A good, all-round self-study routine?

3 years ago I moved to Tokyo. I spent the first year frantically studying Japanese at a language school and passed N2 within the first year of coming to Japan. Straight after passing, I worked for a year and stopped studying Japanese completely, and then went back to the UK for another year. Here I am, now back in Tokyo looking back at the fact that I passed N2 almost 2 years ago but with a language ability that has remained stagnant since.

So in light of that, I bought the lifetime subscription to WaniKani as a commitment to learning kanji. But that’s just one piece of the cheese wheel. I want to get everything up to the same level. I want my grammar to be amazing. I want my speaking to be amazing. I want my vocab to be amazing. You get the idea.

Speaking-wise, I know I’m in the perfect environment to work on this, but with a massive lack of self-confidence this is more difficult than it should be. But oh well, that’s for me to work on.

But my main question is, what do you hardcore Japanese learners use alongside Wanikani for the full learning effect? I watch Japanese dramas with Japanese subtitles in my free time to improve my reading, comprehension and listening. It seems to work quite well. I recently came across Satori Reader which seems like a great light way back into the groove. And someone recently linked to BunPro for an SRS grammar learning tool. Would you recommend these? Or do you have something else you could recommend?

NB: Anything with gamification (just like a level-based SRS) works wonders for me. Hence why I like WK, and why BunPro also appeals to me.

Looking forward to your suggestions!!


houhou is my go to and I think every self-studier should use it or Anki.

Has level based SRS, which I see youre also looking for.

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I don’t like to measure my language ability by JLPT lvl cause I’m not really focusing on learning JLPT lvl specific material but I guesssssss I would be somewhere around beginner N3 if I had to try put myself in that box.


Using Anki, I pick out +1 sentences from video games I play, manga I read, etc. I sometimes look for new grammar points and add 2-3 example sentences to Anki for each grammar point.

I rip the audio from anime I love and listen to it on my phone everyday while commuting to work. I watch videos on YouTube where they speak Japanese (interviews, grammar lessons, etc.) I listen to NHK easy news articles. Afterwards, I listen and read the article at the same time to check what I missed.

I don’t practice speaking. I talk to myself sometimes… or with the very few Japanese native speakers I accidentally encounter, but I want to get better at comprehending the language before I start to produce it.

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My current routine is as follows:

I make sure to read at least two pages (in practice it usually ends up being at least four and sometimes I get super carried away and spend hours reading) from a Japanese novel each day. Since I started reading about a year ago my “speed” has increased from about 5 pages/hour to about 8-10… still very slow compared to English or Swedish :slight_smile:

Every non-WK kanji I encounter I add to anki and learn using my own mnemonics at a rate of maybe 10 a week. (I have a significant backlog, but I take them in frequency order). Since finishing WK a year and a half ago I’ve probably learned about 500 new ones this way, so I feel that I’m making pretty decent progress, albeit not at WK speeds :slight_smile:

Every word I look up I also add to anki. I prioritize the ones that contain kanji I’ve just learned and I study about 5 new a day.


  1. I’m creating clozed deletion (fill-in-the-blank) cards from various sources (drama with subs etc). The format is that I listen to a sentence and then I try to type the blanked out part based on what I hear. I use my own kind-of-subs2srs-alike method. I sort these using the morphman plugin for anki, so that each contain at most one new word.
  2. I also practice individual words with a sound file on the front side and def + spoken context sentence (often taken from part 1) on the back side.
  3. I like watching Japanese Let’s Plays (実況プレイ). I find this to be pretty relaxing since with the right game I can have a good time no matter how much or little I understand. It’s also nice to revisit old ones and see that you can actually understand more each time.

I have three lessons every two weeks scheduled on italki. I’ve been doing this for about a year now and the progress is slow, but I’m definitely more comfortable speaking now, even though my grammar and vocab isn’t perfect.

Were you already studying Japanese before you arrived to moved to Tokyo 3 years ago, or did you actually reach N2 within one year from scratch? If you did then that is amazing and I need to know your study routine and how you achieved that so quickly or was the school just that amazing?

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