Sudden Japanese Ability — 30 Comments

  1. I’ve been experiencing this recently, having gone back to reading manga after working my way through a few novels. I went to Kinokuniya and picked up a volume of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, then went home and just… finished it. Smoothly, in one sitting — it almost didn’t occur to me that I was reading in Japanese.

    It used to take me almost a month to work through a volume of manga. (And I do mean work.) This was one of the first times I felt really immersed — not just in the language, but in the story itself. It was pretty freakin’ mind blowing.

    The downside is that I have to buy a lot more manga now :D

    I had a similar moment while watching Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood the other day, but on a much smaller scale. It wasn’t quite “I’m immersed and understanding everything in the episode,” but only “I was immersed and understood everything in that one scene.” Still an awesome feeling, though.

    • There is never a downside to buying more manga.

      1 episode or one scene, it’s still a sudden surge of awesomeness.

  2. Had a very powerful experience like this about two months ago. I’d been listening to モノクロームパレード ( on shuffle for 6-8 hours a day for about three weeks. One day I was driving home from work in my car and the last chapter came on. I’d been picking up bits and pieces of the story here and there but as I drove, for the first time I started actually seeing the story play out in my mind like a movie. I could see all the characters and what they were doing and saying. As the story came to its emotional climax, I realized I was weeping like a baby. It was such a powerfully moving experience and motivated my studies for weeks afterwards. It also truly proved the power of passive immersion to me, something I’d mostly been taking on faith before.

  3. This isn’t quite the same, but before I found Jalup, I used to try and read short shories (like, less than 2000 characters) from pixiv, but never finished one. This may have been because I printed them out and completely overanalyzed them (I kind of had to, since I was less than a level 15 and didn’t know the grammar or vocab), and then got burnt out, but it’s been about 10 months since then, and here I am reading novels. I found one of those old printed-out stories when I was cleaning out my desk last week, and although I didn’t read through the whole thing, I glanced at the first page and it was like, ‘Wow, I’m understanding this so easily.’

    Or there’s that new word that you see in your anki deck, and then it pops up in five other different things throughout the rest of the day and you never forget it.

    • That’s one of the great things about going back to old material you haven’t looked at in several months. Usually you surprise yourself quite pleasantly.

  4. Yes. I had it with listening recently. I’ve been studying for about a year and half, longest break was about 2 months, average probably 30 min of active study per day and at least 2 to 3 hours of listening per day.

    Anyway, a few weeks ago (a month ago now?) I got addicted to watching people play games on Twitch (in Japanese) and I couldn’t stop (I’m doing it right now actually) anyway, I was literally listening all day, even at work. I downloaded the twitch app on my phone, set it to audio only and that was it. I would be at a meeting and all I could think about was going back to my desk so I could listen lol. I would go home and listen, a couple of times when I went to sleep I’d listen while I slept (but this one streamer I was watching kept screaming and waking me up when she got scared so that was the end of that lol). First thing I’d do when I woke up was grab my phone and see who was streaming and start watching. I’d do it while doing my reps even. Anyway (I use that word a lot) I was doing some Anki reviews while listening and it hit me, I wasn’t even translating anymore, I was just listening. Now I wasn’t understanding every single thing, but I either understood, or didn’t, but there was absolutely no attempt to translate in my head what the person (or people) were talking about. It was pretty earth shattering to me, the next morning it happened again and I almost got dizzy from the feeling lol. I was just listening to it and understanding and it was like a completely normal thing?? (A lot of the chat on twitch is fairly simple, it’s just people playing games) but still holy moly. It really invigorated me and I doubled the time I spent in Anki like it was nothing just because I finally felt like I might be able to do this.

    These moments are so cool. I’ve been reading twitch chat and niconico chat a lot more and it’s slowly starting to happen with reading, but I’m still translating some when I read.

    Can’t wait for that moment when I’m reading Japanese like it’s a completely normal thing <3

    • That’s a great little addiction that you developed, and one that should provide motivation for a long time to come. Even if the language isn’t super complex in Twitch, it’s real Japanese in a real setting, and nothing beats that. Pretty soon it all will be normal.

    • I have a really bad addiction of watching (english) twitch streamers, when should I make the switch to Japanese?

      • Start today. If you don’t understand, just watch them play, but trust me it will make a huge difference. If you have an android or iphone(i think) get the twitch app, set it to audio only and keep those ear buds in as long as you can.

        Bookmark and only use this when on the web:

        Remove everyone you follow who casts in English (I know this is hard but just do it). Start following Japanese streamers. If you use the Twitch app on your phone, it’s easier to just see which followers are streaming than searching for them.

        This is also a great chance to try reading and typing simple Japanese (just start off with the basic greetings, most streamers will answer you <3). The braver you get, the more you can try typing to them as they stream <3

        • I forgot to add the disclaimer that school and work always come first. For me this is highly addicting but I still need to pay the bills and take care of my life in English first (as does everyone) <3

          • This is going to be really hard letting go, but it’s for the best. I’ll start today, thanks for the mini guide!

          • One of the popular ones I watch is I always see him play Hearthstone which is a fairly simple game and he plays it in Japanese. I don’t think he is streaming now but you can watch some of his past vids. The variety of games is pretty limited just because twitch is not as popular as niconico for streaming (in Japan), but I think the quality of the website is much better. I also don’t think there’s anything particularly special about twitch, it’s just that I’m extremely obsessed with it (so much so I still try to listen to it while I sleep ???). But I think any listening source will do, as long as you can nurture a healthy addiction to it.

            • Oh man you watch Civila? That’s awesome! I love the all JP hearthstone guys. Koroneko is another of my favorites –

              I also really like Horiken-
              and Miqueena-

              Those two mostly play Starcraft, but they play a fair bit of Hearthstone as well and in Horiken’s case a little bit of everything. He even casts tournaments (実況解説) and is really fun to listen to when he gets fired up during exciting moments =)

              Unfortunately most of the other consistent streamers I like are still over on Nico or other platforms. Twitch just needs a bit more time to catch on XD

            • I’ve watched miqueena, I love watching Starcraft but she speaks in English quite a bit from the few times I’ve watched. She also seems to concentrate and not chat as much (to be fair she is in the masters league as a zerg player). I haven’t tried horiken3 yet but I will keep my eye out.

              The nico video quality doesn’t seem as good to me as Twitch, and the website just seems kinda old. I do however find some interesting streams on there from time to time.

          • When I set my language on Twitch to Japanese all of the suggested feeds are Japanese gamers. I just watch games I know fairly well since it makes picking up the game specific slang easier.

      • As everyone else said, start right now! The best thing about watching other gamers is that you don’t need to understand a lot to have fun.

  5. I’ve had that recently, when I picked up Yotsubato for the first time in a while. In between, I have almost finished Genki II with a weekly (mostly) study group, and have been doing vocab and grammar cards while keeping up with my RTK deck (down to 30-50 cards a day). And suddenly I can mostly just read it! Generally in each story there’s 1 or 2 speech bubbles I just don’t get, but other than that I can understand everything!

  6. I had this last week. Last December I received (all?) 12 volumes of Yotsuba, because if I’m gonna wait 2 months per order, I’m ordering in bulk. Anyway, the first three volumes or so went by kind of painfully (I began reading as I finished JALUP Beginner). I got discouraged and unfortunately stopped. While visiting the in laws for the holiday, I brought some volumes with for the ride.

    I completed JALUP intermediate about two weeks ago, so I had pretty much doubled my effective knowledge base, and man did it help. I’m now on volume 9 and still going strong. It’s really motivating to just see something come together like that.

    • I hope it shows that a lot of progress can be made in a short period of time. You’d think that going from Jalup Beginner to Intermediate wouldn’t change that much, but what you can do between the progression of the two is like night and day.

  7. Recently I watched おおかみこどもの雨と雪, and while I probably only understood 30% it didn’t really occur to me much that it was in Japanese. Anything I didn’t understand I could just feel. I could just infer what was going on with what I could understand and it made the experience pretty seamless.

  8. It’s amazing how abruptly stuff like this can happen. I had almost no confidence in speaking for the longest time, but last month I jumped into a bit of a trial by fire. A gamer in Japan that I talk to on Twitter wanted some help playing an English game, so I agreed to get on Skype and teach him. It took 8 hours over the next two days, but he managed to achieve his goal – and I managed to get over (most of) my nervousness around speaking pretty much all at once.

    I still have a ways to go in terms of improvement, but at least now I can do it functionally ^_^

    • That’s very nice of you to have helped him out and a nice little 8 hour boost of practicing Japanese explanations. When you can explain things for other people to follow in Japanese, it means that things are going good for you.

  9. When I switch manga/novel series there’s a learning curve that can take a few volumes to level out. Every author has their own visual and written style that takes time for me to get used to. For 七つの大罪 it took about 3 volumes. For 青の祓魔師 its taken more like 7 to get comfortable with. Which is why I switched to reading it on break at work, only getting bitesized chunks and the extra digestion time helped me push on. With volume 8 I finally feel like I’m enjoying it fairly soothly, minus the odd word/ sentence. That may not seem very sudden, but my reading rate has more than doubled since I started sticking to one or two series, which was a sudden increase.

    • You bring up a great point about also reading a lot of books by the same author. In addition to style, they often tend to use a lot of the same vocabulary words. So if enjoy one book by the same author, might as well check out all the others.

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