General progression

I have a question about progression to the users who are at an intermediate or advanced level of Japanese.
How long did it take you to get to the point where you understand just about everything you read?

I realize it might be a dumb question, but I have to ask someone with more experience, since I’m an incredibly inpatient guy when it comes to my Japanese learning. I’ve been using Wanikani since January 1, and gotten to level 16, which is roughly one level a week. And I’ve also gotten to chapter 16 in Genki, also one chapter a week. So I’ve gotten pretty far in a small amount of time I think(Though I bet some people of done it alot quicker), and I can say alot of different stuff, but I’m still not able to read very much written by Japanese people. I’m only sometimes able to read whole sentences, but really rarely.

So when did you feel that you got to a level where you could comfortably read most sentences? What level on wanikani and what chapter(and what book)?
I kind of assume most people don’t even notice it since learning a language is such a gradual thing, but I still have to ask, since the question keeps itching in my head.


Probably not the best person to respond, since I did it weird, but I’ll chime in.

Anyways, I studied Japanese for 9 months at a local college, and then I took a couple months off in order to focus specifically on reading. About 4 months into focusing on reading, I was to the point that I could understand most of what I what was reading in manga, but not light novels or games. Probably another 3 or 4 months after that I could read and understand most of what I read in games or light novels, however, I still don’t understand a good bit, especially on technical topics. The issue with this is that only my reading ability is good, my listening is crap.

Anyways, just quickly addressing issues, there are a lot of kanji that I know the meaning of, but not the reading and that trips me up a lot. That’s primarily why I started Wanikani was to help me with the reading and the kanji that I didn’t know. Additionally, I end up speaking and thinking like how things are written.

As such, some one else will have to chime in on what wanikani level you should be at, since I started wanikani after the fact. When I started focusing on reading, I had completed Genki I, Nakama I and gone through all of Tae Kim’s stuff. From there I just read and researched what I didn’t know, and over time I had to look up less and less. When I started being comfortable reading, I had completed genki II and done a ton of research online. However, a lot of it came down to just reading a lot, which is something that I am fairly good at.

Anyways, hope that helps.

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Been studying for ~2-2.5 years. Failed the N5 in December, but two points. Am not comfortable reading pretty much anything. But, I also have a lot less time to study than most.

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I’ve been studying Japanese at a leisurely pace for the past four years in college, and I feel like I understand grammar quite well. My only problem is a lack of kanji knowledge and therefore vocabulary. Part of what makes learning Japanese a long journey is memorizing kanji meanings and readings. If you don’t want to have to constantly consult a dictionary, get as early a start into vocabulary building as possible. And from what you’ve said, you’re doing just fine. I’d say that at your pace, and so long as it holds true that you stay on top of your kanji studies, you should be able to understand and at the very least intuit a majority of the Japanese writing you come across within the next 2 years. There are people out there who are very quick to pick up Japanese, but for the average person, I’d say it takes 2-3 years at the very least. To get to a near native/highly advanced level that is.

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I can totally relate to you. Last year I tried learning japanese by myself, did one month o WK and some chapters of Genki but gave up before 2 months. In the beginning of this year, I bought my lifetime sub and textfugu. FInished TF and Im currently at chapter 17 in Genki II. Besides Genki, I usually read 1-5 grammar points a day in Dictionary of Japanese Basic Grammar. I tried to many visual novels with integrated translator stuff but it was really hard. In the end, I gave up trying to read for the moment. I will give reading a good try after I finish Genki II, but this time I will try to read Yotsubato and Nisekoi. My dream is to be able to read Mahou Tsukai no Yoru (visual novel) one day!

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I believe a person that can understand “pretty much anything” won’t need to use WaniKani, so I don’t expect someone like that to respond.

I have been learning English (not intensively) for almost 11 years (school) and I think I am at that point. Of course I could still find literature that’s hard or impossible for me to read, purely vocabulary-wise, but I can read most Wikipedia articles without trouble. That said, my native language is German, so this doesn’t compare well to learning Japanese.

Also, I started learning ate the age of 8. (made it easier for me)
Also, learning in school is vastly different from the way most of us study Japanese. (slower)

But maybe this is helpful anyways.

EDIT: Strangely, I feel like I got “good” fairly suddenly, 2 years ago maybe. I’m sure that has to do with exposure.

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Yeah, your answer gives me a bit more insight, so thank you for the answer!
So it took you about 16-17 months then with various sources of information. That doesn’t sound TOO bad, though I’d like to be able to read stuff a bit earlier. Out of curiousity though, what did you learn in those 9 months in college if you went on to wanikani and Genki/Namaka afterwards? Or maybe you studied those two textbooks at the college?

Edit: Meant to ‘DelBaset’. I’m new on this forum and not very good.

Thanks for your answer!
Did it take you all those four years to learn the grammar though? Was all those years necessary or would it be possible to learn it all in a much shorter time?
I hope you’re right regarding my pace though. Also gonna go to a language school next year, but I highly doubt they focus on kanji there since there’s so many on them, so I plan to learn most of them before that time, and get to a certain level grammar wise.

I tried learning Japanese a few years back as well, but I had shitty learning material so I ended up quitting within a month. Alot easier to study Japanese with Wanikani and Genki though, in my opinion. Hopefully reading will be easier after Genki II at least.

Learning English and Japanese is two quite different things though, in my opinion. It easy for me(as a Norwegian), but mostly because just about no games(which I played alot) were translated to Norwegian, so I got it pushed into my mind just by doing my hobby. Japanese on the other hand has different sentence structure, different grammar and an alphabet with a few thousand characters. Though I appreciate the answer.

I went through Nakama in my first year, then my college didn’t offer any more Japanese after that. So, I picked up both Genki I and II since I heard good things and went through genki I in a couple of weeks since the content was fairly similar to Nakama. I had self studied Tae Kim’s stuff up to that point. Then I started focusing on reading and really dropped any grammar or vocab studies outside of what I saw reading and then researched. I don’t really remember when I started Genki II, I think some time that summer and I went through it in maybe a month and a half.

So, first year was fairly slow, I just covered Nakama I and nothing else really. I was working like 80+ hours and going to school at that time so I was just trying to get through it. One of the reasons I was able to speed up so much was that I took some time off work to study.

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Didn’t offer more Japanese after one year? What the hell. That sounds weird and unsatisfactory
Still though, it sounds like you did pretty well if you were able to read after those textbooks and Tae kim, and then practicing for those months afterwards.

I’ve definitely been on the slow train. I’d say I’m a couple years behind just due to my pace. If you were to simply study grammar points, you could easily learn most of the common ones (including those from Genki + Tobira textbooks) within a very short period of time. I’d say you could do it in about a six months to a year if you stomp on the gas. But then where would you be? Trust me, you wouldn’t be able to understand a lick of Japanese. Like every language, you need a whole, not just a part or two. That means you have to equally focus on kanji, vocab, grammar, reading, listening, and speaking. That’s what makes learning Japanese take so long to do. A language school is a great idea. I’ve personally never attended one, but it sounds promising. It should put you on the fast track to learning. But be warned, even if you go to school, you can never rely solely on the classes you take. 1-3 hours (depending on desired pace) of self-study every day is required in order to rapidly learn the language. It’s a lot of dedication in other words. You described yourself as impatient. I’ll plainly tell you that learning a language, especially Japanese, is a truly difficult test of patience. You’re in for a long journey.

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Yeah, school didn’t give much money to world languages as is, we had to petition to even get the last quarter of the year.

Thanks, I worked my way through a lot of high school so I was used to self studying by that point.

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I plan to finish Genki II and Tobira before I go to that school. I won’t be able to hone my listening and and speaking skills though, but I honestly plan to do that while I go to that school. I also failed to mention that the language school is in Tokyo, so I kind of hope that living in the country where they speak Japanese will increase the speed I’ll learn to listen and speak as well, since I would have no other means of communicating with them than to use my Japanese. As for Vocab, I do Wanikani and a few courses on Memrise, but so far only Genki I and II courses, to push the words from the textbooks into my mind. Since I sucked at picking them up just by going through the chapter. No idea if there’s any better way to aquire vocabs. Didn’t know I probably have to self study beside a language school as well though, but I can do it. Probably.
I might be impatient, but I’ll be patient enough. My impatience only makes me angry, which in turn I can turn to motivation to study harder.
Very valuable insight you gave me! Thanks!

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