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Interesting vs. Understandable – Which is More Important? — 10 Comments

  1. I’m going for interesting. I’m currently reading 宇宙兄弟。I’ve always been interested in space so it’s a great topic for me. No furigana though. I actually enjoyed よつばと quite a bit as well. The only depressing thing about the harder manga is that it makes me feel that Japanese is impossible to ever learn. I’m sticking with it though and now on volume 16 of 29 (the highest copy I own) but still only understanding 10-20%.

    • Keep fighting the good fight, Greg! I remember only understanding enough of Tokyo Ghoul to barely make it through, but the methods here really work! It’s hard to see yourself a few years in the future but the little improvements really add up over time.

    • I think 宇宙兄弟 is such an amazing manga, it is worth it to keep it up for the interest factor, regardless of the difficulty.

  2. I think I had around a 70-30 ratio during my early years as well. It feels like a good balance.

    I have an off topic question for you, Adam. When I read news articles it is troubling that with a lot of the names of people or places I’m not sure on the reading. While it’s pretty easy to look them up, doing it one at a time is tedious. Is there any way you can think of to solve this? Like a way to be more sure of readings for names?

    • I’ve had the same problem, so I have actually started adding lots of names of people and places to my own J-J deck. I essentially just do a sentence, where the name is the unknown. I mark good if I remember that it is a name and how to read it.

    • I did two things:

      1. Similar to Jesper, I created cards of the most common names (last names, first names, and place names).
      2. But more importantly, I watched and read the same stories. When you watch the news, there are Japanese subtitles (and of course audio) that go over the frequent names you’ll see in recent news. Then when you read the same articles, you know them already. This frequent back and forth exposure really increases your person/place name knowledge.

      Even if they are just news podcasts (without visual cues), hearing the names over and over followed by seeing them in text later is its own self-contained SRS.

  3. Interesting content seems the way to go as I still remember stuff from manga that I’ve picked up without anki or studying, just multiple reads. From ベルセルク I learnt stuff like 領主、繭、烙印、悪霊、連中、etc. But I can recall those words and read them now with no studying. I think that’s the best thing about reading things you’re interested in because you’ll read them multiple times which eliminates the need for active studying and allows you to retain them better.

  4. I definitely lean towards more interesting than understandable. I’ve choked down some really bad romances novels though before I got into novels I liked and I’m glad I did. Even though they weren’t really interesting they were pretty fun to laugh at and I learned a lot about how prose looks like in Japanese.

    The best part about hard but interesting stuff is that when you find something you love you watch or read it over again. I do this with movies I like that originally came from novels. Or shows where I didn’t catch the plot the first time.

    Actually found a series recently where my first pass I understood maybe 30%. Second watch was 55%. Third watch, more like 90% comprehension. So you can still learn from the harder stuff :) glad I did, the very strong delinquent slang was what threw me off but now I’m way more equipped to watch more delinquent shows and movies.

    I think there is interesting things at every level though, just gotta look hard and hope you chance upon it. Games, manga, drama, anime, movies – early on I found action interesting and approachable since they have less dialogue and lots of fighting scenes that help tell the story without words.

    At level 50 or so, my interesting vs comprehendable ratio is probably 90/10, maybe 95/5. But early on (levels 10~30) I was probably around 60/40.

    • I actually would recommend comedy top, especially movies. There is a lot of comedy that is very hard due to wordplay or really fast talking, but there’s also just a ton of slapstick movies or plain absurd movies out there that will get a laugh out of you whether you’re level 10 or level 65. A recent one that comes to mind that I watched is the live action version of Saiki K.

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