How to use Free Software to learn Japanese, and more.

Pausing. How often should I look things up while actively immersing?

February 13, 2023 — Tatsumoto Ren

If you never pause, it means you don't look up words at all. The more you look up, the faster you progress. If you have to look up a word in every sentence, it quickly becomes tedious. So your task is to try to find the balance between enjoyment and frequent lookups.

You can watch raw and try to understand only through the visuals, watch with subs and actively look up unknown words, or do something in between. When it comes to doing something in between, it boils down to looking things up only once every couple minutes. In practice, however, I find that most people can't do it. It's a lot of work to sit with a timer or somehow arbitrary track time and decide when to look up and when not to look up. So I recommend splitting your time between media where you look up everything and media where you don't look up anything.

One of our community members, フェリペ, shares the following routine:

I always keep two TV-shows. One for mining everything and the other one for pure enjoyment, without lookups.

I agree with this. I never look up when I'm watching raw, and always look up when I'm watching with subtitles. When reading, I always look up unless I can easily infer the meaning from the context. But be careful when skipping lookups when reading because you might run across a word written in kanji and assume that it is read one way when it is actually read differently. This is not a problem when reading alongside an audiobook though.

If you find yourself looking up too many unknown bits too often, switching to easier content is a solution too. You can go back to the difficult medium once you increase your skill level.

Tags: faq