Now that I’ve learned a fair amount of grammar, I was wondering how I should practice it and apply the knowledge. Any suggestions?
Hellotalk or similar apps. Make Japanese friends.
Consume Japanese content. Both reading materials and video/audio content. The grammar mostly won’t stick until you’ve really encountered it ‘in the wild’ multiple times.
If reading seems daunting you could start by watching Japanese shows (or movies / anime) with Japanese subtitles.
I’ve found that talking with Japanese people (in Japanese) was incredibly hard, even when I knew a decent amount of grammar, until I really got more familiar with spoken Japanese and seeing grammar actually pop up from time to time and think ‘hey, I remember that!’.
To add to the above answer:
Something that helped me a fair amount with being able to recognize grammar points was to just type in said grammar point in, say, twitter or other social media´s search function. That way you´re sure to encounter it in context (well, most of the time - something like ばかり can obviously have different usages).
Now if you´re talking outputting grammar, then also go for something like twitter and just post a sentence that uses your grammar point. In my experience japanese twitter tends to be very helpful with learning japanese, i had random japanese natives follow me out of nowhere and i could quickly chat with them (they also corrected my mistakes), so it´s definitely worth a try!
I’m wondering whether I should be aiming to watch kids anime like Pokemon.
Ooo. I never thought of that. Thanks for the suggestion!
If you’re starting with kids content then I would recommend things like myths and legends, because there’s always a simple telling of the story on youtube aimed at children or language learners. A side benefit is that stories like momotaro or kaguyama hime are known to japanese people the same way most english speaking people probably know snow white etc. That way you can practice and learn cultural references at the same time.
You can also try playing Japanese video games if you’re into gaming! Preferably a game you’ve played before in a language you can speak well; that way you won’t have to worry about misunderstanding and missing out on the story.
My favorite video game series of all time is MegaMan Battle Network (ロックマンエグゼ in Japanese, aka ‘Rockman.EXE’). I played (and re-played!) all games in English years ago and now know the story so well I can write books about it. Plus, because the story has a lot to do with technology, it’s a good way to learn tech-related terminology!
In addition, it’s a video game series aimed at kids, so the writing is less complicated and they don’t use that many kanji (which can admittedly be a disadvantage in some case).
Pick something you are interested in and have fun (that’s how I learned English by the way, so it works haha)!
Hm… I think I might want to try this with pokemon since the switch won’t require me to get another cartridge if I want to play on a different language Thanks for the suggestion!
Though it is passive input only, do give the “Let’s talk in Japanese” podcast a listen… the shows are graded according to JLPT level and are entirely in Japanese spoken by a native. It’s the best listening practice I’ve come across.
For games, try Animal Crossing on the switch. Saw the game being played on Kantan Japan on Youtube and it seems relatively accessible.
For reading, try NHK Web Easy: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/easy/
You can turn off the furigana and hear somebody speak the news. Its news written in simplified format.
This is maybe early but look up: つばさ文庫 / Tsubasa Bunkou . These are books published in Japanese written for kids with furigana on everything, some pictures and simple grammar. On websites like Bookwalker JP you can even read the samples! Eg Fireworks: https://bookwalker.jp/de43b46272-0f10-4afa-9ab5-b7f0e4975d95/
Hope this helps
I would recommend reading native materials for a few reasons:
Reading is the way all of us master our native tongues. You can quite easily recognise if somebody is reading a lot or never finish a book in his life.
Reading gives you time to think and check things you don’t understand. Books are not going to run away so there is no hurry.
Books have a strong tendency to use proper language. In spoken language we don’t care that much about mistakes or logical continuity as long as we are understood.
I didn’t master Japanese yet, but I can assure you it works. I learned english that way to the level i needed after many failed attempt. I just took Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone and started to read it. First page took forever but soon enough it become reasonably easy.
At the moment I am in 1/4 of first chapter in Japanese version and I have to say it is easier than english one was for me. As long as you are not scared of kanji and are ready to suffer for a few weeks you should be fine
If you don’t like kanji that much and don’t like to suffer then manga should be a good start. Although it is better to check upfront if they use proper Japanese in given title… Luffy from One Piece clearly didn’t read a lot of books since 海賊王に、俺はなる is not really proper grammar.
This is a very good point. Books and reading is about the best way to get good in any language. Books develop something that nothing else develops quite as well. The power to predict.
When you read a lot, your brain starts to notice patterns in speech much more frequently, and it slowly begins to predict more and more what the next part of a sentence will be. In the same way that if I type ‘One small step --------’ your brain doesn’t need to see the end of the sentence. It already knows it.
The reason prediction is so important is because it gives your brain time to relax, and focus on the smaller pieces that it doesnt yet understand. If you can predict what would usually come next, you are processing information faster, and thus able to pay attention and ‘catch’ things that you have never heard before. This is how you realllllly get good in a language.
There are even studies which indicates people with the same education and intelligence earn more if they read books. They are better at the language so they appear as more qualified and can convey theirs communicates in more precise and powerful way.
We even have a word to describe this kind of people: eloquent. And it is very hard to become eloquent in any language without reading.
I don’t claim it is necessary to aim at being “eloquent” in Japanese, but it is still good path to follow. You can get out of that bus earlier as I did with my english.
Elequence may or may not be important on a production level, but being able to understand and recognize eloquent language when you read it is certainly half the battle.