Beginners, how else do you study apart from using WaniKani?

I like WaniKani because it keeps me motivated to study every day. Can’t say the same about following through with Genki I, which I haven’t finished in almost one year (but I’m close!)

How do you go about studying grammar and getting the practice you’d get from doing workbook exercises? Do you study alone or have a teacher/tutor?


I’m not exactly a beginner but I’ll chime in. I was in a bit of a slump in my learning journey after getting to roughly N3 level through university. After graduating I was mostly just doing WK every other day and nothing else. However, this summer I did most of the Shin Kanzen Master N2 book series completely on my own (I did like 11 pages a day for 2+ months starting late June). That only happened because I decided it was time for me to take on the JLPT N2, in order to force myself to study.

It doesn’t have to be the JLPT, but deciding on a goal that will require some effort to reach is super helpful. Good luck on your learning journey!


I progressed slowly with Genki I because it’s designed for classroom instruction and some of the presentation/practice in the book is not always clear. So, I’d get motivated for a couple pages and then slow down and go elsewhere.

You might be interested in TokiniAndy, a YouTube creator who has gone through all of Genki I and II. His videos aren’t perfect, but you’ll find helpful tidbits and definitely some motivation (including in the comments!).

Some other resources many beginners use are Cure Dolly, Japanese Ammo with Misa, Japanese from Zero’s George Trombley, etc. Explore those and find what’s helpful and fun and motivating!

I also might recommend Pimsleur (though some of the conversations are odd/pervy).

I’m now at Pre-Intermediate level or so, and those helped me get this far (in addition to a couple other textbook resources).


I recommend consulting the more advanced people as beginners tend to be in the middle of making overly optimistic study plans.


I use ログイン - iKnow! with iKnow sorted by WK level

It teaches you the most common 6000 words, reinforcing the vocab learned on Wanikani while also teaching more with readings that Wanikani doesn’t.
It’s all in the context of a sentence rather than single words so it also getting me familiar with grammar and sentence structure too.

It does cost money but there is a short free trial

Edit: Didn’t mean to reply to your comment WaniTsunami :no_mouth:

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It’s cool. :slight_smile:

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Well… I just wanna say that I’m going the same route as you with vocab and grammar as far as I can tell… I just do my reviews (more or less) when they’re available, get 20 new items per day, and try to get through at least five pages in genki per day… but I’ve just started with genki I (practice part of lesson 3) and haven’t even opened the workbook yet, so maybe my motivation will do a legendary drop later on…

I feel… something. Can’t tell if it’s me being offended or annoyed because that makes me feel like my plans are unrealistic…

No, it’s an essential part of the beginner stage. Ever beginner has a bulletproof plan that can’t fail… and a few weeks go by, doesn’t work, and they make another bulletproof plan.

Humans are really bad a predicting results, but extraordinary when it comes to reacting/recovering from failure.


That’s just the way of things. You make a wonderful plan, think you have found the perfect resources and pacing, and if you could do it all again two years later it would look completely different. As a beginner you just lack the perspective to get it all right, but that doesn’t mean there’s any better alternatives than moving forward with your plans and adjusting as you go :person_shrugging:


I mean… I started in august, and my plans haven’t yet failed me… but just to check… genki I and II complete with workbooks and wanikani in two years… how’s that sound?
(no, I don’t necessarily mean to have burned every item until then, just having learned them (although… if I can get them burned in that timeframe, I wouldn’t say no))

wait no I should stop this right here… this ain’t my thread, and this tangent is probably not in OP’s interest

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It helps other beginners figure out that failure is part of the process and its okay to not see your plans through as long as you continue learning. Thats all. :slight_smile:


Too much WaniKani, too little grammar and core vocabulary.


I did consider some anime and maybe a bunpro subscription if I’m not happy with my knowledge at the end of that first plan

also… you haven’t by any chance taken a look through genki 3rd edition, have you? because it seems the vocab in that combined with WK would suffice if need be

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While typing this I realized that I might be interpreting your original statement wrong. I read it as “In two years, I want to be done with both WaniKani and Genki1+2”, if you meant the two year deadline only for WaniKani you can probably ignore whatever I’m typing here.

Even if you ignore everything I say here I’m sure you will still reach your goals as long as you stick to your studies, that’s what’s important in the end. Some of this might be a bit harsh or discouraging, it’s hard to predict how people on the other side of the screen will interpret these things. So take it or leave it, I genuinely do not wish to put you down with this. It’s just my perspective.

I used Genki 1+2 when I first started, though it was still the second edition. The issue isn’t really the amount of vocabulary (WaniKani + Genki 1+2 is like 8000 words?), it’s the usefulness/frequency of that vocabulary. WaniKani especially is quite guilty of that, because the vocab was chosen to reinforce the kanji and not because it shows up in every day speech/media.
Considering you are willing to learn over 2000 kanji I’m assuming you are aiming for at least a high intermediate level, and for that I think you’ll be lacking a lot of common vocabulary.

Even more so than the vocab though, assuming Genki 1+2 is all you intend to do for grammar for two years, you might be overestimating the level of grammar Genki teaches. Genki 1+2 gets you a bit short of covering all N4 grammar, which isn’t a lot. It’s the kind of grammar you see everywhere, and without it you’ll have a hard time understanding native content.
Of course you don’t need to pick up other grammar through textbooks, I mostly study new grammar whenever I come across something new while reading, but again if you are aiming for a high intermediate level, you should plan for more grammar studies.

In general, Kanji starts out as this really big and scary thing when you are a beginner, but the further you get the less important it becomes. By the time you are level 30, kanji will barely be an issue in terms of understanding native Japanese, even if you are still missing many. What will hold you back at that point is high frequency vocabulary, grammar and practice. In that regard it’s important not to focus too much on WaniKani and let the other areas fall behind.
With that in mind, I’d aim to finish the grammar in Genki 1+2 at least before level 30, but in my opinion the earlier the better really.


A: How long did it take you to type this?
B: No, you got me right, I wanted to be done with WK and genki in two years (not saying I’m specifically aiming to be slow with genki, if I’m done faster I’ll look into more resources quicker too)
C: So… what’d you recommend for getting all that more common vocab I don’t get from genki and WK?

What exactly do you mean by that? I did know that genki is for up to N4 grammar, but especially that later portion I don’t quite get… do you mean that genki does or does not teach that necessary and common native stuff now?


Way too long, I should really be studying instead.

There’s a lot of ways, and everyone has their own preferences. Using a core vocabulary deck, using sites like, using extensions like Yomichan or Migaku to create flashcards for words you come across while reading/watching things. Probably worth a topic all on its own.

I sort of meant that statement in two ways.
First is, if you want to understand Japanese, you’ll need that grammar in Genki1+2. How you get it aside, but you’ll need it. I mean that in terms of bottle necks. If you are level 20 but haven’t finished Genki 1 yet, doing another 10 WaniKani levels won’t do a lot for your understanding of Japanese. In comparison to that, finishing Genki 1 will do a lot.
Second is that the grammar in Genki, while important, is still quite basic. Depending on what you want to do with your Japanese, you’ll need more. Finishing Genki might be fine if you want to have basic every day conversations, but if e.g. reading books is your goal you’ll need to be able to understand quite a lot more grammar. I don’t mean that as a “Get another couple textbooks and finish those as well!”, you can totally get by without textbook study of grammar. It’s more of a “plan for there to be more grammar to study so you can pace your studies accordingly”


A while ago, but

  • I remembered all Hiragana and Katakana first.
  • I used Minna no Nihongo (初級1-4) as main textbooks, before giving up on listening for numbers and directions.
  • I dashed through Tae Kim with a goal of being able to read faster. It still took a few months.
  • I read Graded Readers up from level 0.
  • As soon as I felt ready, I got on to Tobira.
  • I studied Core 10k Anki Deck, with some edits to include hyperlinks to external dictionaries (particularly Goo JE and ALC).
  • I used Lang-8 and HiNative as corrected writing platforms. Japanese-only section of Wanikani Community used to be more active.
  • From Wanikani, I created an Anki Deck to handwrite Kanji and vocabularies (by S-pen / finger). EN => JP, and took note of thinkable related words.

Then a big break, so more recently

  • Join Reading Challenges to read more.
  • Join Book Clubs to fix some misunderstandings.
  • Videos, particularly 日本語の森, appear to keep my attention the best. Otherwise, I read aloud by myself, from Tobira. (I have lost the old Tobira, so I bought a new one.)

Hahaha… Uhhh… Yeah you’re right.

But staying on topic. I started with Duolingo and basically learned kana with that and some words. 0 kanji though since knowing radicals makes them look completely different. After starting Wanikani I’ve tried to start Genki 1 but failed multiple times but Game Gengo is something I’ve really liked and gotten much stuff out of. There was also this online course I’ve been part of and I’ve learned most of the grammar paints through that.

Almost forgot Hello Talk. It has been very helpful even when constructing sentences feels like hell.

So basically Wanikani + Game Gengo + Online course + Hello Talk

Now I will actually go back to study…

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I wrote the learning path I would follow if I were to start again ( here ). I am not encouraging you to follow it, that’s only one data point among the others. Also bear in mind that I’m possibly victim of the ‘monads are like burritos’ fallacy here.

[…] To see what I mean, imagine the following scenario: Joe Haskeller is trying to learn about monads. After struggling to understand them for a week, looking at examples, writing code, reading things other people have written, he finally has an “aha!” moment: everything is suddenly clear, and Joe Understands Monads! What has really happened, of course, is that Joe’s brain has fit all the details together into a higher-level abstraction, a metaphor which Joe can use to get an intuitive grasp of monads; let us suppose that Joe’s metaphor is that Monads are Like Burritos. Here is where Joe badly misinterprets his own thought process: “Of course!” Joe thinks. “It’s all so simple now. The key to understanding monads is that they are Like Burritos. If only I had thought of this before!” The problem, of course, is that if Joe HAD thought of this before, it wouldn’t have helped: the week of struggling through details was a necessary and integral part of forming Joe’s Burrito intuition, not a sad consequence of his failure to hit upon the idea sooner.


Also I agree with @WaniTsunami any plan you make is highly likely going to fail and that’s ok.


I just finished my review of Drops which I would recommend as a way to get more vocab. I think you could work in more grammar and also easily add some immersion. I think DrDru’s stories are good for helping see basic sentence patterns. Native materials like picture books and the absolute beginner book club are also great, but can be overwhelming. I recommend experimenting to see what you can handle. Native materials are the most useful, but what keeps you learning and engaged is best.