Beginner Help, Second Thoughts on Busuu

A few months ago, I started learning Japanese with DuoLingo, although I was mostly into it for learning Katakana and Hiragana since the actual language learning portion seemed very casual. Maybe a month afterwards I started on WaniKani and Busuu too really dive into Japanese once I had a handle on Hiragana and Katakana. While I thought pretty highly of Busuu at first, now that I’m at the A2 portion of it, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the right method for me. I’m able to read and understand Japanese vocabulary and sentence structure much better now, but when it comes time for Busuu to ask me to write or speak on the fly, I often struggle to remember the proper structure for what it’s asking of me. Thinking on it, most of the tasks in the app have you either unjumbling a sentence or filling in gaps with premade sentences while audio plays of someone saying it as a picture or video with heavy context is on screen, often making it very easy to answer a problem without thinking critically on it. It feels like Busuu gives me very little room to think critically and come up with solutions myself, so on the rare occasion that it asks me to use my head, I struggle with more complicated sentence structure, but I also sometimes struggle to find old topic that I’m struggling with to review it. There is a review section in Busuu, but it seems somewhat incomplete, as many vocabulary words aren’t added to the review section and the particle ga/が, for instance, isn’t under the list of particles until B1, even though it’s been used in my lessons. Is there anyone here that’s finished or at least gotten deeper into the Japanese section of Busuu that could tell me if it demands more of you later without so much handholding? If not, could someone give me some ideas of a different resource to learn from? I’d like to take Japanese seriously and become totally fluent.

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I don’t know about Busuu, but all apps suffer from the same problem of being language adjacent games rather than language learning. Some can be a helpful addition to your main learning, some are just time wasting.

The general rule is you get what you practice, so if your goal is conversational fluency - listening and speaking, then you should practice that, and find tools that help with that. You should also read as much as possible.

The way to get good at using a particular sentence structure or grammar, is to use it over and over again until it’s natural. You can do this all day every day by just taking things you are doing and talking about them in Japanese. E.g., you’re deciding whether to have an apple or a banana:

バナナとリンゴ、どっちがいい?

You decide on the apple:

リンゴの方がいい

After a while you just make the things you say more complicated:

リンゴはおいしいから、リンゴの方がいい

or

このバナナは古いから、リンゴの方がいい

You do need to find a way to get corrections, or you’ll end up saying weird things or using the wrong grammar like I almost certainly have above…

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I’m not sure I’d say Busuu is very game-y, but I’d say DuoLingo most certainly was. Busuu has a much more professional look and feel to it, and I’d hope so with what I paid for it, although it does still have a leaderboard and star system to foster competition. Whenever it DOES ask you to come up with something on the fly, either by writing it or speaking it, what you say is sent into the community to be appraised by native speakers who are also using the app to learn other languages who can then give feedback, so some correction is there.

I will say that since I started studying, I do find myself sometimes thinking in Japanese in the limited ways I can, sometimes. Considering what I’m doing in Japanese outloud sounds like a great idea, I’ll admit. I’ll have to try doing that more and more.

Thanks for the reply!

I’m 59. When i was 32 i gave up trying to learn Japanese. Last year I discovered that there were all these apps online for learning Japanese that looked interesting and I picked Busuu, fairly randomly. I spent a couple of months going through it and it helped to refresh all the beginners stuff i’d reached all those years before and introduced some more stuff for me. I loved its game-ification. When i got to A1 i started to lose interest in it and moved onto other stuff apps and now i’m just doing reading novels with the help of jisho.org and deepl translator.

So i would say that for me Busuu and other similar apps really helped me to get going with Japanese but is maybe just a stepping stone to other things in Japanese learning.

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I think apps like that are actually really useful because they help you build a habit. I started learning languages on Duolingo, and while it’s not my primary source anymore, I credit it for helping me with discipline and habit formation. I keep my streak going to this day; it’s more than 6 years now.

I also started on Duolingo a few months ago, which was a great start, but after a few weeks I realized it wasn’t going to cut it for learning kanji and really understanding grammar. I did a bunch of reading recommendations and reviews. Thank goodness I found Wani Kani immediately, as it is clearly the greatest thing on the internet, and I pity anyone who had to learn Japanese without it!

I also tried out Busuu for awhile, and it seems decent, but I have dropped it from my study repertoire in favour of other things. Reviews I have read say it’s excellent at the beginning levels, but the more advanced you get the less helpful it is, like it doesn’t integrate learning new concepts very well.

I have decided to stick with Duolingo for the fun aspect, it really motivates me to do at least a lesson a day, I am learning quite a bit of vocabulary, getting a feel for sentence structure, and while it doesn’t teach kanji worth crap, if I can learn the meaning of the kanji elsewhere, I like its drawing repetition for learning stroke order and drilling in the structure of a kanji (sorta wish I could import my WaniKani vocab into that kanji practice feature).

I am using Bunpro for learning grammar, as well as working my way through Imabi, which is like an online textbook of Japanese grammar and language (no gamification, just reading, so it’s not fun, but explains things thoroughly).

Thanks for the recommendations, I’m really liking Bunpro, it seems so thorough and well put together. I’ll have to try Imabi sometime.

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