So I am a humble level 4 in WaniKani and I was wondering if there was anyone here who’s learned Japanese thanks to Wani Kani?
I bumped into WaniKani through Tofugo and I’ve been advised to go to level 10 before learning any grammar. I’m a self-learner so it’s a bit daunting learning a language all myself on my own accord. I also have Genki but I don’t want to overwhelm myself by studying all over the place so I’ve been sticking to Tofugo’s guide. The only downside is I spent $100 on a book that I don’t use… >.<
I’m hoping Tofugo’s guide will help my journey in learning Japanese so when I go to Japan in 3 years it will be amazing. Your comment, opinions, questions and stories on how you taught yourself Japanese is muuuch appreciated
I wasn’t self-taught, but I started studying kanji before grammar.
My knowledge of kanji, which was around level 20 here, helped me get N4 with minimal kanji studying, and I could focus on understanding the grammar more thoroughly instead.
I also took a loooong time getting there anyway, so I feel like getting to level 10 is not a meaningful amount of time in the long run.
At the same time, I would recommend studying grammar as soon as you can read hiragana and katakana, which you must if you’re using WaniKani anyway.
Perhaps at first using resources for English speakers, so you don’t have to deal with kanji, but it’s still going to be useful to you, and you can move to Japanese books once you feel comfortable with kanji.
I’m obviously still progressing, but WaniKani has been a huge part of my studies. It’s definitely responsible for a large portion of my ability to read and get around in my daily life in Japan.
As for what else to do, I personally think it’ll be up to you to try and find what works best for you in each respect (kanji/grammar, and listening/speaking). For me personally, I started with Pimsleur audiobooks and a handful of various Japanese learning apps, then moved into WaniKani, and added Bunpro to the arsenal when it was released. There are certainly a few things I would change in hindsight, mainly due to new resources. I’ll recommend a few of them below.
LingoDeer- This is a great app that’s targeted at people like you who are still beginners. The Japanese I course will get you through most of N5 grammar and vocab, and has fantastic summaries for each Lesson bubble at the beginning. Japanese II is out now, but I’m still working through it in the mean time.
Bunpro- A WaniKani-esque SRS system, but for grammar. It does cost money, which can add up when bundled with WaniKani, but it breaks Japanese down into individual grammar points across all JLPT levels (currently N5-N2, N1 is still on their to-do list) and provides curated readings from various online resources for each grammar point. The team at Bunpro is honestly one of the best I’ve seen in that they are constantly listening to community feedback, and the rate at which they’re adding quality content is astonishing.
Dogen- If you have an interest in not only speaking, but speaking with a minimal accent, Dogen has some great pronunciation lessons on his Patreon. You’ll also obviously want to pair this with some other form of speaking/listening practice for which I personally recommend:
Pimsleur- I’m not saying it’s the best, most accessible, comprehensive, or anything. I just haven’t used anything else for speaking/listening practice, and it worked really well (for me). 30-minute lessons intended to be done daily over the course of a month per unit (30 lessons/unit, 5 units total). I’ll let other people speak to their own experiences with speaking/listening practice with other resources, but I credit Pimsleur with the compliments I get on how good my Japanese pronunciation is from friends/coworkers (though take note I do live in an area with “no intonation”. I cannot for the life of me remember the proper term.)
I personally would say that you don’t have to wait until level 10 to start using either of these resources, but again it’ll really be up to you on what you like and can handle. I’ve never taken a formal class and while my Japanese is certainly nothing to brag about yet, I can generally get by in daily conversations, helping kids in class, reading menus/mail/forms/etc., and other various day-to-day tasks. As long as you have a goal in mind, you’ll be able to find motivation. The key is to do something every day. No zero days!
I’d say plenty of people learned kanji through WK, but of course not Japanese as a whole.
If you’re pretty new to learning Japanese, I think it’s wise to avoid overwhelming yourself, as you mentioned. Learning a language is a multi-year endeavour, but many people feel that initial enthusiasm, bury themselves in material and then burn out switfly.
The official Tofugu advice is getting a WK routine established until about level 10. Then start grammar, and start reading as much as you can in the level 20s and beyond. I’d say it’s pretty solid advice, because WK alone can be quite a lot to keep up with (depending on lesson speed and how often you can do reviews). But it’s important to pick up grammar the moment that you can.
For me personally, it was 4-6 months of mostly WK, then grammar via the CureDolly youtube channel and through BunPro. Yes, the visuals and audio for CureDolly are awful, but I lovelovelove the method of Organic Japanese - learning Japanese as Japanese, and not by way of English/Western grammar. I’m also not a native English speaker, so equating JP grammar to ENG grammar is useless to me.
Now I try to read as much as possible, because WK teaches you kanji. There is a huge amount of helpful vocab that WK teaches you, but there are also vocab words that don’t get used that commonly, or that don’t tend to ever be written in kanji when they are actually used in Japanese text. Reading and listening is the only thing that will teach you common from uncommon word usage.
That’ll wrap up my rambling answer, I’d say. Very best of luck, and I hope you’ll love this Japanese journey as you work towards that trip of yours! 頑張って！
You can read so much kanji up here, it’s definitely worth it.
I started on my own too, I suggest you to create a schedule (you don’t necessarily need to write it down) but just a bunch of habit things like reading, speaking lessons (italki is great), etc. and you’ll be getting where you want to be really quickly. And also – I highly recommend you to start grammar as soon as possible, because that means you can start understanding sooner. Genki doesn’t start very fast, take a look at it and work your way through the chapters.
I’m also a 100% self-learner, so what worked well for me was only doing WK up to level 10, then add Bunpro (works well with Genki!), around level 20 is a good time to start reading, especially if you’ve finished N5 grammar on Bunpro.
I’d go with graded readers like Satori Reader at first, you’ll want to get to around upper N4 to mid N3 until you start heavier stuff, though if you read a lot, you might be able to accelerate that process.
Like fluent? Just a heads up, a lot of people that you consider fluent won’t consider themselves fluent just because they really know how much there is to learn and usually focus more on what they don’t know.
I’ve by no means learned Japanese, but my past level 4 self would sure think I have, so I’ll give a quick rundown of what I’ve done. The things that I would do if I could were forced to repeat it all over again from square one I put a check-mark by.
Went through core 10k words for a little making flashcards
Went through the first fourth of tae kims grammar guide
Joined wanikani and started learning katakana
Got back into reading tae kims guide
Worked through most of genki
Started reading manga
Stopped reading manga, started reading visual novels and would add words that I came across into an srs platform called houhou
Looked up grammar points I came across and read more in tae kims guide
Made an anki deck of sentences from grammar websites with new grammar points
Started adding words form the core10k that used wk kanji but weren’t on wk (added around 1000)
Started using HelloTalk to talk with natives and have native friends I could ask questions to
Reached level 60
Started reading other visual novels
Started using floflo.moe to add 20 words a day while I read through a light novel series of my choice (currently at 4000 words on there)
Started using sou matome n2 dokkai
Started watching anime with jp subtitles (dont do this as much as I should)
Started reading a second light novel series which I got the audio book for and listen to to practice reading as well as listening.
I’m self learning too. At the stage you were at I really enjoyed duolingo because it’s so self contained and limited, so there was quite a sense of accomplishment in finishing it. It was a good way of easing into grammar and sentence structures and easy to do in a few spare minutes. Japanese Ammo with Misa was great too but the videos were a bit too long to fit easily into life.
When I started WaniKani, I was already learning both grammar and kanji/vocabulary with TextFugu for a while, so when I started doing WaniKani I had some easy first levels while I was catching up to where I was, but I was still studying grammar in the meantime.
After TextFugu, I learned a bit with Minna no Nihongo while preparing for N3, and then went through Japanese from Zero for a while, but for some reason formal studying with a textbook didn’t seem to work for me very much, as my attention span is lacking, to say the least.
For the last, let’s say 2-3 years, the only way I’ve been studying grammar was just reading text in the wild (manga/novels/random Internet articles), or listening to whatever thing and coming across unfamiliar Japanese, and then either looking it up on the Internet, or asking about it on Reddit.
While that’s not a very reliable or disciplined way of studying, I think it worked fairly well for me. The point is (maybe, not sure there’s any point to anything I’m saying most times) go at your own pace, and try different things until you find something that sticks with you. And most of all, try to make sure you’re having fun while you’re doing it or else you’ll find it hard to motivate yourself.
I do recommend that you start using your genki book when you think you’re ready. I’m in my second year of Japanese Studies at uni now and we started with Minna no Nihongo, which is a nice book too. Please don’t wait for too long with grammar, it will only hold you back!
Funny that’s exactly what Tofugo says. They mention how lvl 10 seems slow but in the long run it’s not a lot and how knowing all that kanji will help out with reading Japanese books. thanks for the positive reinforcement
Omg thank you sooo much for the break down! I will definitely be using these resources and honestly the fact thay you can use your Japanese to get around is amazing. Thats what im trying to achive for my trip
I definitely need a schedule to break things down for me and keep me motivated. And yeah im gna have to start learning some grammar tonight because I know Japanese grammar is a bit wonky for English speakers because I know Spanish and am now learning Japanese I find myself messing up my grammar in English. My poor brain >.< lol
I don’t think it would hurt you to wait until level 10 to start grammar. However, it can be pretty beneficial to study grammar at the same time.
I’ll repeat what I’ve said elsewhere: Don’t do what I did. I did little to no while going through Wanikani and my reading ability is poor as a result. I’m doing grammar now, but I’m pretty much playing catch up.