Feeling like progress is static

I am staying on top of my reviews and I have another resource(JapanesePod101) I use to help me learn the grammar(somewhat) but i just feel like I may not be moving forward or not at a optimal pace.

Its just difficult right now because i don’t really know enough to be able to read (as the bulk of my vocab is wanikani, so i don’t know any words outside kanji words) or practice speaking and im not sure when i will know enough to be able to start. I have thought about maybe trying the genki 1 textbook but it seems like advice online is both for and against using it, either at all or in favor of a different method. My ultimate goal for Japanese is: to learn to speak and listen well enough to express myself in conversation(so i can make friends with people in Japan and speak to them when i travel there), to be able to read full Japanese texts, and to be able to watch an anime/movie in Japanese without subtitles (at least without english subtitles). My original plan was to get there within 3-5 years but im not sure how long it may take now. Any advice that others can offer would be greatly appreciated.


Don’t you worry. This is a very normal feeling. Everyone has their own opinion on how to progress.

Here’s the one I like the best.
Wanikani for kanji.
Start memorizing basic vocabulary. Dog, cat, food, days of the week.
Immerse and immerse
Do as much listening to native content as you can. (Can be overwhelming at first but it is also fun)
Jump right into reading.

-Now for reading I like playing games on my phone, taking screenshots and translating the words I don’t know. I then throw them in an SRS
-complain lots to others on the forum to destress

For grammar I don’t know. I got some basic grammar through books and I just hope I get the rest as time goes by.

You got this!!


The answers you will get here are not likely the answer you will need. Let me explain.

I discovered Wani Kani only recently, and it has solved a question that I had for myself for a long time. You see, I have lived in Japan for years at this point (total 4 years), but my Japanese has only marginally increased. So, as a result, I struggled with grammar, vocab, memorization, and just about everything else.

I have been learning Japanese for more or less 17 years. Unfortunately, this resulted in repeated defeat and a less than stellar understanding of the grammar that is so hodgepodged together that it is a small miracle I even understand what I do. My cultural understanding is, on the other hand, is probably top tier.

Here is what you need to know and understand. Everybody learns differently. Only by starting Wani Kani did I realize what I have struggled with was a method to learn vocabulary. Wani Kani says you will learn by the end 6k vocab and 2k kanji, but what you will really learn is 8k (roughly) ways of saying Japanese words.

For myself, suddenly, I found I could have conversations by level 2 that I could never have dreamed of before. I am watching in real-time my ability to have deeper and more meaningful conversations take form.

So let me take this back to the top. The answers anyone of us can give is not the right answer for you. What you need to do is find the balance that fixes the holes in your knowledge. You can, of course, forcefully expand it. However, take it from the hand of God, so to speak, that you should choose the methods that work for you.


I would recommend Genki instead of JapanesePod101. I did their N5 courses and can honestly say they do not cover all of the N5 grammar nor vocab. With Genki you can get way further :slight_smile: .


Regarding textbooks, some people have achieved great success through them, and other people have had a terrible time learning that way. I think it depends on whether or not you’re the kind of person who learns well from textbooks. If you’re able to motivate yourself to study that way, it’s a fine way to start learning. If you find textbooks to be too dry and struggle to motivate yourself to study, you might have better luck looking up grammar points and learning vocab as you go and diving right into trying to read native materials. But immersion can be very frustrating and intimidating early on, which might leave you feeling discouraged and unmotivated.

Personally, I’m going the textbook route with Minna no Nihongo, but am planning on starting to read native materials alongside it once I complete the first book and reach roughly N5 grammar and have a stronger base of vocabulary to work from. Ideally, that’ll make it easier for me to jump into trying to read beginner manga and/or graded readers. I’m also not too concerned with speed. If I’m able to maintain my pace, I should be on track to finish MNN 1 and 2 and reach level 60 in WK about two years from now, which’ll put me at maybe N3 grammar with a knowledge of 2,000 kanji and over 6,000 vocabulary words (everything on WK, plus all of the MNN vocab that doesn’t overlap with WK). At that point, I should be in a pretty good position to read intermediate manga. But I’m someone who works pretty well with textbooks, and that isn’t true of everyone. I also spend a great deal of my free time immersing myself in a form of Japanese media that is largely untranslated lol so I’m pairing this with loads of passive immersion, which is already helping reinforce the things that I’m learning both in my textbook and on WK.

Lots of people claim that this or that route is the fastest or most efficient path to fluency, but honestly I think it’s most important to find a way of learning that works for you, and that you can keep doing on a daily basis without getting burned out. Even if immersion is the fastest way to become fluent (as some claim), that’s ultimately useless if you try it out and burn out early and then quit learning.

I would consider thinking about how you learn best, and maybe try a couple different things if you’re not sure what works for you. You could try reading native materials and see how that goes, or try picking up Genki or Minna no Nihongo (or another textbook if neither of those appeal to you), or try out other resources.

It might also help to find a tutor or an instructor, especially if you want to learn how to speak the language in addition to learning how to read and listen.


I think how you’re feeling is completely normal. I know it’s exactly how I felt. I started out with Japanese From Zero 1 as a very slow introduction to the language, then did my best to learn katakana, then moved onto Genki 1 and 2. I started trying to read Yotsubato towards the end of Genki 2 but struggled.

When I finished Genki 2 I’ve just been reading native material of different levels. Always manga so I have an image to assist. Some are easier than others, but it works for me because I’m now constantly exposed to the language in a medium that interests me.

I think early on with the language it feels like you’re constantly learning and improving, even if it’s hard, but the more you do on introductory japanese it starts to feel like you plateau.

From memory, I started using Wanikani around the time I started Genki but was very overwhelmed by the idea of radicals, kanji, vocab, onyomi and kunyomi readings. But it’s really true what most others say - over time your brain just sort of gets used to how it all works, then it’s just a matter of acquiring the information at a speed that suits you. You’re no longer really worry about the same things you are at the start of learning kanji or using wanikani.

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Keep going! Find things that are interesting to you. I think you are moving forward. It’s just hard to realise that sometimes.

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Drop JapanesePod101. I had a year of subscriptions before, and it didn’t help. I felt that the contents are too random for me. If your goal is speaking, you should get a tutor and use the shadowing technique. Here’s a good book for shadowing: Shadowing Let’s Speak Japanese Beginner to Intermediate Edition

Just a small comment on Japanese101.com

This is a source as good as others. Depends on how you are working. It is good for listening, vocab and grammar.

It was my sole Japanese source for almost 8 months, and if you follow the “absolute beginner” track and “beginner” track, you will have a level somewhere between N5 and N4.

After some time I noted I needed something more and this is when I started WK.

I have also added Bunpro. I first did all the N5 grammar, and for N4 I only add the point that I have already studied in JapanesePod101.

A lot of people recommend Tae Kim. If it helps you just go for it. Personally I just can’t go through it.

As said before, you just need to find what works for you, depending on the time you have, the way you study and your goal.

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I might recommend taking a look at the Absolute Beginners Book Club // Currently reading Teasing Master Takagi-san // Starting July - When Will Ayumu Make His Move. It will probably feel really hard at first, but will provide you with a great resource to learn lots of grammar and vocabulary along with other people. In particular, the book starting July 10th is currently free to keep on Bookwalker if you grab it before July 1st, so even if the book club doesn’t work out, you won’t have wasted any money on it. There will also be a vocabulary spreadsheet for the book, which will be much easier to use than looking up a lot of words in a dictionary.


I was thinking about this recently and it’s for me still somehow hard to believe one could learn effectively by just picking up grammar points from a list and/or learning them through videos alone, and then just getting exposed to native material. Particles and verb conjugation can be tricky, if not deceptive at times (potential forms of intransitive verbs overlapping with their passive forms or with regular forms of transitive verbs, causative-passive, etc.). I would personally say practice through exercises really does make a difference :slight_smile: .

Also, it’s definitely useful to mix and match approaches. If a grammar point is confusing, try a couple of different resources like Tae Kim’s Guide, Wasabi, etc. What helped me a ton was translating nuances of grammar structures to understand how and why they differ.

Apologies for my previous very succinct message, I will try to elaborate a little more.

As WaniKani’s priority is teaching kanji and using vocab to enforce that, you’ll encounter words not commonly used or spelled with too many kanji. My recommendation for vocab would be Anki-based:

  • every time you see a new word, sticking into an Anki set
  • for new words, try to look up synonyms or words using the same kanji with the same readings (f.e. nurse, caretaker, nursing school, nursing, etc.)
  • if you’re struggling with readings of specific kanji, add more words using these kanji, but try to keep them somewhat relevant (not archaic nor obscure terms)

I’ve not heard of advice against, but here’s a couple of things to watch out for or that might annoy people who aren’t too keen on textbooks:

  • Focus on students in terms of content. If you’re not a student anymore, the choice of taught words, phrases and text might seem irrelevant.
  • Overuse of kana for words which can use kanji. In rare cases this can change the meaning of verbs, for instance.
  • Sometimes confusing translations which don’t always clearly capture nuances of partially overlapping grammar points.

For speaking:

  • Consider an online tutor or joining a speaking group if possible. Who knows, maybe we could even start a speaking group with other WaniKani people :smiley: .

For listening:

  • Pick something that’s close to heart for you and try to listen/watch about it. If it’s TV dramas and/or anime, focus on that. However, with anime I would be quite careful, because the language used there is fairly colloquial, politeness levels are all over the place and you might pick up weird habits (like I did with わ :stuck_out_tongue: ).

That’s a fairly reasonable goal! :slight_smile: I was thinking about 2 years myself, but that’s a little challenging.


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