So I’m currently debating whether I should put WK on vacation mode for a while to focus on grammar. I’m level 13 and feeling a little lacking in the motivation department. I also really suck at grammar. I’m only Chapter 6 or so on Genki 1 and really struggle with any kind of reading for that reason. Let’s not even talk about my listening skills. So, to more experienced WKers - is this a good idea, or will I just end up even more demotivated and never want to come back?
If grammar’s what gets in the way of what you want to do with Japanese, go learn grammar.
Remember that WaniKani is not going to teach you Japanese. It’s going to teach you kanji, and it’s going to teach you some vocabulary as a part of that…
Priorities change, and stubbornly sticking with one thing isn’t going to be very helpful to your learning, in my experience. Especially if that gets in the way of what’s actually going to teach you Japanese, which is consuming and producing the language.
Pardon if my suggestion here is unwarranted, but may I suggest checking out cure dolly’s grammar series? personally I found it to be quite helpful and has made me understand the grammar on a a much more comfortable level. I may be lacking heavily in vocab, but I feel like her way of presenting the information is straight forward and easy to understand such that if I can rely on a dictionary for the vocab I dont know, I can chunk through many of the sentences I’ve come across. If you’re happy with using genki and making progress with that than that’s fine and you can ignore me, but if you’re having troubles maybe give it a gander and look at the first few videos in her grammar series.
I would do all of the following in your situation:
- The rest of Genki 1. That’s also going to teach you some vocab with the grammar.
- Bunpro’s N5 lessons
- Pretty much any N5 vocabulary list you can google - memorize it.
- Keep doing your wanikani reviews when they come up, just throttle new lessons to a trickle, like 5 or 10 a day. (Not zero!) I can guarantee your motivation won’t get higher knowing there’s a big pile-up of unknown kanji going to hit you as soon as you press the “go” button.
You’re still in “just memorize this stuff, trust me” territory, is the problem. You need to get some base level of grammar, vocabulary, and kanji before they start feeding each other. Once you start being able to read NHK News Easy some times without help, and things like that, the excitement will probably return.
Focusing on grammar is very valuable, so you’re asking a good question. You may want to think about what your time availability is for studying each day (or each week), and then think about how to create a balanced study “diet” that helps you accomplish your goals. The following suggestions assume you are looking to be able to listen/read/write at a fairly balanced level. You may need to adjust these for what you want to be able to do in Japanese.
Depending on the amount of time you have each day, instead of vacation mode, you may want to reduce the number of lessons to just a few each day, or just do reviews. Being around Genki Chapter 6 and Wanikani 13 is actually a balanced place to be in terms of your grammar/kanji level. If it suits your learning style to sit down and write out many of the exercises in Genki, you will learn a ton, but there are many other ways to learn.
Be gentle with yourself-- at this stage in your studies, reading will be very hard. (You may be able to read something like “Japanese Short Stories for Beginner” by Lingo Mastery.) For listening, you may want to try the beginner’s videos on the website “Comprehensible Japanese.” Even if you just set a timer for 15 minutes every day and listen to something at or slightly above your level, your listening skills will improve over the course of several months.
Slow, steady and consistent study will pay off greatly. If you are frustrated that you can’t use much of what you’re learning in Wanikani yet, you could slow it down and really focus on learning the grammar and vocab in Genki. But investing time in Wanikani now bears a lot of fruit down the road. Imagine your future self, looking at a page of an intermediate textbook like Tobira, and realizing that all that kanji in a solid page of Japanese text is a non-issue for you. Imagine seeing a word written in kanji that you’ve never seen, but you were able to guess it’s meaning, and maybe even its pronunciation because of Wanikani. Imagine yourself having a conversation in Japanese and someone says, “I can’t believe you know words that like.” This is my life now, and I was in your shoes not long ago.
Keep going. A bright future awaits you.
My general advice… don’t use vacation mode unless you really have to. If you’d like to take a break from WaniKani just stop doing lessons. The number of reviews will slowly get smaller and smaller, taking up less of your time, but you won’t have the demoralizing feeling of going back after forgetting a bunch of stuff.
I also completely agree with the advice to take it slow and do a little bit everyday. Consistency will pay off.
You ABSOLUTELY should be studying grammar already and reading. But I don’t suggest you go on vacation. There is zero reason for that.
Just stop doing lessons but do your reviews. That way, you won’t forget what you have accomplished already.
I’d say slow down, but perhaps don’t stop. I think the idea of continuing your reviews without starting new lessons sounds like a good one. You’re still going to need to learn kanji, even to just get through Genki, so it’s a good idea to start figuring out how you’re going to do it (with WK, without WK, or with a combination of WK and other stuff like reading/watching stuff you like, which I’d recommend).
That aside, there are a lot of good beginner grammar resources out there, so try and see which ones help you. My personal favourites were Maggie Sensei and Wasabi Japan, and I still look at Maggie Sensei’s stuff from time to time. Japanese Ammo with Misa and Real Japanese with Miku are nice too. A word of caution though: whatever you use, look out for one resource not lining up with the rest. That doesn’t necessarily mean that resource is bad, but you may need to accommodate multiple sorts of understandings in order to advance further. In particular…
I’m not going to be as dubious or harsh as I used to be, but if you’re using Cure Dolly’s materials, keep an open mind, learn mainstream terminology as well, and don’t be too dogmatic about it. Cure Dolly likes to be different, which sometimes ends up creating a very intuitive approach – which is good! – but if you never learn mainstream terms or reject them as bad/illogical, you’re probably going to get stuck at some later point when you realise almost all higher-level resources use them. That aside, honestly, almost any system for teaching foreigners Japanese grammar is going to be different from how Japanese grammar is traditionally taught in Japan (which makes sense because Japanese students have to study Classical Japanese too), so it’s more important to find a manner of thinking that’s clear to you and then know how to translate that into other systems. Both skill sets are important.
Ultimately, I’d say that gradually building an intuitive feel for natural Japanese is more important than any single component of your Japanese studies, and you’ll need a bit of everything to do that – grammar, vocabulary, kanji, exposure and practice – so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to spend more time on something that’s not kanji. Plus, honestly, as much as I hate studying grammar in isolation, learning the bulk of basic grammar will allow you to start enjoying reading a lot more (because you’ll understand more easily), so it’s worthwhile to invest in grammatical knowledge, regardless of how you acquire it.
Eh, I tried doing a bit of grammar on the side and found I couldn’t focus on both at the same time.
so I am starting (well, continuing) grammar next year
It all depends on what you can handle and where your focus is.
I’ve done a good bit of duo reading (read both Japanese and English version) to get some reading practice in and get used to seeing kanji and words in the wild, and hope that will make doing grammar easier as I’ve seen the construct in the wild.
But if you can do grammar studies while doing WK, that is by far the better way.
And no, don’t do vacation mode, it will ruin the SRS for you and waste work you have already started.
Do the reviews, but control how much you get by how many lessons you do.
You can do one week of grammar focus, one where you do lessons, or just very few lessons a day. But wouldn’t recommend stopping completely. You can take a break from lessons completely for a while too, just keep up with reviews at least =)
I think you should go with your gut. I didn’t choose to use Genki to learn, but I am familiar with it and actually own it for reference. Level 13 is pretty far for being halfway through the first book in terms of your other skills. If I remember correctly, Genki 1 only teaches about 150 kanji total. I personally think having a bit more grammar/listening/speaking will help with your motivation. That said, everyone learns differently. If you are worried about not coming back to kanji and Wanikani, maybe think about not going on full vacation mode. I’d consider limiting the kanji learning by only doing reviews while you spend your learning time on other skills.
Wow, I didn’t expect so many lovely responses to this overnight! Thank you so much everyone for the thoughtful responses. I agree with what some said about vacation mode, so I’ll keep that off and try to do reviews every day.
I think part of the issue at the moment is that every morning I wake up to 200-ish reviews, which I know may not be much to some but for a full time uni student it can be super demotivating because I know I don’t have the time to sit and do them all properly. But maybe if I find a couple of hours to sit and power through them all that number will go down.
Thanks to everyone who offered me other resources and plans for learning going forward - I really appreciate the advice and will look into everything that was mentioned!
And to @MaliaC who said
That genuinely means a lot, thank you for that little boost.
Don’t push yourself to the point of feeling burnt out, because it will harm you in the long run, but also remember that motivation is just a great resource that won’t always be available to you.
The most important thing in long term projects like learning a language is to be able to manage your studies when you simply don’t feel like studying anymore. I understand that’s not really your case, though.
With that said, I think vacation mode would harm your kanji progress unnecessarily. Grammar is really important, and it allows you to read which is arguably the greatest study method of them all, but you’re also just over 1/6th of WaniKani (kinda). That’s good progress and time spent on an important aspect of the language. You’re doing great, and if you keep at it you’ll be done before you know it. So yeah, by all means, slow down, study a grammar point a day, but don’t stop. You can restart things forever, but you only need to finish them once (and then keep reading for eternity so you won’t forget).
It’s funny because I’m only at lvl 4 but also at ch6 in Genki! I try to do one chapter a week with the textbook and all the exercises in the workbook. Then I review the vocabulary (not necessarily the kanjis though!!) and the lessons a few times during the week with no pressure on me.
I couldn’t find myself doing only wanikani…
Thank you for asking the question, because I too am thinking of doing something similar in the near future.
I don’t devote much time to Japanese, and I chose WK because setting out Kanji seemed like the scariest part of the language. That is no longer the case, not because I know them all, but because I no longer feel a sense of terror and dread when I see one of the many kanji I don 't know. As such the time is coming where I need to make a concerted effort to tackle grammar.
My plan such as it is is maybe to stop doing new lessons at level 10, or maybe after Christmas depending on when that comes, and incorporate some new activity into my day. I’m interesting in suggestions as to what that should be. I also might try to identify leeches, without taking on new items these should become a little clearer.
Ouch, yeah, at 200 every morning, not just total a day, going slower might be a good idea.
Work down your apprentice so you get a much lower amount of items returning daily.
I assume your apprentice count might be high if you get so many reviews every night.
Find your sweet spot and only do lessons if apprentice is under x items.
Common numbers are 100 or 150 apprentice as max, for those who use this as a guide.
I even tried to stay under 50 for a while (well, got under 50 some times but bobbed between 50-100, as I set 100 as my hard rule if most were in apprentice 4, while trying to get down to 50 if possible)
I only felt necessity to start studying grammar now at level 33 on WK using bunpro.
My focus so far has been to get more vocabulary and I got satisfied with my current list of vocab when reading nhk easy news and twitter.
So it depends for each student imo.
I would slow down reviews for a bit, maybe freeze lessons till you feel you’re more in control again. If you can pick up grammar in the down time, that will be great as well.
I find that using bunpro after learning new grammar to be pretty helpful, as I tend to easily forget about things after doing them once.
Either way it is tough going forward, but if you made it this far I’m sure you can manage it.
Good Idea or Ridiculously Stupid? Are There Some Aspects That I May be Overlooking, Which is Also Perfectly Fine Since No One Has to be Perfect All the Time?
…okay, so maybe that would be a cumbersome thread title, but “ridiculously stupid” is harsh, no?
@Omun haha maybe you’re right. i should change it to that
@Noctis92 that’s impressive! I wish I had the time for that lmao
@Toyger I totally agree, I try to keep my Apprentice items below 100. Maybe 50 is a good shout for the time being though.
Well, I’ve got 212 reviews to be getting on with. I’m going to try and do reviews every day to get back into the swing of things and do some Genki as well (and look into all the other grammar resources that everyone told me about!). Exam season is approaching though so we shall see how it goes.