Help with how to progress with learning

I’m really unbalanced with my knowledge of Japanese and would really appreciate any help/comments on how to progress from here. (this is also my first forum post ever, no real idea how these work :smiley: )

In short,

  • I learned to only speak in dialect while in japan in high school.

  • I never learned to read or write properly, ( the very basics excluded, few hundred kanji and hira/katakana)

  • I have a problem with finding study materials for my level, for example I have tried going to Japanese courses in my home country but end up dropping out of the easy ones out of boredom, and the harder ones are too hard writing wise.

  • It’s also worth mentioning that textbook learned Japanese uses so many different words to what I usually use in my daily interactions and there ends up being a huge disconnect when speaking Japanese with other people studying it in my home country. (I bought Genki for this, but can’t seem to make myself sit down with it or for it to enter my brain and stay there when I do manage it)

  • There’s also the fact that I’m a terrible student. I never learn until it’s either near a definite deadline (which self-study doesn’t have) or I’m really interested. Books would be ideal, but striking a balance with the level of the text and the Kanji in it is hard, and I mostly like the fantasy genre :') (childres books or short stories aren’t really my thing)

  • I welcome any and all comments on study materials, study habits, comments from other previous transfers…

The next bit is the longer background, read if it interests you ;;;

I went to japan as a HS transfer student almost 10 years ago now, without any real understanding about the language.
I was in Japan a whole year, and learned to speak while there. I never learned to write as well as I speak, because while it took me half of the year to only speak in Japanese, we only had a few hours a week of guided Japanese lessons with writing. ( The usual thing with transfer students I’m guessing)
(I also speak in Kansai dialect, and only have little idea how to dial it back when necessary :') I don’t really mind, but there’s a lot of customer service jobs open in my country that would really benefit from some Japanese and I’m hesistant to apply with my current level. )

Now it’s been almost 10 years since then, and I speak some amount of Japanese regularly, but that’s mostly with my japanese friends who are used to my level, and I’m no closer to my goal to being (semi) independent while in japan, or even being a decent conversationalist

When it comes to studying, I’ll be honest, I’m not a good student.
I was very bad at English until I found manga after elementary. My worst problem is boredom/laziness, if there’s nothing keeping my interest honed I will not finish what I started. Wanikani is fine since it’s almost a game, but any self study, for example, with Genki which I bought to go through the points I missed previously, gets skipped over so often I can’t even really call it studying anymore.

Edit; I wasn’t expecting the answers to be this detailed or long, and I’m kinda overwhelmed with all this new information. :joy: Seriously thank you for all the recommendations and long replies, I will definitely look through all of these when I have the time!! :heart:


I too found studying from textbooks either too easy or too hard when I restarted learning Japanese after a very long hiatus (even though I was nowhere near your level). What helped me out of the rut was reading, and since you say you enjoy reading, that’s where I would start. I don’t know if you know about, but it’s a very good source for native books, graded by other learners for difficulty. You could start with an easier one and take it from there. If you’re okay with reading digitally, unknown kanji/vocabulary shouldn’t be much of a problem, since it’s easy to instantly look them up. Paper books are a different story.
I don’t read much fantasy myself, but I’m sure you’ll find several people who do, here and on the Natively forums, and I’m sure they can recommend you something interesting and approachable to start with.


Same. I learned how to speak Japanese first, although it was a bit janky and it wasn’t perfect, like you.

Maybe try Satori Reader? Also like you, I also don’t like textbooks, and I found that website / app to be really helpful in teaching me grammar and reading strategies to improve my reading ability. It’s aimed at intermediate readers who want to improve their Japanese to a more advanced level. It really helped in making the transition to reading Japanese novels and newspapers.

Also because everything is fully voiced, I could do shadowing practice and mimic what I heard as I read and listened to the audio.

In addition to stories and articles, they also have dialogue-based stories and conversation-based scenes, so you can practice saying things in standard Japanese.

They also have a “Nutshell Grammar” series that goes over grammar needed to understand their stories, but I also found the example sentences to be good shadowing material too.

Satori also has an SRS, like Wanikani, where you can save the words you encounter and review them later. I think it even has an option to import your current Wanikani kanji level, so it’ll adjust the amount of kanji shown in the stories and articles.

If you really need to go over the basics, the creators of Satori Reader also made the Human Japanese apps (Basic and Intermediate) so you can try that too.

For practicing grammar online, you could try bunpro.

I just mainly googled or referred to the Dictionary of Japanese Grammar, or blogs like Maggie Sensei. YouTube channels, like Cure Dolly and Japanese Ammo with Miso, were also helpful.

Later as I improved I just started using Japanese sources, googling in Japanese and reading grammar articles in Japanese, or watching Japanese-only grammar videos.

The other big help for me was sentence mining Japanese TV shows, mainly j-dramas and Japanese reality TV shows, so I could get exposed to more natural-sounding Japanese dialogue, rather than the more stylized speech you may hear in anime. You can use various tools, like Mikagu Tools to extract the audio from the show onto your Anki cards (as well as grabbing the sentence, a screenshot. and adding the word definition) so you can hear the sentence as you review your cards to learn vocabulary. I would also use it for shadowing practice to improve my speech.

So aside from doing kanji reviews and vocab reviews, I mainly learned by reading and watching shows looking for new words to learn, and looking stuff up when I didn’t understand something. It made the overall process fun and it didn’t feel like work.


I don’t think you’re lazy I think you just like engaging in stuff you enjoy. I also had a hard time with children’s story and prefer manga as well. The easiest manga you could read would be Crystal Hunters a manga that teaches Japanese. The guides are free and have a list of vocabulary and grammar. Then you buy the manga on the amazon kindle app (though 1st manga you can read for free just to see if you like it). They have Japanese and Natural Japanese with the Natural Japanese being the harder version.

I hate textbooks too, but you could watch Game Gengo a youtuber who teaches Japanese though video games. He’s been doing videos for genki too that I think you might like.

Here are some fantasy titles just to practice reading. They’re too advanced for me, but I still like going through just to see what I can understand

(There is an anime of this one on Crunchyroll)

(This anime was incredibly good and definitely worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet.)

Also if you like video games keep an eye out on Nihongo Quest N5, Shujinkou, and Koe as those are Japanese language learning video games.

There is also the Lingo Legend app that teaches Japanese through RPG card game and they will be releasing a farm mode soon in alpha.

There is also a website called that teaches Japanese and since I have WaniKani I just use it for learning grammar.


Is the grammar good on marumori? Or do u have other recommendations? Thx


I personally like the grammar explanations on MaruMori. I think it’s difference and unique from other resources out there.