Aiming for progression in ~ 1 year

Greetings all!

I am pretty engulfed in my Japanese learning journey currently, I’m fully engaged in wanikani and feel like I am making substantial progress, enough to the point that I am recognizing kanji left and right in anime, can pick up on key words when I consume content such as media/anime/movies.

My struggle is that I currently work about 70-80 hours a week with one day off, so I wake up extremely early to do my reviews/lessons. I am traveling to japan in January 2021 and my aim is to be mildly conversational fluent, being able to read signs and navigate comfortably. Besides WK I purchased: “Lonely Planet Japanese phrasebook & Dictionary”. it’s incredibly useful and has some key phrases but it seems a little daunting to study things from it at the moment. Should I continue my current routine? Is there a resource I could chip away at to develop my speaking skills?

Fortunately, I do have some downtime at my work so something like reading a book wouldn’t be frowned upon so that would suit me best, I do some WK reviews on my work computer whenever I have a chance as well.

Thanks in advanced!


I would really try to get some grammar down before you go or you will not be able to understand much other than specific phrases and individual words. Do you have a commute to work? I used to work a lot and would listen to Pimsleur or podcasts on my drive to work or on breaks. Japanesepod101 has some good content that can help with grammar on the go, and there are a lot of other resources out there that you may be able to find.
As far as reading at work, maybe pick up a beginner textbook like Genki or Minnanonihongo. If you can make your way through one of these by next year you will be able to talk about a lot of things

I agree that grammar is going to be the bottleneck for you, and you’ll need to get some significant listening/speaking practice. One way to think of it: how are you going to use a word in conversation if you’ve never practiced saying it out loud?

There are a couple WK-like grammar sites out there, I use BunPro. You don’t have to use a grammar app to practice, but you need some sort of output practice in order to get to conversational level. Whether that’s writing things down, talking to yourself, or an SRS app, you need to practice producing Japanese and not just consuming it.

You will have a fun time in Japan even without hitting that conversational goal, for what it’s worth. :slight_smile:


I would not use a phrase book for learning grammar. I actually had that same one and recall not liking it very much, I ended up giving it away. Instead, start working through something like Tae Kim’s grammar guide, since it’s free online and very high quality. For speaking, either get on HelloTalk and find a language partner or iTalki and find a tutor or teacher. The former is free, the latter isn’t. I’m not sure how much progress you can make towards conversational fluency in under a year, but stick with it and do your best.

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Thank you so much! I’ve had an eye on Genki but never really considered it, guess I’ll take the plunge since I’ve herd it mentioned so much. Unfortunately I live about a 5 minute walk work :sweat_smile: I will have to check out that podcast on my days off!

My hello talk experiences have been sort of odd :persevere:, thanks for the recommendation, it seems that grammar will be my biggest hurdle! (Also thanks for the encouraging words!)

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