. Tofugu's guide says to get to level 10 in WaniKani before I start with grammar. Maybe I should be saving this for later, and just focus on kanji and vocab for now?
 
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Postal rrat

chinshilla
Joined:  Mar 19, 2023
You know, when I started learning, I thought that the hardest part would be the kanji, not the grammar. Holy shit do I fucking hate learning grammar.

Edit: Huh. Tofugu's guide says to get to level 10 in WaniKani before I start with grammar. Maybe I should be saving this for later, and just focus on kanji and vocab for now?
Matches with my experiences more or less I haven't used either system but I did find it's very fucking hard to have anything but very very simple grammar stick without vocabulary. Kind of like trying to memorize instructions for Lego sets you don't own.
 
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Banana Hammock

Born to Sneed
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Joined:  Sep 9, 2022
Matches with my experiences more or less I haven't used either system but I did find it's very fucking hard to have anything but very very simple grammar stick without vocabulary. Kind of like trying to memorize instructions for Lego sets you don't own.
Yeah, that makes sense. It was when ます and ません were introduced that I really started struggling with it. It's probably easier to change verbs when you actually know them, instead of just guessing one of the four multiple choice answers and hoping you get it right.
 

Postal rrat

chinshilla
Joined:  Mar 19, 2023
Yeah, that makes sense. It was when ます and ません were introduced that I really started struggling with it. It's probably easier to change verbs when you actually know them, instead of just guessing one of the four multiple choice answers and hoping you get it right.
From what I understand ます/です isn't actually all that good of a thing to learn early first mostly because it's old and it's formal meaning that most of the Japanese your probably being exposed to won't be using that form, unless your doing business in japan. It's also grammatically unusual to boot. I don't really know where your at though so maybe it's appropriate. Just seems like your starting at the wrong end of the ice cream cone.

Edit: I more meant first I was tired at the time
 
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Banana Hammock

Born to Sneed
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Joined:  Sep 9, 2022
From what I understand ます/です isn't actually all that good of a thing to learn early mostly because it's old and it's formal meaning that most of the Japanese your probably being exposed to won't be using that form, unless your doing business in japan. It's also grammatically unusual to boot. I don't really know where your at though so maybe it's appropriate. Just seems like your starting at the wrong end of the ice cream cone.
Really? BunPro has them as part of the second lesson of their N5 course. It's the ichidan and godan verbs, just in case there's something more complicated later on that also use ます/ません.

And here's what the lesson order looks like on the other app I use, before I decided to try using BunPro for grammar.
Screenshot-2024-04-02-06-01-55-74-12391f1e4a98bc8d57e10da74857876e.jpg
 

Gorilla Drip

Well-known member
Joined:  Jan 7, 2023
From what I understand ます/です isn't actually all that good of a thing to learn early mostly because it's old and it's formal meaning that most of the Japanese your probably being exposed to won't be using that form, unless your doing business in japan. It's also grammatically unusual to boot. I don't really know where your at though so maybe it's appropriate. Just seems like your starting at the wrong end of the ice cream cone.
There is a few reasons for why these are taught early-on in most classical resources.
1. It's easy to conjugate them. The endings are all the same for all the verbs, so the japanese think it's easier for us dumb gaijins to start there. Plain form requires you to know at least three different conjugation rules: the one for the plain negative, the past one (which incidentally is also the same as the -て form) and the negative past one.
2. Desu is taught as a parallel to "to be" - as much as it's actually false, it helps learners to go from their L1 (which probably mostly relies on "to be" auxiliaries for most sentences) to Japanese. Plain form doesn't even use だ most of the times so a learner might be confused by there being no verb in the sentence.
For anybody curious, what happens is the following. です is a dummy made to replace any verb you want in japanese, it's NOT a parallel to "to be". The proper "to be" verb is ある, which is widely used, especially in written language. Think of 吾輩はねこである (I'm a cat, the famous novel which is referenced everywhere lmao). What happens is: the japanese simplify sentences by "cutting its head", thus removing both the verb and its particle (に + あいます, or で + ある) and replacing it with a "fake" which brings no meaning but what is already implied by previous sentences. Thus, 私は魚です doesn't mean "I'm a fish", nor "I'm sakana", as much as we'd all love to be him, but "As for me, I'd like to order the fish". "I'd like to order" is completely absorbed by です. です means that the sentence is polite, that it's in the present tense, but does not bring meaning.
On the other hand, だ is very affirmative and imposing in tone, so instead of replacing the verb with it, japanese just don't substitute the verb with anything and cut it entirely.
3. It's not true that the ます forms are not used in contemporary Japanese. Actually, in the contexts you are likely to encounter when you get there, such as a company or university, polite/courteous language is a must. It's very much recommended when speaking to strangers, old people, professors, colleagues etc. It's very wide-spread, and especially useful for people who actually serve a purpose for the Japanese government. Which is why it's the focus of the N5 and N4 tests of the JLPT.
It's generally true that you'll see plain form thousands times more in immersion material though, since it's usually high school kids talks to eachother or well-acquainted people. But it's not completely true in this context either - as a matter of fact, you have to speak to your senpais in polite form, and the same is true for when you're speaking to your parents, so even in immersion material the ます form is very important.
4. Lastly, the "masu stem" is widely used even in plain form, such as あそぶ -> あそびます -> あそびにいく (I go to have fun [somewhere]), so learning it is still decently important in general.

That being said, as much as it's important to study -ます and です in general, there is a few issues that arise from starting here, namely what Banana Hammock complains about. You have no way of knowning the dictionary form of a verb from the ます form due to the way it's obtained. How are you to know that かえります comes from かえる and not かえりる? For ichidan verbs, you remove the る and add ます so かえります could easily just be かえりる.
It's thus of vital importance to study the dictionary (plain) form of the verbs before tackling their ます form - so by starting from vocabulary. Even in academic environments, such as my university, when we talk about the verb our teacher always insists on us learning the plain form and not the polite one.

What I suggest then is to continue studying from whatever resource you are studying, because they usually all give enough basics to understand immersion decently enough, but at the same time study verbs/vocabulary in their plain form. I guarantee you it's gonna be much simpler. The basics of grammar in japanese are rather simple when you get the hang of them piece by piece.
 

Thomas Talus

Εκ λόγου άλλος εκβαίνει λόγος
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Joined:  Sep 15, 2022

Postal rrat

chinshilla
Joined:  Mar 19, 2023
There is a few reasons for why these are taught early-on in most classical resources.
1. It's easy to conjugate them. The endings are all the same for all the verbs, so the japanese think it's easier for us dumb gaijins to start there. Plain form requires you to know at least three different conjugation rules: the one for the plain negative, the past one (which incidentally is also the same as the -て form) and the negative past one.
2. Desu is taught as a parallel to "to be" - as much as it's actually false, it helps learners to go from their L1 (which probably mostly relies on "to be" auxiliaries for most sentences) to Japanese. Plain form doesn't even use だ most of the times so a learner might be confused by there being no verb in the sentence.
For anybody curious, what happens is the following. です is a dummy made to replace any verb you want in japanese, it's NOT a parallel to "to be". The proper "to be" verb is ある, which is widely used, especially in written language. Think of 吾輩はねこである (I'm a cat, the famous novel which is referenced everywhere lmao). What happens is: the japanese simplify sentences by "cutting its head", thus removing both the verb and its particle (に + あいます, or で + ある) and replacing it with a "fake" which brings no meaning but what is already implied by previous sentences. Thus, 私は魚です doesn't mean "I'm a fish", nor "I'm sakana", as much as we'd all love to be him, but "As for me, I'd like to order the fish". "I'd like to order" is completely absorbed by です. です means that the sentence is polite, that it's in the present tense, but does not bring meaning.
On the other hand, だ is very affirmative and imposing in tone, so instead of replacing the verb with it, japanese just don't substitute the verb with anything and cut it entirely.
3. It's not true that the ます forms are not used in contemporary Japanese. Actually, in the contexts you are likely to encounter when you get there, such as a company or university, polite/courteous language is a must. It's very much recommended when speaking to strangers, old people, professors, colleagues etc. It's very wide-spread, and especially useful for people who actually serve a purpose for the Japanese government. Which is why it's the focus of the N5 and N4 tests of the JLPT.
It's generally true that you'll see plain form thousands times more in immersion material though, since it's usually high school kids talks to eachother or well-acquainted people. But it's not completely true in this context either - as a matter of fact, you have to speak to your senpais in polite form, and the same is true for when you're speaking to your parents, so even in immersion material the ます form is very important.
4. Lastly, the "masu stem" is widely used even in plain form, such as あそぶ -> あそびます -> あそびにいく (I go to have fun [somewhere]), so learning it is still decently important in general.

That being said, as much as it's important to study -ます and です in general, there is a few issues that arise from starting here, namely what Banana Hammock complains about. You have no way of knowning the dictionary form of a verb from the ます form due to the way it's obtained. How are you to know that かえります comes from かえる and not かえりる? For ichidan verbs, you remove the る and add ます so かえります could easily just be かえりる.
It's thus of vital importance to study the dictionary (plain) form of the verbs before tackling their ます form - so by starting from vocabulary. Even in academic environments, such as my university, when we talk about the verb our teacher always insists on us learning the plain form and not the polite one.

What I suggest then is to continue studying from whatever resource you are studying, because they usually all give enough basics to understand immersion decently enough, but at the same time study verbs/vocabulary in their plain form. I guarantee you it's gonna be much simpler. The basics of grammar in japanese are rather simple when you get the hang of them piece by piece.
I do feel the need to say that I never said or meant to imply that ます/です weren't useful only that I had heard and generally believe that it's not a good first form to learn. The grammar guide I have been using has it as lesson 17 out of 93 early in but not starter grammar. Generally speaking I think study should serve immersion first and learning the conjugations for て/た form and the negative first wasn't difficult and well I see it a thousand times more often. That said I'm not a rocket surgeon. I've heard a few fairly persuasive arguments for doing it this way around, I did it this way around, and it's been working for me.
 
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Gorilla Drip

Well-known member
Joined:  Jan 7, 2023
I do feel the need to say that I never said or meant to imply that ます/です weren't useful only that I had heard and generally believe that it's not a good first form to learn. The grammar guide I have been using has it as lesson 17 out of 93 early in but not starter grammar. Generally speaking I think study should serve immersion first and learning the conjugations for て/た form and the negative first wasn't difficult and well I see it a thousand times more often. That said I'm not a rocket surgeon. I've heard a few fairly persuasive arguments for doing it this way around, I did it this way around, and it's been working for me.
My bad for making it seem like you did. I was just explaining why they usually start with it in academic/traditional learning enviornment. I think both are valid options, but I think changing now might pose a problem with having to recalibrate stuff, my intention was primarily to clarify why some resources keep with that order and what should be the course when one has started from the ます (also learning dictionary forms from the beginning). Also I wanted to inform other users on this form and why it might be useful.

As for the rest I completely agree. I've studied both in a parallel way and I think the ます form is still plenty useful, but I understand why one would start from the other, especially with the intention of immersing asap. Either way sorry for expressing myself poorly in the previous post.
 

Postal rrat

chinshilla
Joined:  Mar 19, 2023
My bad for making it seem like you did. I was just explaining why they usually start with it in academic/traditional learning enviornment. I think both are valid options, but I think changing now might pose a problem with having to recalibrate stuff, my intention was primarily to clarify why some resources keep with that order and what should be the course when one has started from the ます (also learning dictionary forms from the beginning). Also I wanted to inform other users on this form and why it might be useful.

As for the rest I completely agree. I've studied both in a parallel way and I think the ます form is still plenty useful, but I understand why one would start from the other, especially with the intention of immersing asap. Either way sorry for expressing myself poorly in the previous post.
All good man and yeah I generally agree just because you didn't buy the best car five years back doesn't necessarily mean you should sell it, and further best is subjective to what you intend to do with it. If I was learning Japanese because I planned to visit in a few months I probably would have prioritized masu and learning set phrases. I want to enjoy anime more and talk with a certain chinchilla both of which are generally casual affairs using casual language.

Extending the metaphor a bit if he hasn't signed the papers or the car turns out to be a lemon I would recommend cure dolly but my opinion is probably only a little more informed than his.
 

agility_

We have some serious streams to discuss 🔨
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Joined:  Sep 14, 2022
How are you to know that かえります comes from かえる and not かえりる? For ichidan verbs, you remove the る and add ます so かえります could easily just be かえりる.
It's thus of vital importance to study the dictionary (plain) form of the verbs before tackling their ます form - so by starting from vocabulary. Even in academic environments, such as my university, when we talk about the verb our teacher always insists on us learning the plain form and not the polite one.

This parallels to what a friend was commenting IRL about working with ESLs, the fact that English is so packed full of old legacy loanwords and verbal incongruent leftovers. How is a learner to know the difference between "hung", "hanged" and "being hanged" without going into context. Does it really make sense that we use gaslight-> Gaslighted when the prescribed grammar says it should be "gaslit". What happens to an ESL when he or she is starting to grasp syntax and then the books or learning programs hit them with the ole' "have" vs "have got" sentence structure, because the british cannot live without their present perfect tense clauses.
 

Postal rrat

chinshilla
Joined:  Mar 19, 2023
This parallels to what a friend was commenting IRL about working with ESLs, the fact that English is so packed full of old legacy loanwords and verbal incongruent leftovers. How is a learner to know the difference between "hung", "hanged" and "being hanged" without going into context. Does it really make sense that we use gaslight-> Gaslighted when the prescribed grammar says it should be "gaslit". What happens to an ESL when he or she is starting to grasp syntax and then the books or learning programs hit them with the ole' "have" vs "have got" sentence structure, because the british cannot live without their present perfect tense clauses.
The one saving grace I have heard in regards to Japanese is that it's a lot more regular than English but I'm still annoyed that they have a perfectly good phonetic alphabet and it isn't the primary form for writing. They need to use the one they stole off the Chinese. three thousand characters for use in daily life and a minimum of two readings each.
 

yuckyyaki

Yabai enthusiast
Joined:  Oct 18, 2022
The one saving grace I have heard in regards to Japanese is that it's a lot more regular than English but I'm still annoyed that they have a perfectly good phonetic alphabet and it isn't the primary form for writing. They need to use the one they stole off the Chinese. three thousand characters for use in daily life and a minimum of two readings each.
Once you learn kanji, you will start to wish that they used it more.
 

Postal rrat

chinshilla
Joined:  Mar 19, 2023
Once you learn kanji, you will start to wish that they used it more.
I am learning kanji with vocab, most Japanese texts without kanji are suffering, because the writing system is structured around it. It would be nice if that wasn't the case. I'm mostly complaining because I enjoy complaining.
 

PleaseCheckYourReceipts

Well-known member
Joined:  May 6, 2023
While I'm currently in the "Nihongo Jouzn't" state at the moment (mostly from a severe lack of practice), one thing I really don't see mentioned enough and it very much matters is the way the language being so structurally different from Romance or West Germanic languages requires building up a different mental model to self-talk. That model is also necessary to build a framework to absorb information you don't have. It's why the language can seem so rough to switch between (which, btw, goes both ways).

The other bit, for the mental model, is that the language is actually based around the structure of the Kanji in the grammar. I conceptualized it, for someone, as Western Languages are always forward in motion, even if occasionally having detours or hills. SOV / East Asian types with Kanji base are more like stepping stones. Or the classic "What's happening?" vs "What Is?" discussion.

This definitely causes an issue where just learning some grammar or some vocab is really inefficient, which is what makes the language feel like a terrible slog. The lack of a framework to process what you understand that you don't know is probably the hardest bit to learn, since the structure is alien and unknown words stack rapidly from that lack of framework. I.e. once you have to start thinking about what was said, you're lost in a real conversation.

One of the really classic "learn Japanese" books has 20 standard grammatical sentence forms and he put it in I think the first chapter. He definitely understood the Eng > JP issues pretty well. Those forms really help start the process.
 

Postal rrat

chinshilla
Joined:  Mar 19, 2023
There are no new cards in the Kaishi core deck now. I feel like one of the hard parts of being self taught is the simple lack of hard feedback. I never feel like I'm doing well so much as I look up sometimes and realize I'm doing better. I feel like I have a problem with measuring progress outside of anki cards If any one has advice for this I would be grateful.
 
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