I’ve been properly studying for about 2 years, which is when I started WK. Before that I’d learned some Japanese because I was in Japan but I’d done very little about kanji and mostly just learned survival phrases / how to talk about my family, what I did on holiday etc.
Starting WK marked a totally new phase in my learning. Not only because I was now really learning kanji, but also because through the forums I was able to find so many great other resources. I’m now studying N2 material (don’t think I’d pass the test if I did it right now, but wouldn’t be far off) having been at N5 level just under 2 years ago.
Grammar is probably my weak point and I still get massively frustrated by listening especially when not understanding what someone said then two minutes later slapping my forehead and being like, Oh my God, that was so simple! Kanji - purely due to WK - has become one of my strongest points and I think my speaking is pretty decent. I’m sure I make a lot of grammar mistakes but I can get my point across on pretty much any topic and kind of think and speak at the same time.
Resources I’ve used have changed over time. I’ll try and put them below in the order I used them:
Japanese for Everyone (This is not Minna no Nihongo) - Textbook for beginner through N4, this was my only resource pre-WK.
Sou-Matome N4 gammar and reading
One-to-one lessons - I go for 90 minutes once every fortnight on average. Like my teacher and we mainly do speaking practice and she reads over my writing every week - which has gone from a half dozen example sentences to essays on comparing the historical progress of Eastern Vs Western civilization.
Dragonball - This was tough straight after Yotsuba but the story’s clear from the pictures
Sou-Matome N3 Grammar - My girlfriend had this. It was far too tough for me at first.
Tobira - My favourite textbook ever. Started tough but I found it really useful and a great confidence boost to read whole pages of text. Good listening practice too.
Weekly Language Exchange - Been doing this with the same girl for 2 years now. Invaluable.
Nihongo-no-mori Youtube channel - Excellent once you get to the N3 and N2 material. Didn’t like it before then.
Memrise - Started doing a lot of N3 courses and WK expansions. Now doing N2 grammar on there.
Sou-Matome N3 Reading - By the time I got this, I actually found it quite easy.
Mirai Bunko Kids’ Books - Maybe my most valuable resource. These books are cheap and the first time I started reading something with walls of text outside a learning resource. They have hiragana, which is annoying, but for grammar, reading speed, vocab they’re great. I’ve read probably 20+ of these. They’re for kids / teens, but they can actually be very entertaining if you choose the right ones.
Kino’s Journey - My first light novel. Many people recommend this as a first novel. I actually found it very difficult. Finished it but would like to re-read to try and understand more.
Sou Matome N2 Grammar
Kanzen Master N2 Reading - I’m using this a lot right now. Far better than Sou Matome. I can usually get the answers correct but it takes me too long to get there, which is why I don’t think I’d pass the exam. Feels good to know you can do it, though. Just need more practice.
Anki - Switched to this from Memrise recently. I do the Jtest4you deck which is heavily grammar focused (but all the cards are example sentences).
Real News - I often read stories on Tokyo Reporter in English then try the original in Japanese (or vice versa). This is hard but gets more doable as you get a feel for news style writing.
Real Books! - This has long been my goal. Currently reading In the Miso Soup in Japanese. I find it easier than Kino’s Journey.
Real Japanese Youtube Channels and shows on Netflix - Started with PDR-san and Dogen for practice but I’m starting to watch others just out of interest. I currently like toco toco tv and トップランキング.
I find it’s really great to go back and revisit old resources to see how far you’ve come. I remember the first time I picked up my girlfriend’s N3 Sou Matome and thinking, Jesus, if I ever get to that level, I’ll be amazed. Now I’m at the stage where that book is too easy for me, and I’m certainly not amazed. I still feel like there’s so much more to learn, but at least I know I’ve improved.