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Moving into Intermediate Japanese

Currently undergoing a little maintenance! Sorry for any disturbances, x.
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cocacolatitties asked: "Okay for the whole reading how do I read Japanese, like let's say I magically got better memory and I was pretty good at recognizing hiragana and my pronunciation was pretty (note: the only thing I can currently do is pronounce kana and introduce myself) like how all I can do is pronounce it and write it in romaji but I have no fucking on what it means? Like you said reading and writing is the first thing I should work on but shouldn't I need vocabulary? Continued..."

Like for example the only thing I can read is this こんいちわ。はじめまして。わたしわ、Ornelat です。よろしくおねがいします。(btw I couldnt type this out I had to copy and paste) like before I could only pronounce this (barely). I can only read something (well pronounce it) when written in only hiragana but of course there’s other writing alphabets. 😒😒 I probably should have put my Japanese name in there instead but my Japanese name makes me hate my birth name even more soo.. But anyways how do I read Japanese?

Because I felt that your previous question had a focus on kana, memory and reading, I thought I would try and focus on those aspects of learning Japanese.

However! Of course you need to learn other things alongside it, such as vocabulary and grammar. Through this you will get to understand things like, ‘わたしわ’ should be ‘わたしは’, as は(ha) when used as a particle is pronounced ‘wa’. These are things you will gradually learn and understand how to identify. You will also most likely reach a day when reading kana-only sentences will hurt your eyes. Ha ha

But what I was trying to get across was, when you are beginning a language, you will not be able to understand/use/read everything or even most of what you will come across outside of textbooks. But if reading a textbook, or following a website’s learning plan, etc is not enough for your learning, I think you should go beyond those things purely for practice’s sake.

So when I mentioned that you should try and read as much as possible regardless of whether you can understand/read it all, that’s what I meant, sorry.

E.g., read as much as you can of Japanese people’s Twitter updates, advertisements on Japanese websites and so forth. Not to understand them, but to practice your kana comprehension. Then - in addition to that - you will also most likely find yourself bumping into words, kanji, etc more frequently and thus able to pick it up quicker for when you do get around to learning them too.

So don’t worry about understanding the entire sentence or whatever for now. Although writing that includes kanji online is not too much of a problem for if you are using something like Rikai-kun, because that will allow you to read the English translation of the words you hover over, whilst you are learning how to read kana.

If you are able to type/install something so that you can write in Japanese on your computer (and/or phone) as well, do so! It will help you in connecting the romaji you have learnt to your kana.

Having saying that, I think you should avoid using romaji whenever possible. As soon as I was able to recognise kana, I only wrote in kana. So I never really used romaji, myself. However, from what others have said, it seems like it confuses a lot of people rather than helps them in the long run.

You have to get through this first hurdle of learning kana and other basic aspects of the language, so that you can start to introduce yourself, talk a little about your interests, etc, then do other things - such as practice reading and listening whenever possible, so that everything will fall into place a little easier later on.

Watching and listening to things everyday, alongside studying things like vocabulary, is really useful too. This is because your ears will often pick up on newly learnt words that you probably previously didn’t even realise were said so frequently beforehand.

Sure, listen to CDs aimed for beginners, but as well as that, listening to things like Japanese podcasts and TV shows can be beneficial during any stage of study.

Honestly, as a near-complete beginner, you will need to put in a frequent effort towards learning a variety of things in order to use the language. In addition, the constant daily repetition of studying will eventually allow you to learn, despite any problems with your memorisation.

Perhaps get a textbook and follow it (if you’re not doing so already), completing the chapters in detail. So, read their passages, add their vocabulary and grammar to an Anki deck then review it everyday, try to write short paragraphs on the topics you have learnt, etc. And take your time with it/Go at your own pace!

It can be hard and everyone has different methods regarding what works well for them. I can’t tell you what’s best for you to do, nor do I want to. I just throw things out there and hope that that sparks ideas for you on how you would like to go about it. So if you think, “That idea is terrible. I think I should do [this] instead because it would work better for me”, then obviously go for it! =)

I think you have to experiment with various learning methods, etc, in order to see what best fits for you. And even then it could be a mixture. But I definitely think daily learning is the best thing to do, no matter how you decide to go about that (e.g., on lazy no-study days, you can just passively learn by playing Japanese TV shows in the background or something).

& Sorry you hate your name! It looks pretty, x. But I used to hate my name too, so I can sympathise. Actually, I prefer it in Japanese purely because it’s phonetically closer to how it’s said compared to the English spelling of it.

Hope that cleared a few things up for you, and good luck! x.

匿名 asked: "How do i express "doing something for a long time"? For example "staying outside/being exposed to outside is bad for your skin", "being on the computer for too long will damage your eyes"? I tried to google and use weblio but i still can't find the right phrase. I came up with this: 長い間を外に滞在ことは皮膚のためは悪いです。(is that the right way to say "staying outside (in public) for long"?)"

I found a few examples that might give you a good feel for how to go about saying it:

→Bad [Not good] for the skin

→Keep studying for a long time

→Go to jail for a long time

→Wait for ~ for a long time

→Stay outside for too long

A:そう… 多分、長い間、外にいたからね… 
→Your face is kind of red. Are you all right? 
→Yeah. I’m fine. 
→OK. It’s probably because you were outside for a long time.

→Too much sun is bad for the skin.

[Regarding computers] 
→Continuous viewing over a long period of time will tire your eyes.

→Looking at a bright screen for a long period of time is bad for your eyes.

→Watching the TV for a long time is bad for your eyes.

→I have sensitive skin, and staying outside in that sunlight for a long time damages it.

→Video games are bad for your eyes.

→If you stay outside for a long time, you’ll get a really dark tan.

→Ultraviolet light is bad for your skin.

→Her eyesight is really bad. Do you think it’s from watching too much TV?

Note: 皮膚 means ‘skin’, but it is more of an academic/formal way of saying it. 肌 is used more commonly in daily conversations. Sometimes I see “肌” too.

Hope that helps! x.

sareo1 asked: "Hi! I want to further my Japanese study through watching Japanese tv shows aimed towards children, such as ドラえもん orクレヨンしんちゃん. Lately I've been watching episodes of ドラえもん everyday (no eng-sub + Japanese dub), I can understand 60-75% (depending on the episode). However I want to improve/understand more, but I can't do this easily without Japanese subtitles.. Do you know of any Japanese subbed tv-shows at the same language level? Also, good luck with your own Japanese studies & I love your blog!"


Well, I really liked watching 毎日かあさん, personally. Although I don’t know of a subbed version of that, but still. I think it’s okay on its own. =)

Any show about everyday life might be pretty good and around about that level. I particularly liked スクールランブル and 日常. Then カードキャプターさくら and those kinds of famous kid’s shows might be good to watch too.

But watching TV shows targeted at adults can be good as well, to be honest. Especially variety shows, as they always have subtitles appearing frequently to highlight certain things that have been said. I’d say the best is ザ!世界仰天ニュース because it has both Japanese dubbing and subbing for the re-enactments it does, plus the visuals make it fairly easy to piece together anything you did not understand. Plus it’s interesting as hell. Ha ha!

Also! You can find Japanese soft subs for many animated shows and films here. Including the ones I mentioned, apart from 毎日かあさん, of course.

Hope that helps!

& And thank you very much!! =D Good luck to you too, x.

cocacolatitties asked: "Okay so for like 10 months now I've been trying to learn hiragana and nothing seems to be working because somehow, because I can only write out the first column, and the k column, but if a see a chart for the basic set of hiragana I can pronounce, and recognize pretty well, but I can't seem to get past the basic set, I can barely remember vocabulary, I can't remember stroke order, I can't remember any katakana and kanji, I can't even start a conversation let alone a sentence. (Continued)."

Cont. I know have terrible memory, & that learning a new language probably wasn’t a good idea. But nothing seems to work, and I’m thinking of giving up, because I met people like kimonotime on tumblr, who can read, write, and can have conversations with people and it only took her a year. While I can’t even get the basic set of hiragana down in 10 months. I new it was going to be hard, but now it seems like I have to add learning a new language to the list of things I can’t do. Do you have tips?

This is such a common worry for many learners of a language, I find. “I don’t know enough despite spending [X amount of time] learning [this language]”. And that’s regardless of what level they are at…

As such, I’ve kind of covered this a few times (so please read!!):

So now I’m going respond to this in a more personal way than I perhaps previously have…

(I can already tell this is going to be a very long response, sorry!).

I actually have a few friends who I cannot believe have such bad memories (without having conditions that affect the memory), yet are learning Japanese and have steadily picked it up at their various paces, who now can have conversations when forced into those situations - when they would have originally said they could not do so.

So bad memory or not, you can still do it. Don’t add it to that Can’t Do list!! I’ve been learning for six years, and the correct spelling for many kanji and even how to write kana at times can still leave my head fairly regularly.

You say you’ve been learning for 10 months, but that doesn’t tell me anything. What is important is, what have you been doing during those ten months?

Are you… trying to read some things in Japanese everyday? Speaking to friends and/or penpals in Japanese (in person/on Skype/etc) every week? Keeping a blog/diary in Japanese everyday/each week? Trying to speak Japanese when alone? Singing Japanese songs (even kid’s songs)? Playing games on your phone/a Nintendo DS to help with your writing everyday?

Because it’s all about repetition and practice. The more you repeat, the more it’ll stick. When you’re first starting out in particular, I think drilling information like that is so important. Also try to read out loud as much as you can when you encounter any Japanese. E.g., ドーナツが好きです。 (“Doonatsu ga -ki desu”). Even if you don’t understand it, keep that practice up. Then, if you’re online, get Rikai-kun or some other browser hover dictionary so that you can hover over words like “好き” and read the hiragana of it there(= すき = suki).

You can be learning for ten years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to know an extremely high, academic level of the language. It can be hard to juggle other responsibilities with learning another language.

I’ve been learning for six years, but - during that time, I’ve been studying various other subjects, and also worked and regularly looked after a baby [my brother] for over a year, as well as made time for socialising. So it feels silly to say I’ve been learning for that amount of time because - overall - the amount of time I put towards it just wasn’t enough to really get too far. Not for me at least. Language doesn’t sit in my brain as easily as learning some other things does, but I know this and so six years with life in-between is just not enough.

But, unlike some, I don’t really think that’s something that should deter us, I think it’s something that we should take into consideration before we start beating ourselves up over our abilities. Give yourself a break, people!!

Learning should be an amazing thing, and it should be fun. Little by little, slowly or not, you are enriching your mind. If something is killing your fun, simply shake it off. =)

Although, believe me, I am impatient when it comes to wanting to become good at something. So I understand that it’s hard to accept, and think the beginning of learning something is the worst part. I hate it. =P

I’d also like to add, unlike most people I see on the Internet who study Japanese, I am a mess. Ha ha! Whilst they seem to give the impression that they have very efficient ways of studying, and are highly motivated and happy overall… that is not me. Some see my blog and think otherwise, but I always try to stress the truth of the matter. I would say I often hit points of despair where the only way is up. Ha ha!

I’m currently close to finishing a year-long study abroad in Japan, and can safely say that my confidence has gradually been decreasing during this time.

It made me question whether I wanted to continue as well, and I did have a moment where I thought, “No. I’m tired of feeling bad at something. It’s too draining”. However, it was only really because I was looking at it in terms of my university (take note: I am not doing well academically at all! Always on the edge of failure, or actually failing).

So I decided to continue, whether my language abilities are ever ‘enough’, a poor level or not… I’m not gonna waste energy getting down about it anymore, because I’m still happy learning it and I know I’ll never stop anyways. So I’m going to continue doing my best, and just try to enjoy myself regardless of any academic struggles.

I don’t think it will ever feel like I know enough, but I feel lacking in even my native language, so I’m not too bothered as I can still communicate more than effectively in it, so who cares that I can’t use a few fancy words. I think it’ll be the same for me with Japanese too.

But I once read that confidence is a by-product of success, and I believe this is so true. However, what happens when you do not view yourself as ever being successful? Because people are not always able to see their triumphs, as they don’t necessarily view it in a personal way.

Same goes for so many things.

E.g., for many people, brushing their teeth is a very simple task. However, for others - despite their physical capabilities, it can be a real challenge. So if they do it and feel a sense of achievement from it, and even have a little celebration over it, good for them!

I don’t think anyone should put another down over things that don’t come as ‘naturally’ for them as it may do for others. We all have our struggles, to varying degrees over all sorts of things. We cannot always comprehend each other’s struggles, but we have to at least try and respect them because they are as real as our own.

It’s all relative. Picking on someone or even yourself for not being able to do something someone else can do is not helpful, and it’s often just mean. You should never make others feel less than you for not reaching your irrelevant expectations. Similarly, it can be problematic for you to adopt their incompatible expectations.

Not saying I don’t believe in aiming high. I just believe that you should become aware of when you’re aiming too high for yourself and feel absolutely no shame for lowering the bar in a way that’s suited to you, regardless of how it is in relation to others.

So you might need an extra 10 months to get somewhere someone else could get in 2, but so what? Ease the pressure, as I presume you’re not on a strict time limit anyways. Remember that you are not alone in it either, many are in the same position.

I’m sure there are some people who would say Give up, and will disagree with what I’m saying. But I don’t know of any reason to stop if you’re still interested in it? It might get frustrating sometimes, especially because the more you know, the more you will realise you don’t know. However, with more and more practice, you will be highly likely to keep improving regardless of whether you notice that or not.

And there will be highs as well as lows!

Sorry to both focus on the lows and talk about myself so much, and I hope this is not too depressing or irrelevant to your situation. But I wanted to talk about myself as someone who has not achieved quickly or as well as some others within the time frame that I have been learning. You just gotta keep going, and remember to enjoy it.

My science tutor once told me, "Never let how bad you think you are at something stop you from pursuing your interests. There is nothing wrong with keeping it up in your spare time at the very least".

It has stuck with me for ages. I dropped so many aspirations, so many interests, etc, just because I thought I could never be good or successful in them and/or because I sucked at them in school (French, the only language I learnt in school, was my worst subject! x).

Slowly but surely, I’m following what my tutor told me, and started to embrace things that I always wanted to pursue yet never felt good enough for. I apply this way of thinking to many things in my life now. And I can get nervous, scared, embarrassed and feel like I’ve made a few mistakes along the way… but ultimately, I think I’m becoming more at peace and thus happier with myself as a result. So my advice is to just keep going, and it’ll eventually work out.

But the more frustrated you become about it, the harder it will become (at least, in my experience). So breathe! And, to be honest, if you’re in that mindset, you could become a genius in the language and probably still never appreciate yourself for it because someone will always be ‘better’ than you. So leave the negativity at the door, x.

Hope that made sense, and hope that helped if you were able to struggle through this essay of a reply! xx.


This is kind of a crude example, but it cheered me up when I was struggling with being slow period of Japanese learning. “Language is Peeing”.


Totally agree with this, I’ve been ‘learning’ for 10yrs, but if you add the approximate study hrs, it’s about 500, 350 hrs of which were in the last year, so I was realllly lazy for 9 years! Try Memrise.com and scritter app for drilling hiragana!

Pieces of Advice.

匿名 asked: "Do you know of any good Japanese dramas and where I can watch them?"

Maybe not, sorry! I don’t really watch Japanese dramas.

However, two dramas I only ever hear about here are Legal High and Spec! People seem to really enjoy them, so they’re probably worth checking out. Hope that helps! x.

But I’m sure someone reading this has more to offer. Help? =)

However, (old-ish) dramas I have enjoyed are:


heldrad asked: "Regarding anon's question... I skipped the new N4 and took the N3 right away. If you do the same, I suggest to study a lot of kanji. That was the most difficult for me. Grammar and listening were not that hard. Good luck!"

[Anon question here].


I did that, but you have to be very constant. You don’t have to study great chunks per day, but you do have to make a schedule.

Thank you very much for both of your inputs! x.

Can anyone help out with the question below too?:


Where can practice tests be found? I’m trying to figure out my level so I know where to start studying, but I always feel so lost.

匿名 asked: "hello, I have a question regarding JLPT. With my current knowledge I could definitely pass N4( I only had a few mistakes when I took their practice test), and when I took N3, I had about 40% correct answers. Do you think that I have a chance of passing if I start working on it somewhere in June(I plan to take the test in December), or should I play safe and take N4?"


If you know you can definitely pass N4, I’d say aim for the N3.

I reckon you’d definitely have a great chance of passing the N3 in that amount of time, so long as you have enough time to dedicate to studying and so forth.

But I should also point out that, I say this having not done any of the official tests before! I only passed my University’s N3 level test (which does not include any listening).

However, I’ve heard multiple times that the gap between N4 and N3 isn’t nearly as big as the gap between N2 and N1, for example. So I’d say give it a shot! - Especially seeing as you had a good amount of correct answers on the practice test, x.

Has anyone else faced the same decision before? And, if so, what did you decide to do and how did it work out? Let me know! x.

teokamu asked: "Hi! I was wondering if you could give me some advice to improve my Japanese, because I have been studying for 4 years and right now I have a medium level, but I have a lot of problem when I need to memorize some words or kanjis or grammar, because I can´t never remember later, it´s terrible!! :( and I tried to study every day, so, do you have any technique when you study? or what can I do if I don´t wanna have that problem? Thanks <3"

Firstly, congrats. on getting to a medium level in that time!! =)

After you study, do you try to use what you have learnt?

When you have learnt a new set of words, or new grammar, try and use it as much as you can that week, for example. Because repetition and practice are your best friends (and perhaps a degree of patience is good too, unfortunately - ha ha).

I mean, I hardly ever even remember words I don’t use or hear often enough in English (my native language). =\ Ha ha, which is why I have a ‘new words' section of this blog. But I found that when applying this idea of drilling things in - with hopes of expanding my English vocabulary, I've had a better success rate compared to any of my previous efforts to achieve this.

But you should also make sure you listen to Japanese conversations and such regularly too, which can also help this issue. Even through podcasts, YouTube videos, Vines, etc. You don’t have to fully understand everything, just strengthen what you do know and build up on it by doing this. Maybe even ‘have a discussion’ whilst you’re listening (if you’re like me and always talk at the screen when watching something, hahaha), or repeat what is said.

But don’t worry too much, you’re not a machine, so don’t get too down when words and things might slip your mind at times. Use what you know already to your advantage, and try not to focus too much on what you don’t know.

Keep drilling things in, and eventually they’ll set in!!

Sorry if I repeated a lot of what you already know/are trying, etc. But I hope that helps! x.

Pieces of Advice.