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  5. Learning to read... Again?

Learning to read... Again?

[deactivated user]

    Hi Duolingo peeps! I've been learning Japanese from English on here for about 1 month now. And I'm very happy with my experience on this app.

    However I've recently began to felt burned out. I'm still learning new vocabulary and characters but I feel like it's not sticking very well. I felt like I was cheating instead of learning. I'm okay with the Hiragana characters, but when it was time to learn a new vocab word. I didn't feel like I was learning it. It puzzled me for weeks, it was depressing. I couldn't figure out why I felt like I was in a rut.

    Well one night, I decided to practice Japanese while I was being driven home. For the sake of my mother, I decided to mute Duolingo. I suddenly had this little breakthrough moment. Having the app muted made it more of a challenge to learn vocab. I had to read every character in a word, and it felt amazing. I had no longer felt like I was cheating! The reason I was in a rut was because I was just learning sounds but I wasn't READING it.

    Yes it's important to learn what the words sound like spoken. But try muting Duolingo for a few lessons and force yourself to read each character of a word. This helped me learn how to pronounce and spell the words I was learning.

    TL;DR Try muting your device when practicing on Duolingo. Forcing yourself to read each of the characters individually will help with learning more effectively.


    April 29, 2019



    I recommend only do this for skills that are Crown 5 as if you are still learning the skill the sound is vital. However it is definitely a great way to review a skill and better solidify the skill.

    April 29, 2019


    I practice with sound on when I'm at home (live alone) but during my lunch break at work, I keep the sound off. I was surprised how much it seemed to help, myself. At first I thought it'd somehow become a hinderance, but after a few days of silent practice at work, I noticed things were sticking better, myself. I thought maybe I was just weird.

    April 29, 2019


    Funny, I find the audio to be too fast sometimes, especially with numbers, so I take the time to slowly read it after the audio plays and it makes a lot more sense to me.

    April 29, 2019


    Kind of related. To practice Writing check out Stroke Order and to learn the radicals and how they join to form kanji and their pictographic meanig try https://wanikani.com

    EDIT: I shared this because I noticed Duo doesnt teach these concepts well EDIT 2: Maybe Duo will see this and work on this in future updates

    April 29, 2019


    I agree that I rely on the audio somewhat to answer some questions, and muting definitely helps! This is great for recognizing and distinguishing kanji, where some characters may sound the same, but mean completely different things when written out. Good stuff!

    April 29, 2019


    You are right Emmet. It also works when writing. Instead of just choosing the answers from the list given by Duolingo, striving to use the keyboards syllable by syllable is a better way to learn.

    April 30, 2019


    My doulingo's broken, so I don't get sound either way

    April 30, 2019


    I live in Tokyo and my listening is pretty good so I never use the sound on (except when I am very lazy) I wish they offered a sound on/off button on the screen. It is really annoying to push the iPhone buttons all the time.

    After this I tried using the keyboard for Japanese input but it is too slow and cumbersome. I had already used dictation to enter English, and much to my surprise the Japanese dictation is really quite good. It forces you to say the words clearly and loud. No time to be timid. It also chooses Kanji for you. This re-enforces Kanji for you when it is right, and helps you notice when it chooses the wrong one.

    Since the worst thing about Duo is that the level ups are just repeats of lower levels. You really owe it to yourself to increase the challenge by turning off the sound and then speaking both English and Japanese using dictation.

    It is way more fun too!

    For more listening practice try watching Japanese TV shows on YouTube. They love to talk in Japan and surprisingly very often use Japanese subtitles. I always thought this was very strange for them (but great for me)

    But please watch shows with humans, not anime. It is important to see the people and expressions.

    May 1, 2019


    Ive actually found the opposite since getting to basic sentences. The sentence will be read out but then i'll rely on reading it to answer the question as i find it easier to recognise the written word than the spoke one so i feel like my listening skills are being held back by the fact that the sentence is always written on the screen for translating questions.

    May 1, 2019


    I'm not sure what stage you're at in the Japanese course, but one technique I used while working through the Hiragana and Katakana skills was whenever one of those questions where you had to pick one out of four characters came up, I would say all four characters to myself out loud. E.g. "The correct answer in this case is 'ma', and that one on the left is 'me', and the one next to it is 'mi', and the one at the other end is 'mo'". That was only individual characters, not all characters in a whole word or sentence, but in those early stages, identifying those characters out loud helped me reinforce them in my mind somewhat. It was definitely more helpful to me than just picking the answer and moving on. I have also used this technique to reasonable effect for some other languages with different writing systems like Hindi and Korean.

    Now that I'm getting into skills with whole sentences, I do try to read characters, although sometimes I need a little help from the hover. But you're right, making yourself read out loud rather than passively listening to Duo do it is a good way to learn all those new characters. So "arigato" for this very helpful post.

    April 30, 2019


    ありがとございます ^-^

    April 30, 2019


    Thank's! I'll try it.

    April 30, 2019


    I've also been studying Japanese for about a month.

    I use audio when going through a section the first time and whenever it introduces new words or characters, otherwise I practice without the sound. Early on, for Hiragana and Katakana characters, the flashcards did wonders or me. I learned the Katakana before it was introduced in the course and I was able to focus on sentence structure and words. I still drill with them regularly.

    I just wish the words in the flashcards lined up with the early lessons - I still don't know what some of them are yet. It'd be nice if there were more words or maybe a separate deck for some common / basic words. There is a deck for travel phrases, but when trying to go through that one I can honestly say I'm not at the level for those yet.

    As a reference for others just starting: https://tinycards.duolingo.com/decks/e1fhs/writing-japanese-hiragana https://tinycards.duolingo.com/decks/29B5nanR/writing-japanese-katakana

    April 30, 2019


    Since you mentioned you're using the app, let me recommend you use the mobile/desktop website instead.

    These let you disable the word banks, meaning you must actually type the answer. This is absolutely crucial for committing stuff to your memory because as I'm sure most of us can agree on: multiple choice questions are not effective ways to test your knowledge, as you can always guess and get it right. When writing your answer out, there is no room for guessing.

    So please, try the mobile/desktop website as opposed to the app. It will be challenging but you will learn a LOT more.

    May 1, 2019


    Same thing to my! I practise japanese without sound in the bus. It's a little bit harder but I think that the word sticking better. (sorry if I write in english like a cat taping randomly in the keyboard because I am french ^^)

    May 1, 2019
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