Strategies for Intermediate Students of Japanese

We will leave for a Japanese festival in Orlando tomorrow morning. I will be sure to post pictures and maybe some video unless of course I forget to take my camera… In such case, I won’t post pictures or video.

Here is an article I’m working on for the new TheJapanesePage.com:

Progressing from Beginner to Intermediate can seem like a breeze compared to breaking out of the Intermediate barrier. Beginners may scoff at the ‘breeze’ part, but in my experience most people who have entered the Intermediate stage find themselves flat in a plateau.

There are several reasons for this. First, by far there are more books and resources targeting beginners than any other level—because there are more beginners than any other level.

Second, Intermediates are generally good enough at Japanese to communicate in most any given situation. In addition, Intermediates with 1000 or so kanji under their belt can get through most reading material. There really isn’t a pressing ‘need’ to improve. This knocks off a major incentive to study.

So how do you break through that dreaded Intermediate barrier?

I think the key is to read, read and when you are done with that, read some more.

Reading can be a chore especially if you compare your comprehension and speed to English texts, but it is worth the effort. Reading increases vocabulary, increases familiarity with Japanese sentence structure and of course increases reading speed.

It is meaningless, however, if you don’t understand any of what you read. Choosing the right reading material is critical. It should be just above your current level; enough to challenge you but not totally frustrate.

But even the perfect book for your level would be near meaningless if you didn’t read with a dictionary. Get in the habit of either looking up every word you don’t know or at least the words you can’t infer from the context. Or sometimes if I am really lazy, I wait until I see a word pop up twice before looking it up—unless of course I am totally lost in which case, I’ll look up every word until I understand.

Read using a bookmark image

Here is the trick of the day:

I find it helpful to use a bookmark to help me follow the columns. Reading Japanese tires me a lot quicker than reading English. The columns can kind of blur together especially when going from the bottom of one column and trying to find the top of the next column.

Using a bookmark will help keep your eyes on the right lines. I am able to read a lot faster this way and it makes me feel like I am progressing faster too. I suppose this is because I can’t see exactly how much is left.

If you are having trouble staying focused while reading, try using a bookmark.

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3 thoughts on “Strategies for Intermediate Students of Japanese

  1. Thanks! I noticed both this photo and the one in the next post (with Makoto at the mic) had a blur at the bottom part. The lens had a smudge. I’m glad I found that before going to the Japan festival (will post pictures shortly)

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