Frustrated it's taking so long to learn Japanese and need to feel better?

I started studying Japanese in 2016. 2023 is almost over which means I’ve been studying for 7 years.

I have been unable to pass the practice exams for JLPT N5.

Next time you think you’re slow, just know there are people who are much slower than you at learning Japanese. :slight_smile:


Couldn’t help but think of this guy!

I technically started learning Japanese 20 years ago :flushed: and I am taking the N4 in December :sweat_smile: it’s definitely a marathon, not a sprint :blush:


Consistency is key. N5 is 800 words, about 50 kanji, and grammar is so common I don’t know how else to put it, you need to plan out your study routine.


If you share some more info about which parts of the test you struggled with, I’m sure people on here can help you plan for that specifically and give you clearer goals for your studying. Perhaps you need to focus more on other things than what you’re doing now? Or are other things at play (IRL, work, family etc)?

It’s just hard to say from your comment and give you good advice to help you out of your slump.

But, first of all, don’t give up. You can make it with patience and perseverance! :slight_smile:


What is your active study time, though?
Plus, are you enjoying learning japanese regardless?

I started in 2016 as well but I can’t really say I’ve been studying for 7 years, because most of this time I haven’t been studying. That’s kinda the issue :smile: Maybe I have two years worth of active days or so, not sure, and much of that is repeating stuff I have forgotten during the long breaks.

Despite that unstructured and messy approach I’m comfortable with all N5 stuff (partly judging by recently having picked up doing BunPro again) and everytime I restart my journey I do enjoy myself.


Perhaps a right spot needs to be hit?

The progress is rarely linear. Sometimes more inclination, sometimes a tipping point, as long as you don’t stop seeking forward (and keep at it sometimes).

I doubt I wouldn’t progress much if I hadn’t tried WaniKani for a while; but certainly it doesn’t need to be WaniKani for everyone.


studying since 20 years ago gang rise up

(like @shikaji says that definitely wasn’t 20 years of consistent study, but nonetheless)


For me, the first 20 years of (inconsistent) study cover the part before I actually made any significant progress!

I’ll leave the 25-year club light on for those getting close to joining me =D


You have to keep in mind that there’s quite a few users that have studied Japanese with mixed results before coming here and after that it still took years to get where they are right now.

When learning anything things fall in place later, but it’s not a state you can easily get into.


I highly recommend wishlisting and keeping an eye on Nihongo Quest N5 on steam as that teaches all N5 kanji, vocabulary, and grammar.

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I’ve been studying for the same amount of time (7 years, since 2016) and was in the same sort of situation. It felt like no matter how much I studied, I just couldn’t get any of it — kanji, grammar, even common vocab — to stick in my head. It was like this for years. And I felt so stuck.

What really helped was trying to apply what I learned by reading very easy material. I suggest Tadoku graded readers (free, I suggest starting with L0 or L1 stories) and Satori Reader (paid but worth it imo). Before, the things I was learning were just too abstract. Once I saw these in use over and over again, it actually solidified in my head as language and not as some theoretical knowledge.

Even now, 7 years after I’ve started learning, I’m still absolutely at an N5 level for listening because I don’t practice listening very much… so I guess I’ve gotta practice what I preach here :sweat_smile: But I assume the solution for getting better with listening is the same as with reading. Listen to easy material like Comprehensible Japanese (includes visuals!) or Nihongo con Teppei (podcast). Maybe book a conversation lesson on italki (and explain your situation! that’s what I did and the instructor was very understanding, and even just taking a few lessons was helpful)

Learning to read and listen is a slow process, don’t feel discouraged if you struggle a lot at first. That’s completely normal! Just keep at it!


I also started around the same time sound was really struggling, I had to restart Wanikani from I think level 12.

What’s working better for me this time is drawing mnemonic doodles for almost everything and putting them into an Anki deck.

Also I recently subscribed to Bunpro and have been watching Japanese films in my spare time.

Am still at a basic level but


I started 3 years ago and I’ve not able to even dare passing N5. And I’m studying every day.
But the first year and a was mainly Duolingo, and only repeaed sentences without understanding the grammar.
And the next year was mainly japanesepodcast101 and Anki, so i learned lots of things, but never used anywhere, si didn’t sticked
And later i did Busuu a few months, that was like Duolingo but better.
But now I’m doing Wanikani + MaruMori/Bunpro + Satori and I think i learned more in the last 9 months than in the previous 2 years and a half.
Maybe I’ll try N5 next year.

For me, answer is SRS where you have to type (WW), grammar lessons with SRS (Bunpro/MaruMor) and graded reading (Satori). Other things (like autoevaluation or choosing from a list) didn’t work for me.


Bunpro has been a gamechanger for me too. Things are actually starting to click, I’m recognising the newly learned patterns and words when I watch Japanese shows or listen to music, and it feels like real progress, rather than just accumulating theoretical kanji knowledge and random bits of info like I was before :nerd_face:

MaruMori looks great :heart_decoration: but I’ve covered the “first steps” of Japanese so many times on so many platforms that I was hesitant to “restart” somewhere new. My current combo is WK, Bunpro, the Migii JLPT app (in preparation for N4 in December) and then watching/listening to things I want to watch/listen to.

Also playing simple simulation games in Japanese! I’ve been playing ‘Hot Springs Story’ occasionally and am going to start playing Stardew Valley again but in Japanese. Sure there is plenty I don’t understand and I’m probably missing out on certain goals/options along the way, but the satisfaction of vaguely following what is happening is so worth it :star_struck:

I wish you loads of luck on your :jp: journey!



Make sure to stay in touch with MM updates since we’re developing mock tests for JLPT :slight_smile:

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I am 2,5 years into wanikani and not even in a foreseeable future I intend to do at least N3,

honestly I never liked doing exams in my life, I feel like patrick with the plank on his head, I get blank mind during tests, idk why :sweat_smile:

at least for my main goal I am achieving right now which is reading is fine so far.