Do you have a collection of (bilingual) readers for the languages you're learning?
Like Chinese+English or Japanese+English.
I'm currently looking for some Jap+Eng ones, but can't decide if they are worth so much money.
Are you trying to get literary fluency only or do you want to be able to speak/listen and read? I only speak Chinese so I can't help with Japanese, but if you want the whole package of proficiency, I think the best way to start is Integrated Chinese (runs 4 volumes and is a great series) and find a Chinese-speaking girlfriend. After that use the Readings in Chinese Culture series and the McGraw-Hill Classic Chinese reader. Also watch Chinese soap operas (there are also some good Korean dramas dubbed in Chinese), Chinese Rom-Coms, and use Popup Chinese. Any Asian language has a very step learning curve, esp. Chinese. You will have to beat your head against a wall for a long time before you get anywhere.
And I can't stress having Chinese-speaking friends enough.
Please tell me what your level of proficiency in Chinese or Japanese is. It's not like Latin where you can start working through any text with a dictionary and a grasp of the grammar. You really need a lot of base work (and knowledge of grammar and basic characters) before you can even think of jumping straight into a bi-lingual text.
I've finished the New Practical Chinese Reader 1-4 and managed to get through most of Yu Hua's 活着 with an online dictionary. But trying 围城 showed me that I'm still far from fluency.
Can you understand spoken Chinese? For me, I didn't find that reading clicked until I started taking listening seriously. The grammar is so different that I think you need to have a huge volume of practice before you can start truly "reading" and stop "translating". This might not be totally clear, but please tell me if what I'm saying makes sense. The point I'm trying to make us that Chinese and English need to be more or less separate in your head before you can start picking up steam, grasping things intuitively, and gaining vocabulary without studying flashcards. Hopefully I'm making some sense.
If you're in a position such that you would be able to understand what you're reading if it were read to you, then I think the best way to go from here is to watch light entertainment in Chinese, with subtitles on, and obsessively pick out and study the characters/structures that are unfamiliar to you. The thing I found from doing too much reading is that the written language, especially material for second language speakers, diverges significantly from the spoken language and idiomatic/"natural" written Chinese.
Spoken Chinese is definitely my weak spot. I've easily finished the written part of the new HSK, but listening is still too difficult for me. It has to be repeated several times and I still need to pause every few seconds to process the information.
The reason for that is, that I've never had much opportunity to listen and speak, because I'm relying too much on my textbooks.
So, I don't think I'm ready for youtube videos yet. Instead I've recently started memorizing my lectures syllable by syllabe, character by character. That seems to be the only way for me to practise pronounciation at the moment.
You'll never be "ready" for listening. You just have to jump in. It sounds like you have a good work ethic though (and a tolerance for tedium) so you're definitely in a great place to start. In a lot of ways, it's like starting all over again, but you need to do it asap if you want to get good. Good work so far though - start today and you'll be amazed at how far you'll have come a month from now!
Not really, but they're entertaining enough. More entertaining than textbook dialogues, at least. Most of their tv is at the production level of American tv in the 70s. (And more poorly written from a plot standpoint)
Oh, and one more thing: the new HSK tests are said to be easier than the old ones. I think you should give the old ones a whirl and see how that goes. I learned mostly through university classes and casual conversation (with friends and in China - I was lucky enough to study abroad in Shanghai for a month), so I'm not totally familiar with HSK, but that's a tip I was given.
Also, consider finding an Internet community for Chinese people and Americans trading language practice over Skype. They'll be happy to help you and they'll be over the moon to have a native person to practice with. If you don't have access to Chinese people irl, that's the next best thing. Are you at a university or other place with lots of Chinese people?
Another book that is not in your pic that you may want to check out is "
Short Stories in Japanese: New Penguin Parallel Text". No analysis, just the english and the Japanese on separate pages
Both series pretty much dissect the japanese down for the reader. The annotation is useful but it's awkward to look at. Giles has a full english translation for each story and a glossary of japanese words. Read Real Japanese just breaks down the japanese sentences and doesn't have an English story as well.