Your first study day
This page will give a brief explanation of everything you’ll see in your first Unit of your first study day.
The most important button
Click on the all-powerful button known as the “Study Now” button.
A message from Niko
The first thing we’ll see is a message from NativShark’s president, Niko:
Good info to know. Many textbooks will teach you grammatically perfect language, and not what people actually say.
If you only rely on textbooks, university courses, and pre-generated flashcard decks, you’ll very likely end up feeling lost when it comes time to actually talk to a person outside of the classroom setting.
This is something many of the team members experienced personally, and a big reason why we built NativShark in the first place. We were sick of studying really hard and then still feeling lost when we actually talked to people.
It was painful to have a giant wall between our studies and the real world.
We tore the wall down with NativShark.
Hit “Okay” and let’s keep moving^^
The kana tool
The first tool you’ll come across is the kana tool.
If you’re new or relatively new to Japanese, we recommend going through this tool, as it gives important information about how to read Japanese, and talks about the 3 different scripts (”alphabets”) in Japanese.
If you’re already familiar with this, you can simply click “Skip this set” at the bottom and keep moving.
Otherwise, let’s click next and learn about how Japanese is written.
We highly recommend having your audio on throughout this tool especially, but also using audio as much as possible throughout all of your studies at NativShark as well.
If you have some study days where you’re just too busy and can only put in 5 minutes in a noisy room without your headphones, then don’t feel bad about doing that.
That’s because showing up is infinitely more important than how “productive” any single study day is.
You’ll see a few stories from the team about their lowest focus study days as you keep going through the system, but the important thing is that we showed up and kept Japanese in our brains.
If you’re going through a wholistic system like NativShark, then that’s all that really matters.
Once you’ve seen all the kana in this set, there is a small quiz to make sure they’re starting to take root in your brain.
Try to think of what sound these kana made and hit Show Answer when you think you’ve got it. You can also hit the spacebar if you’re on desktop.
If it’s not coming to you, honestly don’t worry about it. Maybe hit “I forgot” once and then hit “Got it” once you see it again, whether you remembered or not.
Once we start seeing our review cards, keep the above tip in mind.
Time spent moving forward is more valuable than time spent frustrated and stuck in reviews, quizzes, and flashcards.
You will be seeing everything again and again as you keep moving forward in your studies.
If it was even just barely on the tip of your tongue, that is a success. If anything looks familiar to you, then that means you’re learning.
And even if it doesn’t look familiar at all and feels like this is totally the first time you’ve ever seen it, that’s still okay. Because you’re going to be seeing everything a lot more in the future, as NativShark builds on itself.
So don’t stress too much on any quizzes or flashcards in the future.
If they feel familiar or you got an answer that was relatively close, even if you couldn’t exactly recall them, you have succeeded.
Anyway, let’s finish the quiz and keep going^^
Feel free to hit “Quiz me again” if you want to do another run through, or “Redo this set” to go back to the start and get the explanations for things again.
Otherwise, let’s hit “Complete”.
Hitting “Complete” will bring you to the lesson.
First, you’ll be greeted by our lovely Overlay-chan, who will explain how lessons work:
The lesson will start off with a summary right at the top and let you know what the lesson is about.
Since it’s our first day, we might not know how to read the kana in it.
Don’t worry, as we’ll cover any new ones you haven’t seen before in the lesson.
In fact, if you’re ever feeling stuck on something, it’s often very helpful to just keep moving forward and:
- Read the rest of the sentence.
- Listen to the sentence audio two or three times.
- Read the rest of the lesson.
- Read the other sentences.
- Listen to the other sentence audios once or twice.
Then! Come back to it after. Or maybe even the next day. Or just forget about it until it shows up in your reviews or lessons again, which is what we recommend doing the most.
There are many concepts in Japanese that we often don’t have the ability to wrap our head around until we start learning other concepts in Japanese.
So if you’re ever feeling stuck, just move on to something else.
Your brain might not be ready to understand it right now, but it might be tomorrow. Or after you’ve seen it another 5 times. Or after you’ve gone through another 5 lessons.
Learning Japanese is a marathon, not a sprint.
It’s good to take your time and not stress.
Each sentence in NativShark comes with two pieces of audio, one from a male speaker and one from a female speaker.
In spoken Japanese, male and female intonation can often be a little different from each other. It’s good to listen to both as often as possible.
It can also be helpful to try to copy how the speakers say any particular sentence as well, while copying whichever gender you want to sound more similar to.
In the lessons, the two different audios will show up near the bottom of the sentence, just click on these buttons:
You might notice something interesting with the male audio.
Specifically… it doesn’t even sound like he’s saying the word???
Yeah. We’ll be talking about this in-depth in both the lessons and these guides, but for now, just note that he only seems to be half-pronouncing it.
Native speakers speak fast. And the faster they speak, the less they say certain sounds.
There are patterns to this that you’ll pick up with time.
If you feel stuck, then you know what to do.
Just keep moving on.
You’ll understand and be able to hear it with time and patience. Listening 50 times while annoyed or frustrated will only cause burnout.
Maybe try to repeat it out loud a few times and let’s just keep moving for now.
With enough reviews and more exposure to the patterns that emerge, you’ll have this down before you realize it.
Back to the lesson
There’s a few important things you’ll see at the bottom of the page.
First, you’ll find the “Sentence Review” box.
Here, you’ll be able to choose what sentences show up in your reviews the next day.
If you already knew this word, then go ahead and toggle the sentence off. Doing so will archive it:
Archiving something will cause it to not show up in your reviews.
You can do this by clicking “Archive” under flashcards, or by clicking the Sentence Review toggle off in a lesson.
You can archive a card at any time, so if you feel really confident about anything in the future and don’t want to see it again, then feel free to do so. (If you have some experience with Japanese, this feature will help you speed through to content that is the right level for you).
If you accidentally archived something, you can unarchive by going to your flashcards.
First, click on Library at the top of your My Journey page, then click on Flashcards:
Then find the relevant deck.
If you accidentally archived something in the lesson, you’ll want the Lesson deck.
If you accidentally archived a kanji, you’ll want the Kanji deck.
If you accidentally archived a piece of vocab, you’ll want the Vocab deck.
In this example, let’s look at something from the Lesson deck.
Click on the Lesson deck and then change the Status to Archived.
From there, find the card you want to un-archive and click on the checkbox on the left.
You can then hit “Unarchive selected”.
After confirming you want to do this, you’re all set.
We talk about archiving in more detail in another guide, but for now let’s keep moving on with our studies for today^^
If you’d like to practice the sentences you learned in the lesson more, then feel free to keep them on.
Once that’s sorted out, click on the brains to show how well the lesson went into your brain and then complete the lesson:
The brains are for your own reference, so feel free to answer whatever you felt. NativShark will also use this data to find lessons that need improvement or rewriting in the future.
Hey, look at that, it’s your first progression badge:
Progression badges mark off your achievements in NativShark and are a good way to keep track of what you’re actually learning.
It can be to have that measureable progress on our long journey to our fluency goals.
Soak up your achievement. You now know more Japanese than you did before.
Now, let’s hit “Okay” and keep that ball rolling.
A message from Ty
Next, we’ll see a message from Ty:
NativShark uses a Spaced-Repetition System (SRS) to help keep things in your brain.
We’ll talk about what exactly this is and what it does for you in another guide, but for now here’s a quick run-down:
An SRS helps you remember concepts by showing you them in spaced intervals, calculated to be just before you’re about to forget them.
This is why showing up for reviews every day is important, even if you only have the time or mental energy for just 5.
We also build on our lessons so you only have one new concept entering you brain at a time, which means you’re constantly reviewing all that you’ve learned up to this point.
In other words, when using NativShark, you don’t need to worry about forgetting things.
Even if you do, you’ll see it again and again and again, especially the more important it is.
It’s a good reason not to stress during your reviews and go easy on yourself.
If the Japanese feels even somewhat familiar, that’s a victory.
It’ll feel more and more familiar until you can’t even remember you used to struggle remembering it. Just give it time and consistency.
Days Studied and reviewing
Hit “Okay” and we’ll be back at our homepage, welcomed by our beloved Overlay-chan.
She’ll tell you about reviews and your Days Studied.
In short, you can do 5 reviews a day to update your Days Studied. If the system assigns you no reviews, then doing any learning part of a new Unit will update them instead.
As we talked about above, consistently showing up is the most powerful tool in improving your Japanese.
That’s why we set the minimum needed to get another day on your Days Studied to be so low.
Even if you just spam through them in about 15 seconds, the fact that you’re showing up is doing great work for you. So do what you can to show up as often as possible, even if your focus isn’t the best today.
Back to My Journey
We’ll be back at our homepage, as we have completed our first Unit in NativShark.
Good work! You now have the beginnings of Japanese seeping into your brain.
You can end your study day here and come back tomorrow to review and get into your second Unit, choose to continue doing more Units until you’re all Japanese’d out, or potentially even hit the Review Threshold, which we’ll be talking about more in-depth later in the guide.
If you did happen to hit the Review Threshold and want to keep studying, then feel free to immediately go onto the next part of the guide, as it will explain the Review Threshold and how to change it to allow you to study more Units in a given day.
Once you’re all set, log in tomorrow and follow our guide for your second study day.