Best way to reach N5 with self study?

Hi everyone!

I will go to a Japanese language school in October, but I want to start there at the N4 level. What is the best way to get to a N5 level with self study?

Any recommendations on videos, books, or resources would be appreciated (especially a structured resourced), and am also open to online courses. I also read that while wanikani is great at teaching Kanji, it is not good at teaching vocab. So, I need recommendations for the best way to learn vocabulary as well.

Thank you all!


Use the textbook Genki 1 :slight_smile:

Also, this textbook is so popular that many people have made great tools to go along it. Those tools are so great, that I ended up using them and not really opening the actual book anymore. (So basically you can skip the step where you buy the book and use the resources for free).

The way to do Genki, (even without buying Genki), is as follow.

For each lesson, first watch the video of TokiniAndy on youtube go through it:

Then do the exercises for the lesson on this website:

Then next lesson :slight_smile:


If you happen to know which textbook is used by the language school you’re planning to go to, consider using that one, but for beginning Japanese it’s not a huge deal – they all cover the same topics in the end. It might let you avoid buying two lots of textbooks, though.

My other suggestion is that you try to balance your study in a way that matches the likely “all four skills at once” pace of a classroom course. So for instance don’t spend a ton of time on WK to the exclusion of all else; do some online speaking practice if your budget and situation allows; don’t forget to do some pen and paper writing practice; etc. My idea here is that you want to try to avoid a situation where an uneven mix of skills means you have to start in the language school at a level that matches your weakest skill and then it feels like you’re repeating material in the areas where you’re further ahead.


Check out - it’s a natural pair with WaniKani.

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Actually Wanikani is the best way to teach vocab. i dont know of a better way


If you’re starting 100% from 0, I would recommend an app to get your hiragana and katakana reading down perfectly. There’s quite a few free standalone kana learning apps out there, and Duolingo have a kana learning section. I don’t recommend Duolingo for general learning (I won’t go into why here, because it will be a long rant), but I’ve just tried out the kana learning bit and it seems fine.


I don’t think it’s a particularly good way if you’re trying to be in sync with the kind of vocab a beginner textbook covers, because WK’s choices of vocab are oriented towards teaching kanji readings and there is no mechanism for adding your own words. Some more flexible (but still SRS based) is probably going to be a better fit here I think.


Technically…there’s a script for that


I think I might recommend the Japanese from Zero books - and the free resources also online - as a way to get you started. Or see if you can get through みんなの日本語初級➀ over the summer, which will help you see how well you do with N5 material… Genki is pretty good too, especially the newest edition which cleaned up more of the issues of the earlier editions.


I guess I’d also say Genki, because I went through Genki at college and joined the class that was at N4, aiming for N3 when I went to a Japanese language school. In contrast to Minna no Nihongo, my impression is that Genki is easier for self-study, as it has all the grammar explanations included in the textbook.

I wouldn’t worry too much about it, though. From my experience, the lower level classes do catch up to the more advanced one, so that they all reach N1 at the same time.


I’m confused on your statement of WaniKani not being good at teaching vocabulary as WaniKani teaches both kanji and vocabulary. You learn the kanji and then it teaches you the kanji you have learned for vocabulary words. So whatever source told you that WK isn’t good at teaching vocabulary might be best to disregard.

Anyways Game Gengo teaches Japanese through video games on youtube and he has N5 videos. Nihongo Quest N5 and Wagotabi both are N5 and you can become a beta tester for those video games.

In terms of learning vocabulary specifically to get to a certain JLPT level, Wanikani is not a good way to do it. WK vocab exists to reinforce kanji readings. You’ll learn a lot of vocab… much of which won’t be relevant. And you’ll miss a lot of very basic vocab that you need for those early JLPT levels.


this is brilliant! i never knew about this

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Search other comments in the community about it but Irodori is free and very good:

The material is based on “Can-do” topics which are both useful and motivating. The course is not towards JLPT directly but over the 3 parts, it says it should bring students to N4 level.


On the other hand, has programmed itself so that Level 1corresponds to the N5, and Level 2-3 teach what you need to know for the N4. They should be having a sale soon.

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Just curious - if you don’t mind mentioning it, it would be interesting to know which language school you will be attending (and where), and why or how you made that choice…

you can use bunpro, in one month, during the free period, you can easily finish N5.


Feel free to pop over to the N5 Thread for more links and fellow test-takers ^–^


it’d be nicer if WK had an option to prioritize N5 vocab - at this point I think I’ve learned the N5 “child” at level 24 子供 and 4 words for hypothesis up to this point - (LOL)

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This is amazing! Thank you so much

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