Advice for coming back in learning japanese

Hey there,

until about a year ago, I was pretty disciplined with studying japanese, but when I got more to do in university (electrical engineering), alongside with part-time work and my girlfriend, my time with japanese declined pretty fast to the point that I haven’t really done anything in the past year.

Now I want to start again but when I looked at some short stories or “easy” articles I struggled extremly to get through it because of a great lack in grammar and forgotten Kanji/vocabs.

Regarding grammar, I have worked through Japanese from Zero 1-4 and the Minna no Nihongo Series to about the middle of the second book. On Wankani my best was level 42 but I guess I forgot a pretty good load of Kanji’s and vocabs by now… So back then I would have described my japanese as lower intermediate

Now I want to ask if anyone here had similar situations and can give me some advice how to (re-)build a solid foundation and getting further on the road.

My current goal is the N3 Test in July for some kind of self test and to be able to read easy stories (again), but I don’t know if I should start somewhere in the middle or if I should review everything from zero again.


I haven’t been in your situation with Japanese at all, but can maybe draw some parallels with my Spanish studies. Anyway, if you’re interested in my two cents, here they are.

Disclaimer: about to sleep, very tired

Your post says you noticed you’ve lost a lot of grammar as well as vocab. On the basis of my belief that a good foundation in, well, the basics is of utmost importance, my first thought is, why not go through the grammar from the ground up, mark where you can see you have some difficulties, and review those.

I imagine, having learned it all before, even just flipping through those grammar books might be enough so awaken some of those, and the rest will certainly be re-learned faster than the first time.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, I think just reviewing from the ground up will be more efficient in the long run than starting in the middle and then having to look up the basics time and again, since, well that’s the foundation it all stands on.

Hope that made sense. Whatever you decide to do, best of luck!

OK, over and out. :sleeping:


I was/am in a similar situation. I got back to studying after more than a year of break. At that time I finished Genki 1 and got to level 20 on WK, with no other experience in native materials.

So I spent a couple of weeks just thinking about getting back, flipped through my textbook to read the texts, and finally bougth lifetime on the sale. At that moment I had forgotten so much, that I spent hours on reviews, without any progress. I reset to level 4, where I felt that kanji and vocab became shaky, and continued from that point forward.

Regarding grammar, I have notes for it, so they once again became really useful, as I read through them (and opened the textbook when I needed more examples or something like that). It took maybe a couple more weeks, and then I just continued with Genki 2 and now Tobira.

So… Just look through what you’ve learned, reset back if needed? There’s no other way but forward:3


While I haven’t had any breaks quite as long as yours, I’ve noticed something each time I come back to studying after letting it slip a while. I’ll start up again, and it’ll be excruciating. I’ll have forgotten things I thought I had down completely.

But after I really sit down and get back into it, I always notice that I remember things I’d thought I’d lost, pretty much within a few hours. Then after a few days of being back into it, I’ll have dredged up a wealth of knowledge that I’d all but given up on. Not even just things I’d been reintroduced to, either. Like my brain had pushed all the knowledge into a closet when it looked like it wasn’t going to be used, and then as soon as I started coming into contact with a lot of Japanese, it began setting it all back out again.

Basically what I’m getting at is that there’s nothing for it but to do it. Do wanikani reviews, do workbook exercises. Start whereever you need to be to ensure you’re not completely lost and practice. You don’t need to perfectly rebuild your foundation. What doesn’t come back to you, you’ll end up relearning anyway since learning resources build on themselves.


Hey, thanks for your replies and time.

I decided to do it like you have suggested. I went 5 levels down in WaniKani and will go from here on. It’s really interesting to see some kanji/vocabs where you think you never saw them before and on the other side some where I never thought that I would still know them.

With grammar, I started from Zero like Belerith suggested and I really flew past the first 30 pages in no time earlier this evening. Eventually I will come to the point where I left.

Anyways, thank you for the replies and I’ll go doing my 80 reviews which came in 5 minutes ago …^^


Hang in there! :muscle: :crabigator:


It’s good that you are getting back into now. It’s better now than never or after a longer period of time and you forget even more (which is what happened to me…I always let life get in the way and didn’t get back on track for many years).

It sounds like you have a good plan of action. I think the only thing is that if you won’t have the time to keep up studying then aim for N4 instead or aim for N3 in December. To catch up with N5/N4 and then learn the material for N3 in order to pass the test in 3 months and with less than a month of review is not impossible if you have the ability to learn quickly and the time to dedicate to it, but it will be very hard and you run the risk of burning out and setting yourself back again. Learning Japanese takes time. It’s important to consider if your studying is sustainable. When it becomes too much of a burden you need to find ways to decrease it and adjust your goals rather than quit or taking a break that risks turning into a long term break.

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Take it from a man who was on pace to usurp @jprspereira as the quickest man to ever climax, on WaniKani, before abruptly halting and taking a 7+ month hiatus, and returning to 2,700+ reviews: just power through. I personally didn’t want to reset, so, I didn’t, and just powered through the reviews, doing as many as I could in a day. My average review score was around 50%. Some may say that’s terrible, but I was just happy to have retained even that much. And now I’m back, all caught up, and already leveling up/learning new kanji & vocab.


I can’t even be sure if that was intentional :eyes:


Oh my dear sweet Belerith, running fingers through your hair… If you don’t know by now, then you may never know. :upside_down_face:

Because, I mean, that’s not usually something most people strive for.

Too each their own. :wink:

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