One problem I struggle with is the switch to Japanese Mode. Without some time to prepare myself, I can’t listen to my favorite radio station or watch the news. Trying it means I wouldn’t understand much of anything said. It is as if the words are entering my ears on the one side, having a hell of a time on their rollercoaster ride through the twists and turns of my brain, only to leave through the other. Usually I have to do my Anki reps first, with and without audio, and after some reading in the Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar until my brain is ready. Reading the DoAJG involves some active thinking, which is the best way for me to cause the switch needed, to comprehend Japanese media.
Once in Japanese Mode, I can usually follow media without any trouble, and without any translation in my head. Translation is still needed of course, because there are many words, sentences, expressions that I have never heard. Sometimes I also need to type something into Wordpad to get it. This sometimes means that I end up typing in a word such as 気を付けて, a very simple word, but in the flow it somehow looses its meaning. At least this is how it feels to me. I don’t have to look up the meaning in such cases, just to have the word there in written form is enough. Having been in Japanese Mode, and falling out of it due to something in real life, it doesn’t take any preparation to get back into the flow of things.
New with listening and consuming media is, that I can now leave an Anime or a show open in my media player during my learning session, without becoming utterly confused. This was a process that took time to get used to. You must know that from day 1, I always had some Anime running, without understanding anything beyond the scope of simple greetings, and the occasional word here and there. As time went by, the amount of grammar knowledge, expressions, and words increased. This lead to the problem that I became able to understand more and more, but not without subconsciously translating every bit of information. So with media running in the background that became comprehensible, trying to absorb new information from a book for instance, became impossible. Instead I had some of my favorite shows running on DVD, Hogan’s Heroes, The Cosby Show, or The Flintstones. As opposed to before, the amount of known items is high enough, so that I can consume both native media which has become my main source for learning, and learn from DoAJG.
As opposed to listening and watching native media, I don’t need any preparation to get into Japanese Mode to read. I can start-up my browser, open a random page and start reading away. On the other hand, when I read something, there are three modes. A Japanese Mode, a Translation Mode, and a Fallout Mode. Usually I use Rikaisama with Japanese / Japanese EPWING dictionaries, and at least one with J > E definitions. At first, I am in a Japanese Only Mode, in which I read and look-up information in J > J. Some words involve copying the target definition, or a target word I don’t know, into another browser window to do my look-ups. For a long time I used Google translation for convenience sake, and not so much to get a translation for the definitions. Later on I created a simple website for the purpose of copying and pasting information.
In case I read for an extended period of time, I start to switch over to Translation Mode, which involves lots of switching between my dictionaries, and the standard dictionary provided by the author of Rikaisama. Then I enter the Full Translation Mode, which means that look-ups are J > E only. In this mode, I also always have a translation service open, Atlas for one, but also an Online service. This is only to check that I understood what I read, or so I try to convince myself. It isn’t true of course, because with the amount of using the services, the risk grows to enter the final Fallout Mode. Once this mode is reached, it doesn’t make any sense to continue, but rather to do something else. For instance playing a game, or continue with some Anki reps.
I think that the time will increase, and some of the Modes introduced will fall away, better sooner than later. For now it is important that many things have become considerably easy. I will get there, which is what counts. Having mentioned games, here is a Visual Novel called ステージなな「ナルキッソス２」 Stage Nana “Narcissus 2”. You can get it on this website. I have played it without problem on Windows 7. Though very short, I liked the story, and the plot should be easy to follow. So, if you aren’t a total newbie, you should be able to enjoy the game in full. Have fun!