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Thread: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

  1. #1
    Registered User 初心者/ Shoshinsha / Beginner
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    How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    I just started studying Japanese on my own... and I'm wondering how long will it take me to be able to actually read raw mangas.
    I've already memorized the Kana and read some basic grammar. But I still cant seem to read raws...

    If you could also put some advice on steps you took to study Japanese that actually worked for you. Like what did you study first, books you read, etc.

    Would really appreciate your answers.

  2. #2
    Translator 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member cmertb's Avatar
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    Obviously, it depends on how much effort you put into it. I think it's doable in 6 months with enough diligence. But I'm pretty certain you need kanji knowledge to read manga, as well as about 3-4K most common vocab memorized. It's not practical to attempt manga before this (it's possible in theory, but in practice you'll want to kill yourself), and you'll still be relying on a dictionary for almost every bubble.

    For next steps, I would say:
    1) http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar Read all of this
    2) http://www.timwerx.net/language/jpverbs/index.htm Also all of this
    3) You already know kana so go practice here: http://life.ou.edu/stories/
    4) Learn kanji (how to learn them is a separate and for some reason controversial topic)
    5) Get your vocab to at least 3K using SRS (try smart.fm, their own introductory lists, not the poor quality user content)

    Then you're ready to start reading manga without too much suffering. Oh, and don't stop vocab, 3K is not nearly sufficient.

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    Registered User 初心者/ Shoshinsha / Beginner
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    Thumbs Up Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    Quote Originally Posted by rEv0lving sUshi View Post
    I just started studying Japanese on my own... and I'm wondering how long will it take me to be able to actually read raw mangas.
    I've already memorized the Kana and read some basic grammar. But I still cant seem to read raws...

    If you could also put some advice on steps you took to study Japanese that actually worked for you. Like what did you study first, books you read, etc.

    Would really appreciate your answers.
    Well, it´s good to know that japanese is taken seiously. But, is better to take a good profressor (better Japanese born) and take some good classes. And include a good practice on Kanji (not all manga are with furigana included) so you need to memorize all that you can, practice the shape and the way to wrote. This is the only way to memorize, and discover the dialog included, and translate, of course. I was learned since 2002 to 2004 in university, and practicing for myself since 2004. The only thing that support me, is the taste for the japanese. I like the language, and everyday that practice it, likes me too much more. Ok, still practicing and go forward. Online courses? i don´t recommend any. All are the same, and need to pay. Like a native japanese teacher. Good luck.

  5. #4
    Registered User 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member Syphilias's Avatar
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    It took me 2 years, but it could be faster for you if you did what I didn't do.

    1. Get a hiragana chart

    2. Write each of them down 100 times a day, focusing on 1 a day

    3. Repeat with a katakana chart

    after you do this, you can read any manga with furigana.


    It only took me 2 years because I stopped practicing my kana. Now, after 4 years of continual reading, I'm doing the same process with kanji. The focus is continual study, otherwise you'll forget everything. I focus on only a few kanji at a time, because when I did more than 5, I would forget them after a few days.

    Reading is the most important step. Don't expect to comprehend everything, because there's just so much kanji pairings that won't make sense to you until you have a solid reading backround. It's just like with english, if you don't read, you won't be able to write, and vice-versa.

    Quote Quote:
    It's not practical to attempt manga before this (it's possible in theory, but in practice you'll want to kill yourself), and you'll still be relying on a dictionary for almost every bubble.
    That's true, but only if you try to translate it. Just take it all in for now, and it all just somehow makes sense after awhile.

    Quote Quote:
    his is the only way to memorize, and discover the dialog included, and translate, of course.
    Again, translation adds an additional task for your brain. If you're always going through the extra process of "Read, translate to english" then you'll only slow yourself down. For now, your task is to read, and practice writing every day (Check out bumnumba1 on youtube, his method of teaching is insanely effective.)

    The concept is to do it daily, on a regular basis, and move on with your life, because in all reality, you're going to end up treating it the same way you treat your original language. Your daily lifestyle doesn't change because you're trying to read the newspaper, does it?

    The process would look something like this:

    Get up
    Have coffee
    Write "x" kanji 25 times
    Go shower
    Go to work/school
    During breaks, read a few pages of manga
    Go home, talk to friends
    Write some more kanji before going to sleep


    It's not about learning it all at once, it's about integrating into your life, just as you did with your primary language.

    Good luck. hope this helps!
    Last edited by Syphilias; July 19, 2010 at 07:54 AM.

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  7. #5
    Translator 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member cmertb's Avatar
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    Quote Quote:
    That's true, but only if you try to translate it. Just take it all in for now, and it all just somehow makes sense after awhile.
    No. Until your vocab reaches a certain level, you will need a dictionary to even understand what's going on. The first manga I was able to read and understand without a dictionary was a simple shounen manga (To Love-Ru actually), and it happened after my vocab surpassed 5K.

    Also, your focus on writing kana is excessive and counterproductive. You certainly do NOT write the same character 100 times per day!!! You do it at most once a day, or even less often. Use SRS for that. In general, I was reading kana for a few months before I ever tried writing anything. Practicing writing (but just a little) helps you read faster because it makes you aware of small differences in otherwise similar-looking characters. But beyond that, you practice writing for writing, not for reading. And you do it by writing real text, not the same character over and over. Doing what you suggest is mind-numbing and motivation-killing, and there's nothing more important than motivation in self-study.

    Overall, kana make up probably 0.1% of the effort you'll have to put into Japanese (if not less). You learn them quickly and move on, you don't dwell on something so insignificant in comparison to the whole task.

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    Registered User 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member Syphilias's Avatar
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    Ok, I'll keep doing my tried and tested for over 6000 years method, and you can keep on learning english vocab through a language other than english.


    And I disagree that you write for writing, and read for reading. They are both related. If you don't read, you can't write, and if you don't write, your reading will suffer.

    And I do agree with you about practicing writing text, but you have to learn how to mix the concrete before you lay the foundation, and definitely need to know which building blocks to use.
    Last edited by Syphilias; July 19, 2010 at 04:11 PM.

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    Translator 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member cmertb's Avatar
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    Quote Quote:
    Ok, I'll keep doing my tried and tested for over 6000 years method, and you can keep on learning english vocab through a language other than english.
    If you mean writing out every kana character 100 times a day is a method that's been used for 6000 years, you are mistaken. Most people have learned foreign languages verbally without ever writing them. Those who learn a foreign language without living in the environment where it's spoken, and do so on their own free time on top of that, would probably not rape their brains with such mindless repetition of something that is ultimately trivial compared to the overall scope of work to be done.

    I don't really know what you're trying to get at with the second part of your statement, but if you're implying that dictionaries should not be used, I have to point out that it is an extreme point of view. Like most extreme points of view, it is erroneous, same as the idea that you should always look up every single word you don't know is erroneous. Forcing yourself to read something where your vocab is insufficient to even grasp the plot, and not bothering to look up enough words to make the plot come together for you, is not a productive use of your time. You are basically not deriving any enjoyment from reading a work of literature. Same as looking up every single word even when you understand the plot (provided you're reading for fun, not translating) is an impediment to enjoyment.

    Sorry to keep belaboring the same points. I just want to make sure beginners are not led down the path that requires expenditure of heroic effort on something very simple, and eventually results in discouragement.

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    Translator/Moderator 英雄メンバー / Eiyuu Menbaa / Hero Member
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    2-3 years at least....?

    Flash cards with basic kana (hiragana and katakana) and kanji characters are good old tools. Use them at all cost.

    When you start to read, try to read aloud just like a kindergartner or a 1st grader. Pick an easy manga that you may enjoy such as Bleach, Beelzebub and Naruto. Shojo/girls' manga titles use more standard language compared to shonen manga, but shojo mangas tend to have more dialogues. Beelzebub, for an example, is all about fighting without much content. Practice reading these easy manga to test yourself to see if you can recognize kana letters and actually get to pronounce them.

    If you are ready to practice writing, simply copy all the phrases/dialogues from the manga of your choice (without graphics is fine). Copying letters from manga is probably more enjoyable than doing kana drills in a textbook.

    Next step is to learn to use dictionaries....

    Good luck and have fun!
    Last edited by mikkih; July 20, 2010 at 09:35 PM.

  11. #9
    in absentia 有名人 / Yuumeijin / Celebrity saladesu's Avatar
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    It took me less than a year, but then again, I had the advantage of already knowing a large number of Kanji since Chinese is my mother tongue. For me, I never used any vocabulary lists but just checked basically every word I saw in a dictionary (I recommend jisho.org). The good thing about manga is that there's furigana to help you so once you're able to read the kana, you can at least get the reading and it helps you input the word into a dictionary for checking (unlike magazines, which I started on @__@).

    It'd also help if you listen to the language a lot because, believe it or not, listening to it helps you read it more smoothly as well. So it'd be a plus if you watch anime (or some other Japanese media like drama or variety shows) too ^^

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    Registered User 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member Syphilias's Avatar
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    Just to keep the viral topic down, I'm just going to say that I only meant to practice them 100 times a day until you learned them and could recognize them quickly without having to think about them.

    This is good practice, since once you start learning kanji, you're going to need to write them down at least 50 times before you will be able to recognize them without any thinking.

    Also, writing down the kanji gets you in touch with the basic radicals of each kanji, furthering your comprehension.

    My point? Put in a lot of work so you don't have to work hard later. That's all I'm getting at, and if it doesn't work for you, then you need to find something that does. I know this method is working for me, so I will continue studying my kanji by writing them down as many times as possible, writing them in sentences with other kanji I've 'mastered,' and will continue to read every day with more comprehension.

    The more kanji you master, the easier it will be to read. You'll start seeing kanji you didn't use to know, and after writing them down 50 times, you'll start noticing that kanji used more than you thought.

    Whenever I start studying a kanji, I can't recall ever seeing it used, but after studying it, I start to see it used everywhere! I'm nowhere near where a native speaker would be at, but I strive for progress, not perfection. (lol A.A.)

    Just keep reading. I'm playing some RPGs with hiragana only just to get used to the grammar. Once you've got something drilled into your skull, you don't need to drill it anymore, it just sticks.

    Just study every day, do sentences, read read read read read read... Reading is the most important thing to do, since that's why you originally started to learn it, at least in my case. Sometimes I find myself focusing too much on the drills and writing, and forget why I'm learning it in the first place: to read!

    So just keep doing it, you'll get there, and you'll have a lot of "ah hah, I get it now!" moments, and everything you thought you new will have new meaning. I'm sure that once I get my 4 year degree and join the JETS program to teach English in Japan, and start living and breathing Japanese every waking and slumbering moment of my life, then I will have a completely new understanding of Japanese.

    The only thing I can do in the meantime is study, so that is what I will do. Study, work on my degree, and make ends meet. I need to get everything ready for the rest of my life, and then it will be beautiful. I can finally start becoming more of who I am, living the life I wish to live.

    This is my dream; no, this is my reality. This is my plan. I will achieve this, because I have the will and the drive to make it become a reality.

    It all starts with the desire, and nothing can change that. The method you choose to study is designed to work with your needs, not what other people think is best, but what works for YOU.

    It's all about YOU, remember that. You know what works for YOU. You know what YOU need to do.

    And with that, I wish you the best of luck.

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    Hound of Shadow 伝説メンバー / Densetsu / Legendary Member benelori's Avatar
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    Well 1 year for me, but only for shounen manga. That's because the grammar is simple, and there's furigana. My knowledge of 100-200 kanji is not enough for reading anything else though. But reading shounen manga is also a good practice for learning the language faster.

    Also reading some basic grammar is not enough, because grammar is a pretty sensitive issue, since japanese tend to apply these grammar rules to different convo situations. Grammar is not that easy.

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    Registered User 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member Syphilias's Avatar
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    Check out matantei roki


    oh no what happened to the post about the tv station online? ; ;

    Google time ><
    Last edited by Syphilias; August 03, 2010 at 04:37 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

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    Registered User 初心者/ Shoshinsha / Beginner
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    @cmertb, thanks for the nice guide,it really helped. I guess now I know Japanese is not that easy like I thought before, lol! And thanks for the links, they’ve been very helful.
    @syphilias, “It's not about learning it all at once, it's about integrating into your life, just as you did with your primary language.” I’m sort of trying to integrate it in my life too.Thanks!
    @kacstereo, I would take a class if I could but I don’t have enough time to actually do so, too bad. I can only do this on the side when I‘m free. But I’m enjoying it so far!
    @mikkih, thanks, I was actually trying to read raw Beelzebub the other day too, lol. Thanks!
    @benelori, “Grammar is not that easy.” Totally right! Thanks.
    @saladesu, yeah I’m also starting to watch anime in sub now to familiarize myself with the spoken language. Thanks!

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    Translator/Moderator 英雄メンバー / Eiyuu Menbaa / Hero Member
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    Quote Originally Posted by rEv0lving sUshi View Post
    @mikkih, thanks, I was actually trying to read raw Beelzebub the other day too, lol. Thanks!
    If you are a Beelzebub fun, the TV series/ anime will start on January 9th, 2011 in Japan.

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    Registered User 中級員 / Chuukyuuin / Member Steffan's Avatar
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    Re: How long did it take you to learn Japanese and start reading RAW manga?

    I think that if you're going to learn kanji, the only way to do it is by using "Remember the Kanji".
    It's a book that teaches the meaning and writings of 2042 kanji in a way that you can easily learn 50 new kanji a day. (If you're willing to put in the effort.)

    Click here for MOAR INFO

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