I have finalized the Broaden your view: Reading VNs in Japanese post, reorganized it and wrote my personal conclusion of my journey as beginner in the Japanese language. I will keep updating the reading experience page with new VNs I finish or try in Japanese. This week, I’ve started a new journey.
Learning JP for reading un-TLd VNs – Personal conclusion – (Broaden your view: Reading VNs in Japanese)
Based on what I’ve learned so far on my journey, I can conclude that if you want to learn Japanese to initially read untranslated VNs: start learning kana and then immediately start with grammar. This way of learning is the most motivating and gives the best progress for this goal. Your knowledge will expand while exposing yourself to the language in the form of reading VNs.
After getting a good understanding on how the language works, you can gain some practical experience by either reading VNs or practise some Japanese-English sentences. There are a lot of Anki decks with sentences available. If you want to maintain a smooth learning process, I recommend practising your grammar knowledge on Japanese-English sentences first. Downside of this method: there is one step more to take before getting to your first VN in Japanese. Upsides of this method: you will understand more of what you’ll read in your first VN. Opposed to just reading Japanese text in a VN where will be no verification of your interpretation, you have the English translation of the practise sentences to check if your understanding is correct.
Start learning some vocabulary next to reading and, depending on your own interests and goals, learn some kanji. I also recommend not trying to learn those 2136 “jōyō kanji“ on their own, but try to pick them up while learning vocabulary.
>Note that if you would want to eventually learn (to be fluent in) the Japanese language, you can start learning wherever you want. It is highly based on preference what the best method is to learn a language, so that all depends on your own feelings and goals.
I’ve been learning Japanese through reading VNs for a while now and I noticed that I’d like to master the complete package instead of only learning the bare minimum that is necessary to be able to read untranslated VNs with the help of tools. When we went to Japan, not only did I notice I had a long way to go with reading, but it pained me how much I lacked in another aspect of the language: speaking. Since we got back from Japan, I’ve become really motivated to go all the way with this language. I noticed that I like learning new things, and even though learning a new language is (as any other study) really time consuming, in my opinion it has one of the most rewarding results.
Of course I will keep reading VNs in Japanese, and use them as practise material. However, taking up the whole package of reading, speaking and writing until I become somewhat fluent, needs a different approach. That is, if I want to achieve this goal in an efficient way. With the knowledge I already have of the language and culture, I decided a good guideline for me was working my way through the famous study books Genki – An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese 1 and 2. As I’ve already mentioned in an earlier post, I’m interested in testing myself by taking the JPLT exam some time in the near future. Unfortunately, speaking is not one of the tested compontents, but I doubt I will never visit Japan again! When that time comes, I will have plenty of exercise.