Additional ways of learning?

Quick background - I’m currently only using WK and am on level 19 after approximately 14 months of studying. I have 1-2 hours MAX a day to dedicate to studying Japanese and most of that time is in distraction mode with work, kids, etc. - In the past I have taken a formal in person course and made it to Intermediate 2 using “Japanese for Busy People”, but learned no kanji during the process (only hiragana and katakana). I decided kanji first when I tried again after a 5 year gap and start WK, now I’m looking for additional resources to kick learning into hyperdrive.

Things I’m having issues with:

Actually speaking the language
Re-reviewing and honing in on troublesome kanji (I’ve tried some third party API’s here and also Anki, but have had zero luck loading Anki properly)
Vocabulary is just simply killing me

Things I’ve tried: Third party API’s to re-review critical items, studying Genki on my own, Duolingo, apps for reading beginner Japanese articles (finding I can barely grasp anything)

Thanks for any advice!


I started learning with Mango ( a couple of weeks ago. Their course is focused on active speaking, as well as reading and listening comprehension, and on real scenarios you would face in Japan (like ordering at a restaurant, shopping, asking for directions, …). It does not use any kanji (at least as far as I can tell) but we both have WK for that so it shouldn’t be an issue. I feel like it is decent at conveying grammar, relevant vocab, and at encouraging active speaking.

For “troublesome kanji”, I personally do the following:

  • When I screw up a kanji by confusing it with another one, I immediately go to jisho and compare the relevant kanji.
  • If I have difficulty remembering the difference even after that, I try writing both kanji down a couple of times (by hand, on real paper) because writing something down is known to enhance memory retention.

It’s not a perfect strategy and I still have difficulty distinguishing 和 and 知 but it helps.

(I also tried Rosetta Stone for a couple of days and think it is not very good. They try to not use any English text, only photographs that illustratewords and concepts and given that Japanese has fairly unique grammar I do not think that is a good didactic approach.)

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WK won’t help you with speaking for the most part (at least not directly), fyi, so you’ll need to do something like Minna no Nihongo in order to apply what you’ve learned. How far have you reached in Genki?

I’m curious what you mean by this… JfBP 3 only gets into about pre-intermediate Japanese, I believe.

You may like Satori Reader. I’m gonna start using that soon, especially for the reading progress, understanding, and troublesome vocabulary.

For speaking, I’ve found pimsleur pretty good :slight_smile: o use it via their app which has a monthly subscription but it seems like it’s also sometimes available via libraries or on audible. it might be that the first few courses would be too basic for you (though if you really don’t feel confident speaking at all then probably no harm in doing them anyway).

Obviously another option would be using iTalki or something to get practice speaking (I plan to do this later in the year hopefully)

Thanks for the advice! I think I might work with the Jisho idea, I need to keep a better record of the ones giving me issues. I also forgot about Mango languages and my library offers that for free. :slight_smile:

I never heard of Satori reader, I’ll take a look! As for JFBP, it was book 2, but the courses being offered during adult education labeled Beginner 1-3 and Intermediate 1-3, I made it to Intermediate 2 on their terms.

I am curious about iTalki for speaking practice, the fees are scary to start, but it might be worth it to get that real practice in.

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For kanji, if you’re looking for some fun, Learn Japanese to Survive! Kanji Combat is fantastic. Sometimes I forget that I’m learning kanji while playing it. You get to “battle” kanji characters.

I also played through the two kana games by the same developer early on in my studies. Pretty fun.

Little side note for Mango, if you happen to be in the US (not sure about UK and Australia on this) and are a member of a library, you can most likely use your code to use Mango as you please absolutely for free.


I used to use Pimsleur before I moved to Japan. I found that after I got here, some of the phrases I had learned from Pimsleur people found strange and unnatural. I wouldn’t discount the merits of the entire program but I would encourage consuming Japanese from other native Japanese sources to avoid the embarrassment I encountered. :sweat_smile:

If talking to native speakers isn’t possible, you might get some decent practice from shadowing some native speaker media. You said you are busy so maybe you could have a netflix show/youtube video/podcast playing in the background while you do other things. As you listen along you try to repeat what you heard. You might be surprised by the amount of wanikani vocab you hear as you progress. This can help you solidify the vocab you have been studying/struggling with and also give you some more confidence speaking. Props to you for studying a language when you are busy with work AND kids. I wish you the best :relaxed:

I played it a couple of years ago before subscribing to WK. I think anyone over level 5 here would easily get bored with it since you have to go through so many repetitive practices of kanji you already know and can’t just skip to what you know. I feel like it’s also easy to fall into the trap of memorizing the order of the kanji learned rather than the kanji themselves.

I think is far superior (and free!). You can practice kana, kanji, or vocab with it. Made by the lovely @Darcinon


Ah thanks! That’s good to know - I kind of suspected that might be the case/there might be some outdated language given its recently been talking about telephone books :stuck_out_tongue: I’ve not really found anything else that I’ve found as good for actually making me speak/as handy for listening to when out and about yet so may continue for now until I find a replacement but definitely good to keep in mind!

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Just here to second Mango. I was someone really struggling with picking up grammar and Mango is fitting the bill for me. Although I would have felt lost with Mango had I not started WK first. Also, as others have said, check to see if your library has bought a subscription and then you can use your card to get free access. If you don’t have a library card and your library is closed or on limited services because of the pandemic, you will probably be able to get at least a digital card that would give you access (and probably also access to your library’s eBooks and eAudio!).

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For speaking the best thing to do is listen to natives speaking, make sure you understand it, and then practice copying what they say. Most basic way of learning language that all children practice yet has been so underrated in language learning communities. Speaking a new language is just a process of internalizing the language (which means getting hundreds of hours of verbal and written native input - even raw/japanese-subtitled anime and manga are great for input because many, many types of grammar and vocab will be learned and reinforced in those mediums too) and then copying it (speaking the sentences you hear and building the correct mount muscle habits, connecting the sounds and meanings to your own mouth movements) until you can produce it naturally and subconsciously.

Here’s an example of the kind of thing you should work on listening to, understanding, and mimicking lines from. Natural native conversation like in podcasts.

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I’m really fond of Attain Corp’s courses over on udemy. Watch for them to have a sale, and you can get courseware mapped to JLPT levels 1-5 for $10 a course

They lecture in Japanese, and I find it very Meta. It’s a very interesting to see a course on Japanese as a foreign language taught in Japanese with subs.

Thank you everyone! Lots of great and advice and resources here. I plan to move forward with these resources. Also seriously considering starting at italki, it really doesn’t cost very much and many teachers offer an even lower cost trial as well. I will make a new review topic if I end up going this route, for now it’s mangolanguages and some additional resources from here. :slight_smile:

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