Have you been studying Japanese for 2-3 years?

I’ve been studying for almost 2 years now, self-study only. I haven’t really used grammar resources consistently in more than a year, so I’ve been stuck on N2 level for the longest time. I mostly just look up grammar I come across. Video games, what I usually use my Japanese for, rarely use N1 grammar, so I’m doing pretty good comprehension-wise. My main problem is that I’m still bound to a dictionary because of a lack of sufficient vocabulary. Listening and speaking is still bad because I’ve neglected practicing those.

What I’ve used:

  • Human Japanese (beginner and intermediate)
  • WaniKani (duh)
  • JapanesePod 101
  • Jisho
  • Kotobank
  • Anki
  • Houhou
  • Tons of video games
  • Imabi
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Studying for a bit over 2 years now. What I’ve used so far:

Genki I&II
Japanese the Manga way
Dictionary of Basic/Intermediate Japanese Grammar
Shin Kanzen Master N3 - Reading / Grammar / Listening
Shin Kanzen Master N2 - Reading / Grammar
JapanesePod 101
iKnow Core 6000 (almost finished now)
Videogames (Youkai Watch 2/3, Dragon Quest Series, Ace Attorney)
Lang-8 (on and off)
Anki (for grammar reviews)

Outside of videogames I really lack any exposure to the language. I really would like to read books (not Manga) in Japanese, but it’s hard getting them here in Germany if you don’t own a credit card. I can read the N2 reading material in textbooks without much trouble, but real Japanese (not videogames or NHK easy) still gives me trouble. I also really lack in writing and especially speaking practice. Now that I’m finished with WK lessons I’ll focus on this.
Overall I feel like I got a really solid foundation, but the lack of exposure to real Japanese is holding me back.

I’ve been studying for 2-2.5 years maybe. Well, many starts and stops before that, but a couple of actually trying.
But that said, I failed N5 in December (by two damn points). Feel I haven’t gotten much better. Trying to be a fully functional and responsible adult, doesn’t leave me nearly as much study time as I’d like. WaniKani and Anki vocab decks eat nearly all of what little time I have.

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Close to three years, but WaniKani has been my main learning source all that time. I want to look at other options as well but my work schedule plus WK’s often enormous review queues have put me off somewhat. I’m currently on Level 21 but I might take a break and look at some other resources when I’ve reached 22.

In the beginning I dove straight in without any real knowledge of the Japanese language outside of phrases and words I’ve heard in anime. WK recommends knowing Hiragana before starting but I knew nothing of that whatsoever. Early on I was taking notes of the Romaji readings of words, but as I progressed I essentially ended up learning Hiragana from WK as well and now I can read that just fine. Katakana I still struggle with though.

I’m on Textfugu and EtoEto as well but I haven’t had a good chance to use either of those properly. Beyond this, I’ll sometimes watch Japanese YouTube channels, mostly on toy reviews. A friend once got me a book titled Japanese the Manga Way and that’s been a good read so far. I also have a Dekaranger manga which I need to start reading already.

If you don’t mind only reading part of a book, you can try creating an Amazon account, downloading Kindle and then clicking on ‘download sample’ on the Kindle items. This is one light novel that I want to read eventually, which I’ve bought, but the free sample is a good portion of the first chapter: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B01MYUF2BI/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

I know that his way of doing things works for some people, but for me, the explanations he used were unsatisfying and in some cases caused me a lot of confusion. Plus, I felt that learning casual form before polite form was counter intuitive.

When I took classes I had a harder time grasping grammar than I would have if I had gone in clean, at least that is the way I feel about it.

Hmm, okay. That’s fair.

I’ve read through several points in the guide several times to get a better grasp of them and to refresh my memory. I felt that Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide became useful after I had already been exposed to the basics of the basics, such as conjugation and ~ます forms. At this point, the entire guide has become essential reading; I’m not going to start using native material mainly as a source of study until I’m done with it.

Maybe Imabi afterwards.

For the record, aside from the beginning few lessons, Tae Kim covers polite and casual forms together, which I have found immensely helpful.

I’ve been studying for what feels like a helluva long time, but if I crunch it down to useful, focused study it’d probably be about 2 or 3 years. I’m currently working on finishing N4 material - didn’t get higher than that probably because all my study was so scattered and unfocused.


  • Japanese for Busy People: Personally, I hated this book, mostly because it’s boring. I only did the first few lessons back in about 2006, but it was the only textbook my local library had. On the other hand if the only reason for you to learn Japanese is for business, it might be good.
  • Hakase (textbook): I don’t really recommend this one, either. While I’ve seen many people say that you have to be careful with Genki because it’s geared towards a classroom environment, this book has almost NO exercises meant to be done alone. This was used in the university class I took (more about that later)
  • Yookoso (textbook): I don’t recommend this book either (lol). It’s pretty old, so you’d probably have a hard time finding it anyways. Ended up picking it up after my high school’s Japanese program failed.
  • Physical dictionaries: Because I started in like 2005-06, there weren’t many (any?) good online dictionaries, so I have a couple Japanese-English dictionaries and a kanji dictionary. I absolutely LOVE having a physical kanji dictionary, but Jisho is much easier to use quickly (also, I tend to use Google Translate on my phone to write a kanji, then copy/paste that to Jisho). If anyone who reads this is interested in getting a physical dictionary, I recommend trying to find one that doesn’t use romaji. When the page index is labeled as “sake” and you’re not sure if it’s the English or Japanese section, it can get kind of annoying.
  • University class: I took a year-long beginner class back in 2007-08. Unfortunately, because I already knew some basic things like kana, I ended up tuning out the very beginning and burned out towards the end. Largely because I like going at my own pace.
  • Google Translate: Please don’t shoot me. As mentioned above, I use this to handwrite kanji to look them up. Sometimes I use it to get a second opinion on a sentence. I absolutely don’t use it to communicate by writing in English and taking whatever Japanese-ish sentence it spits out :fearful::cold_sweat::scream:
  • Jisho: Who doesn’t love Jisho? Example sentences, Wikipedia links, and some really interesting entries like 教えて君 that you likely won’t find in physical dictionaries.
  • WaniKani
  • Genki II: recommended. Many of the exercises can be done solo, and many of the pair/group exercises can be reworked with some imagination. Alternatively, there’s plenty of people who use/have it, so it’s not hard to find someone to do the exercises with. One thing I didn’t care for though, was putting a bunch of grammar lessons in the front of each chapter and then putting the exercises in the back - I prefer lesson, exercise, lesson, exercise. Lots of flipping around the way I did it.
  • I just got the first two volumes of the Japanese Grammar Dictionaries, and I’ll be getting the 3rd later when I approach actually needing to use it.
  • I just ordered An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese and I may order Tobira soon-ish. No such thing as too many resources.
  • Tae Kim’s Guide: I use this kind of as a portable grammar dictionary. Rather than do initial learning from it, I use it to look up things I forgot or am questioning if I don’t have my physical ones nearby.
  • HelloTalk / Lang-8 / HiNative: imo, they all have strengths and weaknesses, so I use them for different things.
  • NHK Easy: Hit and miss, sometimes the articles are interesting to me, sometimes not. News generally doesn’t interest me at all, which is becoming a problem :stuck_out_tongue:
  • Rikaikun: this is mostly for when I’m reading NHK Easy and am too lazy to copy/paste into another resource.
  • A few various manga, most of which is pretty niche or is always recommended.
  • The Little Prince (星の王子さま): I’d read this in French when taking that in high school, so I figured it was probably a pretty good practice book. It’s not bad so far - I struggled with it a lot last year, but I recently picked it up again and got myself a copy of the English version for reference. I use sticky tabs to keep track of which sentence I’m on so that I don’t feel pressured to finish an entire chapter in one sitting. My biggest frustration is when I don’t recognize a word because it’s written in kana instead of kanji. What a problem to have.
  • Pokemon Moon (in Japanese, obviously): This was a decent option IMO because I’m already familiar with the general idea of a Pokemon game, I could ask my coworkers questions about story that I didn’t understand, and I didn’t have to import it or anything. Plus, I use Bulbapedia for move names since they include the originals in the article. I’m still trying to finish it though orz

I’m especially curious about your experience with this (not Tae Kim specifically, but just casual-before-polite), because I’m currently arranging some curriculum. If you can think how to put this in words, what is more intuitive about doing polite speech first?

(I’m planning to mix the two together, since it helps understand how they relate).

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I can’t really think of anything, except for the fact that polite speech would be used more often than casual speech in RL and Media (but that would depend on the media/people, obviously). So it seems more intuitive/efficient to me to start with the form that’s used the most often and will get the most mileage.

It’s probably not very helpful, but that’s pretty much it.

I think mixing them together is good though, I just feel better about having a base in the polite form first.

Thanks for the input :slight_smile:

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Learning casual after polite is a matter of just dropping things, other way around is more additive. Think it might depend on the person which is easier. Personally going from です to だ feels easier than other way around. Starting with casual, the verb conjugation is probably easier when all the verbs in a dictionary are already in their う-form.

In the end, the best argument for starting with polite is that it’s by far the more commonly used, your average Japanese person speaks way more polite Japanese a day than casual Japanese.


Japanesepod? I used to use it back in the day when they didn’t even have the seasons system and I remember it being pretty bad, what would you say of it now?

PS: I did reset my wanikani account a few weeks ago

*My first participation in the forums since I started using WaniKani

Depending on your definition of studying I could say I’ve been doing it for 21 months or 1.4 years,however I’ve only been properly studying japanese for only about a year.(check materials to see what I mean)

The reason for it was probably because I always liked asian culture,history and media (movies,dramas) etc. (especially korean and japanese) and after a long time I tried out anime,from which branched off an interest into manga,music,LNs,VNs,etc… which kicked off an interest for the language because it just sounded nice.

I started with hiragana and katakana,took 6 months total (I know,who takes that long to learn it ?),proceeded with Kanji but kinda started panicking after not being able to choose the right materials,panic from which WaniKani saved me :slight_smile: .

After that I found the motivation of turning it into a degree at a modern language uni (I was going to one either way,and tbh I don’t like my native language much).I have about 2.6 years to get better or get lost.(gotta love my odds)

Materials I used ~
Anime - HOLY,I can’t even begin to tell you how much this helped me.This is indirect studying incarnated,and what I meant by “unproper” studying.

I can see why people say you shouldn’t learn japanese from anime and I understand that,but its really more like you shouldn’t use japanese like in anime.This and that are different things,I don’t even read the translation for say, 8/10 vocab here just because I know the meaning after 100 realtime days of watching anime. - Also helps when forgetting a word and the mnemonic,you can just think of a character saying it, a scene will pop up and after that its history.
FreeJapaneseLessons.com - Best title choice ever;
Memrise - did the japanese course but slowly dropped out afterwards.Might pick up later.
Tofugu - Nice for learning stuff about Japan and more niche words like tsujigiri;
Remembering the Kanji - Didn’t work out because of no pronunciation/vocabulary;
Nihongoshark - Read some articles but haven’t been on since;
KanjiDamage - An anternative WaniKani,didn’t work for me because of corny jokes;
Some book in my language I can’t complete because I accidentally got the second volume;
Songs/osu! - same story as with anime,I can sometimes extract vocab from the context in a song I listened to.Not as reliable tough since it usually has a different meaning in songs;
Native language - Even tough I don’t like it that much,it did help me because it has no accent,really to japanese.Helps with and talking;
Anki - tried it out when I started learning Kanji on my own but didn’t work,picked it up again after WaniKani so I could pre-study before reviews;
KaniWani - Use it every now and then but the lack of distinction between most vocab (ex. round and round,丸い and 円い) keeps me from using it more often.
Very rarely JP Twitter - Trying to understand game/anime announcements but fail horribly at it.

In what context. Obviously they’ll speak mostly polite at work, and then just casually at home… And if they have friends at work they’ll speak casually to them. I guess the balance depends on how much speaking you do at work, but to me casual has the edge.

A cashier will lean heavily toward polite. A student will lean heavily toward casual. At least if the students I see everyday are any indication.

In the context that when your average productive member of the Japanese society meets a stranger they’re going to speak politely until you get to know them better. I’m only talking about standard Japanese with です/ます nothing higher on the politeness spectrum.

Yeah, I’m just wondering if that accounts for more of their talk time in an average day. My experience is they use more casual, but as I said, it depends.

Right right, I get your point. I was just thinking of an employed adult who works 8-10 hours a day and then probably has at best 4 hours of free time before going to bed. Not a high school student who hangs around with their friends for 19 hours a day.

I still think that they’re more likely to speak politely than casually to any stranger they happen to meet, including a dirty gaijin like me.

Hi Guys,

Is no one using Textfugu from こういちさん?

For me it is as great for grammar as Wanikani for kanji.

Happy studying! :slight_smile:

I started studying Japanese as a teenager back around 2001, when the internet was still a toddler. So many more resources are around these days. Needless to say, I didn’t get much done and pretty soon I started dating a Peruvian girl and Spanish became more of an interest. I guess it paid off because now we are married with 5 kids! :laughing:

Well, back around 3 months ago I decided I should pick Japanese back up. I had always been fascinated and I’m surprised it took me this long to get back around to it. I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to sit on a computer all day and have a LARGE amount of down time. This has been especially helpful with getting through WaniKani.

Having looked around and by lurking on these forums, I have experimented with a few resources and I am sure I will try more. A thread like this is great for me because I love to hear what works for people and how they feel about their experiences. For me, besides WK, I picked up the first Genki book and it seems decent enough. I also worked through Human Japanese (Beginner) and about half way through the Intermediate. I will watch some anime (at work) when I need a break from study and I find myself understanding more and more. I don’t plan on this being my primary learning source but I think it can be beneficial (not to mention entertaining).

One thing I just picked up yesterday and was curious if anyone has tried is the “Let’s Speak Japanese: Shadowing” series? It seems like it has a lot of great dialogue and I have a hard time keeping up past the first few lessons (but my knowledge is still very basic at this point). It seems like it would really help with speaking and listening which from what I can tell, seems to be most people on here’s biggest problem.