Gosh, no wonder you’re frustrated!
I’m also an older self studier: age 32, took Japanese 1 in high school, japanese 1 and 2 in college, studied abroad for 4 months in Tokyo + took intensive language courses, then switched to self studying when I graduated and have dipped in and out ever since.
But I really don’t believe in ‘the grind’, and have firmly set myself against it now. Hear me out:
My biggest epiphany came from this speech:
I really think it’s worth watching if you’re not already familiar with Krashen, Kaufman, the comprehensible input theory, and LingQ.
Watching that speech, so many things clicked for me all at once. The biggest of which was that I felt like I knew SO LITTLE usable Japanese after bashing myself against that wall for years! Come to find out, that we’ve done the research to find out that in order to learn effectively, you have to be calm, engaged, and having a good time. Duh! I pick up slang constantly, figure out words in context, make up my own puns and portmanteaus all the time in English! This idea hit me like a rock.
So why am I here doing WK, you might ask? Well, after listening to a bunch of Kaufman’s videos and subscribing to LingQ over a year ago, I’m having a great time with it. I’m learning so much faster and more easily that it doesn’t feel like work. I import song lyrics and YouTube videos, I use Google translate to OCR magazine articles directly off the page and then import them as lessons, and I do the same with packaging for daily use items I’m buying.
But what LingQ doesn’t provide is an actual class. Grammar has to be learned separately (and I personally like cure dolly/unlocking Japanese for this, but there’s lots of great resources!), and Kanji is best learned hierarchically, starting with the easy radicals and then learning how the puzzle pieces fit together.
So as much as I’m enjoying and benefiting from my laissez-faire translating of random stuff I feel like reading and watching, I do want to learn the foundational fundamentals too, because it makes all that easier to comprehend! Learning kanji piecemeal and in random order has made it hard for me to memorize the actual kanji and tell them apart, so I decided that learning the meanings behind the pictographs would fill in that gap for me.
So I have no timelines or expectations for myself. I don’t have a deadline or a set goal for my learning except ‘I like anime, jfashion, makeup and kawaii culture and want to be fluent enough to participate in all of them’. But I’m still actively doing the work, by bouncing between learning grammatical structures that I’m still weak on, slowly making my way through WK, and creating and translating my LingQs. I do whatever I feel like doing at the time. It is all progress. It is all growth. And it is all moving me towards better comprehension and enjoyment! I can already see a huge difference in how much I’m able to read and comprehend of stuff without using my tools or looking things up. I’d say that in the past year or two I went from about a 25% comprehension rate to about 50-60% depending on the topic.
So this was an extremely long winded pitch to slow down. Enjoy the process. This should be fun! It’s something that you are doing for you. If SRS is getting to be a brick wall, ask yourself what you WANT to be doing. Stop speeding past individual flash cards because you’re getting frustrated and bored, then getting them wrong and getting even MORE frustrated.
It sounds like you’ve gotten far enough that you should be able to do any number of learning and practice activities with pretty good success.