How do you refresh your memory?

I’ve mentioned before how I find learning independently hard, but I want to get over this mental hurdle because I’ve also noticed that I don’t trust myself to remember things in the long term even with classroom lessons. This often remains a worry and makes me scared to learn.

How do you refresh your memory as you learn? What approaches do you take when you learn new grammar etc and leave the other stuff behind for a bit? I’m worried about forgetting things I learnt a few weeks ago. At the moment I skim over conversations every few days from older lessons, cover up the Japanese and recreate the conversation.

Do you also have any resources for listening to conversational Japanese for beginners?



There are various ways on how to refresh your memory. What worked for me so far was using Tae Kim’s as my main grammar book. Its explanations is straight to the point, logically categorized, and easy to break down and understand.

Instead of memorizing, I familiarize myself by thinking of various ways of how to use the grammar point. Then I use an anki deck that uses the sample sentences from the book as a refresher. SRS really helps me in retaining what I learned.

Aside from that, I read a lot of level appropriate articles and graded books. It’s really fun to apply what you’ve learned and slowly uncover the meaning of whatever you’re reading.

Remember that this is just a suggestion. You should try and experiment what kind of method works for you. Alternatively, you may want to try Genki with its many exercises and see if a traditional school like system works for you.

For listening practice, I recommend Nihongo con Teppei podcast. Each podcast is short and the words are enunciated clearly.

There’s also some articles with audio in Watanoc. You can select an article’s JLPT level that’s appropriate for you (ex. N5 for beginners). In the first pass I’ll read along with the audio, pausing when I encounter new words/unfamiliar grammar points. When I get the gist of the article I move onto the second pass where I just listen to the audio and making sure that I can understand what’s being said word by word.


If you’re a computer, ctrl-alt-del


For kanji, start reading. Get a graded reader and just start reading what you can. Even if you don’t understand what you are reading yet, you are still reenforcing the kanji you do know by seeing them again and again.

I recommend the Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course graded readers though the levels do NOT match WaniKani.

With you being earlier in your lessons, definitely pick up a textbook as well. You WILL see kanji you don’t know, but you will see some you do which will again, reenforce what you know and have learned.

You will inevitably forget some things - that is normal. Just don’t let it paralyze you. We all have or have had those dang leech items in WK and that’s no different then just struggling to understand any grammar concept, etc. Stick to it and you will get over the hump.

Good luck!


Get a graded reader and just start reading what you can.

Can you explain what you mean by this? Do you mean to say they sell books written in kanji categorized by N5-N1?

Graded readers aren’t typically arranged by N levels. It’s more an “easy to read” text that is designed to foster reading capability. Generally they are children’s books or collections of easy to read folk tales that introduce you to the concept of reading in your target language.

The ones I was recommending specifically are Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course Graded Readers. The problem you have with these is that they follow the Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course, not the WaniKani order of kanji learning. KKLC uses frequency of kanji instead of WK taking radicals and grouping kanji according to those radicals.

I would recommend, once you decide to move on reading, check out Resources for Starting to Read Japanese Content. Scroll down to the graded reader section and see if any of what is there makes sense to check out.

In my mind, even if you can’t understand what you are reading, attempting to read it allows you to practice the characters you do know. Once you start getting grammar down, go back to the graded readers to get kanji recognition AND grammar practice. Eventually those will be too easy but until they are, they are hard enough to make them a goal in my opinion.

Sorry if I am rambling here. I hope this helps and if there is anything more you want clarification on, I will try to be more clear.

Hope this helps you!

And… don’t give up!


Basically, yes. Here is the comparison chart for the ASK graded readers series:

If you’d like to know more about them, please have a look at the Graded Readers section in this post:


Thankyou to all for these wonderful resources and ideas. :slight_smile:

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@slerched @NicoleIsEnough



NHK World Easy Japanese they have podcasts on iTunes, or you can listen on the web at this link. Great for beginners, short dialogues and they break down the dialogue line-by-line so you will know what they are saying even if you didn’t understand it in Japanese the first go-around.

I have noticed that my own memory is not as elastic as it was the last time I was learning a language. I have also hit a plateau with new vocab input from Anki core 2k vocab, but I think it’s because I’m not using all the words that I study on it. I have had the most success with words that I can go out and use right away, whether that’s in writing or conversation. So I try to link everything that I learn and want to remember to an experience.

Today on WK I had trouble with the word 保つ (たもつ) because the mnemonic they had just wasn’t sticky enough for me. So I spent some time googling the word “tamo” and discovered it’s the name of a rare type of ash tree. So my mind went “rare tree, called tamo, we want to preserve it.” I created an experience with the word, even if it’s not the full word, and this became the new trigger in my memory. And now I just picture the unusual peanut-shell grain of tamo wood, and I can remember the word and meaning.

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One downside of graded readers is that they’re generally written with Japanese children in mind. So they write everything in kana but still use lots of colloquial language and grammar. However, if you’ve been doing Wanikani, you’ll probably end up in the opposite situation like I did, where kanji recognition was my strongest point, while I struggled with even “easy” language comprehension. Also, writing things in kana often makes them harder to read, especially when you’re used to seeing them in kanji thanks to WK.


I totally agree. And since I forgot to include some readers that I think are actually good, try these:

JLPT N5 Kanji workbook The exercises in the later half of the book are where it’s at. If you don’t want to do the writing practice, you can skip to the reading practice. I thought it was well worth the $10 even though I knew the kanji already. I did the writing practice while winding down or listening to something on TV or YouTube. I plan to do the N4 book after I finish this one. The stories use naturally written Japanese, no kana on words that wouldn’t be in kana in the first place.

Satori Reader Use your API key to link it to WK and it will automatically change over all the kanji you know. You can also hand-input the kanji you know or select by various levelling systems. There are some limited functions for free, and I think they have a week-long free full-trial.


The only thing about the Kodansha KLC graded readers is, they aren’t written with children in mind.

I think my biggest issue with them is they are often sentences translated from a no longer copyrighted book and can sometimes be… odd. But for these particular books, at least the first one I’ve been working through, is really to just get some reading practice of some kind using the kanji you know.

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