Has anyone actually waited until level 20 to start grammar?

Some background: I took Japanese I in college in 2021, in the last semester of my senior year, which covered Genki I chapters 1-5. Aka basically up to right before te-form.
After that, I worked in retail for a year and didn’t get very much practice, but since August of this year, I’ve been living in Japan working as an assistant language teacher on the JET Program. Most of the stuff I do at work is 95% in English, and the only studying I’m able to do at work is Wanikani. I haven’t been able to meaningfully start going through Genki again from where I left off because I find it impossible to concentrate without listening to music while I take notes and/or watching a video explaining the chapter’s content. However, I’m not sure how people at work would feel about me listening to music while taking notes from the textbook or watching stuff on youtube so I don’t do either. I try to “read the room” and pretty much never see the other teachers using headphones unless they’re listening to audio related to their lesson so I don’t want to step on any toes by looking like I’m goofing off on youtube at work.

As a result of this, my grammar is stalled at Genki chapter 5, while my vocal and kanji are now far beyond thanks to Wanikani. Given how things are going, I wonder if anyone actually has done the “wait until level 20 to start grammar” strat even though in my case it would not be starting grammar from zero.

Also, any general advice on my situation because I’m always hella tired and do not have the energy to do textbook study after work as much as i try to will myself to.


I didn’t know waiting until level 20 to study grammar was a thing. Have you tried Bunpro? They use a similar strategy to WK, it’s spaced repetition and you can either study content from a textbook and just use Bunpro for reinforcing or read their own grammar explanations (which is what I’m doing currently). All their reviews use context sentences, so I guess it helps with reading too. You can disable the playing the sentences audios automatically option.


Start sooner rather than later!


General advice is to start by level 10.

TBH been doing sporadically here and there myself, but haven’t committed too much like I should. Honestly once you reach level 13-20 I believe it’s not a bad starting point to begin learning. You will be able to start recognizing kanji and words that you wouldn’t have been able to before when you were level 1-5.

You could wait till lv 20, but the more time you delay will probably result in the same time spent just later in the future.


Well, to be more precise, that’s WaniKani’s advice. The general advice in the forums is



I started somewhere between level 1-5 :sweat_smile: I wasn’t aware of any timing requirements but I wouldn’t change it!


Hello fellow JET!
(Well, technically, I was a JET awhile ago and now DH, haha) but anyways! Like most others have said, you can start grammar pretty much whenever- do what’s comfortable for you!

As for studying during work- unless you’re at an extremely strict school, it shouldn’t be an issue. The rule of thumb I’ve always followed for all my schools is this- as long as everything else for work is finished, studying is fine. Plus, I’ve gotten into some interesting conversations with non-JTEs about it! If someone asks, just tell them you’re studying Japanese, and most likely you’ll get some 上手ですね or 頑張って! To be honest, as long as you’re not being overly loud or showy, none of the teachers will really mind, other than a few curious onlookers who may look at your computer screen. Heck, during my downtime, I also ended up getting the JET suggested TESL certificate, haha.

As for being too tired to study after work, totally get it! I find myself struggling with the same thing, especially during the winter months (central heating, oh how I miss you!).

Here are some things I do after work to study-
Have some snacks right when I get home, and try to tackle the tougher stuff (ex: grammar). After dinner (I’ve learned to meal prep during weekends, so that helps save on energy and time!) I usually do more “fun immersion”, such as watching J-shows/dramas or anime, listening, or reading. I would play around with different things and see what works for you. Maybe you can listen to podcasts or study kanji during your commute? Or maybe it’s easier for you to go to a cafe after work to study, and then get home and relax? I also keep a study journal which helps me set my goals and keep on me track.

The most important thing I’ve learned is not to be super hard on myself when I’m too tired to study and just realize by living in Japan, you are automatically picking a lot of things more things than you may realize! There will be some great days and some not-so-great days- main thing is not to give up and do what you can! Also, year 2 on JET will be much easier since you’ll have a better idea of what to expect and how your time may be.

Good luck- you’ve got this! :smile:


I see no reason not to start immersing in Japanese grammar even if you know no kanji at all. The first levels of Wanikani have been feeling slow to me, so while waiting for reviews I have plenty of time to work with a grammar book and do other kinds of practice.

Rant about kana-only vocabulary in Wanikani

By the way, this is why the kana-only words on Wanikani are my pet peeve.

I feel that introducing words like それ and デパート at level 5 is presumptuous of Wanikani. It assumes that Wanikani is your own source of learning. It seems to me that a person who’s serious about studying Japanese and has enough time on their hands should have such basic words burned in their mind well sooner than they reach level 5!


I waited until 30 to start bunpro, didnt have any problem.

I had way more vocab so I could focus on grammar point only and not looking up words in the sentences.


Nope. You should be learning grammar once you got hiragana and katakana down.