Bite-sized, daily Japanese study habits

So over the past year-and-some months I’ve been learning Japanese, I’ve realized that:

  • If you do something for a short amount of time every day, it feels like no big deal. But if you really do it every day, day after day, you can make tangible progress (like I’ve been surprised at how much more I understand things now compared to three months ago)

  • Attaching studying to activities I have to do anyway helps me stick to doing them every day

  • Treating studying like something you can do in a spare 15 minutes here and there motivates me to do it more than if I think of it as something I can only do with a chunk of hours free

I’ve been feeling pretty good about some of the habits I’ve built up, and wanted to share them (click to expand for details).

10 minutes of SuperNative

I’ll set a timer for 10 minutes and do as many SuperNative Listen + Recall exercises as I can.

The app plays short clips from TV and movies, then shows you what was just said and asks you to fill in the blank. I set a timer and do as many of them as I can

Shin Nihongo 500 questions (~30 min.)

I picked up this book after I registered for the JLPT N4, and I really like that it’s designed to be used in small amounts each day – it’s set up for you to do 5 pages each day for 4 weeks.

Each page has 1 kanji practice question, 1 vocab question and 1 grammar question, and working through it helps you identify your weakest points while also teaching you through trial and error (you get something wrong, there’s an explanation of how that point works on the next page)

A Mango Languages lesson while getting ready

I listen to one of these and talk through the prompts for about 15 min while getting ready for work, or while doing chores (usually dishes).

I like this because it prompts you to practice speaking and to work on your recall for saying everyday conversational things. (The narrator is super annoying, but you just need to tune her out.)

Also it’s free with a local library card in most places in the US.

If anyone else knows of a similar program that’s a bit more advanced, I would love to hear about it!

Listening to NHK journal on my commute

I’ll listen to the NHK Journal podcast while driving to and from work, or while walking on the treadmill at the gym

I think listening when my attention is divided (driving) shuts down the part of my brain that’s like “What is going on???” and I end up recognizing more words and phrases than I expect. The predictable, standardized format also helps you orient yourself even if you don’t always know what exactly is going on.

^ I consider this, plus BunPro and WK reviews (at least doing some, not necessarily always clearing all of them), my minimum baseline for the day. Anything else I do, I’ll sort of consider extra, and switch up as desired (watching a movie, reading a magazine or a bit of a book, reviewing with a Shin Kanzen Master book)

Plus: other ways I "trick" myself into getting 10 extra minutes of Japanese exposure
  • push notifications from Japanese news apps - I’ll see a headline pop up while I’m staring at my phone and read an article in a spare moment, in between things. I use the Smart News App and the Nifty News App.

  • Japanese email newsletters - It’s a reminder to read some Japanese that pops up while you’re checking your email anyway

I’d love to hear about your bite-sized daily Japanese learning habits.

What small/quick/light-lift things do you do to practice Japanese every day?


These are great! +1 for NHK commutes, it’s been a game-changer.

I also put all my devices and programs into Japanese, which forces me to figure out what a menu is asking or telling me! There’s a lot I’ve never seen the reading for or even other context for, but I know what sub-menu item it amounts to. Feels a bit backwards some days, but hey, practical use!

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I agree this approach really works for me, and got me through my last lull in learning!

Not everyday but once a week I’m home on my own so that’s my no subtitles movie/tv night. I’ve created a Nihongo profile on Netflix so that I only have Japanese programs in that list, which makes finidng things easier. I watch at least 30 minutes of something without subtitles. If I could do a short episode every day it would be even better. I never realised how I struggled with listening before I started this and now its not as much of a problem anymore.
I also have some reading material around and try to read just one page when I have 5 minutes spare.


Yes, yes. Bite-sized habits is how I finally got myself to really study!

I also wedge studying into my commute.

I downloaded the audio for the Tobira reading sections onto my phone. I listen to the main reading + conversations of whatever chapter I’m currently on to keep it fresh in my mind.

When I’m sick of listening to Tobira I listen to specific units of Shadowing: Let’s Speak Japanese! on repeat. A lot of the more complicated dialogue is really hard to understand the first time around. I see it as a puzzle. Listening to it everyday I can pick out things I missed the first few times around. It’s quite fun actually.


Ah the “Shadowing” book has been on my wishlist, it’s nice to know the audio can be used that way too! Sounds like a great way to practice


It really is! The speakers speak at a native speed. At first I thought it was way too fast. But listening to it everyday has helped my listening speed/recognition so much. So many other listening resources sound so slow now haha.

I use it more as listening practice than Shadowing though. I think people would give me strange looks if they say me mumbling under my breath. Haha.


Set your browser startup page to some Japanese website.

Change a games language to Japanese.

Find a Japanese radio app.

Buy a Kindle a read a few pages of a book a day.

Go to library for an hour instead of going straight home after school/work etc.

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