Help with initial confusion, resources and best practice

Hi all.
I’ve just gotten started with really committing myself to learning Japanese. It’s only been a couple days and I started with the Tofugu guide as my baseline. It mentions WK of course and I’ve enjoyed the process a lot, doing reviews and lessons every day until now. Currently level 3.

One of my biggest confusions is around suitable resources to use for learning. WK seems like a good place for learning learning Kanji and Vocab. I can feel a lot of it is sticking bar some things I’ll come back to further in this. After reading around a lot, I’ve seen plenty of references to grammar resources like Bunpro, Dolly on YT, Tae Kim and Imabi. I’ve seen mixed things on something called Anki which I assume is flash cards from what I’ve read. Sounds similar to WK reviews in that case?

I guess my question is, what should I actually be using? I’m happy to start understanding grammar. So far I’ve used Bunpro a small amount. I get frustrated here in that it requires vocab knowledge right away. I didn’t know the word for hot or cold yet but Bunpro expects you to use those words with い and な right away in reviews. This has caused some bumps but I get the gist. I also started reading Imabi and listening to Dolly which has helped some things stick. Is this too much? Is it not a good starting point? I’d love to just watch anime, read novels, manga and so on but of course, I can’t understand anything yet so I can’t jump into the deep end yet. What should I be doing at the start of learning? Do I need textbooks, to write physically, type more or anything of the sort? I’ve seen a few things said in forums but it varies in time from years ago to more recent so I’m less sure what is still valid now.

On a side note, I’d love to just listen to something casually on the side when doing other things. Super basic audio that I can use to remember basics without needing to fully concentrate on it if anyone knows a resource like that? Basic numbers and words being read out neatly with their meanings mentioned or the likes? I can likely find something for this but wonder if anyone knows something solid already?

Coming back to confusion I’ve had, the biggest thing is numbers. Is there some logic here I don’t see? 1 - 10 in Onyomi I can do. Ichi - Jyuu. But why is there so much variance between things and days as we use Kunyomi? Why is eight things Yaatsu but eight days is You instead of Yaa? There’s similar things in these 10 numbers that baffle me. Is there something to learn there or is it just exceptions and I need to memorise?

Sorry for the big text dump. Just wanted to cover everything at once and clear my mind a bit! My thoughts are that I could just throw some further bits related to all this into the thread as it comes up.

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I would also like to recommend

This is a resource to jumpstart you into reading – it’s not free, but it is great for beginners.

As for grammar, unfortunately, I cannot give good recommendations, because my favorite resource – Textfugu (made by the same people who made WaniKani) is, unfortunately, no longer available. They are working on a new version called EtoEto, but they have been doing so for many years now and it’s not clear when it would ever be released.

Here are some more resources for reading – these are free, but you might need some grammar before you can use them:

https://drdru.github.io/twc.html

Anyway, welcome to WaniKani, I really hope you’d like it here! catwave

Best of luck with your studies! wricat

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First of all, WELCOME!! Part of what makes Japanese both very fun and very frustrating to learn is that there are so many resources out there.

My opinion for a total beginner is to ignore Bunpro for now and start with a textbook like Genki I. A textbook is going to guide you through vocabulary and grammar, and provide you with your first reading passages that are an appropriate level based on the chapter. Textbooks will also explain things like the number system right away, where Bunpro expects you to have some modicum of background knowledge. Genki also has a free audio app, so you can listen to the audio of the various passages/dialogues to improve your listening ability. Bunpro is great but it simply isn’t optimized for total beginners - it’s more like something to supplement your learning.

For easy audio with basic phrases like you mention, the JapanesePod101 youtube has tons of videos featuring vocabulary, grammar, and basic conversations. (They also offer a paid service, but I don’t believe that it’s worth it ahaha)

I also recommend watching J-dramas or anime, even with English subtitles for now, just to prime your ear and help you match words/phrases.

Good luck! And always feel free to ask questions ^–^

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Wait, does that mean I did it wrong all the time? :cold_sweat:

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Since you’re a speedrunner, I can only assume that everything affects you differently than the average learner :sweat_smile:

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I personally don’t think I would’ve been faster with a textbook, indeed :slight_smile:

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If you want to use an app for grammar that will teach you the vocabulary that is being used in the lesson you’re learning while learning, I recommend Lingodeer. You don’t need any previous knowledge, their explanations are short and on point, and it works well with wanikani material.
Satori reader that was mentioned above me is for intermediate level, the beginner level app is Human Japanese the satori reader has a section of corresponding dialogues for human japanese you can run the audio of in the background, but I doubt it’ll help you at your stage.

Pimsleur is something you can listen to while doing something else, but it’s a speaking/conversation learning app, so it’s not for casual listening.

The thing that would help you the most to determine which resource is right for you, is to recognize what kind of learner you are, as in what are your strengths. Do you learn best with audio, video, visual aids (pictures/illustrations), reading (text books), interactive learning (repeating/solving questions) or passive learning (reading/listening to explanations), or maybe the interpersonal way (online private lesson with a tutor/teacher like iTalki).

What ever you choose, it’s better in the beginning to choose one resource for grammar and stick with it, they’ll all get you there.

Edit: almost forgot -

Both queries one song ♪♪♪

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Hi, and welcome! I’m still a beginner, so everything I say isn’t backed up by a tonne of experience but I’d like to say for grammar I’ve been using Japanese from Zero and I’ve personally found it super helpful. They have an online website with courses you can go through that teaches you the grammar, with a difficulty curve i find super helpful. I started the second course recently and they begin to ask you questions purely in Japanese, which has been useful for me. having basic vocab going into JFZ was helpful for me BUT they teach you any and all vocab they’re going to use in a lesson before the lesson begins.

JFZ also have textbooks and free youtube videos. I know Genki is the most commonly recommended grammar resource, and for good reason! But, for me personally, I opted out of Genki to start with as I struggle with textbooks due to a disability I have that means I struggle to handwrite. JFZ is a really good and helpful alternative.

someone else also mentioned the tadoku graded readers, which is a great resource too. I’ve been reading level 1 books from there recently after mainly having used just wanikani and JFZ.

Japanese from zero site

japanese from zero youtube

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I'm only partially joking here

I prefer to think of it as similar to the way that they used to design castles, with inner labyrinths and false passageways and dead ends and traps, in order to help confuse the invaders.

Wait until you learn about ‘counters’, or the words for the first day of the month or for the twentieth (if you haven’t already).

I just force myself to memorize them.

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The practical advice is “just memorize the numbers, dates, etc”. There are sort of reasons behind the irregularities, but they boil down to “things used to be a bit more regular but sometimes the sounds of some of the words changed gradually over the last thousand years”. To quote the Tofugu article on counting days:

The word 八日 means “eight days” or “the eighth day of a calendar month.” Both are pronounced ようか. Yet in our article about how to count in Japanese, we learned that the wago reading for “eight” is や. So why is this ようか?

Apparently, it was originally やか, but eventually changed to やうか, and then finally changed one more time to ようか.

(PS 8 is やっつ yattsu, not やあつ yaatsu.)

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Whole lot of answers super quickly! Really appreciate it everyone!

Thank you very much! Appreciate the links and videos! That podcast seems super helpful for listening!

Looking at the Genki website, it sounds very thorough! I’m happy to use a textbook I think. Would it be good to get the physical version for it and the workbook so I can also practice the writing? I’d need to also figure out where to buy it I guess? Am I right in thinking it’s the Textbook 1 [Third Edition] English version with me being a native English speaker and third being newest I think?
Appreciate the Pod link too, that also seems great.

I actually just uninstalled Lingodeer thinking I’m probably covering it all with Bunpro and WK :zipper_mouth_face: Silly of me, will reinstall it and use that too albeit slower and as supplement. No harm after all! I’ll wait on Human Japanese and Satori then if it seems I’m not ready for that yet. I know basically no grammar so you’re most likely correct on that :smiley:

For now I have no idea. I’ll need to try a few methods for now I think. I’m not keen on the tutor route and I have Aphantasia so visual is a no go too, it’s already super hard with WK trying to make me remember things by picturing it :laughing:

Wonderful, thanks!

JFZ does look very good too! I’ll look into this more and consider it and Genki before deciding on one!

Likely what I need to do :smiley:

So it is! I think I wrote it how I say since the little tsu extends the A iirc? It’s one of the areas I struggle a lot in is why sometimes it’s a う and sometimes a つ.

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The first Human Japanese course is for complete beginners. It doesn’t even assume you’ve learned kana yet. It’s basically a textbook with built-in audio.

Bunpro has a vocabulary feature, but you have to enable it in your settings.

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Yes, this would be the most interactive way to approach the books. There is frequent flipping back and forth between vocab pages, grammar exercises, etc., so I think it would definitely be the most comfortable and engaging as a physical copy.

The books are available on Amazon and Kinokuniya, as well as various other booksellers. If the newest edition seems a bit too pricy, the second edition is nearly identical save for a few tweaks to characters, dialogues, and exercises.

I also recommend following along with an instructor to help you figure out how to start - ToKini Andy on youtube is the most popular source for this and I think he does a nice job guiding viewers through the series lesson by lesson. :slight_smile:

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If you’re interested in Genki, You can check this free online text book called irodori it’s kinda similar but more accessible, since you can get both text and audio in the same pdf file (it’s the second option in each file). It’s geared for work, not students.

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I just want to note that you can set Bunpro to follow the same order as Genki, though the ordering is from the second edition of the book. If you find textbooks boring on their own, I think it’d be a good supplement.

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If you want to get into basic reading and learning vocab with easy content and don’t mind paying for it, I can highly advice to look into LingQ. In my opinion with Satori Reader the best source to get reading practice fast.
LingQ has 60 “mini stories” for people who start basically from 0 and it has a lot of useful vocab presented in very easy and natural text/audio form. I would advice against using the SRS on there and only listen/read the stuff again and again until it sticks, but everyone is different.

In general I would suggest to not load yourself with different SRS methods, it is the fastest way to burn out and starts to feel like work for most people I know very fast. :slight_smile:

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The little tsu indicates that the kana that comes after it is a ‘doubled consonant’, i.e. longer than usual. (In romanisation this is written by putting the consonant twice.) This is a bit tricky to explain in text so I recommend listening to some examples of how it works, but when the following consonant is something like an s or z sound you make that s or z sound a bit longer, and when it’s a sound you can’t just extend like that (e.g. a ‘p’ or ‘t’ or similar) you kind of pause a little before releasing the consonant sound.

One vowel kana after another kana, on the other hand, can be one of two things:

  • it just happens to be a different vowel sound following another, eg かえる has an a sound followed by an e sound
  • it indicates that the preceding vowel sound is held for longer. This only happens when it’s the same vowel as ended the previous kana, or for a couple of special case annoying spelling conventions where an extended ‘o’ can be written ‘oo’ or ‘ou’, and an extended ‘e’ can be written ‘ee’ or ‘ei’:
    – おお・おう (and similarly こお こう, そお そう, etc)
    – ああ (and かあ さあ etc)
    – ええ・えい (etc etc)
    – うう
    – いい

Again, this is well worth finding a resource with good spoken examples of the pronunciation here.

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Ahh interesting, I’ll take a look then!

Great. Appreciate the help and useful info! If I go the Genki route I’ll listen to ToKini Andy too.

How similar is it to Genki? Does it cover a similar amount of content? Surprised to find out there’s a similar but free alternative!

I do think I noticed this somewhere when choosing how to start but would never have remembered. Thanks for letting me know!

Great. So LingQ and and Satori reader together can get me started on some basic reading right away? Sounds very useful and a lot like what I’m interested in. I read most days, one of my biggest hobbies so if I can get some initial basics in, that’s a good route for me.

Reading what you’ve posted actually makes a lot more sense to me. I have read about the double vowels but didn’t really notice the double consonant part of little tsu. I’ll try listen up on this a bit. Thanks!

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Pretty similar, you can see everything it has to offer in their pr video.
According to the FAQ (it’s in japanese so I can read it, but you’ll need more time) it will get you to JLPT N4 レベル.
And yeah it was surprising to be introduced to it by someone here in wanikani, it’s made by the japan foundation, and they have excellent material.

How come there’s free material? My guess is Japan is desperate for working hands, and a lot of foreign workers need to learn japanese to be able to live and work in japan. NHK also have similar free program but it’s older and this is new and on another level imo.

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LingQ is basically just an app, where people (or the developers) can upload all kind of texts, link audio to them so that you can read and listen at the same time or sentence by sentence (I personally really liked this “sentence-mode” at the beginning) and just like Satori Reader there is a dictionary linked with every word. Where Satori Reader is more like real short stories, there is all kind of content on LingQ, not so much full novels. What can be really motivating is that the app can mark words you already know with a white background, words you have already seen but not yet know with yellow and entirely new words with blue. After some time you can see very easily, if some text is probably still too hard for you.
But both apps are really good though, can’t go wrong with any. :slight_smile:

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