Degrees of Understanding – in Japanese

I know kung fu! Well, not really, but I now know how to express my varying degrees of understanding. Well, not really either, but it’s a start!

From MemeSuper - I don't understand


More on trying to remember words I just learned, so let’s use it here! From my latest NihongoMaster lesson… I’ll use what I learned on describing the lesson itself. If you don’t know much Japanese yet, わかりません means “don’t understand”, and the blue bolded words are the new adverbs to show just how much I don’t understand.

Before the Lesson

Sight unseen.

ぜんぜんわかりません。(I) don’t understand (anything) at all.  absolutely nothing.

After Skimming Lesson

I always do this just to see how much I know or to get first exposure to new concepts.

ほとんどわかりません。(I) don’t understand hardly (anything).
very, very little.

After slowly reading lesson

My first true attempt at absorbing.

ほんとうにわかりません。(I) really don’t understand.
not much.

After Lesson Drills

A few times with the lesson in drills, I can narrow in on the lesson and clarify.

そんなにわかりません。(I) don’t understand that well.
at least not THAT much.

After Taking Notes

I usually take notes after some drill experience with the new concepts, so I can highlight what I need to clarify for myself.

あまりわかりません。(I) don’t understand very well.
but still some.

After Lots of Practice!


And after all that, it looks like I’ll never learn Japanese at this slow pace of understanding! Most lessons I understand fairly quickly, it’s just a case of remembering new vocab and gaining experience with new, strange concepts. That’s the key, seeing it, hearing it, using it, trying it out. Explaining it in this blog is just one tool to pull it all together.


To recap, adverbs of degrees, red being only negative, blue being either positive or negative:

  1. ぜんぜん zenzen = not at all
  2. ほとんどhotondo = mostly, hardly (may be tempting to use in positive sentences, but don’t do it)
  3. ほんとうにhontouni = really, truly
  4. そんなにsonnani = not so much
  5. あまりamari = not very, not much
  6. たくさん takusan = a lot

I won’t be writing words in romaji very much, to be honest, they look more foreign to me than the kana/kanji. All my educational resources I’m using don’t use romaji at all.


NihongoMaster – Now adding JLPT N3 content!

My enthusiasm for my favorite Japanese learning resource is what prompted me today to do some stalking, I mean researching on my favorite website – NihongoMaster was founded in 2012, after its founder, Taylor Dondich, had traveled to Japan but noticed a dearth of effective Japanese learning resources, most using antiquated methods.  He created a platform to learn Japanese that is fun, engaging, social, and motivational. With the use of technology, he was able to build it with gamification techniques to help learners retain what they’ve learned, and be motivated to keep learning!

learn japanese online the fun way

The NihongoMaster community itself helps people grow and learn together in its Community Forums, and learning Teams. What can be more motivating than to hit the Top Learner charts! Maybe one day I’ll screenshot myself at the top. 🙂

My email updates

Since I joined NihongoMaster in November of 2013 (I didn’t take it seriously at that time and I regret that), I can see my history of NihongoMaster emails. At the time I joined, they definitely had a huge amount of content already. Looking back at the email subjects, they sent me something every few weeks, whether it be a New Lesson announcement, Cultural Notes, Featured Site/Member, Live Chat sessions, Blog updates, and of course, since I wasn’t active, the occasional “Where Did You Go?” or “”You could speak Japanese fluently by now but…”, haha. Don’t worry, you won’t be inundated with emails filling your mailbox, just the right amount to stay excited.

What it all tells me is that they are always working to improve their site, motivate you, and add new lessons. Since I’m a total nerd and will database weird things, I pulled some info into a spreadsheet and found that since I joined, they’ve been adding about 4 new lessons each month. I looks like in mid-2014 they completed all the lessons that would get you to JLPT N5 proficiency, and that fall, they started adding the next section of lessons.

New Advanced Classroom!

A few weeks ago, my screenshot showed this Classroom header.

When I came back from break, I noticed a little change to my Classroom header!

They added an Intermediate level. Well, they actually created the Intermediate level to hold what was Advanced before, and created a new Advanced Classroom Level. The new lessons will be covering JLPT N3 lessons, taught by the new instructor, Aki.

Here’s a view of one of the Advanced Classroom lessons. I have no clue what any of this is yet, but give me another year?

NihongoMaster advanced

Can’t wait to learn more

But here I’m still stuck on Beginner (23% complete) and still quite a ways from N5, but I’m so excited to keep learning and learning! I did level up last week, I’m now Level 9! I’ll have to keep at it to level up more and not lose my levels again. I have been going slow with my lessons lately, but I’m going to go at a steady pace once again now. The interaction with some of the more experienced members have left me wanting to go faster, so let’s see how I go from here.

I don’t want another email with the subject “Where Did You Go?”, “You could speak Japanese fluently by now but…”,  “Where have you been? Remember to keep up your Japanese studies!”.

NihongoMaster JLPT Study Lists

In my research, I did find this handy list.