LWT: Daniel’s Guide for Japanese Useage

Getting Started
Learning With Texts is a tool that has moved me out of my rut and on to Tadoku-style language learning. It’s like creating your own textbook, with all the materials being of your own choosing. I use some different settings than Mikotoneko, so you may prefer one method or the other! The best way to explain it though, is to show it to you… so here goes!
First you’ll need to get on to a LWT server. I highly recommend this one one hosted by Fluent In 3 Months. Once you’re logged in, there are a few settings you can change in LWT that will make your life easier and your studies more effective. Assuming this is your first time seeing LWT, these instructions might not make sense but trust me, this stuff works. First click the “My Languages” button on the main screen.
Then you’ll get to your settings:
Among a few things, you can set your dictionaries here. Personally I use the default one that the Fluent in 3 Months server is set up with, jisho.org, and for my second one I use trusty Yahoo辞書. (I’ll explain my particular usage for each one in a moment.) I leave the Google Translate field blank, cause if you’re a language learner, then machine translation is the enemy 🙂 So here are the exact URLs to use for those dictionaries:
The ###s are there so LWT can replace it with the word you’re looking for. Sadly not all online dictionaries can work this way, but luckily these two great ones do!
Next you’ll see two settings that are very important for Japanese: “Make each character a word,” and “Remove spaces.” LWT can be made to work with Japanese either way, but setting them both to Yes has taken away a lot of headaches and frustration for me. In my research I also discovered this is how the developer suggests using it with Japanese too. I’ll show you how this works in the next step.
Using It!
So you get to your material by clicking on the “My Texts” part of the main screen (and then “New text” if you haven’t added anything yet). When you open a text you’ll see 4 frames:
  • The upper left corner is basically just a menu. If you’ve got your settings like mine, you’ll want to click off “Show All.”
  • The bottom left is your text.
  • The upper right is where you’ll be able to create your cards/notes for new terms.
  • The lower right is where the dictionary results will be shown.
OK here comes the fun part. Click on the first character of a word you don’t know. A box will pop up that looks like this:
What you want to do here is now tell LWT where the word ends. Then, a new, complete term will be created and marked in your text. It will also automatically look up this new term in with your first dictionary. If you didn’t click off the “Show All” button earlier, then it won’t make that distinction your text. What I do is paste the reading AND meaning into the translation field. For the Romanization field, I either enter nothing at all, or only enter a partial reading that will later on be displayed on the question portion of my Anki export. Learning the entire reading for compound kanji can be daunting, so for example if I had a new word like 一生懸命, I might have いっしょうけんめい in the answer portion, and have いっしょう**** in the question portion as a hint.
Once all the unknown words have been looked up, I create a PDF “printout” for my Kindle with the in-line definitions and a furigana version using the site hiragana.jp. (You could also do this for cellphone, tablet, paper version, etc.) Yet another use for this site is creating supplementary reading material based on my source text. This is where Dict2 being set to Yahoo comes into play. I’ll go through the text again, clicking on certain new words and open them in a new tab with Dict2. I then collect all the example sentences from each tab, paste it into hiragana.jp (you have to log into it for that) and create a furigana collection of all the examples to help me fully understand new words.
And what resource would be complete without Anki fitting into it. LWT has full support for exporting all these new terms to Anki, along with the sentence it appeared in, translation, romanization etc. To start this process, click on “My Terms (Words and Expressions)” on the home screen.
This is the interface you’re going to see. First, to show only terms in a learning status, click the “Status” dropdown box and select, Learning [1..4]. This will filter out your terms list to only show words you’re learning (as opposed to learned.) Then click on the dropdown box next to “All ## Terms” and select “Export ALL Terms (Anki).” Now this part is currently a known issue in some browsers. Although I use Google Chrome, the only browser I’ve seen this work on without a hitch is Opera of all things. I’ve heard of it working in IE but it won’t for me. In either case, it will generate a delimited text file that can be imported into Anki. Using that text file to its fullest extent is a whole other ball of wax, covered very nicely here. After exporting the text file, I mark all the current terms as Learned, since Anki and my printouts will be taking care of the process from this point. That way they won’t be mixed up with your next export.
Where do you get texts? The simple answer is of course from anywhere that interests you. I actually have a mini bookmarks folder of sites that specifically use for LWT material. Here are some examples!
  • Kanji version of Learn Japanese By News
  • Japanese subtitle files (You can paste it into a spreadsheet program to get rid of all the extra timing data)
  • キッズ@nifty
  • Official sites from some of my favorite games
  • The Japanese Wikipedia
  • Even just random text from web interfaces on sites I’ve changed to Japanese!
That’s it for now! It seems like a really long and complicated process, and I admit at first it is. But trust me, after you use it once, it will be so second nature that you’ll be able to groggily get out of bed and be learning new words first thing in the morning like I do. Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll find LWT as useful as I have!
14 Responses to “LWT: Daniel’s Guide for Japanese Useage”
  1. Thanks a lot for describing your study method with LWT!

  2. jeannette says:

    Wow, impressive!

  3. Nate Hill says:

    Hi Daniel, thanks for sharing this set up and method. I have a question as I’m just getting started with this program (but not new to Japanese).

    I have the mark every character as a word set to ‘yes’, but when I add a phrase, it still keeps the individual characters in blue. Just wondering if you also go through and put in meanings for kanji as well. It seems if I do that, the program will fail to highlight a compound I might not know (even if I know the individual kanji). Likewise, if I don’t add each kanji as something I know, it shows a really high percentage of text as being ‘unknown’.

    How have you gone about this problem in studying with LWT?

    Thanks again!

  4. Delenir says:

    If I understand your issue correctly, I think what you need to do is uncheck the “Show All” box in the upper left box. Personally I don’t add anything for each individual kanji, but rather just treat compounds as a new word. I tend to not worry about the whole unknown % thing. Since I’d been studying Japanese previously, it would be very time consuming to go and mark every word I’d learned before as known, I just focus on new words. LWT does have a bit of a learning curve, but as you get more and more used to it, it will become second nature and you’ll keep finding new ways to customize its use to your needs. Thank you for reading!

  5. Jake says:

    Hi, nice post. You should also check out something called MeCab. It is a piece of software that parses Japanese text in various ways. One of its superpowers is that it splits Japanese text up into words. That way, you can use LWT the way it was meant to be used: with the words all ready for it to process.

    The download page, help files, etc. for Mecab are all in Japanese, but a nice gentleman made a video that tells you everything you need to know to install and use it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wqwWji4u0E

    • mikotoneko says:

      I’m not sure about Daniel but I tend to use this website: http://nihongo.dpwright.com/spaces/index.php for MeCab and I think it works wonders, especially LWT and Visual Novels. Thanks for the youtube video though! I know a lot of people who download it and they say it is an awesome piece of software and just as useful as the dpwright link.

    • Delenir says:

      I believe MeCab is also how Anki adds readings to Japanese cards (if you have that plugin.) Fairly accurate, most mistakes I’ve seen are on irregular readings. I think it’s like the EDICT (very common dictionary database) of splitting words and readings apart.

      I’m not sure if I agree on the ‘the way it was meant to be used’ part though. The LWT developer recommends picking our your own words for languages like Chinese and Japanese. I know Mikotoneko has had success with word-splitting tools though.

      Thank you for your contribution to the blog! Do you use anything like twitter or have a blog of your own? I love to keep in touch with our readers. Best of luck on your Japanese journey! 🙂

  6. Mike says:

    Totally doesn’t work for me. I paste in Japanese text and every sentence is highlighted as a “term”. Can’t create a “term” of less than an entire sentence in length.

    I have tried many combinations of “Remove Spaces” as yes and no and “Show All” as on and off.

    Delete text recreate text with different options.

    Not proving to be very useful for me. Sorry. Might be god for non Asian languages. It’s fighting me on Japanese. I’m going to find something. Back to Anki. Sigh.

    • Delenir says:

      I think the RegExp field has to have the right stuff in it or else you’ll get the entire sentence problem. Are you using the Fluent in 3 Months server or your own?

      • It will register hiragana and katakana for me, but not kanji because I can’t see (or read) what kanji that is that he has in the RegExp Word box, and no-one on the internet will say! Please tell me what it is!

      • Delenir says:

        Hello friend! If you use Benny’s LWT server it should be there already, but if not, the exact text is 一-龥ぁ-ヾ

      • Delenir says:

        Oh and if you need it, the sentence split one is .!?:;。!?:;

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  1. […] for you. If you do use LWT, first you’ll want to change your dictionaries. Have a look at my LWT post for how to do that. There are a few good ones out there, but Yahoo dictionary is my personal […]

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