Help!: done lots of WaniKani, but nothing else

Hello all,

After starting on January 1st of the year, I’m 2/3 of the way into WaniKani, but alas, I have barely practiced any other skills, and even after reviewing many of the resources available, I’m still indecisive about what to do/use now. I know there have been plenty of threads on resources for learners at different levels, but most of them seem to give long lists that I’ve found difficult to sort through.

I’ve used the app Bunpo to go through N5 and N4 grammar, but it still hasn’t really sunk in (though I can make out basic sentences). I’ve listened to a couple of podcasts, and just downloaded Satori Reader and Human Japanese, so I’ll try those out and see how it goes. What do you all think is a good resource or plan to build out reading, grammar & listening (not to mention speaking) for someone in my position, with 38 levels’ worth of kanji + vocab, but barely any practice in putting the language to work?

I realize kanji and vocab simply have to be memorized, and WaniKani works so well because it provides a structure that is easy to fall into. I just wish there was a program half as good to immerse you in other aspects of the language. Even the variety of resources out there, I’m having trouble finding ones that “fit.”

Thanks for your help!

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I’d recommend reading real Japanese material. There are absolute beginner and beginner book clubs on the forums that might work for you. You could try a past book where there are already discussion topics and often vocab sheets if none of the current ones work for you.

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So you know a lot of kanji and words but want to put them together to communicate and read? I think this online course would be good. Take the quiz at the bottom of the page. If you test out because your foundation is strong, consider resources that suit B1 level learners.

https://www.marugoto-online.jp/info/

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Non wanikani vocab with Torii?

How about the togufu 4500 sentences while they are on sale?

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I think based on your level it would be a waste to join a class that’s gonna be starting from scratch because every day spent learning easy kanjis that you already know would be time wasted. Even an intermediate class would be a waste, idk for certain without knowing you.

So: self study. I really like the minna no nihongo book, you could get the physical copy that’s written completely in Japanese and “acquire” the translation and side notes online. I feel you can simply skip anything you already feel like you mastered.

When learning grammar I focus mostly on structure because the vocab is what I do WK for and you already have plenty of WK under your belt.

For both vocabulary and grammar, to get it to really stick, it’s critical to be actively using the language. You can use something like HelloTalk (app) which lets you interact with native speakers, get corrections on sentences, etc.

With regard to listening practice - which is also crucial - I always recommend something like Shadowing: Let’s Speak Japanese (book + CD) which has short dialog recorded by native speakers at native pace, and gradually increases in difficulty. Includes full transcription in Japanese and translation in English (as well as Chinese and Korean IIRC).

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i love marugoto! highly recommend!

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I don’t feel like that is the case. they stated they have only used WK, and sparse few other things. They may know a good deal of beginner kanji, but classes would cover other stuff, like basic sentence formulation and grammar. Also WK does not do the best job of teaching useful vocabulary. A class would be able to get you pointed in the right direction, as to what vocab is commonly used, and what kanji is rarely/never used. some of the words, even though they have kanji, are mostly written in just hiragana.

But as for resources. The one I like to use to learn grammar, is Tae Kims guide to Japanese http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/

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Now i do not know whether this is you cup of tea or not. (Wall of text incomming)
But i personally found it really helpful to learn about general concepts of japanese in order to leap my understanding. And frankly, japanese is quite a simple and regular language.

Below are some things i wish i had known a lot earlier about japanese which really made a massive difference to my understanding.

  • Exclusively head-final and left branching
  • Topic-prominent / topic-comment structure
  • heavily agglutinative (how do different word groups “glue” onto eachother)
  • Particles are important both for grasping sentence structure, but also when doing agglutination.
  • The japanese names of the word groups and being able to identify them in sentences, as it really helps with understanding used grammar. (and you already know the associated kanji)

Speaking of bunpro (I just noticed you wrote BunPO, disregard this), a lot of its grammar points are actually concerned with agglutination, the usage of particles with the right words, and auxiliary verbs. Therefore learning how agglutination, particles and the auxiliary vers works in different scenarios is really helpful and it lets you see past the individual “grammar points” and realize that most of it really is just the same formula used, leading to different modifications in meanings.
I find bunpro to be a good practice tool, but i dont think it does a very good job of really describing what goes on in its grammar points.
fx. it has tons of points using よう but the concept is not represented very well in either the descriptions or in the translations (which really should be a lot more literal). So if one is unable to find the link it has to be memorized as several unique points when its really just one concept.

Also if you can get used to it have a go at cure dolly on youtube.
Excellent explanations all around, especially the particles

I find that top-down approaches always work wonders for me.
In my real studies (mechanical engineering) and in my hobby endeavours.
Identifying the core concepts, and then expanding from there always gives one a rough, overall comprehension that makes learning about the small bits surrounding it a lot more manageable.

Im not sure if this really helps at all since i didnt point to anything specific, i have gained the knowledge from various places over time.
Also read books.

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This looks great! Just took their test and I got an 82/100:

Japanese Script and Vocabulary 23/25 points
Conversation and Grammar 16/25 points
Listening 20/25 points
Reading 23/25 points

It recommended their A2-level course, which seems about right.

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Awesome. As expected you aced the parts that came from doing WK…testimony that it works :smiley: and tanked convo and grammar.
One person assumed that a beginner level would be a waste of time but if you only have bricks and no mortar, you cannot build a house.

I actually went through A1 in a couple of days (not 6 months) just for the convo practice.
Advice- turn off romaji and English; I also start without the subtitles then replay with them on in Japanese. Also, the groups are not interactive but offer more practice composing.

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Got the sentences PDFs and the particles one too, thanks!

thank you, I’ll keep these are good points, I’ll keep them in mind :slight_smile:

Conversation is the obvious part I’m missing, as it’s the only think I have literally no experience in. Would probably help a ton to actually use the language, lol

You definitely need to speak with someone to actually understand Japanese. From my experiences of taking a class at a 201 level, Wanikani did very little to make me “good” at Japanese. My brain didn’t process my understanding of the vocab and Kanji into being able to speak because speaking and writing are obviously very different skills. It did help immensely with understanding the kanji and I basically didn’t have to study for that part of the course.

If you have the ability to make Japanese friends and they’ll speak with you, I highly recommend it. It’ll be the fastest and easiest way to learn “real” Japanese since there are a lot of grammar rules that most Japanese speakers don’t observe in informal and everyday settings. I also recommend the Pimsleur Japanese series which is available on Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Japanese-Phase-1-Unit-01-05-Audiobook/B0038VI90Q?qid=1577462073&sr=1-2&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=Y4ZE495KYAG337Y6DC2G&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2
It’s pretty intuitive and it definitely helped me for my practice sessions with friends. I actually used the phrases they teach even from lesson one. If you can’t find someone to speak with, italki has tutors you can schedule with: https://www.italki.com/. I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to this year.

If you’re the type of person who can force yourself to study a text book, the Genki textbook is pretty solid and will give you a grammatical foundation to build off as you practice speaking.

I guess I’m the opposite, since I’ve started to worry about grammar too early, as in at the same time as Wanikani. So far I really like “Organic Japanese with Cure Dolly” on youtube. There is a playlist of 60 something short lessons starting from absolute zero:

I compliment this with Genki 1 (boring and overwhelming) and bunpro (for SRS).

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you’ve used Bunpo, but have you used Bunpro? It’s like WK for grammar. I believe others when they say it hasn’t helped them much for production, but for me, it was a fantastic help in being able to construct sentences and learning to apply grammar, because the SRS works on the sentence level.

For vocabulary, you could consider Torii in the Kana-only mode. WK doesn’t teach any kana-only vocabulary, so this will fill an important gap.

Other than that, i’d also recommend immersion, mostly reading. I’ve started on Yotsuba (on bilingualmanga, love the language switching) and found it very educational and interesting, and good practice. There’s also a WK book club on it.

Maybe you could also tell us what your goals are. If you want to talk Japanese in real life, obviously some speaking practice is decent (though it can be overvalued in my opinion, speaking ability also comes automatically from understanding).
If your goal is mainly reading and watching shows, i’d focus on practicing reading, and maybe watching with japanese subtitles or without.

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Same. I started learning grammar and doing graded readers only a month or so into doing WK. As you find out, all the kanji in the world is meaningless without the glue to tie it all together. If you want to be able to apply your WK skills to the real-world, you, preferably, need to start learning grammar yesterday. :wink:

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I think that immersion really helps. I have not done any of this for Japanese, but it worked quite nicely for my French. I think it is nice to know about the grammar, especially if you like that sort of stuff, but not quite necessary.

  • listening to (online) radio, especially news channels are good, but if you like music, listening to Japanese music may work better for you. It may not be best for complete beginner, but at some point you will get a lot of input when you cannot pay attention to a screen. Audiobooks work even better, though they tend to require bit more attention.
  • Japanese youtube, I would recommend some stuff for kids, especially anything with Japanese subtitles.
  • See if you cannot switch your favorite game in PC or phone to Japanese. And if you are brave, switch your phone to Japanese, though I would probably wait with thet for more intermediate level.
  • See if can you read any articles in Japanese wiki, I really like wikipeda, it is available in so many languages and the content is high quality.
  • Check your local library if it has any Japanese books or manga, or even better, some bilingual books.
  • Just watch anime or crazy Japanese reality show. Even with English subtitles you will learn a lot of organic Japanese that way.

Find a way how to expose yourself to more Japanese every day. Sure, you will struggle in the beginning. But if you do an activity you can stick to, you will see how much progress you do in the long run.

Short version: Just lots of input and the more comprehensible input is better:)

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The issue with immersion is that you need to have a foothold to be able to understand anything. I feel like I need to develop the base of my listening comprehension.

Any recs on specific programs that are good for beginners?