Advice for resuming Japanese study after a LONG absence?

Could really use some advice about how to pick up language study again after Very Long (multi-year) hiatus. Not WK in particular (although that’s going to be an avalanche) but more generally … It’s a different situation from being a first-time beginner, I’m discovering that I’ve forgotten some really basic grammar while managing to remember some more complex stuff.

(Also need to build a more structured grammar study plan than last time, but that’s probably a different topic.)

Would appreciate practical tips, personal experience lessons, commiseration, funny pictures, whatever you’re willing to share.


What level did you achieve previously? If you became high advanced, then I’d say the following, if you stayed like low intermediate, I’d start over again and solidify your beginning grammar.

Some other questions -

What is your goal for learning japanese? Is the same as when you left? If so - Do you still have your old textbooks? If so, I’d look back through them. Think about the sections you found hard when you first learned it. That’s what goes first memory-wise for me. I’d review those chapters plus a few other grammar points that pop up as difficult.

If not - I’d say take the best approach to achieve whatever your current goal is.

For example - I learned Japanese in school. When I got out of class, it became less of a focus for me, particularly as I was not and am not living in Japan, nor do I use Japanese for my job/life/etc. So, when I go through books/grammar/whatever, I tend to skip around now to what I care about.

This has happened to me twice now. I would strongly recommend starting from zero and this is why: anything you know, you will quickly gloss over naturally, and any subtleties you would have forgotten even about the most basic concepts, you will rediscover with the joy and wonder that is characteristic of language learning.


;Hi there, I just started studying again after a year and a half break.
I think it’s a good idea to start working your way up on wk, but I think that resseting the account completely is not a good idea.
personally, I use the burn manager script to revive only things that I don’t remember well (or at all haha).
I started doing this last month and I’m half way to where I left off.

burn manager script: [Userscript] Burn Manager (Review / Resurrect / Retire)

Re-evaluate your study resources - new stuff pops up all the time. If you are here, maybe you’ve done this already.

If you have a copy of “Japanese for Busy People”, burn it. To give an idea of how long my hiatus was, I had the accompanying audio on cassette tape.

Determine why you stopped in the first place and why you want to re-start. Let’s remove reasons for quitting early on.


Thanks folks, this was very helpful and you brought up important questions that bear examining:

  1. Current goals in resuming - and planning the studying accordingly (thanks @hallus)
  2. Potential demotivators/stumbling blocks - and, again, planning accordingly (thanks @lsh3rd)
  3. Taking stock of my textbooks/resources (as well as possible new material - the “best textbook for self-study” thread is pretty active right now.)
  4. Sounds like it’s worth slowing down and starting with some “light” bedtime reading (hah!) on familiar ground before diving into the grammatical deep end.

@VegasVed - “Joy and wonder” is such a perfect description! Very much looking forward to that again.

@isrzanza - Thanks for the burn manager link and tips on the WK avalanche! Won’t be starting over but might rewind a couple levels if most of the items sink to apprentice. (Also need to resub now that L1-3 is under control.)

I do need to make a more structured study plan, though. Last go-round I did a lot of just looking up grammar constructions as I ran across them in the wild. Which is a great strategy, but it won’t be sustainable on low-energy workdays. (Oh, to answer someone’s question, I was probably low intermediate?)

Thanks again and good luck in your own journey!

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I must say, Satori Reader is awesome as a reading and listening source. If you’re interested, I can expound on this. It is not possible to not be enthusiastic about it. It connects with WaniKani beautifully too.

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