I bought TF when I started learning Japanese as it was recommended to me by someone, and the promise of complete soon to be ready (what a joke that turned out to be) EtoEto that covers beginner to advanced content hooked me in. Sure, Koichi writes in a charming way and it makes the ‘book’ more approachable. However, simply looking at the price tag and comparing it to the contents, I cannot recommend it to anyone in its current form., except perhaps as a way to get the WK -50% discount (not sure if it still exists). TextFugu is just an incomplete project that for some insane reason is still being sold. There are so many COMPLETE products out there that cover more ground for less money, even for free. Buying TF before EtoEto is finished, which I imagine is at least 2 years from now, is simply a foolish thing to do in my opinion.
Regarding the topic of learning a language, I can share my experience and how I feel it about it in general. Most of the people sharing advise here are in my opinion misguided, and sadly probably will never get truly proficient in Japanese. The amount of level higher level people unable to work their way through a simple NHK Easy article is a good testament to the inefficiency of their leanguage learning methods.
It has become somewhat clear to me that I’m somewhat of an outlier on this website, my views on language learning do not align with that of many here. Japanese is in order the 4th language that I’ve achieved some level of proficiency in. Last December I passed the JLPT N1 test after little over 15 months of learning Japanese, without any sort of tutors or classes, so much like you I’m a self-learner. I must stress that I did have to make some sacrifices, for example my writing ability is still very much in progress and my speaking ability is far behind my comprehension capabilities. Something that I’ve spent now 2-3 hours a week really improving in fact. I read books, newspapers and watch/listen to political and economical discussions comfortably, also currently all the video games that I play are in Japanese.
With English and Swedish, I’ve tried the classroom approach. Never learned any English in the classroom, all the English I’ve learned has been through osmosis via video games, TV, music, and since the late 90s, the Internet, and the little Swedish I learned in the classroom didn’t stick for long. The endless conjugation tables for nouns and verbs still haunt to me to this day. I’m from a bilingual country, we’re forced to learn Swedish starting from grade 5 or 7, depending on the school a little. You can ask any Canadian on this site for example how well most English-speaking Canadians speak French. Not very well. It’s the same for us Finns with the Swedish language. I managed to get by with the little Swedish I knew, barely getting a passing grade in the Swedish classes, until I entered the university. We’re required to do Swedish at university level where they assume you have a solid B2 -level (in the CEFR). I was in deep trouble.
Long story little shorter, somehow I happened to stumble upon Memrise which is a SRS -thing similar to Anki except easier to use and more fun. Figured out that the key to language learning isn’t conjugation tables, grammar concepts or speaking to your equally poorly skilled classmates about your summer vacation or your pets. The key to learn any language is to know words, lots of them. Here we then arrive at the first main issue I have with every textbook out there, especially incomplete ones like TextFugu, is that they do not teach you enough vocabulary. Even Genki that is heralded as the best thing to get when starting Japanese, barely teaches you 500 words. It’s pathetic. What can you do with 500 words? - Not much.
The second issue that I have is the way how grammar is hugely over-emphasized in language learning. To me grammar is maybe 15% of the learning process. I see doing textbook exercises and conjugation tables absolutely pointless waste of time. Most of it won’t stick and it won’t make you understand any better what someone just said to you. Knowing that a sentence was in past tense barely does anything for you if you have no idea what all the other words meant.
Sadly, I’m running out of time to write this so I’ll just leave this at that. In summary, my recommendation for everyone learning a language is to focus on acquiring new words, reading and listening to things that you care about and are truly interested in. Grammar should be treated as a reference only, you will quickly notice the different patterns that occur in a language without having to learn impossible sounding grammatical terms and concepts or work your way through conjugation tables. I didn’t have a chance to explain what I feel about speaking early on in your language learning process. Simply put, INPUT ＞ OUTPUT.
I’m basically done with Wanikani and before I leave for good I promised to write a long essay in Japanese for the folks at the Longest Thread Ever -thread, so I think I might choose this as my topic for that, once I get enough time to organize my thoughts properly around the topic. Perhaps I should write an English version of it too.
Sorry that I don’t have much time right now to go into more proper details.