Find something to read that you like - song lyrics, reddit, merchandise packaging... - and post that here in a comment
Fill out the vocabulary table
Practice reading your kana
Attempt a translation if you feel up to it! Post it here, ask questions.
With basic hiragana and katakana skills out of the way, it's pretty much time to just find some stuff and read. A lot. It's hard as adults to just pick up and read something: we're not children learning in a native environment or picking stuff up incrementally from texts catered to us. Foreign language texts for adults tend to be frustratingly dry or just straight up condescending.
In my experience, one of the most useful things to read have been - hilariously - those bad phrasebooks you pick up at airports. But it makes sense: phrasebooks, by definition, regurgitate commonly used phrases. They are the core lego blocks of what you need to survive in real life, as opposed to textbooks that want to teach you phrases like global warming or whatever. Once you jazz that up with some incidental knowledge of grammar, you're in a much better position than someone trying to conquer Chapter 1 - 10 of Boring Textbook, at least in my opinion.
Part of that also comes from the auditory exposure you'll get by learning things that are real. Hearing something you're learning adds another layer of memorisation/recall, and so that's what I'll try to aim for with these exercises: content first, vocabulary second, grammar third.
Get Some Content
Time to pick your poison. Maybe try Reddit's Japanese Today I Learned and pick a piece you want to read. Use Chrome's Rikaikun extension to help yourself with the kanji and vocabulary; paste the whole thing here in a comment and we can step through it. Or look at websites for things you like in Japanese (IDK, fountain pen stuff?) and find something that you'd buy in real life.
For now, I'm going to stick to one of the ways I learned Japanese before I ever learned Japanese, which is blindly picking an anime pop song that earwormed me, no matter how ridiculous, and learning from there.
I'm going to go with UVERworld's D-technoLife to show how truly out of touch with current anime I am. Hi, BLEACH fans!
Oldness of the source material aside, I've picked this song for a couple of reasons:
The lead sings every syllable pretty clearly. Do not, for example, try this with - say - Asian Kungfu Generation just yet.
The chorus and bridges both are catchy and contain lots of phrases that you'll encounter a lot. Like how you'll hear corazón in Spanish.
It sticks in my head, so it's free mnemonics for me
Another thing is that Animelyrics.com provides romaji and kanji, so if you get stuck on kanji lookup you can cheat and just do this for now. Let's step through it. I'm picking the chorus for this assignment.
Before jumping in, listen to the video a couple of times and try to avoid the translation until you're done with your own.
癒えない 痛み 悲しみで キズついた 君
もう笑えないなんて 人嫌いなんて 言葉そう言わないで
今はそのままでいい きっと気づける 時が来るだろ
いえない いたみ かなしみ で キズ ついた きみ よ
もう わらえない なんて ひときらい なんて ことぼ そう いわないで
みえない みらい に おこること すべて いみ が ある から
いま は そのままでいい きっと きづけるとき が くる だろ
First up: I've spaced the words out so that you don't get saturated trying to fight and figure out where one word ends and a particle begins. It's important to know that you want to get away from this and towards reading the giant chunk of united text sooner rather than later, but I've got two things to say to that:
One: kanji form natural separators, and without it, you're going to have a bad time. Until you're learning more kanji, don't feel bad about having a headache with kana-only chunks. I'd sure as hell get a headache if I had to read English without fullstops.
Two: known vocabulary and grammatical structures will do the same thing in time. Once you start recognising things like common particles, negations (ない) and tenses, reading will be better.
In the meantime, trying to fight all those battles - reading kana, reading kanji, recognising vocabulary, recognising grammar - all at the same time is frustrating and super duper uber unfun. So I'm going to try to cut shit down as much as possible so that you can focus on what matters at the current point you find yourself.
I'm going to fill out some of this, and leave the rest to you as an exercise in preparation for GRAMMAR!
Using Rikaikun, use a dictionary service (like jisho.org) to find out the type of verb (click Show Inflections) - ichidan or godan. Take note of it in your table but don't worry until next week.
Happily enough, all of these words are fairly common and worth knowing.
Word ー＞ Form In The Lyrics
癒える ー＞ 癒えない
To heal, to be healable -> To not heal; to not be healable
Noun form of 痛む, to hurt
Injury. Written in katakana for emphasis.
つく ー＞ ついた
笑う ー＞ 笑えない
|To laugh -> To be unable to laugh|
Such-like, something like
言う ー＞ 言わないで
|To say -> Without saying|
見える ー＞ 見えない
|To be able to see (this is a special verb) -> To be unable to be seen|
です ー＞ だろう