Don’t README

This post is about how you shouldn’t be reading this post.

Still here? Tsk tsk.

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with the ratio of how much English vs Japanese to use in my guide. The more Japanese I can get you to read, the better. But if there’s too much, it will be too difficult and overwhelming, having the opposite effect.

I’ve noticed that many websites for learning Japanese use WAY too much English. You can spend hours reading pages and pages of English text on how to learn Japanese (which seems ironic to me). This blog is mostly in English as well, so really, you should stop reading this and spend your time on something more productive.

I’ll try to keep it short, then. If your Japanese study material consists of reading a lot of English, you might want to try something else that has more Japanese text. Oh, I dunno, maybe something like this? (I know, totally no bias here).

As a fellow Japanese learner, I should probably be writing this in Japanese too… でも、めんどくさいからやめとこう。

8 thoughts on “Don’t README

  1. More long japanese conversations in your guide would be great.
    Moreover, maybe you should put the english translation after the japanese conversation, so you don’t have english every other sentence.

  2. I’m sure that the amount of Japanese text in your guide is very helpful for every dedicated learner. It helped me a lot, I think. The most difficult part of learning a new language is “getting a feeling” for the language and acquire the skills to understand the most common sentences and words. It’s so difficult because it requires so much time and energy, and especially as a self-learner it is easy to stray from this path and engage in something less energy-consuming (like reading English stuff about the Japanese English).

    I’ve been experiencing this a lot in the last couple of months, and I still am. Since I’ve started to actually try to read (and understand) Japanese texts, I don’t spend as much time on Japanese as I used to. Just because it can be so energy-consuming. I think I will make some kind of learning schedule to motivate myself (and to increase the feeling of achievment) soon.

    But what I actually wanted to say is that I think Japanese sentence as presented in your guide are crucial. I know this guide is not an exercise book, but I agree that it would be better to add some kind of option for the reader to figure out what the Japanese sentence means by himself. (E.g. use some show/hide option for the English translation). Otherwise, it is very tempting to look at the English part first which reduces the effort put into autonomous thinking.

    My second issue is that while dialogues are great and arguably the best way to learn, it doesn’t hurt to add a longer, more formal every now and then.

    • I totally know what you mean. It’s very much a mental exercise and can get quickly tiring, unlike your native language which you’ve been exercising for years. One important trick to reaching fluency would be to figure out how to get Japanese into your daily life even though our natural impulse is to stick with what’s easier.

  3. Good suggestions, I’ll see if I can figure out a way to hide the English translations. I’m also working on writing longer stories but it’s not easy…

    • Yep, I’ve experienced this as well. It’s really hard to write a natural-sounding text that’s written for someone else to read. Maybe fictional diary entries (from Alice or one of the others) would be a good compromise between the casual dialogues and a more formal text or story.

      Alternatively you could quote or use original Japanese source material, but I guess it’s not easy to find something suitable (i.e. right difficulty level and respective grammar covered).

      When I’m learning a new type of grammar, I’m always happy to have as many different examples as I can get. The guide covers already quite a number of good examples. I think most guides don’t have enough examples. (In a collection of materials from a German University there were often 15 examples, that was quite awesome.)

      I also agree on what you’ve written about the amount of English text in a guide. I’ve always thought that your guide had a very high density of information. I’ve wondered sometimes if that’s really a good thing, but now I realize that it really is a great thing and I was just lazy, yearning to read more English text because the Japanese examples take more time and effort to read.

      Surprisingly, after some months of reading through all kind of Japanese material (although it wasn’t that much at all), I mostly feel like I don’t have problems with the example sentences in your guide at all. (Except when there’s some tricky grammar involved). I guess knowing most of the vocabulary and being more familar with the basic types of grammar (including conjugations) really helps a lot.

      However, every so often there’s some type of grammar I’ve problems to get used to. I had some problems with ように, for example. That’s where different material comes into play because one day I decided to search for sentences containing ように in a book while having read the explanation/definition just before. That really helped me a lot.

      And thanks for the advise, I’ll try to incorporate Japanese in my daily life. Maybe printing out some sheets I can read before I go to sleep will help already.

      • Recently, I have been wrestling with ideas on how to help people get over that mental hurdle and ease the transition to make learning Japanese fun. Unfortunately, my creativity is limited and copyright law prohibits stealing…

        • An engaging/entertaining story that is still rather simple, simple enough for readers of semi-basic proficiency to understand would be the dream. Unfortunately as far as I know there is no such thing… 🙁 Which yeah being realistic, sounds incredibly difficult to develop.

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