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Japanese Language Stage 2 | Immersion (Intermediate)

  • Defined by: Exploring and immersing
  • Purpose: Learn through native content

By now, you have taken at least 6 months to build your Japanese language foundation. This is a great milestone: well done! The first stage was all about studying, memorising, and cramming. The next stage becomes more personal, as you explore native Japanese content and speak with native speakers.

This can also be a difficult stage as there aren't really any set tasks for you to complete and work through. You're on your own! But your determination, and the help of God, will get you through to proficiency!

1. Input

a. Reading

You should now be at the level where you can at least skim through basic native content to see what you understand, and what you don't understand. While reading, make note of any words and grammar structures you don't understand. You can then add words to your flashcards and Google grammar structures to learn what they mean.

Here are some places to find easier to read native content:

NHK Easy News | Matcha | Watanoc | Satori Reader | LingQ’s Mini Stories | Other NHK

You can also find graded readers that have been written for adults that are learning Japanese. You can find a compilation of free stories here. The idea is to just read from the beginning and it will gradually get more difficult. Don't stop to look up words in a dictionary. Instead, let your brain learn simply by context (there are pictures!).

It would also be good to start becoming familiar with a Japanese translation of the Bible. A good translation with easy to read modern Japanese is the リビングバイブル (Japanese Contemporary Bible). Look up familiar passages and see what you can understand!

b. Listening

Here are some resources you can use to advance your listening capability.

Good YouTube channel for beginner listening | Good YouTube channel for intermediate listening | TBS News | Listen to a dramatised Japanese Bible

2. Output

Its time to output what you have been learning and inputting! Here are some areas that will help you to do this more naturally:

Mouthwork

  1. Say all of the kana out loud over and over. How do you sound? Are you having any difficulties?

  2. Find recordings of individual words and repeat. Can you keep up with their speed? If not, why? Work your way to sentences.

  3. Practice tongue twisters. If you can handle these, you can handle normal speech!

Scripting

  1. Write a self introduction in your native language, then translate it into Japanese. Get it corrected by someone who knows Japanese and create a recording. Memorise it.

  2. After your introduction, do the same thing with your testimony.

  3. Next, do the same thing with different things that will help enrich your conversation (i.e. jokes, speeches, poems, anything). Get comfortable stringing together Japanese sounds.

Early conversations

  1. Find a patient language exchange partner, or book a language tutor on iTalki.

  2. Stumble through the conversation. Just get through and treat it like a game. You will mess up a lot. Its okay.

  3. Keep track of ideas you don't know how to express and figure them out as you go.

  4. Focus on practicing conjugations and simple sentence structures.

Conversations

  1. If you have a language exchange partner or tutor, don't just talk. Observe any feedback closely.

  2. Find things you can't express well and look for answers in your input.

  3. Ask partner or tutor to summarise your ideas. Pay attention to how they reword your speech.

  4. If you don't know how to say something, just ask your partner or tutor! Ask lots of questions.

  5. Place yourself in Japanese-only situations where you are forced to respond to people in Japanese. Make friends and try to speak only Japanese with them.

Christian-focused output

  1. Write out the Gospel message in your native language, then translate it into Japanese. Create a recording and memorise it.

  2. Do the same thing with other Bible messages, prayers, testimonies, and your own psalms.

3. Intermediate Study & Review

Structured Study Resources (Optional)

This is totally optional. Don't use these before you have attempted to study via immersion! If you feel you have been making progress, check out the Review Resources below instead.

If you have begun to study using native content and you're hitting a wall, here are some textbooks that will give you more structure. Like with Genki/Minna no Nihongo, work through one grammar point per day.

  1. First, there is An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese. This is commonly thought of as "Genki III".

  2. If you still need more structured learning, you can then pick up Tobira: Gateway to Advanced Japanese.

Review Resources

Once you have been immersing for a while and you feel like you have made some progress, it is good to review to find any holes you have in your grammar and vocab.

Just like we have outlined at the end of the beginner grammar section, we recommend working through the following books, in order. This review should take less than 20 minutes per day. If this becomes too difficult, that is an indication you need to study some more either via immersion or the structured resources outlined above. You can also find other JLPT review books by other companies too.

  1. Work through the 新完全マスター文法 日本語能力試験N3 grammar review book.

  2. Once you finish, work through the 新完全マスター読解 日本語能力試験N3 reading comprehension book.

  3. When you feel ready, work through the 新完全マスター文法 日本語能力試験N2 grammar review book.

  4. Once you finish, work through the 新完全マスター読解 日本語能力試験N2 reading comprehension book.

  5. Though you are already at a good level of comprehension, you may wish to review further by working through the 新完全マスター文法 日本語能力試験N1 grammar review book.

  6. Once you finish, work through the 新完全マスター読解 日本語能力試験N1 reading comprehension book.