I’ve been using bunpro along WK recently.
Your first post expressed frustration about feeling overwhelmed.
The temptation is to learn grammar, build vocabulary, improve listening skills, practice production/output (speaking and writing), learn about pitch accent, and learn how to read all at the same time.
Speaking as someone who spent literally decades trying to learn the language this way, I can state definitively that there us a much more efficient and less stressful way: focus exclusively on that last item first, then start on the rest once you’ve got a foundation built.
The Japanese language is tightly bound to the written language. Much begins to make more sense once you can read a bit.
If you’ve already got at least the very basics of Japanese grammar down (enough to form simple “this is a red pencil” and “I went to the store” kinds of sentences) then my advice remains to focus exclusively on reading with WK for a while.
I‘d seriously consider leaving bunpro, etc. alone for a while, at least until WK starts to feel under control.
When is best to start branching out depends on the individual, but doing it when you’re feeling overwhelmed seems unwise.
By all means, set WK aside for a while if you’re starting to dread it, but there are real advantages to making reading the first step of your journey.
Honestly, I don’t see the appeal of Bunpro. I did the month free trial and quit it after a couple of days. What you mention, practicing with simple sentence patterns, is probably the most efficient way to learn IMO. “Monkey see, monkey do.” Using words results in acquiring grammar. Studying grammar doesn’t result in using words.
I think bunpro is a really well made site.
The core functionality is quite poor however and I think its a failed execution of using srs to learn grammar.
If things look nice and feel easy to navigate and do, you don’t need to have an effective tool to attract an audience, though. Duolingo has already shown us that.
This x1000! My poor parents have been studiously and religiously using DuoLingo for Spanish for 3 years and can’t string together more than simple sentences about finding a toilet. Duo brings you up to a beginner toddler’s level and then tries to guilt trip you into practicing everyday and leaving you wondering why you’re not getting more proficient.
I felt bad and got them a bilingual reader and some verb flashcards to try to help them along. Of course they almost immediately shelved them and went back to their gamified illusion of learning.
I’ve not spent enough time with bunpro to form any strong opinion, but there is definitely value in studying grammar (even in your native language). Tofugu just had a blog post that listed several useful resources if you aren’t a fan of bunpro.
Mimicry will only take you so far (otherwise we wouldn’t have English or 国語 classes in primary school).
Join us in the senryu thread for several examples where knowing all the words isn’t nearly enough to understand (or form) complex thoughts. Or simply try to explain when to use は and when to use が.
I just recommend holding off on serious grammar studies until you can read a bit. When depends on the individual, but in my case I didn’t feel ready until at least level 35 or so.
I think i have to disagree here, first post mentioned lack of progress in two years, not being overwhelmed. They tried listening to media and games for a while, but seems like it was too frustrating - now i cant see how focusing just on kanji for more time would help with this frustration.
Focusing heavily on kanji is very helpful if you plan long term and dont mind big time/effort investment at the start as it then makes everything else easier. But OP is already frustrated so focusing just on it more would in my opinion just cause burnout - on the other hand starting to focus more on grammar is pretty good option, it will allow for other ways how to learn and use japanese and feel good about achieving something.
To offer oposite view here too - I follow mainly textbooks for grammar progression, but bunpro is actually pretty good tool, not nearly perfect, but it has decently detailed explanations, list of related grammar points, it has several (often fully voiced) sentences you can check and there are even links to more resources, it is not just SRS tool. But speaking about the SRS part, benefits of that are that you dont see the same sentence over and over, if you correctly input whats needed, you will get different sentence for this grammar point in the next interval and it has a lot of tips / explanations during that SRS explaining how/why something else might fit better. Then also those sentences can serve as reading and listening practice (especially with furigana for things not yet learned on WK).
Of course it has the downside of rememering set things, but i dont feel like its nearly as big issue as you think since those sentences do change (the biggest one there is that i can guess some stuff from how they hint at stuff).
Not saying this is the best choice for OP as only they know what they want / need, but i dont think getting compared with duolingo here is fair.
Fair enough. There’s plenty of good advice here to choose from, including your own. @Vouru just needs to choose what works best for them.
I just know from direct, first-hand, hard-won experience that when I start to feel like “absolute trash” at doing something new, or start seeing low accuracies in my “stressful” reviews specifically, that the solution is usually to do more with less, rather than the other way around.
Ultimately, whether this means focusing on WK reviews or something else isn’t the main thing: it’s focusing on fewer things until you can do them well that matters.
I’d still recommend focusing on reading first for the reasons I gave above, but I agree it’s better to start on something you can do well than to just beat your head against a wall.
I hit a wall around level 17. Lowering the size of my working set (slowing down on lessons, more out-of-band reviews of fewer items) did wonders. It’s been smooth sailing since.
I would actually recommend doing grammar in parallel to WaniKani (assuming it’s not too much already), precisely because of
WaniKani gives you (some) words and the ability to pronounce kanji. Without having a solid grammar foundation (like N4 or higher) reading is going to be just pronouncing strings of words and kana in-between without knowing what all of that means. At least that’s how I would see it. Unfortunately, I don’t have first-hand experience, because I was doing quite some grammar before I started reading.
Hey man idk if anybody else has told you but maybe you have ADHD I used to have so much trouble with studying or doing pretty much anything because of my ADHD and after i got medicated I was able to actually retain the information so I recommend you do a self evaluation and check and see if you do then go to a psychologist and the psychiatrist to get a proper evaluation and also medication and if you do have it you might actually have less issues with work and personal life (people with ADHD tend to compare themselves to others a lot) im telling you this because I was the first person in my family to realize I have both ADHD and aspergers and after that both of my brothers, mother and father also got diagnosed with ADHD and you seem to distract yourself quiet often which is also common and you are looking for entertainment to feed your serotoning hungry brain (we tend to overeat or eat carb/sugar heavy foods to get the serotoning boost that we need and do anything that is self gratificating to feed our brains the serotoning we lack). Besides that I would recommend using anki I have anki setup and i write all the vocabulary that appear for the day even if i dont remember them because if I write them enough times and repeat them enough times I am able to remember the symbol. Its helped me because even though I dont remember the meaning or the pronunciation of the word I am able to see it and say “whoah ive seen this kanji before” then I go onto jisho search up what it means and boom I pretty much memorize it then because my brains kicks into the this is important and should be remembered mode.
I think people take “studying grammar” too far. You don’t need to know the names of parts of speech and be able to describe them. You just have to learn how to use them, and that comes with input, practice and more input and practice. It doesn’t come from conceptually understanding them and being able to recite rote memorization facts about them. You do not need to know the terms causative, transitive, auxiliary, inflection, conjugation or agglutination in order to be able to speak, use and participate in a language. I would go as far as to say most people will never even reach a point in their Japanese where they learn the Japanese terms for those words, so why waste time learning them in English if your goal is merely to speak Japanese? It makes little sense to me. It’s just fluff information that doesn’t help.
Of course, I never suggested one should study Japanese linguistic terms, because I agree knowing them is secondary to being able to use them.
Right, but don’t you first need to understand that input to be able to benefit from it? Just shoving a lot of input isn’t going to get you very far I think. Otherwise I would’ve already been fluent after years of watching anime. That’s where grammar comes in. When you learn basic conjugations, the roles of particles, how する compounds work, etc. you build a foundation which will make learning from input easier.
To add to it, Japanese has a lot of nuanced grammar structures which are not very apparent from input alone, because they fall under catch 22 - you need to know them to understand them. Unless the input is fully comprehensive (text + audio + clear emotions) then I can see that working .
There are several people that have gotten fluent off of a mostly input-based approach, so the idea that you need to study is disproved, but also the EFFICIENCY of study is also in question. There’s probably SOME benefit to study as far as acquisition, but it’s probably marginal. Don’t get me wrong. I study and I love studying. Or rather, I study BECAUSE I love studying. For those attempting to actually just blitz learning a language though, there are better ways than grammar SRS, which IMO is probably the least efficient way to get grammar. I would take physical flashcards over SRS for grammar any day of the week.
Editing for clarification I express a disdain for studying here, but by study I mean the laborious rote memorization of obscure language used to describe parts of speech and their interactions with one another. It’s fine to study grammar from any source, as long as they get it right. Get it tight.
Oh yeah, that I totally agree with. If grammar is coupled with good, clear context, that’s arguably more beneficial than learning grammar patterns in insolation. Same with vocabulary. At least that’s been my experience so far.
About the input-first approach, I read some convincing success stories on Reddit and I definitely agree that it makes sense to lean more towards that direction. I think some of the people still did some core grammar studies like Tae Kim’s guide or similar to get started.
The best approach is probably somewhere in the middle. I honestly believe that a combination of: active input (videos in TL with TL subs), passive input (audio on the go), active study (grammar textbooks), SRS (kanji and vocab), vocabulary lists and workbooks, writing practice, shadowing practice, and most importantly, sentence pattern building written exercises, is the most efficient path. It’s the one I’m taking. And if someone as awesome as me is doing it, it’s probably worth doing.
The opposite end of the spectrum would by Jay Rubin’s book “Making Sense of Japanese”, which is essentially 200 pages of explaining why he’s not an eel, despite clearly saying so at the beginning of the book. I know it’s a book beloved and beholden by many, but I think it represents the collective elitism that exists in language learning communities and distracts/detracts from more efficient study.
As a person who started learning japanese almost two decades ago, my advice is:
Think honestly: ¿Why do you want to learn japanese? ¿Is it really something important for you?
If you have it clear, then focus on that motivation and proceed to step #2
Consider very seriously to try some textbook or method: Is not the same just trying to memorize lots of words than learning them within context.
I used Minna no Nihongo, but other people have been succesful with Genki, Human Japanese and Bunpro.
Expose yourself to some input: The brain works miracles without you even knowing. If you start consuming japanese series, anime or music… Soon you will start recognizing those previously obscure words as they start gaining real meaning.
Just my two cents
What you are hitting on is the reality of life…and yes that first part none of us should do but we all do it don’t we…it’s human nature to want to know how we are doing and if we are on the right track… (just have to fight the urge…the truth is there is not really a solution this problem easier to say than do right… )
You aren’t doing anything wrong… people love to say “SRS just let it do it’s thing”… so regardless if you hit your 4 hour 8 hour yadda yadda or not… there are several issues with WK that you have no control over and not everyone is young or has the same amount of time for study, jobs where you can do reviews during the days, etc… and caffeine hell yes…we all need that!!!
I have posted in places before about some of my issues with WK, the biggest one is no built in leech manager (as someone else work works a lot)… I can empathise somewhat with the pain…I’m also horrible at learning this language…if it helps motivate you and maybe to put it into perspective I’m about to hit level 40 in the next few days… this is after doing WK EVERY DAY NON STOP Dec 2018…have never reset
Forget about the you can do it in a year BS…yes there are some amazing folks who have done this (not to take away from their awesomeness), but the reality is most people take at least 3 years often more… (take a look at the level 60 post threads) the do it in a year is just marketing and while it can be done doesn’t mean it can be done by everyone with success… Honestly originally I thought I could do it in 3 years and it would be fine, but honestly it’s going to take me 5.5 years at the pacing I’m at. If I had to do it over again I would not use WK nor recommend it to anyone (until they come up with built in leech management), but since you are purple it means you paid for lifetime like I did…
I will say that if it’s been 2 years and you are only at level 11 now it’s going to just get slower when you get into the higher levels…so depending on what you want to do, just put wk on vacation mode and walk away and destress… I don’t know if you have ever reset/started or stopped and what not…but depending on your personal goals…
Just do reviews when you can, morning and evening is fine, it’s not wrong. If you want to refresh and continue WK, then reset to the beginning and start over… go SLOW!!! and when I say go slow…I mean ignore the urge to rush… Use Flaming Durtles or other apps so you can review offline assuming the type of work you do let’s you do that… Personally I keep my daily reviews 100 or less (not specific items but total reviews)… and then sneak in reviews every couple of hours on the app (because of my job I can usually do this as it only takes a few min - but not everyone can)…may sound silly but even if you are working all day you still get a few min to go to the restroom…could sneak in reviews then (the app lets you limit max reviews)…so you could sneak in 5 quickly sort of thing…various ways to try to manage…
The gist of what I’m saying is that if you start over … so slow that you start with 5 lessons a day … ONLY… when you get to 25 app items stop adding… (or if you feel overwhelmed with reviews stop)…and instead of going fast and trying to work off backlog … work forward to find a pacing that works for you…At some point add 7 or 8 lessons…very very very!!! slowly work up
This will probably only work for the first 15-20 levels but by that time you should have found some sort of groove that works with work and personal life…and when things get kind of wild or leechy you can make adjustments to that … but plan on doing WK in 5-6 years (if you can tolerate it and works with your goals…will be less stressful but not less frustrating going slow)
I’m currently leveling up in 42-45 days… that’s my reality and I h8 it but it’s what it’s taking to not be overwhelmed by leechy death… you could also join one of the groups for leveling up (or start your own)… if that helps provide motivation…even if it’s slow…forward progress is forward progress… Best of luck!!!
WK teaches you ~6K vocabulary words and enough information to understand and actually read many more if you come across them in the wild. That’s not insignificant even if it’s not the main point.
Learning basic grammar is definitely a critical early part the process. There’s a balance: too much focus on grammar too early can be counter-productive, but not being able to form even basic sentences makes learning words kind of pointless.
I’ve found that just letting my brain pattern match over lots and lots and lots of input (reading or listening) lets me pick up a surprising amount of vocabulary and grammar. With enough time and practice, you can even start producing (output) moderately complex ideas.
Occasional research into a specific grammatical construct works better for me than persistent stretches of focused grammar studies.
It’s all predicated on being able to read, though!
WK teaches you to read explicitly, teaches you a fair bit vocabulary implicitly, and at least exposes you to example sentences with various grammatical constructs.
I can state definitively what not to do! (laugh). My journey was basically:
- Somewhat formal grammar & vocabulary studies in Romaji. [~2 years]
- Sink or swim immersion, regular conversation, gradually picking up more vocabulary and some grammatical constructs. [~40 years!]
- Finally find Wanikani and start to learn to read [~2 years]
- Start reading some Japanese as well as listening (and understanding far more of it). [~6-8 months now, continuing]
- Learning and studying specific grammatical constructs. [As needed/interested]
Prior to finding Wanikani, I could hold rough conversations in broken Japanese, eventually getting whatever point I wanted to make across without too much effort, and usually knowing the gist of what was going on. But it was often a struggle.
But the two years I spent learning to read has dramatically, rapidly improved my ability to understand and speak Japanese. It’s been a profound change.
That’s why I’m recommending:
- Basic grammar and vocabulary studies (“This is a red pencil.”). [~6 months]
- Learn to read (and build vocabulary along the way). [~1-3 years with Wanikani]
- Read, listen, write, and speak Japanese as much as possible, constantly improving. [forever]
- Focused grammar studies for specific constructs. [as needed]
It’s never a linear flow. There’s always overlap, but buckling down and focusing on reading, as much as possible and as early as possible, pays huge dividends — it makes everything easier.
This is pretty much my philosophy. I think that everyone should be exposed to grammatical explanations, in brief, early on, but not really spend time on them. Learning Japanese is often paralleled to chicken sexing - professional chicken sexers don’t actually have the ability to articulate how they make split second decisions about which sex a baby chick is, but they are able to do so with precision, quickly and without thought. They have “acquired” the ability to discern this, versus memorizing lengthy and overly verbose lectures describing how to do it.
Sentence pattern drills are probably the single most efficient way to learn Japanese. Our brains our puzzle solvers, with pattern recognition being our primary tool for that task. The first question our brain asks itself when it encounters something that isn’t immediately recognized is, “Have I seen this or something like it before?” Sentence pattern drills fill this gap in the same intuitive way that chicken sexers are taught to sex chickens - they shadow another professional and try to mimic their results, thus subconsciously developing the skill that recognizes the traits - the pattern - that determines the chick’s sex.
Most of language learning is subconscious and is acquired when patterns are recognized. And the same is true for nearly any other skill.